Danilo vs. Carmelo: a spirited battle of ridiculously Italian first names.

A Time To Reflect On Where The Knicks Were This Summer

After failing to get LeBron James in the off-season, followed by a pre-season loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, things looked bleak this summer, but what a difference a few months makes.  Antony Marino takes us through the lows of our past, up to the highs of our present (without using drugs):

Good afternoon, children. The day after another thrilling Knicks victory, I think it only right to look back at the summer that was and was not. I, like many of our loyal followers, had anticipated the Summer of 2010 years in advance. Unlike summers prior when all I had to look forward to was defending the merits of Renaldo Balkman (“He is, by far, the best dreadlocked Knick since Jamison Brewer, and his weed is fantastic”) or watching Nate Robinson courageously defy the Las Vegas Summer League age restriction policies into his mid-thirties, there was actual cause for legitimate excitement.

This would be the summer that the Knicks finally had the cap room and, conceivably, the know-how to make wholesale changes to a moribund roster. Gone were the affable chuckers (Harrington, Al), the gimpy veterans (McGrady, Tracy), and the uncoordinated fat kids (Duhon, Chris). In came an influx of cap money and a puncher’s chance at the greatest free agency class in league history. We wanted LeBron. I know it, you know it, LeBron knows it. When Donnie Walnuts signed Amare Stoudemire to a near $100 million deal, I considered it a prelude to the arrival of another star. Sure, Amare was a great pick up, but with his questionable knees, work ethic and fashion sense (high shorts and recspecs?!) seemed to be the bait for another big fish…

When The Decision occurred two things happened. One, the brave young members of the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club could finally afford to install the infinity pool they had so pined for. Two, LeBron James was gone. To South Beach. With Satan Riley. And Dwayne Wade. And Charles Smith Chris Bosh. Knicks fans, comforted only by their thankful geographic distance from the City of Cleveland, are a tough bunch however, and had to move on from this disappointment. But move on to what? Amare and a pudgy Larry Brown castoff were to lead this clan of career losers coached by Pringles salesmen and signed by everyone’s mean grandpa. With Landry “No Seriously, Who?” Fields and the palest man in college basketball being the team’s only draft picks, coupled with the fact that Danilo Gallinari showed up to training camp looking like a Barilla quality control tester, things looked very bleak indeed.

The team struggled to gel in preseason. Raymond Felton had no concept of the pick and roll and Amare Stoudemire refused to pass out of double teams. Gallinari’s shot was off, Anthony Randolph seemed perpetually concussed and Eddy Curry continued to exist. As the losses mounted in November, the Knicks seemed headed for another decade of irrelevance, mismanagement and sexual misconduct (just a hunch, Donnie you scoundrel).

And yet through the blown leads, flat first quarters and bad losses, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope in Amare Stoudemire. He was indefatigable on the offensive end, and showed newfound pride defending the rim. He backed down from no one, and a formerly rudderless supporting cast seemed to take notice.

By mid-November, Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton were both playing at a All-Star levels; trusting teammates and moving the basketball like a high school team (that’s a good thing). The Knicks started beating up on weak opponents, and had won twelve out of thirteen before lacing up against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon. The New Yorkers would finally face a talented team with a franchise player. The surging Knicks could simultaneously see where they measured up against quality opposition while contemplating the addition of the opponent’s finest player. Awesome.

When the dust settled, the Knicks withstood a typically brilliant outing from Carmelo Anthony, resulting in a team-oriented victory in front of an electrified Garden crowd. Knicks fans were left with questions such as, “Would Carmelo’s isolation game adapt to our ball movement offense?”, “Could anyone stop the Anthony/Stoudemire pick and roll?” and “Does art imitate Amare or does Amare imitate art?” Even pondering these shockingly plausible questions just a year ago would have been a practice of absurdity, but now there is cause for hope.

The New York Knicks have won fourteen out of fifteen games—anything is possible.

Tags: Al Harrington Amare Stoudemire Antony Marino Carmelo Anthony Charles Smith Chris Bosh Chris Duhon Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets Donnie Walsh Dwayne Wade Eddy Curry Jamison Brewer Landry Fields LeBron James Nate Robinson New York Knicks Pat Riley Raymond Felton Renaldo Balkman

  • http://www.shattertheglass.com bgalella

    Amar’e Stoudemire has been the best signing of the summer of 2010.

    He completely changed the culture in New York, has brought fans back to the team and the passion back to Knicks basketball.

    His impact is more than the 30-point streak he’s having, players are coming to a team now, not trying to rescue a horrible franchise.

    Can’t say enough about him and Raymond Felton.

  • http://www.basketballcourtnewyork.com/ New York Basketball Courts

    They are commenting now on how Melo wouldnt fit dantonis system. I just think of how good they are doing now and can’t believe they would not be better with his addition. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  • JD

    Melo traditionally runs his offense through isolation plays He can’t just get his points while dominating the ball because that’s how Felton and Amar’e like to play, so their aren’t enough positions for that style.

    However I think all three players are more then capable of playing off the ball and catching and shooting when one of their teammates draws double teams, so I do believe Melo can fit into the Knicks system.

    If the Knicks can retain Felton, Amar’e, Chandler and Fields/or Douglas, while adding Melo then they’ll be in great shape heading into the playoffs. New York just can’t lose the defense they get from Fields & Chandler in any deal for Melo.

  • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

    Yeah, I think one of the key things to provide insight on whether Melo could work in a non-iso style is how he played with Team USA. They didn’t do the Denver Nuggets’ old lame NBA-style of just giving the ball to one person while everyone else clears out, so it’s clear that Melo can be effective in other ways. The key thing though is that Melo would have to work on his three-point shot too, because when Amar’e and/or Felton are attacking the paint, he needs to be able to consistently hit the long ball to keep opposing Ds honest.

  • JD

    What makes Melo a great catch for me is the fact that he can do the Paul Pierce thing. No I don’t mean look stupid as he tries to dance after hitting a shot, ending up looking like a drunken 80 year old in the process. What I mean is that Melo can take a couple of dribbles, step back, and hit a game winning mid-ranged jumper with no time left on the clock.

    After last nights game I figure New Yorkers would be clamoring for that.

    • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      Then again, isn’t that sorta what Amar’e showed he can do last night (assuming there’s more than .4 seconds left on the clock)? And it wasn’t the first time he’s hit big clutch threes down the stretch this season. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Melo, and talent is talent, but I feel like adding him might make us a top 4 team in the East, but not a serious contender. A sorta east coast version of the Mavericks. One of the best of the best, but highly unlikely to win it all unless everything falls just right (as it almost did for Dallas that one season before Wade went nuts).

  • sage

    If the Knicks want to contend it will come down to defense. Right now we’re on the path the Phoenix Suns travelled. 50+ wins a year, best offense in the game, worst defense in the game, playoffs every year, zero titles.

    If the Knicks can land Melo without giving up their best wing defender (Chandler) and instill a defensive minded coach (the assistant in San Antonio is looking to be head coach), while adding a couple more defensive specialists around Melo/STAT, then the Knicks can contend.

    I don’t believe trading for Melo will prevent New York from contending for a title, so long as they don’t give up a key piece in the trade and are able to make the right moves afterward.

    Poor, poor Mavericks. Why must they always end up as the butt of someone’s jokes? Was it the choking in the finals thing or the making history losing to an 8th seed in the first round?