Tuesday, February 14, 2006

King of the Knicks

For most of my life, I’ve been able to stave off insanity. But for a few moments two weeks ago, I let my guard down for two seconds and wrote Question No. 10 in the “12 Questions Facing the 2006 Yankees” series. And for that I apologize. I’m so embarrassed about this question that I’m not going to even restate it. You’ll have to browse through the archives if you’re curious.

I’m loving how this 12 Questions series is shaping up, now that it’s down to 9 ½ (the half being yesterday). Man, great idea on my part!

Today, however, I’m going to answer an even tougher question, the likes of which you’ve never before seen. Today, I’m going to play King of the Knicks and solve the Knicks future. Lo and behold, as what you are about to see is nothing less than pure genius.

Well, not the first part. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Isiah Thomas is the managerial equivalent to a pile of bat dung. So he’s obviously gone, but I can’t be all mean to the guy. As a parting gift, he’ll receive a coupon for 50 percent off his next medical bill. This will come in extra handy, since my first duty as King of the Knicks would be to hold a lotto; winner gets to sucker punch Thomas. Genitals are always hilarious, but kidney shots are also encouraged.

Ousting Thomas doesn’t directly solve any of the Knicks current roster and salary cap woes, so what to do with them? There aren’t many tradable contracts on the team, and those that are tradable are players the team kinda should be holding on to – Frye and Robinson, namely. This leaves little room for flexibility. But flexibility matters less when you dig a bit deeper and see the truth: there is no possible way for the Knicks to be competitive for the next few years.

There are three ways to improve a team: through the draft, through free agency, and through trades. Unfortunately, the Knicks are now incapable of improving in any of those ways (and thus not at all). If they had a decent draft pick before 2008 then maybe they could select some talent to build around, but apparently Eddie “Ow, my back. No wait, my knees” Curry was worth a 2006 first rounder and a swapping of first rounders with Chicago in 2007 (and since the team can’t improve, Chicago will surely finish better).

Free agency isn’t much of an option, since the Knicks are a hair over the cap. Their yearly mid-level exception isn’t enough to lure primo talent, though it becomes a moot point when they blow it on guys like Jerome James. Don’t worry, the Knicks will eventually be under the cap…in 2010.

As previously stated, the Knicks have very few tradable contracts, and those that are tradable don’t belong to players who should be traded. Any Knicks trade will ultimately fill one hole by creating another. So, quite simply, the Knicks are in a hole that Isiah buried them in for the rest of the freakin’ decade. Doesn’t matter who they bring in as GM, this is an unfixable situation. What’s worse, it means that the team blew a boatload of cash on Larry Brown for nothing. But we already know that James Dolan doesn’t see money as an object.

I said I have an answer, and now I’m going to lay it on you. Now, I don’t know David Stern, so I can’t speak as to his positions on certain issues. But I think that the following proposal is reasonable enough that he just might consider it. Allow the Knicks to release the totality of their roster; each and every player. Oh, the Dolans will still pay the last remaining penny of the players’ contracts, but they will all be free to sign with whatever team they wish. There are certain logical issues pertaining to the salary cap that would need to be worked out, but that’s a detail for later. In return, all I would ask is that he zero out the team’s salary cap. And as an added proviso, the Knicks would not be allowed to re-sign any of the players they release.

That’s a lot to digest, I know. But read it over a few times, let it sink in. Don’t even think about what to do about putting guys on the court yet. I’ll get to that in due time. Actually, I’ll get to that now.

The Knicks coaching staff will hold try-outs for anyone interested in playing for the team. Yes, try-outs open to anyone, even the guy down the street who hustles little kids’ lunch money. After testing them physically and mentally, the coaching staff could pick the most coachable players who fit in their system. Voila! Here’s a team that could already do better than the current Knicks.

In the coming years, the team would be able to sign free agents, which would allow them to improve in one way rather than zero. And the in 2008 improvement is possible via the draft, and most likely trading will once again become an option. And a full two years ahead of Thomas’ current schedule.

(I must take this time to bring up an important point, possibly the most crucial argument for firing Isiah today. He has the team crippled through 2010. If he stays in office, he’ll extend that to 2011, and 2012, and onward until this power is stripped of him.)

Of course, this plan isn’t flawless. The Knicks still would not be competitive for a few years, though they are better off under my plan than Isiah’s current one. Honestly, if Thomas is to stay on as GM beyond this season, the Knicks might as well just forfeit their schedule.