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Should we nix the Knicks already?
by Jon Finkel / October 4, 2002

With "Red Dragon" opening this weekend, millions of people will be packing theaters to watch crazy Hannibal Lecter help an FBI agent catch the crazy ‘Tooth Fairy’. Yet, while the attention will clearly be focused on faux insanity on the silver screen, many people will be ignoring real life mental instability on display in Charleston, South Carolina. Only, this form of ‘crazy’ does not manifest itself in cannibalism or murder. It bares its teeth in a form of unabashed, unfounded optimism known as delusion. Symptoms of delusion are as follows:

Your team is coming off the worst season it's had in 15 years, despite your two best players averaging the most points they’ve ever averaged per game in Knicks’ uniforms. One of these guys, Latrell Sprewell, inexplicably broke his left hand and will miss all of the preseason and two weeks of the regular season. This means he’ll probably be in top basketball form around the All-Star break. The other guy, Allan Houston, who is missing the first practice due to personal reasons, is an anchor on your salary cap and is so one dimensional Pong had better graphics. So, two fifths of your starting five are not attending camp on time, 1/5th, not at all.

Next up, you’ve got one of your most improved players from last year, Kurt Thomas, about to face charges for alleged third degree assault and risk of injury to a minor. Of course, he won’t be at camp either and that means that his almost 14 points and 9 boards a game won’t be ready for the season. Not to mention that he’s undersized anyway. So, now 3/5ths of your starting five are not available on the first day of camp.

Of the remaining two positions left in the starting five, one of them has to be a point guard, of which you really have none. After last season, it was determined by virtually every single beat writer, executive and fan, that what the Knicks needed was a point guard. They still need one. Charlie Ward and Howard Eisley combined aren’t half as good as the starting point guard who plays just a few miles away for New Jersey. So, four of the starting five positions are basically vacuums coming into preseason.

That leaves us with the one guaranteed starting player who will actually have a Knicks uniform on at the start of preseason: Antonio McDyess. The savior. The fruit of a blockbuster deal plucked off the tree of hope by the Knicks’ front office. Of course, since this is the Knicks, this fruit isn’t exactly ripe. This fruit is 6-9, with a bad knee, coming off a season where he played in only ten games because of that bad knee.

Let’s just say he’s 100%, for symptoms sake. At 100%, this is a guy who, if you combine his best two seasons, averaged 21 points and 11 boards a game. That’s not bad, if you do a million other things for your team and your name is Kevin Garnett. As far as McDyess goes, it’s not like he played his great years for a championship team. He played for the Denver Nuggets, hardly a bastion of potential franchise savers.

So there is your starting five... or one. What about the young guys?

There really aren’t any. Third-year swing man Lavor Postell had surgery to remove loose bodies from his left knee on Monday and is scheduled to miss six to eight weeks. The Knicks’ draft pick, Frank Williams, is still recovering from July surgery on his left wrist and won’t really practice with the team until next week. The next youngest guy in terms of years in the league is newly acquired Michael Doleac. There isn’t much to say for this acquisition other than the Knicks must have been restless after going too long without having a big tall white guy with a last name that starts with the letter ‘D’. Then again, it might not be too late to make a second blockbuster trade and get Chris Dudley back. Who could compete with a front court of Dudley and Doleac? I’d like to see it anyway. And now we’re back to the beginning.

I’m not a doctor, but if the head coach of your NBA team has all of these symptoms heading into the first day of camp and he tells a reporter, “I feel real good going into camp. I feel really refreshed...”. If he says that, well... he’s crazy. And if he’s crazy, there’ll be a movie made about him. So, be warned, movie fans...

Jon Finkel is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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