One Year And One Week

A year and a week ago, the Knicks had hit their worst stride since the Patrick Ewing era. New York was expected to compete for the playoffs, and actually spent a good portion of 2004 in first place in the East. Unfortunately 2005 wasn’t as kind. The Knicks lost 9 of their first 10 games, going from a healthy 16-13 to a wavering 17-22. With the team in shambles and desperate for a change, New York needed someone to take blame for failing to meet expectations. On January 22nd, Lenny Wilkens fell on the axe, and resigned as the New York Knicks coach.

Fast forward a year and a week, and the situation is eerily similar. Patrolling the Knicks sideline is a win-now coach in Larry Brown. The Knicks revamped their team in the offseason with a mix of veterans (Antonio Davis, Quentin Richardson) and youngins (Curry, Frye, Lee, Robinson) to make them competitive this year. The Knicks weren’t expected to unseat the Pistons or Heat, but they were so sure that they’d be out of the lottery that they gave away two first round picks without any restrictions. Just like a year ago, New York has failed to meet expectations. Again the Knicks have lost 9 of their last 10 games. And again it’s time to find a fall guy.

However this year, unless Larry Brown has changed his opinion on his dream job, he isn’t handing in a letter of resignation. Unlike Wilkens, Brown isn’t a relic of yesteryear, trying to hold on to his last chance at an NBA coaching job. Long Island Larry is coming off back to back Finals appearances. He isn’t in New York accepting a charity position. Brown is the real thing.

The Knicks can’t blame the players for their woes. This season’s 14-30 record isn’t the fault of Stephon Marbury. You just have to look at the three games the Knicks played without him for proof of that. It’s not Jamal Crawford or Nate Robinson’s fault for being unable to play the point in Marbury’s stead, because they’re not made for that role. It’s not Eddy Curry’s fault for not being able to play defense, rebound, or cut down his turnovers, because that’s what he was before he got here. It’s not Jerome James’ fault for having a few good playoff games. Even if you disagree and would like to blame the roster, they’re not going to be the fall guy, because you can’t trade any of them. No one is going to take Jerome James for 5 years. No one is going to want Eddy Curry, who can’t manage to play more than 27 minutes a game, despite his backups being Davis, James, and Butler. Nobody is going to want Quentin Richardson, who’s so detached from his former self I swear he’s suffering from basketball amnesia. Somebody might want Marbury, but that loser tag that’s been slapped on him since New Jersey makes his value lower with each loss.

So you can’t use the coach as the scapegoat. You can’t use the players. And the owner isn’t going to fire himself. Knick fans that are looking for a sacrifice to offer to the basketball gods have one person left to roast: Isiah Thomas. There is no one else to blame this mess on. While he didn’t walk into an ideal situation, it’s undeniable that he’s made his share of mistakes. Every single person on this roster was picked by Isiah. The coach was picked by Isiah. Every single draft pick owed is because of Isiah. There’s no one else to blame. If New York was 30-14 instead, I’d be here praising the Knicks’ president for his work. But you’re only as good as your record, and the Knicks have the third worst record in the league. Someone has to be responsible for this mess, and like an election in Cuba, there is only one legitimate candidate.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

41 thoughts to “One Year And One Week”

  1. There is absolutely no question, this is Isiah’s team from top to bottom. He should be held responsible for the mess he puts out on the court.

  2. No question. I was not as critical of Zeke as many have been, I thought I’d give him a chance, but he has failed miserably. As pointed out, you’re only as good as your record, and Isiah’s is dismal.

    The problem is in the timing, with the trade deadline so close, not to mention who are we going to hire?

  3. I completely agree that we should fire Isaiah. I’ve hated his decisions from day one, and the ones that I’ve applauded he’s gone around and reversed. But my concern is what’ll happen when we bring a new guy in. General managers keep their jobs by being active, not by sitting around. But I think we’d all agree that the only way the Knicks can get the franchise back in order is by sitting around for a couple years, letting all our contracts expire, and then startin from scratch. Yes, I know we have no draft picks this year or next, but a complete rebuilding project is our only hope.

    But whoever we’d name as the next GM, they’d want to do something. Something. Anything. To show that they’re clever and smart and dedicated to putting a winner on the court NOW, because “you can’t rebuild in NY.” (On that note, how do you reconcile the two popular sentiments that Knicks fans are the smartest in the country with the idea that we can’t stand to see our team rebuild?) And, as we all know too too well, to get rid of bad players you often have to take on bad contracts (hello Jalen Rose!), which will only sink us further into this mire.

    Can we just have no GM for a while? I’m thinking of the automatic pilot from the movie “Airplane!”…

  4. Wouldn’t disagree. But Dolan kept Glen Sather on despite four years of mismanagement and bloated payrolls, so based on that Isiah’s not going anywhere soon unless the lawsuit goes against him..

  5. The problem with waiting around for bad contracts to expire is that even if we do nothing at all it will take years for us to be under the cap. Marbury has 3 years after this one at 20M per season(!), Taylor one more year at 10M (!), Q-Rich 4 more at around 8M per season (!!), JC 5 more at around 8M each (!!), Rose 2 more at 7M (!!), James 4 more at around 6M (!!!), not to mention Curry at something like 5 more years at around 10M each (!!!!)!

    All this salary would not be such a problem supposing we actually won some games, but the fact we are so shit makes it 10 times worse.

    Alarm bells have to be ringing, this is scary really, I guess we can only wait and see whether Penny and Davis end up getting traded for more salary too.

    I think the Knicks should file for chapter 11, then maybe start all over again…

  6. The only way we can do anything as fans is stop going to games and watching them on tv. Nothing with the Knicks will change until they hit rock bottom. MSG now has to compete with two other major NY sports networks with only the Knicks and Rangers keeping it afloat. If there are echoes in the garden and the ratings on tv take a dive, that’ll go a long way towards forcing the powers that be to stop with the status quo.

  7. The Knicks’ inconsistency and under achieving is driving me nuts and I wouldn?t be terribly upset to see Zeke get canned. However, I don?t think the Knicks long-term outlook is bad.

    Zeke has brought in a lot of young talent which, given early returns and his draft record, should continue to improve. Really, talent isn?t the problem: The Knicks need some team players and time for their young players to develop. Another problem is that winning with offense only requires a lot of talent and an incredible offense, but to win with defense requires far less “big-name” talent.

    Of course, the Knicks have two huge shortcomings with which we?re all too familiar: defense and ball security. If they weren’t letting teams shoot 60% and turning the ball over 17 times a game the Knicks might be around .500.
    With a PG who can defend and run the offense consistently, a wing who can defend and pass, and a strong interior defender (all of whom can hold on to the ball) I think the Knicks are a playoff team next year. These are not the kind of players you need a high lottery pick or tons of cap space to acquire. A late first rounder, a cheap veteran free agent, and a smart trade or two should be plenty to fill these voids. Some basketball IQ, heart, and leadership ability should all be prerequisites.
    In terms of a trade the Knicks aren?t in the best position, but we do have some things to offer which are somewhat attractive and should be enough to bring in a smart player who can defend along the lines of an Eric Snow (a few years ago), Michael Curry type and maybe another draft pick.

  8. looks like Kareem was right.

    With the shortage of big men. Can’t the Knicks ship out James and someone else to the Nets for someone as the Nets are desperate for a big man?

    What about the Nuggets who are missing the minutes that Nene gave them. I keep on reading all day every day how teams need a big man. Give them James and someone else and bring in anyone!

    Since we are in salary cap hell. I would give up Antonio Davis of Penny Hardaway for Jalen Rose and a draft pick if it can be done.

    We have the San Antonio Spurs pick this year and then next year Jalen Rose comes off the books along with Taylor.

    This year Davis will have come off the books unless we can trade him for someone worth while and picks. We have 2 VERY valuable contracts in Penny and Antonio Davis that people around the league I would wonder would really really want.

    I am guessing around the trade deadline is when Isiah is going to get offers.

    I hope that he can stock picks as that his drafts are the only thing that he has done well.

    Has anyone noticed how Marbury doesn’t move his injured shoulder half of the time while he is dribbling up court?

  9. One more thing the Hornets go ahead and trade away multiple picks in multiple years to Toronto for Aaron Williams and then go out and trade multiple picks for Steven Hunter.

    The Hunter trade I can understand but Aaron Williams? Your telling me there was no way that Isiah could get one of those teams to bite?

    This rape allegation is going to make Isiah so swamped in the legal mess that he is going to realize that the trading deadline already passed.

  10. I’m not saying Isiah is brilliant (oh, what an understatement), but why is everyone giving Larry Brown such a free pass? Sure, he’s had recent success but his performance this year has been abysmal. The Knicks’ turnovers and free throws have been the most devastating factors in their horrible record (until the team just started mailing in games a few games ago). Those stats appear to be a result of players not used to playing with each other and players who are nervous that they will get yanked from the game at any random time. Brown’s capricious rotation and substitution patterns then probably lead to all those turnovers and missed free throws (an area that the Knicks excelled in before this year). As for the Knicks’ defensive lapses, the other chief weakness of the team, the team started the season playing very well defensively (at least statistically), but it seems that the players stopped giving maximum effort after a few weeks considering that effort did not translate to consistent playing time.

    If Larry Brown did not have such a sterling pedigree, I would think he was the worst Knicks coach since John MacLeod. Hiring him may turn out to be Isiah’s worst decision. (As horrible as Jerome James is, the Knicks would be over the cap with or without him and he doesn’t cost them games by sitting on the bench.)

  11. c’mon, you gotta give LB the benefit of the doubt. i admit, i’ve been somewhat puzzled by what he has done (especially that ridiculous start-the-guy-in-his-hometown ritual early in the season). but the guy’s track record is a load to argue against.

    i think LB is looking long term, and we as fans have been dealing with this garbage since 2001, and we’re done with it. while we’re fuming, he’s building.

    he’s sitting ariza because he’s teaching how to conduct yourself on a winning team. he benches nate for stretches for the same reason. it hurts NYK short term, but will help long term.

    bottom line, this team was not built to deal with adversity. their leader — their only leader — is steph, and he’s still learning how to do that. davis lost any cred he may have had by hanging out in chicago while he was suspended, then returning with a bad back (oh man, so shameful). rose and JJ suck too much to really command respect. taylor’s not a leader. everyone else is 25 years old or younger.

    what would it take to get a veteran backup PG?

  12. Isiah has not done a great job. But I think everyone is going a little overboard about the future of this team. There are very few teams with a frontcourt pair that looks as good as Frye/Curry will be in 2-3 years. I also we have good frontcourt depth in the future with Lee and Butler.

    Marbury despite everyones hate is very talented and I believe he is learning to be the leader the Knicks need, he just needs time. I mean Kidd was a perennial loser and not a leader till he came to NJ at the age of 28.

    The wing positions definately need alot of work but they are the easiest positions to fill and hopefully we will find the solution at the 2 and 3 in the next couple of years. Maybe even Richardson can figure out whats wrong, Woods/Ariza can continue to improve, or Crawford can get a little more consistant and we may only need one player.

    Plus we only traded one first round pick this years. Next years will be a trade which with the way the Bulls are playing will probably not be more than 4 or 5 slots at the most.

    So the future is fairly bright, even if the present is so grim. We are REBUILDING. I don’t really care if we fire Zeke but I do not think it will make much difference either way.

    Also I agree with Marc Brown is doing a lousey job. Flawed roster or not he is doing terrible THIS year.

  13. Marc R is absolutely right. LB has been absolutely horrendous – nobody knows what he wants, his rotations have been utterly confusing, and no one knows when they are going to play or not. I always thought that a good coach implements a system to best utilize the talent he has, and not try to fit square pegs in round holes. Anyone remember last month when Brown played all 12 guys in one quarter?

    Isiah doesn’t get a pass, but LB has been absolutely awful.

    Here is a plan – let the contracts expire. This year is obviously done. Consider next year a wash too. Trade Crawford, QRich and/or M. Rose for expiring contracts (think Toronto would take Penny and QRich for Jalen Rose and Eric Williams?). At the end of next season (’07) if you let existing contracts expire, and after a trade of one or two of those guys, depending on how the cap comes in, they might actually have some cap space to work with. Without an ’06 1st pick (the Spurs pick will be cheap), and an ’07 flip with the Bulls, no new young guys are really coming in. So – work to have cap space at the beginning of ’07-’08. At that point, Steph will only have 2 years left – think a team shooting for a ring will want to take a flier on the “last piece of the puzzle” at that point for him? We can only dream.

    Cap space – something NYK has never had. Think of all the free agents that will be drooling to come to NYC – maybe even at a discount because of the endorsement money available here.

    That is only a year and a half away. One more season of putridity, but there would be hope on the horizon. Frye, Lee, Nate, Curry, Ariza will have another year of seasoning. Nice parts to start with. Let the detritus go, keep hope alive. Cap space – think about it. It is possible.

  14. hey,

    sounds good to me. but, i don’t think anyone will take Q right now. he’s not playing well, and no one is sure if he’s injured or not.

    NYK is stuck with him for now. gotta hope he gets it together.

    trade deadline will be really interesting.

  15. Why is firing someone the way to fix anything?

    You want to bring in someone new – to do what? Make more trades we don’t need to make? Take on other contracts? Just not be the guy who turned your champion 2003 Knicks into your cellar-dwelling 2006 Knicks?

    SHUT UP. Zeke got rid of old useless players and brought in young, tall, athletic, but raw players. We’ve got two years ahead of us where big contracts are coming off the cap, and until they come off, this team isn’t going too far anyway. You all have to accept the fact we’re going to lose a lot this season (and next season, for that matter).

    You have to let Zeke and LB have some time to work. And “some time” is not a summer training camp. “Some time” is:
    -a training camp
    -a season to a) figure out what pieces you have that work and which pieces you have that don’t b) teach they players a system that works c) build young player’s fundamental skills up to a point where they can compete in the NBA
    -an off-season to try and get rid of the non-functioning pieces and pick up pieces to address your deficiencies
    -another training camp
    -half of another season to gauge how far your team has come, up until the trade deadline

    There’s a lot more to come for the Larry Brown / Isiah Thomas Knicks. If anyone gets fired, you have to start the whole process again, and I GUARANTEE that the Knicks will be no less sucky for it. Quite probably they’ll suck even harder.


    Oh, and for real, stop all this crying about the draft picks, please. We have more than enough youth on this team already. The last thing we need are more draft picks for Larry not to play. Plus, we still have:

    -San Antonio’s first round pick this year
    -Our second round pick this year
    -Our first round pick next year (or Chicago’s, whichever is worse, but it’s still a first round pick)
    -Our first round and second round picks in ’08
    -Our first round pick in ’09

    (yes, Utah has one of our first round picks, but it’s super protected until ’10) That’s more than enough of a youth infusion for me, thank you very much. Plus, in exchange we have someone who can turn into a bonafide Center, who will be kicking ass well past 2012 (when he still won’t be 30).

  16. Larry Brown has gotta change his game plan already. Mixing and matching is clearly left the team in dissarray. This season is pretty much lost, so he should bench guys like Woods, Taylor, James… since they are clearly not the future of this franchise. There is no reason Frye shouldnt be platying 35-40 min a game. He clearly has the greatest potential of any player on the team, so why not allow him to develope now when you’re gonna lose anyway.

  17. I can’t believe people are bashing Brown, who has won everywhere he has ever coached. Read the Daily News today– he has lost the players, and that is the players’ fault. It’s a young team, sure, but it’s full of young players who have accomplished NOTHING and with veterans who have accomplished NOTHING save for Malik Rose. They should be listening with baited breath to every word out of Brown’s mouth. He has been a greater success in his life than every player on the Knicks’ roster combined.

    The players seem to favor the idiot GM of this team who brought this bunch of underachievers in here in the first place. Let’s see, if I had to choose between Isiah Thomas and Larry Brown, based on their track records, who would I side with?

    Eddy Curry is not a premium center, he will not be a premium center, he’s hideously overrated and we could have been the worst team in the NBA without him and kept the #1 overall pick you just KNOW the Bulls are gonna get next year. Eddy Curry gets 6 or 7 rebounds a game, which is a joke for a guy who everyone thinks is gonna be so great in a few years. Rebound rates generally do not increase as players get older. You want a starting center who averages 6.5 boards a game for the next five years?

    This team is impossible to root for. Now that I read the players are revolting against LB, I’m done. This team is full of selfish crybabies with no respect. I’ll check back when Isiah is fired and most of this roster is just a painful memory.

  18. fire zeke!

    and hire who exactly? seriously, who are the candidates?

    check out martin johnson’s piece in today’s (thursday) new york sun for knick fans prone to overreaction.

    firing thomas right now might not only conceivably make things worse, getting worse is the *most* likely outcome.

    as johnson points out in his piece, during zeke’s tenure the knicks have gone from old and hopelessly capped out to young and capped out through ’07.

    just as importantly, given that all but a handful of the other teams in the nba are also capped out, virtually by definition you cannot turn over a roster and get significantly better players.

    i’m not trying to be an isiah apologist. he has made his share of head scratchers; enough to get himself fired. but he has turned over the roster with kids, most of whom have some value, most of whom have not reached their primes. they just need to learn how to play the game.

    no question. we suck. and isiah’s version of it, though “younger and more athletic” sucks just as much as layden’s did… right now. for better or worse though, as knicks fans, we’re pretty much stuck riding this out, at least through this season and probably next.

  19. Greebo-
    Isiah took over in December 2003, that’s more than 2 years he had to turn around the roster, and I can’t stress enough that this is the END product of his tinkering. This whole thing about giving things another two years to blossom is delusional.

    As far as “taking our lumps” goes, ask yourself this question: Considering that the Knicks both have the league’s HIGHEST PAID ROSTER and are the LEAGUE’S WORST TEAM (refer to the latest games vs. Toronto and Atlanta if you do not agree), why should fans be content to put up with a crappy product for half a decade? Isiah needs to be accountable.

    What purpose would firing Zeke serve? Well, it would ensure that no additional bloated contracts for marginal players (Rose, Taylor, James, Crawford) or players in questionable health (Curry, Richardson) would be taken on as soon as the opportunity arises. Get someone in there that understands the value of cap space who can actually assess talent and pay players what they’re worth. Just because Zeke has tied the hands of whoever is at the helm for the next couple years doesn’t mean that he should stay. If anything that’s all the more reason to fire him.

  20. By the way, just so you know draft picks on a team with a horrible record are actually quite valuable. High draft picks can get you good players like Lebron James, Dwight Howard, or Carmello Anthony, and are the best way to upgrade talent on a team without taking on bad contracts.

    Or maybe you’re right- players like J.J. Reddick or Adam Morrison would be poison on this team, messing up the great team chemistry thing the Knicks have going.

  21. Thank you, John! We currently would have the 3rd pick in the freakin’ draft next year. When the heck was the last time we had a pick that high or higher? That’s right, 1985. If you trade your first round pick for next year, you do NOT plan on being a lottery team. Period. BTW, if we were the only godforsaken team in the whole freakin’ league willing to take a chance on Eddy Curry’s “heart” (both literally and not), why the hell did we have to give up so much?

  22. Larry Brown’s past is a moot point, I think. He’s with the Knicks now, and his public dissing, his erratic rotation, and his oppresive coaching are not impressive at all.

  23. Maybe the Knicks should be ruled by democracy. Every offseason, trading deadline, and draft they put up a ballot on the website to determine the future of the team. I figure that they’d have to charge some money for it, maybe a pretty high charge, so they can be sure that only people who really care are voting. Or, hell, they could make it an in-game thing. Instead of a coach, why not just have a guy with a laptop who, in the heat of the moment, puts up a question on the web-page: “Should I put in Malik Rose right now?”. We fans could all be sitting at home and vote online, and they could even have Who Wants to be a MIllionare-like keypads in the stands. I don’t see how this could be any worse than Zeke/Brown. You please the majority of fans, raise interest, and possibly turn a profit. And then when the team sucks all we have to blame is ourselves! Why not?

    This coming after a month in which they were 2 and 12. Let’s put things in perspective here. The Knicks have a Hall-of-Fame coach and a bunch of young talent. To consider this a team in decline is ridiculous: as the young talent matures and the unsightly contracts start to expire things should get at least a little bit better. To say this is the final product of Zeke’s work is also ridiculous: are Frye, Curry, Robinson, Lee, Ariza, Butler, Crawford, Woods, and Quentin Richardson all going to remain at the same level for the reamainder of their careers? That would be a truly odd phenomenon. Especially considering that Zeke’s draft record is one of the best in the NBA behind only R.C. Bufrord and Pops by my count.

    I’m sticking with my belief that Marbury, Frye, Curry, Robinson, Lee, a PG who can defend and run the offense, a wing who can defend and pass (maybe Woods or Ariza steps up), an interior defender (maybe Butler steps up), and whatever’s left over would make a good team. Probably not great, depending on with whom those holes are filled, but a playoff team.

    The biggest problem at the moment (beside D and TOs) seems to be team chemistry and the general attitude of the players. We saw what they could do when they had their chemistry going and were playing as a team: wins over the Mavs, Suns, and Cavs. And now we see what they do when faced with a little adversity: blow-out losses to Atlanta and Toronto.
    Basically, I believe that if you put 1 or 2 questionable characters on an otherwise hard-working, dedicated team they might change their act. But Zeke has built his team around them: Marbury, Curry, Crawford, Mo Taylor, Butler, and obviously Woods have all had their heart/ dedication questioned at some point in their careers (well every point really).
    Zeke has accomplished his goal of bringing in young, athletic talent. Now I think it’s time to start moving some of that talent for players, even if they have lower ceilings, who have stronger characters and are dedicated to “playing the game the right way”, especially on D. We need some guys who aren’t going to call their mommies crying everytime the coach yells at them after a game in which they turn the ball over 2o something times and allow the opponent to shoot 60 something %.

  25. all this yammering is going nowhere. greebo said most of what was needed to be said (although his SHUT UP tone was a bit too violent for me).

    anyway, speaking of violence, i’d like to suggest a new topic. let’s stop wallowing in the misery of now and remember the golden 1990s, when the knicks were men who were feared!

    here’s my top five most memorable knicks fights of the 1990s:

    5. starks’ headbutt on reggie miller: this was starks announcement to the sports world, “i am here, and you will have to deal with me.” luckily, he channeled that aggression as he matured. still, if anybody ever deserved a headbutt, it was miller.
    4. game 5, 1997 conference semifinals, pj brown, charlie ward, and everyone else: this derailed the best knicks team of the decade, featuring AH, LJ, and Ewing each still in his prime. (i still think riley planned it.) i’m not saying they would have beaten them, but this was NYK’s best shot at beating the bulls with Mike.
    3. Oakley vs. Mourning, with JVG hanging on Zo’s knee brace: I still have that Sports Illustrated pic of JVG clutching on like a small child. In that moment, he became my all-time favorite coach.
    2. Derek Harper vs. JoJo English, NYK/Bulls, 1994 conference semis: NYK down 20+, roar back to tie with just a few ticks left. Pippen, in the defining moment of his career, refuses to re-enter the game as Kukoc hits the game-winner over Mason.
    1. Mourning vs. LJ: Alonzo gets suspended for the decisive Game 5, which NYK wins again. Justice is served.

    OK, just one point about the current knicks situation: quick whining about the lost No. 1 to Chicago. The is one of the weakest drafts in history. Zeke knew that when he dealt the pick. The player slated to go first overall is Adam Morrison, who at the peak of his career might be a third scoring option on a championship club. This draft will not yield a single franchise player. So invoking names like Dwight Howard, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony when lamening the traded pick is distorting the conversation.

  26. I’m not convinced that this latest bump in the road isn’t an extension of that much talked about Larry Brown effect wherein his team struggles to adapt. Throw in a key injury and a major slump for the team’s only two capable scorers and playmakers just when things looked like they were coming together, and well, I’m still willing to give it more time.

    I will be very concerned if we’re still showing this kind of play next season. But history indicates that Larry Brown has a steep learning curve, and it’s quite plausible that this effect is exacerbated for our particular roster. Our talent is largely concentrated in our youth, who should be expected to have a longer adjustment period. And most of the veterans we have are just not talented or spry enough to translate Brown’s philosophies into results on the court. So it’s not a disasterous anomoly that this is taking time, I think, and so I’ll still throw in my lot with the patience mantra, for now.

  27. There is nothing easier to overrate in the NBA than your favorite team’s young talent. *shurg*

  28. I forgot to ask … dave, to clarify, do you think the Knicks could hire a better person than Thomas this summer? Or does it not matter since they’re unlikely to have a great first-round pick or tremendous flexibility until 2008?

  29. Kevin: In case you were referring to my post, I made no definite comment about how good the young players here are. Just said that most of our talent is concentrated in the younger guys. Unless one thinks that to say they’re more talented than Antonio Davis and Malik Rose is to overrate them.

    On the flip side, there is nothing easier to underrate in the NBA than your favorite team when they’re slumping badly. But slumps don’t last forever.

  30. i don’t think anyone who is any kind of significant upgrade over thomas *would* take the job this summer. they’d be stuck trying to turn over the roster (again) in an impossible cap situation, with a would-be GM as coach, and a fan base that has demonstrated its overall lack of patience on endless occassions. the knicks are in a “you can’t get there from here” position that is unique in the nba (thank you scott layden).

    given the state the knicks were in when thomas arrived there were really only two ways to procede:
    1. try to compete by catching lightening in a bottle via trades and FA signings, OR
    2. take your lumps for the next 3-5 years, staying away from most trades and FAs, building almost exclusively through the lottery.

    for the record, i supported (and still support) the latter. but in the real world, what GM would sign on for for that in a non-expansion franchise? you’re almost guaranteed to be fired before seeing any results. no GM would stay out of the FA and trade markets unless his hands were tied by his team’s brass. (hint, hint)

    **THEREFORE** it wouldn’t matter if the knicks could hire an upgrade over thomas. he’d still be looking at the same choices (although with ’08 on the horizon it’d be much easier to work more heavily through the draft now than it was when thomas took the job). as i said to KB in a conversation we had offline, the garden brass could easily step in and force thomas (or any GM) to work the draft by tightening the financial reigns. they simply haven’t been willing to do that. so when people continue to spit out the line “league’s highest payroll,” i find myself scratching my head. “when haven’t the knicks had the highest payroll?” whatever thomas did when he took the job it was a virtual certainty that he was going to be doing it with the league’s highest payroll for the next 3 to 5 years no matter which strategy he pursued. the same will be true for any new GM, at minimum for the next couple seasons.

  31. So to answer your question Kevin… the Knicks cannot hire anyone better this summer AND it doesn’t matter because they won’t have a great pick or any flexibility until ’08.

  32. Ted asked
    “are Frye, Curry, Robinson, Lee, Ariza, Butler, Crawford, Woods, and Quentin Richardson all going to remain at the same level for the reamainder of their careers?”

    The implication is no and they will improve. Lets see.

    Q and Crawford are 25 and in their sixth season. When will this development happen.

    Curry – 5th year and 23. I don’t think he will get the work ethic religion after signing a big contract. Most HS guys who developed showed signs of being a star before this. Lest impressive through four year, Jermaine O’Neal who almost never player (2400 minutes, ~35% of what Curry played). But O’Neal’s per 40 look like his current per 40’s except shots taken and points scored.

    As to the rest of the guys, yes some development, but Frye is the only guy who could be something.

    Best hope is that Woods and Butler and something like Starks and Mason.

    I think the answer to Ted’s question – is probably yes.

    As to the NY Sun comment on cap space. Isiah took over a team hopelessly capped out and now will have cap space in 2007. The one issue I have is that Isiah has made the cap situation worse. Yes the Knicks have $70 MM of contracts coming off, but I thought they were $60 MM over the cap. So to get cap space will require cheap replacements and fiscal discipline. Is Isiah up to that task, and even then, how much will he have to spend.

  33. The emphasis of “leagues highest payroll” is not supposed to be an indictment on only Thomas. James “The Wiz” Dolan should be more frugal, but because the Knicks are such a large market, nobody has had to pull in the reins on spending. The result is a financially successful franchise that sucks.

    It is true that Thomas was stuck with “Leagues Highest Payroll” for three years (not five years). And now here we are, three years later at the end of this season and the Knicks are still tied up for the foreseeable future (in 05-06 they are roughly $60 million over the salary cap). Do you see a pattern here? Also, its important not to forget that they suck. And that the Knicks are stuck with marginal players for the next couple of years because of Thomas.

  34. Getting Toronto’s 1st round pick is nice (with this latest trade), but do we really need Jalen Rose? I happen to have a soft spot for him, but where will he fit in with Steph, Nate, Jamal, Penny, Trevor, Quentin, and Qyntel all playing the same positions as he potentially would play?

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