The New York Knicks find themselves in a much more favorable position at this season's midpoint than they have through any first half in the team's recent history. At 30-15, they're just one half-game behind the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference's top seed. At long last, the team is mostly healthy, and New York's weaknesses have evaporated as the season progresses.
One issue that's been lingering for the Knicks, however, is their durability at the point-guard position. Starter Raymond Felton's finger injury kept him out for a 12-game stretch last month. He worked to rehab that broken pinkie, but if the guard breaks or re-injures the finger, it could mean a lost season for the Knicks.
Felton explained recently that if he suffers another break to his pinkie, he'd be out for the season.
As recently as Feb. 1 again the Milwaukee Bucks, Felton was seen doubled over in pain after bruising the finger. He missed much of the second half, but returned for the final minutes as the Knicks went on to beat the Bucks by double digits.
You may be asking why Mike Woodson opted to sub Felton back in for such insignificant minutes, when any serious blow to the hand could have derailed the Knicks' championship hopes. Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal's recent article also poses the same questions.
Is Knicks coach Mike Woodson is trusting his injured veterans too much when they say they're good to play? online.wsj.com/article/SB1000…— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) February 2, 2013
The fact of the matter is that Woodson hasn't shied away from getting his banged-up veterans back onto the court—even knowing their sensitive injury matters—and it could mean long-term problems, especially with the postseason still months down the road.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jason Kidd has also fallen victim to Woodson's lack of judgement.
Kidd handled the starting point-guard duties in Felton's absence, but his production dwindled in that month-long span. He shot 42 percent, including 39 percent from downtown, both down from his season averages.
Kidd, too, has been battling health issues throughout the year. His constant back spasms have limited his minutes and production as of late.
Those spasms have sidelined Kidd sporadically this year, usually for single-game absences. Couple the team's health troubles at the 1 spot with the impending trade deadline on Feb. 21, and one could presume that the Knicks ought to make a deal to sure up their point-guard situation that's about as sturdy as a house of cards.
Shaking up the team's core nucleus wouldn't be wise, since the Knicks are enjoying their greatest success in over a decade. General manager Glen Grunwald could instead explore more low-key trading options. This particular deal could lock in the Knicks as a championship contender for 2013.
In the potential deal, New York could send over guard Ronnie Brewer, who hasn't had a role on this Knicks team since Iman Shumpert returned from knee surgery, and a promising young piece in Chris Copeland.
For New York, the deal would secure that Woodson could make use of his valuable dual-point-guard lineups. Two of the Knicks most offensively efficient five-man units have been ones anchored by backcourt duos of Felton/Kidd and Pablo Prigioni/Kidd (via 82games). Adding Telfair into the mix would allow for additional rest to Kidd and Felton without sacrificing much backcourt production.
As seen below, Telfair's production isn't as far off from the Knicks' current point trio as you may presume.
As a reserve option, adding to the squad led by J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire, Telfair would only need to be adequate enough to hold his own weight in the offense—his duties would primarily consist of possessing the ball securely. He seems to fit the bill, having averaged just 1.2 giveaways per contest.
Losing Brewer and Copeland from the mix wouldn't be detrimental to the team's championship pursuit. Brewer is a player without a role—he's averaged just 2.6 minutes since Iman Shumpert's comeback from injury.
Copeland has displayed a strong scoring ability in 2012-13, his rookie season after a brief stint overseas. His defense and rebounding, however, aren't up to par with the standards of other 6'8", 225-pound forwards. He's recorded just 1.3 boards per game. The project-nature of his career in its current state seems to fit Phoenix's roster much more than New York's.
Telfair has the ability to create off the dribble, as well as making necessary feeds. Surrounded by the talent the Knicks' roster boasts, and led by a head coach as influential as Mike Woodson, this New York City kid could be an integral part of the Knicks push for a title in 2013.
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