I stayed up for Monday night’s stink bomb against the Warriors, a game that went down about as smooth as a mayonnaise sandwich. If you watched it, or even glanced at the box score the following morning, you would realize that the Knicks did not play well.
But of note for me about the game, was the increasing clamoring around the interwebs for more minutes for Chris Copeland, the Knicks’ predator drone sent from overseas to destroy NBA defenses, or at least the ones remaining in the game in the late stages of blowouts.
That Copeland can score I think is beyond debate at this point. He can do that. If given ten or more minutes, he very well may score ten or more points. That’s sort of his jam.
And wanting the Knicks to play their optimal lineup is certainly a laudable goal. I equally see no reason why Copeland couldn’t be taking the six or seven, or so minutes we’re wasting on James White at the start of the game.
I’d even be inclined to see him take a certain number of the minutes currently allocated for Steve Novak, since Cope seems to give you almost equal the three-point marksmanship along with the ability to dribble and run at the same time, while playing a similar brand of “I’m doing my best” defense.
But there’s also something semi-depressing about this #FreeCope campaign, as it’s the kind of discussion that usually props up around teams that really just don’t have it.
There’s the palpable sense that this Knicks team is lacking something, that most of us know it, and knowing that the prospect of that missing thing coming from outside the organization is a ship that has sailed, we look around the bench hoping maybe that missing piece has been sitting there all along.
“What about that guy there!? He wouldn’t happen to be a championship caliber player, would he? No, not that one, THAT one.”
You see this phenomenon a little crosstown, where the Brooklyners have worked themselves into a similar tizzy in the name of MarShon Brooks, another player of some merit, but one who can’t realistically be expected to dramatically improve a team’s fortunes.
Which isn’t to say it’s not worth discussing what the optimal rotation should be. And yes, it’s quite likely that more minutes for Copeland and Prigioni, less for White and Thomas, might marginally improve New York’s prospects going forward. But I think this clamoring for Cope is more an acknowledgement of a lacking. An admission that the Knicks lack something essential.
And I know that’s awfully depressing, and “gee whiz what should we all just go home?” Well, no, because it’s certainly possible I’m wrong, we’ve seen loonier things in sports than a team as legitimately good as the Knicks going on a surprising run.
But if your sense is this Knicks team may be missing something, I still find it hard to imagine that thing is Chris Copeland.
Although, naturally, it still may be worth a shot, especially one as sweet looking as his.