Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bashing Isaiah

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled into Knickdom. Could that be because they were on the brink of the worst record in the NBA a few weeks back? Quite possibly. I’m not the most invested NBA fan, so it’s easy to lose some interest when a team is looking that bleak. I also didn’t get too excited over the recent six-game win streak – which has been followed by three straight losses. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2005-2006 New York Knickerbockers.

December 15 was the first day a team could trade players they acquired over the off-season, and Larry Brown promised moves would be made. As of January 19, they’re yet to be seen. Maybe Isaiah is finally growing more cautious of bad trades and isn’t as willing as in years past to swap an expiring contract (i.e. Penny Hardaway) for some mid-level talent (i.e. Jalen Rose).

Unless they can unload Eddy Curry, I think the Knicks would be wise to stand as-is this season. There are no available players that could truly help the team now or in the future, except maybe for Ron Artest, who will surely fetch a larger price tag than the Knicks can/should offer. As far as I’ve read, they’re not even in the picture, so it’s a moot point anyway.

Part of the problem is that the Knicks probably aren’t going to rise above their current level with Curry and Channing Frye at the big man positions. They’re both offensive threats in different molds, but neither is aggressive enough on the boards. Starting David Lee at the small forward position is a good start, since he can ‘bound and he’s more athletic than advertised. But the rookie can’t do everything himself.

Following their overtime loss to the Bulls last night, the Knicks stand at 13-24, just two losses ahead of the Raptors, the cellar dwellers in the Atlantic Division. Not even six straight wins can pull the Knicks out of this rut they’re calling a season.

(And yes, Antonio Davis went into the stands during overtime. No, there was no confrontation. Actually, everything was conducted rather calmly. But if you want to read about it, you can do so here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

There’s no further point in dwelling on the past, so the question is: what now? What can Isaiah and Larry possibly do to get this team to a .425 win percentage by season’s end (I picked a half-realistic number). Isaiah’s first act should be to take a blood oath to not trade Penny Hardaway for Jalen Rose. True, Penny’s expiring contract means little for a team drowned in the cap, and Rose’s contract does expire after next sesaon. But that sends the same message to Knicks fans that Isaiah has been emitting since becoming the GM: “I’m going to trade for random parts of a team just because I’ve heard of this certain player.”

The Knicks do not need Jalen Rose in any way. Instead of taking on larger contracts for longer periods of time, why don’t the Knicks look into dishing some that they’ve got? Oh yeah, that’s because Isaiah has accumulated an unprecedented number of untradeable contracts, leaving the Knicks in quite a quandary.

There is but one upside to acquiring Rose or a Rose-esque player. Maybe, in our dreams upon dreams, the Dolans will finally put their foot down and fire Isaiah. With any other franchise, he would have been dismissed after last year. But for some reason, Jim Dolan thinks that because Isaiah was a stand out player, that he’ll also be a stand out executive. Sorry, buddy, but the two don’t correlate too well.

Bill Simmons put the Isaiah situation into such a perfect perspective that I’m not even going to attempt mincing my own words on the subject. From his January 17 column:

Right now, you have a roster that costs something like $120 million. You completely overhauled the Knicks' roster in 14 months, and now you're trying to overhaul it again. There's no rhyme or reason to anything you're doing. Your team doesn't have a first-round pick next summer, and in the summer of 2007 -- widely considered to be the deepest draft in 20-plus years -- the Bulls have the right to exchange first-round picks with you (most of your fans don't even know this). You also have to give another first-round pick to Phoenix before 2010. And you have at least eight or nine players on your roster who are completely, utterly, totally untradable, including someone with a possible heart defect and someone whose back is in such bad shape nobody would insure his contract. Your team also has one of the worst records in the league. And your fans are downright traumatized at this point, to the degree that you went into hiding until your recent winning streak. Now you're available to talk to the press again, of course.

So why shouldn't you be criticized for any of this? Why should you be immune?

This is why I can’t consistently write about the Knicks. They have no future. I’m going to have to wait until I’m married for the Knicks make the playoffs again, which will be some time in the 31st century.

At least they have a solid core of rookies in Nate Dogg Robinson, Channing Charlie Frye, and David Ang Lee. Let’s just hope Isaiah doesn’t think it appropriate to trade all three to L.A. for Chris Mihm.