Monday, November 1, 2010

Knicks Need To Get Real

Tony Parker signed a contract extension with San Antonio yesterday, removing one of the New York Knicks' top targets for next summer's free-agency cycle. Having promised their fans a quick return to glory redolent of Richard Nixon's first term, the Knicks need to get cracking. Unfortunately, posing a serious challenge to the Miami Heat over the next half-decade will require that the Knicks assemble a crew of all-NBA stars of comparable ability to James/Bosh/Wade, and few of those are available. The Knicks could have drafted Brandon Jennings, probably the best young point guard in the league, back in 2009, but instead chose Jordan Hill, who was later dumped in a trade and now rides the bench for Houston. The Knicks have several players with enough raw talent to make All-Star teams, including Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Anthony Randolph, but none have yet blossomed to that extent.

Many reports indicate that Carmelo Anthony is Manhattan bound, either through a trade this season or as a free agent next summer. Unfortunately, a team featuring Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony will be offensively potent, but will not have anything close to the defensive ability required to seriously oppose Miami and Orlando. As this article makes clear, James and Wade are wholly dedicated to dominating any team on their defensive end, and are two of the four best offensive players in the league.

The Knicks probably hope they can somehow acquire Anthony and Chris Paul, who will be a free agent in 2012. But if Paul shows an inclination to sign a contract extension with the Hornets or join some other team, the Knicks might be wiser to look further west: Several 2007 draftees will be available as restricted free agents next July, including, inter alia, Greg Oden, the best two-way young center in the league, when he is healthy. (I am removing 24-year-old Dwight Howard from the "young" category, as he is now in his seventh pro season.) Oden's team chose not to extend his rookie contract, and he will surely be eager to prove himself during the coming season. The Knicks could make a splash by conveying to Oden an offer that Portland cannot fail to refuse.

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