After a 6-4 start, the New York Knicks agreed to a pair of trades have shipped away their two top per-game scorers. Since that day, the team has dropped 8 of 11 games. One could look at that situation and say Crawford and Randolph were worth much more to this current Knick team than we thought. Certainly this agrees with the traditional wisdom: the Knicks traded 40 points per game. It seems to reason that it’s not easy to make up that much scoring. However a closer look shows that it’s not the quality of these two players, but rather the lack of depth at the guard spot which has caused the team to perform so poorly.
Prior to the start of the season, I called the guard spot the Knicks “deepest“. D’Antoni had a rotation of Duhon, Crawford, Robinson, and Collins with Roberson and Marbury on the bench. However since then, New York traded Crawford and Collins, Robinson hurt himself, and Marbury has Marburied himself off the team. This has left the Knicks without any depth at guard. Over the last few games Duhon has played more than 40+ minutes in just about every game, Richardson has slid over to shooting guard, and D’Antoni has so little confidence in Roberson that he’s used 5 forwards on the floor instead of playing the team’s summer league signee.
These series of events underscore two failures of the team. The first is their dealing with Marbury. Perhaps Stephon’s relationship with his teammates made it impossible for D’Antoni to bring him back into the rotation and still keep his respect. And maybe Marbury wouldn’t have accepted a role off the bench at shooting guard. Obviously we’ll probably never know the truth, but this should have played out before the season started. This way if Marbury refused the playing time the Knicks could have worked on a deal sooner, and replaced him on the roster by the time they moved Crawford and Collins.
The second failure is the team’s lack of roster management. Keeping Roberson over Balkman is proving to be a mistake. For the last two games, the Knicks have had two healthy guards on the roster: Duhon and Roberson. Yet Roberson has racked up consecutive DNP-CDs. In other words D’Antoni thinks so little of him that he can’t even break into the rotation when he’s the only other guard on the team! What does that say about the Knicks ability to scout players? To make matter worse, two players that the Knicks chose Roberson over, Renaldo Balkman and Von Wafer, both recently started & had good games for their new clubs.
Granted New York might not be suffering this much if not for two unfortunate incidents. One being Robinson’s ill-timed injury, the other Mobley’s failed physical. Had one or both of these players been available to play, some of the above problems may not have been as glaring. Although the end of the bench may not be the worst place to make a mistake, right now these bad decisions have cost the Knicks a handful of games. Nonetheless it doesn’t absolve the team of these poor moves. And it may shed some light into some of the problems the team may have while rebuilding a winner.