Sometimes we have to stand up and do the right thing and not worry about what other people think. Owner James Dolan vetoed a trade for Kyle Lowry, as he was worried that he was being taken advantage of by Toronto’s general manager Masai Ujiri. Frank Isola reported “Dolan, didn’t want to get fleeced again by Masai [Ujiri],” considering Ujiri made the Knicks severely overpay for both Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani.
Well let’s start with Bargnani. He has been more than a capable Knick and he is playing center, not his natural position. With Tyson Chandler out and Woodson refusing to give Cole Aldrich any minutes, where would the Knicks be without Bargnani? Trading for Andrea Bargnani was good for the Knicks, worth the players and picks. Dolan was not fleeced; he stole an asset, versus giving one away with Jeremy Lin. Bargnani is starting to show good chemistry with Anthony, and in last night’s win against the Atlanta Hawks, Bargnani scored 23 points with 6 rebounds and was a plus 18. Each week that passes makes this look like a great trade for the Knicks.
Yes, we gave up a lot for Anthony, but like him or not, he is one of the elite scorers, players in the NBA. If Dolan does not salvage this season and Anthony leaves, then wait to hear the things the media will say about him. New York needs Anthony to stay, and to stay he needs to see the chance to win. As this current roster is built, that is not possible.
The NBA does not allow a team to trade two draft picks in consecutive years. With the Knicks owning picks in 2018, 2019, 2020, to surrender one too possibly save the season is worthwhile. The facts are draft picks don’t always pan out. Last year’s # 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, has been considered a bust so far for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Through the first four games of the season Bennett got off to one of the worst starts of any overall # 1 pick ever. According to ESPN Stats & Information, his two points on free throws are the fewest for a No. 1 pick through four games in the common draft era (since 1966).I’d rather have a proven NBA player, versus the risk of a rookie.
So Dolan, the proposed trade of Raymond Felton, Metta World Peace and 2018, # 1 pick for a proven point guard penetrator is actually a no brainer. Lowry, although not Chris Paul, is an upgrade over Ray Felton.
Coach Woodson, who was a forward in his day, just does not appreciate, or show the knack to develop guards. He was wrong on Jeremy Lin, who most GMs would choose over Felton today. He continues to misuse Iman Shumpert and has only diminished his value by his poor handling of this young man, once considered a future star. His erratic handling of Hardaway, who excels when given the minutes, is another prime example of how Woodson does not understand the psyche of guards. How does one of the most promising two guards (Shumpert) in years, literally fall out of favor with a coach? In preseason, Metta World Peace said he was one of the best shooting guards in the NBA and now he can’t throw the ball into the ocean.
Against Boston, Shumpert went 1 for 8, Smith took only one shot, and yet promising rookie Hardaway Jr., played only 9 minutes. The Knicks backcourt struggled at the end of the Boston game. The difference last night was Hardaway, who again scored in double figures. He scored 13 points in 27 minutes and is clearly outplaying Smith. With Smith not playing like the player of last year, Woodson needs to play this talented rookie more.
Woodson needs to better utilize and understand his backcourt. Last night against Atlanta, Shumpert was active. He was 1 for 2, with 6 rebounds and was a plus 25. He is playing hard, playing solid defense, but obviously no plays are called for him. He seems to have lost his confidence with his haircut. The Knicks shooting guards shot a collective 1 for 11, in the loss to Boston, for a total of 5 points. It’s tough to win in the NBA when a team’s shooting guards don’t shoot, can’t shoot, and collectively score 5 points. In the win last night in the win over Atlanta, Prigioni scored 11 points, Hardaway had 13, Beno Udrih had 10, and Shumpert had 3 and Smith 2 for a collective 39 points. The difference was more than just the obvious 29 point difference, the difference was a win.
The point guards of Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih shot a collective 1 for 9 for seven points in the loss to Boston. The Knicks backcourt against Boston scored a collective 12 points. Last night the point guards shot a collective 21 points and the Knicks won. If this is not reason to make the trade for Lowry, what is?
Although Woodson still tries to play small ball, his front-court showed when on the court at the same time, they can score. He needs consistent guard play and Lowry will only augment the play of the other Knick guards. In the loss to Boston, it was the Knicks front court that kept them in the game. Amar’e Stoudemire had 18 points, Andrea Bargnani 22 points and Carmelo Anthony 26 points. The problem in most losses this season has been in the backcourt most of this season.
Woodson was slow to play Prigioni this season, yet he definitely runs the team better than Felton. Why did it take him so long? Without his play in the fourth quarter last night, the Knicks would have lost. Last night in the win over Atlanta, his two three pointers and key assist for a Bargnani three late in the game, were instrumental to the Knick win. More importantly, his defense against Jeff Teague was superb. Teague was held to 4 points this game after running all over the Knicks and Felton in the prior loss to Atlanta.
The Knicks need a consistent, healthy point guard who can penetrate and score. Lowry and Prigioni are quick enough to keep pace with today’s speedy point guards. I love Prigioni and if no trade is made, he should start Pablo and Felton should come off the bench. Felton tries to act, whine, and complain like an All-star, but he has not earned that honor. Prigioni is 36 and needs help. With Smith healing, Shumpert slumping and Hardaway learning, Lowry is the smart choice. His ability to score, shoot the three, will take pressure of of Anthony. Currently opposing point guards literally drop off Knick guards to double team, Smith, Anthony, Shumpert, etc. This year Lowry is averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 assists per game. Although not a superstar his ability to penetrate and score will be an asset to this team. To play small, you have to play fast, move the ball up court, this is just not Felton’s style.
So Dolan, you built his ship, now you have to right it. Now is the time to do the right thing and change looks right from where I am sitting
Dr. Eric Kaplan is a bestselling author www.5minutemotivator.com
Follow him on twitter @drekaplan