NBA: The New York Knicks, the "Big 3," and All That Power
Kanye West’s "Power" sounded through Madison Square Garden during the February 2 game against the Bulls. “No one man should have so much power,” Kanye chants. It’s true. Such is the fundamental problem with the new New York Knicks. So much power. The Knicks have amazing powerhouses in Carmelo, Amar’e, and Tyson, but do they complement each other? The answer, as everyone is discovering, is no.
Not to play the “I told you so” card, but I saw this coming. Who remembers the beginning of the 2010-2011 season? I do. Ray Felton, Amar’e, Landry Fields, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler were lighting it up. The Knicks were back, and in a way that they hadn’t been back in a decade at least. Amar’e was the star of New York City, and his supporting cast did just that: support.
With Felton running the point, Amar’e was in his glory, getting touches and great looks like there was no tomorrow. The rookie Landry Fields had breakout games and gained recognition and popularity as a starter for one of the biggest market teams in the world. Wilson Chandler obliterated the boards as one of the most aggressive big men in the league. Gallinari gained the respect of a nation over the course of his 2.5 year stint with the Knicks.
And then: Melo.
Melo to the Knicks was going to happen. It was the most talked about trade of early 2011, and no one doubted that Melo would be wearing the Knicks’ orange and blue by the 2011-2012 season. Here came the problem: the Nuggets didn’t want a LeBron-leaves-Cleveland-with-the-worst-team-in-the-NBA-and-little-else situation on their hands. The Knicks could have waited to sign Melo. [Sic] it, they SHOULD have waited for his free agency to start over the summer. But the instant gratification mindset of…wait, EVERYBODY in New York City led to the premature signing of Carmelo Anthony (and precious one other piece) for a solid percentage of the Knicks’ bench, and the majority of their starting lineup
Denver got the better end of that trade.
Friends of mine, die-hard Knicks fans, refused to believe that. They railed on me via Twitter for being unsupportive of the trade for Melo. Don’t get me wrong, Melo is one of the best shooters and scorers there is. He’s proved that for years. But when you’re gaining an offensive power, adding him to a different kind of offensive power, and sacrificing most of your starting lineup (as well as the majority of your defense), you don’t get a powerhouse team; you get a clash of the titans. And not the good Miami Heat vs. L.A. Lakers kind.
Answer this for me: who was running the point when Ray Felton was unceremoniously shipped off to the Mile High city? (Can you tell I’m still bitter about this? I think Felton did more for Amar’e’s stardom in New York City than Amar’e did.) The answer is, the only other piece that was of any value to the Knicks from the Nuggets: Chauncey Billups. And where is Mr. Big Shot now? In L.A., where the big shots go. But that's another story.
And now who’s running the point for the Knicks? A quietly out of place and inconsistent Toney Douglas? A hot shot rookie who takes more shots than he earns in Iman Shumpert? A recent D-League call-up in JEREMY LIN? For God’s sake. It is impossible to construct a decent offense when no one is in charge. Not only that, but Amar’e and Carmelo are both ball stoppers. They make buckets. They’re not role players; they’re superstars.
I'm going to come right out and say it. The Knicks have bad chemistry. Do you know why LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh are winning games? It's because they have chemistry. Good chemistry. If the Heat’s "Big Three" are the paper-mâché volcano of the NBA "Big Three" model, with lava smoothly oozing down the sides in perfect distribution, the Knicks are like an accident-prone bottle rocket project—taking off with admirable force, but inevitably shooting off into the unsuspecting owner’s crotch. An F+, if you will, in the world of acquiring NBA talent (what that means is that they tried really hard, it just blew up in their faces).
What Knicks management has failed to realize is that acquiring a "Big Three" means nothing if the teamwork isn’t there. Getting into salary cap trouble, gutting the roster, and signing the big name instead of the key player, all for the sake of claiming a "Big Three" isn’t worth the breath you used to say it. Not yet anyway.
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