Looking for Positives

I’ve been told that I’ve become more negative since starting theknicksblog in April of 2008. As a person I most certainly have not, but as a Knicks fan, maybe I have.

I was told I was starting to sound like the beat writers, who are constantly emulating negative energy. I hope it hasn’t become that bad, but I can see there being instances of this.

I started this blog at the absolute worst time period in the history of what I consider a great franchise. Some disagree and believe the Knicks are the worst franchise in sports history, while the fact is the end of the Isiah era Knicks earned the right to be called the absolute worst at that time. Over the course of history, however, I take exception due to the 1970s group and the 10 years of consistent playoff success they had in the 1990s championships or not.

I did not start this blog to offend anyone on Twitter, which has become common place recently. I can’t help if people get offended, I know what I know and I stand by my honest opinions. I guess I really upset people sometimes. That’s not my intention, but from day 1 writers weren’t used to being questioned. If you know me, and I mean REALLY know me, I’m steadfast in what I know about the game through years of experiences including playing, coaching, writing, reporting and scouting. The fact is I can’t stand the media room in the same ways the guys who have to do it every day do. I enjoy talent evaluation and while some want to constantly badger and needle me about Iman Shumpert, which is fair, I feel very confident I know talent. Trust me, going out on a limb and putting yourself out there about a player is much harder than getting post game quotes or having an anonymous opinion. You leave yourself exposed and I’m very much okay with that.

Anyway back to 2008 and in walks Donnie Walsh who promptly laid down a plan- a plan that James Dolan agreed to. No more mindless decisions, just a path to 2010 that would allow them to go shopping in the greatest free agent market in NBA history. It made sense and it brought a desperate franchise that had just lived through the filthiest period their own history the hope of improvement.

Things didn’t work out quite as planned. The Knicks couldn’t sell Lebron James on playing pick and roll with Amar’e Stoudemire for Mike D’Antoni and the big 3 united in South Beach. I remember thinking that night, based on what I had heard, the Knicks were getting Carmelo Anthony and when that happened could he and Amar’e play together because the heat were going to dominate the Eastern Conference for the next 6 years. It threw off the entire dynamics of the NBA. If the Knicks were going to win a title they had to bring in Melo one way or the other without hopefully overpaying and surround the two with veterans. If D’Antoni weren’t the answer, as many thought, who would be?

So many questions to process on decision night.

What’s happened since then is now common knowledge. Melo trade, playoff loss, Chandler trade, coach fired, coach hired and 1 playoff win.

So now what? First and foremost the Knicks have to identify their roster structure and wait for the Lin/Novak Bird rights hearing. I’m not holding my breath on that one, which means the Knicks, who will sign Linsanity, will may let Novak walk. I say this, and I could be wrong, but if Mike Woodson is going to succeed he has to be given the best chance to win without Mike D’Antoni players and let’s face it Novak benefitted from the system. When Woodson first took the job he ran D’Antoni’s offense until he could put his own in and, again, let’s be honest, if D’Antoni needed a “defensive coordinator” then Woodson needs an “offensive coordinator.” What is also of concern is that based on Woodson’s contract, he’ll be a lame duck quickly and you know how I feel about lame duck situations.  Does it make any sense to you that Woodson coach the former coach’s type of players? And that includes Landry Fields. The basic fact is that coaches need certain types of players. I mean, where would Woodson’s Hawks have been without Flip Murray?

From a roster perspective, especially if the give Lin the full MLE, what’s next? I hope Lamar Odom comes here, but he would have made far more sense in the triangle and he loves LA, so I’d don’t see it happening. Odom, himself, improves the Knicks in several areas including rebounding, second chance points and getting out in transition. I maintain if the Knicks hired Jackson and brought in Odom and one or 2 other veterans along with a smart 2nd round choice, the Knicks would have improved drastically. They would have been a 50-plus win team and won the Atlantic. This is not a knock on Mike Woodson but there’s a reason guys like Shane Battier sign in Miami and it’s called the best chance for a title. Not hiring Jackson makes the front office’s job harder to improve. What the plan is, I don’t know, but the positive sign is that they have one.

We’ll just have to wait and see what that is through their roster decisions.

You can bet on this, though. If Linsanity has any struggles you will directly hear criticisms  aimed at Carmelo. How fair that is, I’m not sure, but if the teams stays flat or takes a step backwards this will quickly be a Melo vs. Lin situation. I think Lin is a savvy enough player to learn to play off of Melo, and he needs to, but it’s not going to be off of pick and roll every possession it’s going to be out of transition and, more importantly, spot shooting.

The Knicks have a player who had more than a few key moments at the Garden and won the Player of the Month Award heading into the playoffs. They have the Defensive Player of the Year, an impact rookie that they hope can come back from a devastating knee injury. The have another guard coming back from a knee, who may have been the best story of the entire NBA season. He has to prove he can do it 82 times and on into the playoffs. They have a coach that holds players accountable.

There are positives, but, to me, this is about getting past the Miami heat and based on what we saw in the playoffs they have a long way to go to get there. Longer than I would have thought looking back to 2008.