Thursday, April 29, 2004


Sorry about the long layoff between posts. I've had a pretty busy week for once, but that's no excuse I could've done a little up date here or there. Anyway, rest assured if it happens again, assume I'll be back soon enough. There's always plenty around the league to talk about even if the Bulls are currently dormant. So on to the task at hand:

With apologies to Knickerblogger, I hate the Knicks. Like, a lot. I suppose there's no good reason for it, it could be from the Pat Riley teams challenging the dynasty Bulls, or just general Midwest paranoia. But what I really think the problem I have is that the national media thinks its a crime against humanity if the Knicks are bad. Like they don't have to rebuild like all teams do, that free agents will just flock there and bring the Knicks back to prominence. They fail to see that the salary cap doesn't care whether your in a big or small market. You have to be smart to win, and the Knicks salary management hasn't been for a while.

The moves this year by new GM Isiah Thomas were universally lauded because he was bringing excitement to the Knicks again, and they had a star in town..or should I say "star-bury" (hahahahaha). Talking heads around the league said that Isiah proved they didn't have to start over. Dopes like Steven A. Smith had them challenging for the Eastern Conference crown. While starting out well, the new-look Knicks faded down the stretch, and were promptly swept by the Nets.

I concede that Marbury is a top-notch player, but I never liked the trade from the Knicks' standpoint. They were upgrading their team to a little above mediocre, and giving them no flexibility in the future. Surprisingly, it was Bill Simmons (the sports guy) who recently stepped out and said what was on my mind. Apparently there wasn't a Real World marathon that day:

You can guess where I stand. Right after Isiah Thomas was hired last December, I predicted in The Magazine that he would run the team into the ground. This franchise was already headed nowhere -- no cap space, no All-Stars, little hope. It was a situation thatcried for patience. Whomever took over for the Artist Formerly Known As Scott Layden needed to blow everything up, create cap room and start over. In other words, the Danny Ainge Approach -- clean house, make some panic trades, ignore the cap -- couldn't possibly work here.

The Jerry West Approach seemed like a much better plan. Take your time. Stockpile assets. Only deal from strength. Think four years instead of four months. And most importantly, don't panic.

Isiah? He panicked.

Unable to wait even three weeks after moving into his new office, Isiah pulled a Jim Fassel and pushed his chips to the middle of the table, dealing his few tradeable assets (two coveted Europeans, two first-rounders and cash) for Marbury and Penny Hardaway -- two more ghastly contracts -- in the process, blowing his long-term cap flexibility to smithereens and insuring that the 2006 Knicks would look exactly like the 2004 Knicks.

That last line really sends it home. There isn't much the Knicks can do to get any better. The draft will be a hard road, especially since they have 2 future first rounders gone (including this year). Their only chance is getting lucky with the mid level exemption, hoping that a low-post scorer can take a pay-cut to play there. But such a player has become a hot enough commodity that even someone like Eric Dampier commands big bucks.

So while the Knicks are certainly playoff caliber, I just don't see a bright future. Their only tradeable assets left are Sweetney and Frank Williams, and Isiah will probably send them packing soon. While a team like the Bulls are god-awful, at least they have nice trading chips like the 3 Cs, a big man with only 2 years left on his deal like Antonio Davis, and a very high draft pick. Having assets like that is what can make a productive offseason, while Isiah will be busy trying to turn water to wine.