Knicks fans have been waiting until next year for that elusive third NBA title since 1973.Â By contrast the Knicks opponents in that 1973 tilt, the Los Angeles Lakers, have won ten NBA titles since 1973.Â The disparate trajectories of these two franchises continues up to this day.Â As the Knicks mourn another season without a championship, the Lakers are still alive in the playoffs trying to claw their way to their third title in as many years.Â Instead of vaulting into their customary “wait til next year” mode, it might behoove Knicks fans and the organization to take a close look at this Lakers team, or better yet the Celtics team that just eliminated them from the playoffs, and give some serious thought to where this team is now before beginning to fantasize about next year.
As they currently stand this Knicks squad has two superstars and a bunch of spare parts that don’t add up to much.Â Given their performances in games 1&2 of this series with Boston some might think that games 3&4 were the anomalies, but it’s quite the opposite.Â Boston should sweep any team where Bill Walker and Jared Jeffries are given significant playing time and a rookie is starting at shooting guard.Â Even Jordan, Kobe and Lebron struggled during their first playoff campaigns so it should not have come as a surprise that the learning curve would be a steep one for Landry Fields.
Fields is the least of the Knicks’ problems. The Knicks have struggled throughout this last decade to develop in house talent.Â When they finally did, they jettisoned them all first for future salary cap savings in the David Lee trade, then in return for Carmelo Anthony in the mid season trade for the Knicks.Â As I pointed out last week, the problem was not what the Knicks gave up to get Anthony but what they got in return and what they’ve been getting in return of late in most of their deals–which is nothing much.
Here is the booty that the Knicks have scored in trades over the past two years: Carmelo Anthony, Kelenna Azubuike, Renaldo Balkman, Chauncey Billups, Corey Brewer, Anthony Carter, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and Shelden Williams.Â On face value this is not that bad of a haul.Â But since this is the Knicks we’re talking about, Azubuike has been felled by injuries, Anthony Randolph never made it out of Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse, and Corey Brewer was rejected outright by D’Antoni.Â This is particularly troublesome when you consider that in addition to Lee, the Knicks also relinquished homegrown talents Wilson Chandler andÂ Danilo Gallinari in these trades.Â These moves have left the organization’s cupboards bare, and as much as Carmelo’s a draw, Miami’s struggles this year also proved that it’s harder to find the role players to complement superstars than most people realize.
Every GM in the NBA knows that the Knicks will overpay for talent.Â In order for the franchise to get to the next level it needs to study the recent history of LA and Boston and realize that finding the right player requires finding the right trading partner.Â Put another way, if the Knicks are going to win a title in the next 3-4 years Donnie Walsh is going to have to fleece another GM in the same way that Danny Ainge and Mitch Kupchak did Kevin McHale and Chris Wallace respectively.
And as much as it pains Knicks fans to think of this, but they should brace themselvesÂ for steady helpings of Bill Walker and Toney Douglass in crunch time, because if these guys don’t learn to play in tight games now, they won’t be able to play in them…next year.