The Knicks are reloading, under the premise that they won’t be able to acquire Chris Paul. Reaction is coming quick and guess what? The Knicks may not get their superstar and the fans are ok. The Knicks are close to moving pieces to make the Tyson Chandler signing official. Tim Smith of the Daily News believes that THIS could be the move that finally adds the element of the game that most fans/experts knew was missing: defense. Alan Hahn of Newsday says this move is beginning to give the team a boost of confidence that will surely help them moving forward. Mike Vacarro of the Post says the time is now for Mike D’Antoni to deliver. Or else. Marc Berman in his report also had a nugget about Mike Bibby being on his way today to sign a contract to become a New York Knick this morning. Interesting. Ian Thomsen of SI.com sees some similarities between the Knicks team getting Chandler and Boston getting Garnett.
I’m happy that the Knicks are opting for the more realistic approach. It seemed that they were waiting for the next superstar every single year. Rebuilding a perennial doormat in a basketball crazy town is difficult but I believe that this move more than the CP3 move is needed. Chris Paul would’ve been a luxury. One more super friend added to the list. Yes, having the offensive talents of all three would’ve been great but the game of basketball only allows ONE ball to be in play and so to have 3 guys share ONE basketball would’ve been a difficult transition for all three. Something the Heat are still trying to master. The Knicks however won’t have to worry about that. This move ALMOST takes them out of the CP3 running though there is a restructuring clause that allows the three guys with the big money contracts to work around their deals to free up cap space and give the team money to make a run at him. But let’s for a moment think realistically and admit that the CP3 deal is dead and deal with the here and now.
Here comes Tyson Chandler. 7’1 clogging up the paint as would be scorers try to have their way with quick slashing point guards and scorers. This is what the Knicks needed. A body occupying the paint that won’t allow teams to automatically score like its a lay up drill. No the defense wasn’t that bad, but by most metrics Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire aren’t exactly getting All-Defensive nods.
Its interesting though to look at the parallels between that Celtics team and this current Knick team. Chandler is not what Garnett is in terms of an offensive threat. But Garnett eschewed that when he came to Boston and he went to work on the defensive front to ensure that they would be a formidable team on that end. He knew what his lot on that basketball team was. His job was to make sure nobody THOUGHT about coming into the paint and if they did, they did so at their own risk.
Now, injury aside, the Knicks did the right thing. Kinda. I don’t love this move because it completely throws all the risk on to Amar’e knees. Without the amnesty clause in the Knicks back pocket they are completely unprotected from a catastrophe befalling Amar’e’s knees and killing the Knicks over the final 3 years of this contract. For four years, Knick fans will wait with baited breath everytime Amar’e falls to the floor. If for any reason he doesn’t get up, Knick fans will be worried and have the face they get when relatives call with bad news. MSG cameras will find fans with hands over their mouth and wide eyes. Guys holding their hips looking up at the jumbotron. Guys with their hands on their heads saying nothing for five minutes and then composing themselves and offering up the biggest FUCK YOU! You know the kind where you summon all the strength from the pit of your stomachs? Yeah, THAT kind.
But the Knicks made the right move. I began to think about what Donnie Walsh would’ve done in this situation. Yes Donnie is still involved as a consultant but the decision falls on Glen Grunwald and God bless him. This is HIS stamp. Glen Grunwald decided that the time was NOW for the Knicks. That Chris Paul was headed, likely, for a successful few years in Los Angeles where he would take the crown from Kobe and take over Hollywood. Grunwald knew he couldn’t put all his eggs in one basket waiting for the chance to not have a seat once this game of musical chairs ended and thus decided to take his chances on Chandler for this, and the next four years. Is the price high? Depends. That isn’t obvious to me at this point. The only thing obvious to me is that the Knicks have gotten better on paper.
But what if the Knicks had done the patient Donnie Walsh approach? We would most likely be looking at a Billups-Fields-Anthony-Stat-Turiaf team that never really got the chance to get a full season under them to mesh. Fields regressed after the Anthony trade because he was unsure how he fit in. Could they have been better? Sure. But the same defensive lapses would’ve been prevalent. But now, you play the season out and you say forget CP3. That trade, as proposed and which eventually will get done as trade talks have resumed, would’ve put the Lakers out of the running for Howard. Howard may get traded to Dallas (for who I want to know because I see nobody on the Mavs that I would be excited about if I were the Magic), OR to New Jersey. I don’t see him necessarily staying there. The Knicks may have had a chance to sign Dwight Howard as a free agent.
Of course that’s a chance that if you were willing to take, could’ve been a possibility. But there were no guarantees. Just like this deal isn’t guaranteed to make the Knicks better. Every deal has its finger crossing moments. But think about how Amar’e re-did his image during the first half of last season. He took over leadership. We laughed when he boldly proclaimed the Knicks were back. Who were they coming back with? Raymond Felton? Wilson Chandler? Timofey Mozgov? Give me a break. Well, guess what? The Knicks were back. It made Melo get antsy watching everything happening at the Garden and want to force a trade there and they did no matter how many times I objected to it. Had the Knicks waited for Anthony to come on board this season, imagine what the starting five would’ve been:
PG- Raymond Felton
SG- Wilson Chandler
SF- Carmelo Anthony
PF- Amar’e Stoudemire
C- Ronny Turiaf
Bench: Mozgov, Gallinari, Fields, Douglas, Walker, Shawne Williams
That’s a legitemate contender in the East. The Knicks don’t need an elite point guard. Now imagine the Knicks still had that team and went up to Orlando and said, here’s Gallinari, Felton and Mozgov and we’ll sign Wilson Chandler and trade him to you to make the numbers work. You’re telling me the Magic would’ve automatically rejected that? You’re telling me the Knicks couldn’t have put that to the Hornets? The Knicks would’ve had a Big 3. Unfortunately the Knicks couldn’t wait. They were too itchy. They were coerced into making a trade that if you asked Donnie Walsh in private circles with a few scotches and two packs of Marlboro Reds in him whether they should’ve waited on the Anthony deal he would’ve said yes. It was the right move. The Knicks were building something. They had a solid team that, if you watched them, HAD a solid young core learning to play with each other. I liked that team.
No I loved that team. That team made it worth it to watch the Knicks again. They were fun. They liked each other. The Garden was bumping again. They gave the Celtics fits and that team wouldn’t have laid down against the C’s like they did in Game 4. No, that team fed its energy off the crowd. The teams that went to the playoffs in the 90’s were built around one superstar and a bunch of guys whose careers were never promised to them, but earned. Yes they were talented but they were not great players. The Mavs proved that teams win championships. Guys like Tyson Chandler are the guys that the Knicks were avoiding. Guys like Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, are guys the Knicks were not going for.
The Knicks did the right move. This was a basketball move to make the Knicks relevant again. Am I sad that they have little to NO SHOT of getting Chris Paul or Dwight Howard now? Sure. But I saw a guy take his team through a 64 team tournament on his back. One superstar in his one year in college. Carmelo Anthony CAN lead his team but he needs a team. Grunwald is building him a team. I’m glad. The Knicks and its fans deserve one.
Go New York! Go New York! Go!
More reaction is coming out from that CP3 deal, which according to multiple sources is now being reworked and reframed to the Commissioner’s liking, and it ain’t good. Mike Wilbon of ESPN thought it showed how gutless the league and David Stern had become and speaking on similar themes, Bill Simmons said this will be the moment we knew that Stern didn’t have it anymore. Vishnu Parasuraman said the financials of the deal made no sense for the Hornets, a league owned franchise, to do.
Most people looked at the deal from just a player perspective and said this is a fair deal. They looked at Stern’s veto as being part of a larger fight between players and owners from their days at the bargaining table. They saw it as something personal and not business and that’s why feelings were hurt and people took such vitriol and hatred out against Stern. Which quite frankly was understandable.
Look, David Stern made the unpopular move but fair move considering the uncomfortable position he’s in with all 29 owners being part owners of the Hornets. Its not an easy position to be put in but the Commissioners job has never been an easy job. But this move seemed shady from the moment it was announced. Then the slap in the face: it was shot down for basketball reasons.
I understood it from a business sense: Who’s going to buy a team that has no viable superstar to build the team around or prospects of having a top draft pick in 2012? That’s why that Clippers deal was probably the best from a selling standpoint. Get young players AND get enticing draft picks. The Clippers offer, EVEN WITHOUT Eric Gordon would’ve been better per say. But this deal would’ve allowed the Lakers to save $10 million, money that would’ve went into resigning Paul to a long term extension. But you have the problem of Andrew Bynum’s contract which is a player option for next season. Something he would’ve picked up had he remained on the team leaving the Lakers with 6 million before the luxury tax. That’s why I felt that Bynum’s contract has to be moved in order to clear space for Howard.
But here’s the crazy part of this. Say Dwight Howard decides that he wants to come to the Lakers. Say the Magic and the Lakers don’t work out a trade during the season after the Lakers trade away everyone FOR Chris Paul. The Magic don’t find any takers for Dwight Howard or can’t make a deal that appeases them. In the offseason the Lakers can still pull a sign and trade and offer Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard which would clear out about 16 million in cap space to use that money on signing Dwight Howard. In that scenario the Lakers could win with CP3, Bynum, Metta World Peace and Black Mamba, and then go into next year, get younger and much better with a core of CP3, Metta, Mamba, and Dwight Howard. Now, in that scenario imagine what players who are in the I’m chasing a ring portion of their careers would think? Wouldn’t that situation be more appealing than playing for the Miami Heat? Somehow, Kobe wins. LA wins and most importantly and more to the disdain of Dan Gilbert, big markets win. *
*= This is all pending that I’m understanding this new CBA correctly.
But the hate towards Stern was expected but given the fact that the Lakers were basically giving themselves cap space to sign Howard and CP3, this looked bad. But we see, thanks to Grantland’s Vishnu, that it was bad financially for the league’s teams. Why would owners agree to a deal that virtually had them paying more for a team they are in direct competition with? That doesn’t make sense. It makes sense for the teams involved. The Lakers we know why it makes sense. For the Rockets it gives them a big man to fill the space that Yao Ming left when he retired and then they could’ve made a run at Nene by offering him a lot more money than I’m getting the feeling that Denver is actually willing to give up to sign him. The Hornets would’ve had a nice complement of talent and a number one draft pick (to be fair barring a complete collapse and multiple injuries that pick from the Knicks is going to be a late first rounder). They would’ve been a playoff competitor. Yet, Stern’s actions gave rise to the theory that perhaps Stern has more control that we care to admit, but it also created a situation where fans reacted before knowing the full story. What does that mean? That fans don’t trust Stern and maybe, Simmons is right: Stern’s power and influence being questioned is a sign that nobody is scared of him anymore.