Will this year’s version of the New York Knicks return to the Beast of the East status? Well, if you look at them now on paper you have to consider the two behemoths on the low blocks: 6-feet-11 and 280 pounds of Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph – all 6-feet-9 and 260 pounds of him. You can couple that with Jerome James and there’s quite a lot of beef to push and shove around. Not to mention guard Stephon Marbury, who’s built like a Mack truck and the muscular and physical types Quentin Richardson, Nate Robinson and Fred Jones. You have what head coach Isiah Thomas is calling “an athletic power team”.
Of course with the new and improved rules regarding hand checking, the Knicks will not exactly resemble the Knicks of the Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason era of slug ball. But with the offensive-minded Randolph and Curry, they can make life miserable for opposing big men.
And the notion of both not being able to operate in the low blocks is pure unadulterated hogwash. I mean… Didn’t the Bird era Boston Celtics feature Kevin McHale and Robert Parish in the low docks? Didn’t the Magic Johnson era feature James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Magic too would post up a pint-sized guard on several possessions during a game. And in the Isiah era Pistons, before Mark Aguirre came on scene, there was Adrian Dantley and James Edwards.
So in the end, the Knicks can never have enough weapons of destruction in the paint. During the playoffs (and yes, I’m thinking playoffs for the Knicks next season), there’s not as much of the Phoenix style up-and-down-the-court stuff as you would get in the regular season. Each and every possession makes or breaks your season.
Now that the East has brought over three of the West 20-point scorers in Randolph, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the Knicks will have to upgrade their perimeter defense if they are going to be taken seriously. Could Ron Artest be the next reclamation project that Isiah takes on?
If all the Knicks had to give up was a combo of Jared Jeffries and Nate Robinson, then they may have to think about that one. But then again, after Robinson’s stellar performance in the Vegas Summer League, the Knicks may not be willing to do that after all. Sure, Robinson can be a little immature and in some cases a head case but there’s no denying his basketball skills.
And we can’t forget that Jeffries is just a role player. He’s not asked to do any scoring (the Knicks have more than their share of scorers), but defending and rebounding and keeping things even-keeled. He suffered a wrist injury and missed the first 20-something games and then got suspended another 4 games because of his part in the brawl with the Denver Nuggets, and was never really in tuned.
David Lee is off limits.
So the Artest deal may be a dead issue for a while. Besides they’re very high on first-round pick Wilson Chandler and second-rounder Demetris Nichols. Both players, along with sophomore Renaldo Balkman, really showed their stuff in the Vegas League.
Nichols sports NBA shooting range and has shown an ability to put the ball on the floor some, while Chandler is an all-around talent who can shoot, dribble, pass, defend, rebound and jump. So it’s almost a certainty that other moves or buyouts are in the offing because they have 17 bonafide NBA players on the roster.