Real quick, take a glance at the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets this season. Then look at the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. Do you notice anything strange, wildly ironic or absolutely comical?
If you’re a sports fan who despises everything about New York, this is about as good as it gets for you. The Yankees manage 60 wins in a season pales in comparison to what both the Knicks and Nets are doing right now.
I’m not the type to spend my expendable energy despising New York or any of its teams. However, I am one who despises how the Knicks and Nets have operated over the majority of the last decade.
Both teams have helped transition the NBA into a new era of sorts when the Nets added Deron Williams and the Knicks added Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Both teams are about to help the NBA transition back out of that era by proving, first hand, how reckless near sightedness can be.
Over the last five or so years, a lot of dumb moves have been made by various NBA front offices, but the Knicks and Nets stand atop everyone in that department—ok and the Timberwolves, too.
New York Knicks
Yesterday I was on the NBA Trade Machine trying to figure out a way the Knicks could either rid themselves of Stoudemire or acquire Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Ramon Sessions. Eventually I settled on a trade scenario where the Cavs give up Sessions in exchange for Renaldo Balkman, Toney Douglas and Bill Walker—along with the Knicks' 2012 first-round pick. But shortly after, I was reminded that the Knicks do not have a first-round pick to trade this year.
They sure fooled me alright. They’ve been flinging around those picks for years; I just assumed they had an endless supply of them to trade every season. Nope, they don’t. They don’t have a 2014 first-rounder either. Heck, I don’t even know if they have one in 2015 or 2016. My point is that the Knicks are in one messed up position.
All you really need to know about the Knicks is that they are currently shopping Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler—two All-Star players that the Knicks, in consecutive years, signed to near max deals.
New Jersey Nets
Last year the Nets basically sold house to acquire point guard Deron Williams—a point guard. Yes, a top-five or top-six point guard and borderline superstar, but still—a point guard. A point guard surrounded with no teammates of real value. In doing so, the Nets gave away their 2011 and 2012 first-rounder's (from Golden State), along with Derrick Favors (their 2010 first-round selection, No. 3 overall) and Devin Harris.
Ok, I’m making them seem dumber than they actually are. The truth is that they went after Williams so that they could then persuade and pursue Dwight Howard. Uh oh, one problem: How are you going to trade for Howard when your only tradable asset is Williams?
That’s ok though, they can wait for Howard’s free agency. But wait—how are you going to sign Howard next year when your team is absolutely terrible?
Perhaps, the better question is: How are you going to sign Howard when you also face the task of trying to re-sign Williams, who by the way, will have just played an entire season on a god-awful team?
But let’s not forget the years leading up to these big moves, when both New Jersey and New York purposely put themselves and their fans through hell just to be able to have the “opportunity” to sign two big-time stars—whoever they may be. Or ,should I say the opportunity to sign LeBron James and another star.
What we have here are two teams whose front offices (not players) essentially began tanking it years in advance just so they would have enough coin to pair a couple of stars together. In doing so, they left Denver and Utah hopeless (at the time), and further hurt the NBA image.
So I have to ask: Does anyone outside of New York not love what is happening with the Knicks and Nets right now?
Surprisingly, I’m one of the few who is getting a genuine kick from watching these two teams struggle. That’s because I fall in the minority in that, throughout the last year and a half, I have never abandoned the NBA and my crappy small-market team. A lot of other people have and that’s why they could care less about the league and whether or not the Knicks and Nets struggling or not.
With that said, I've got some news for some people out there: You should start caring again. You should start caring because, just like that (me snapping my fingers), the small-market teams are on their way back.
The truth of the matter is that only five NBA teams have been constructed solely by means of acquiring key players through free agency and trade. Those teams are the Knicks, Heat, Celtics, Clippers and the Nets. One of those teams is top-five lottery-bound (Nets), two look absolutely terrible (Knicks and Celtics) and the other two (Heat and Clippers) will comfortably make the playoffs and have a good opportunity to compete for a championship. Surprising isn’t it?
I thought some of these teams were supposed to nominate themselves for voluntary contraction?
I thought their fans were supposed to find a new team to root for?
I thought it wasn’t possible to compete with a team that was built from the bottom up—the old-fashioned all natural way?
Did we just spend the last two years of our lives overreacting to a few trades, signings and decisions?
Or did I just spend the last 20 minutes of my life overreacting to the events that have occurred through the first month of this lockout-shortened NBA season?
I guess we will just have to wait and see.