At some point, this Carmelo Anthony thing has to become more than a fashion statement.
Thats what facing the New York Knicks, as they wait to take all that frontcourt talent -- Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler -- and turn themselves into a real-life contender.
Instead, the Knicks seem to be stuck in the muck, spinning their wheels, trying to find the right combinations and the right coach.
Today, the man in charge is Mike Woodson, a defensive-minded type who always did a fairly underrated job a few years back with the Atlanta Hawks. As for the roster, well, its really more of the same. Its more of keeping the big-name parts in place, adding a few pieces, and hoping for the best.
In the Anthony era, that hasnt really worked.
So why do the Knicks feel that things might end up differently this time?
Well, who really knows?
Perhaps because Woodson brings an isolation-style offense and Anthony is an isolation-style player. Or maybe because this is the second full season of Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler. Or maybe well, maybe the Knicks dont know. Based on the previous decade, you certainly have to suspect that prospect exists.
On the bright side, the Knicks are a playoff team. Once you get there, the possibilities are endless, right? Right.
On the downside, weve all seen this act before. Anthony scores, Chandler rebounds, Stoudemire runs the floor and the Knicks go nowhere special.
If thats again the case, its probably time to close the curtain on this act. Either that, or convince Anthony hes best-suited to be option 1-A on offense. At some point, the Knicks may need to accept that as a real option.
Last season: 36-30, lost to Miami in first round of playoffs.
Coach: Mike Woodson (eighth year, 224-292).
Top returnees: SF Carmelo Anthony, PF Amare Stoudemire, C Tyson Chandler.
Key additions: PG Raymond Felton, PG Jason Kidd, SG Ronnie Brewer, C Marcus Camby.
X-Factor: Felton. Sure sign of trouble? If Kidd is directing the starters on a regular basis. Not that the future Hall-of-Famer is a total dud these days. Its just that Felton was brought back primarily as a steady hand with fresh legs. Thats been a little bit of an issue for him in previous stops, both in Portland last year and previously with the Knicks. Basically, hes forever been stuck somewhere between decent starter and really good backup. Like so many others around him, this needs to be the year he puts it all together.
Strengths: Say whatever you wish about Anthony, but the bottom line is the man can light it up against anyone, anywhere. He often rises to the occasion (something his playoff failures tend to make fans neglect), occiasionally saving his best performances for the brightest of opponents. As for Stoudemire and Chandler, well, theres no ignoring their many positive traits, either. Both are pros in the truest sense (the occasional blows to fire extinguishers be darned), creating a scary tower of athleticism near the rim. Also, the leadership and past successes of the likes of Kidd, Camby and even Rasheed Wallace shouldnt be overlooked.
Weaknesses: The Knicks havent frightened anyone defensively in ages -- although a full season of Woodson and Chandler could change that. Besides, the Knicks should be able to win games simply by outscoring you. That hasnt been the case. So whats the problem? Two words: Ball movement. Without out, theyll just keep right on being the same old Knicks.
Outlook: Go ahead. Take a stab at this one. The Knicks look much better than a team thats likely to finish sixth or seventh in the conference yet does anyone truly have confidence it can happen? We all know it could. We all know it might not. Chances are, the Knicks will keep us wondering until the very end. Same as it ever was.
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