Nov 05, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson talks with forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center. The Knicks defeated the Sixers 110-88. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Time to put up or shut up

May 5, 2013; New York, NY, USA; The New York Knicks look on during the final minutes of the second half of game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers. Pacers won the game 102-95. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

May 5, 2013; New York, NY, USA; The New York Knicks look on during the final minutes of the second half of game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers. Pacers won the game 102-95. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA preseason it heating up (well, as much as it can), and the New York Knicks are struggling. Although multiple teams excuse themselves, claiming that it’s just preseason, there’s something in the back of my head just saying “Is this reality?” Tip off against the meek Milwaukee Bucks is just around the corner and while most New Yorkers wait in anticipation for what looks to be a positive horizon after multiple years of struggle for the Knicks, I wait here just thinking “am I waiting for an implosion or explosion (a breakout season)?”

The Knicks had a solid offseason in which former general manager Glen Grunwald brought in Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace, while drafting the sharpshooting wing out of Michigan in Tim Hardaway Jr. and picking up UFA, C.J Leslie. One decision, which I feel that will hinder the Knicks is the pickup of free shooting PF (I use that term loosely), Andrea Bargnani. I mean the guy has done close to nothing in Toronto, what made Grunwald think that he should throw away the future or the franchise by giving away three picks and one of the best three point shooters in the league in Steve Novak for someone who can barley shoot the ball inside or outside and doesn’t look like they know what defense means is unimaginable.

Now with Denver and Toronto possessing what could have been the future of the Knicks franchise, it seems as though the Knicks only prospects are Iman Shumpert and Hardaway Jr… Someone needed to tell Grunwald/Dolan/Whoever runs the Knicks *cough Isiah Thomas cough* (we never know what Steve Mills is planning…) that free agency and cap space hasn’t worked in the Knicks favor in a long time so free agency usually isn’t the way to go.

I’m projecting the depth chart to look a little something like this:

PG – Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Beno Udrih

SG – Iman Shumpert, JR Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr.

SF – Metta World Peace, Andrea Bargnani, C.J Leslie

PF – Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin

C – Tyson Chandler, Cole Aldrich, Jeremy Tyler 

With clashing personalities such as World Peace, Martin, and most notably Smith there will be on court, off court, and any other possible issues you can think of. It seems as though Smith would rather “Pick up chicks or die trying” than focus on a crucial game six against the Pacers, or party with Rihanna rather than think of the Knicks actually have a chance of advancing past the first round in god knows how long, a day later. If Mike Woodson cannot get over the theory that keeping JR on a loose leash will lead him into becoming a normal adult who does not live by the messages Wiz Khalifa or any modern day hip hop star presents, then he is not the man for the job even if his record says so otherwise.

Leniency is one thing the Knicks cannot afford with the current state of the roster. If letting massive egos with practically no veteran leadership run the show then the Knicks will get nowhere this season. Let me be the first to say this, this Knicks roster has the tools that it takes to win. There’s the star player. The go-to guy who will always be relied upon to get a key bucket late in a game, and should be able to do everything else on the court.

Then there are the various role players who can each do different things that help the team. There’s the facilitator, who creates open looks for everyone else. There’s the scorer who provides a quick spark off the bench and maybe he can even take over for a while. The lockdown defender is supposed to stick on the opposing team’s best scorer and shut him down. The defensive big man should be able to clog up the paint, alter shots, and grab boards. The Knicks have all these key components but they could literally blow into pieces anytime, which is a worry that every Knicks fan should be worried about.

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Amar’e Stoudemire is not going to play a whole season, and after watching him struggle (understatement) against the Indiana Pacers it could potentially prove to be a blessing in disguise. Other injury prone players such as Bargnani and Tyson Chandler will definitely hurt the Knicks front court depth as they all seem incapable to be the stars (well, not Bargnani) that we have witnessed before.

With Chandler’s new intent to increase his limited role of defensive specialist to floor spacer with his new found love of the jump shot (I laughed as I wrote that), it seems as an experiment that could potentially lead to an on court implosion in which he lives in a fantasy in which he has the athleticism to get spacing from dominant centers such Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez, and Andrew Bynum (when fit) and allow himself to become a valuable contributor on offense.

Stick to running the pick and roll with Felton and put back dunks on the multiple misguided shots by non other than Smith, Tyson.

Onto the final, and what seems to be the most controversial decision that could impact the future of the franchise. Making Steve Mills the GM. Could someone please explain the logic? I mean honestly, Grunwald has proved one thing to me which most general managers to be at the threshold of the Knicks organizion, there was no sign of illogical moves, instead bargain buys that he managed to convince to come and play in the Mecca of Basketball.

Players such as World Peace and Udrih should be considered massive upgrades over former SF Novak and former PG Jason Kidd. He pulled all the right strings to build a competitor and now what is he? An advisor? What is that, Dolan’s lackey?

I understand multiple reports have broken through about the Knicks grooming former star, Allan Houston, for the job, but what was Grunwald doing wrong that he had to be replaced by a man that derailed the course of the Knicks franchise with his skeptical hire of former GM, Isiah Thomas?

Now don’t let this just point out that the Knicks have a lot of faults, as much as that is a reality, I would say they are a legitimate title contender. The Knicks have a superstar in Anthony who, personally is a top five player in the NBA behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard (when focused).

The Knicks have many egos that could make or break this team but when all the cogs are functioning this team is deadly on offense and potentially on defense with the additions of World Peace, Aldrich, and Tyler, and also from the first full season from budding star, Iman Shumpert.

Whenever you play in a big market (or the biggest in this case) you have to succeed to avoid scrutiny and with the roster they have, I can’t see why they can’t go farther than last year’s second round exit with everyone fit and a heap of new, ready to contribute additions. On paper this Knicks team is ready to make a run but are they ready mentally, and what seems to be an ongoing problem, physically?

The Knicks have the roster to prove a lot of critics wrong, but they also have a roster that could once again derail the team with their massive egos. This season could be a roller coaster once again so sit tight Knicks fans.  The return is near and so are the magnitude of antics by Smith, the aggressive behaviors of World Peace, Martin, and the countless other teams, and Woodson’s flawed attempts at offense.

Wow this should be fun!

Tags: J.R. Smith Metta World Peace Mike Woodson NBA Offseason New York Knicks Steve Mills

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