The New York Knicks need a point guard, but is that the most glaring need? It depends on the focus of the lens.
If you zoom in, yes, the Knicks' biggest hole, aside from the gaping one in the middle left by Tyson Chandler, is at the point.
Raymond Felton is having the worst year of his career across the board, and any hopes of a return to last year's form or even a return to the mean are delayed for now.
An MRI on Knicks guard Raymond Felton today confirmed a strained left hamstring. He is expected to be out approximately 2-3 weeks.— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) December 12, 2013
When the Knicks are at their best, the ball is being peppered around the perimeter, and the threes are flowing. Felton was a big part of creating those looks with Chandler, as even just the threat of a pick-and-roll or a lob at the rim typically started a chain reaction defensively that led to open shots.
That's not happening right now. Defenders are staying glued to their man on the perimeter, and teams are letting Carmelo Anthony get his, while limiting everyone else. We knew the Knicks would struggle defensively, but not many expected this offense to be 19th in efficiency with a quarter of the season in the books.
After all, this was essentially the same core that set NBA records last season for most team three-pointers made and attempted. The Knicks also finished fifth in the league in three-point percentage last year as well.
This season, the Knicks are just eighth in three-pointers made, sixth in attempts and a shocking 18th in three-point percentage.
After creating an identity last season, the Knicks have all but lost that so far this year. With no heart and soul defensively and no creator off the dribble, the Knicks are hapless and every bit as bad as their record would lead you to believe.
There's good reason to search for solutions. Anthony has a player option he can decline next season, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. Stumbling to an early first-round exit or even missing the playoffs could be disastrous, as there's essentially no backup plan in place if Anthony does leave. All the eggs are in that basket.
The Knicks need to be competitive now. There's certainly no reward for losing, as Denver has New York's first-round draft pick this season.
But is a new point guard the panacea? Will Lowry fix what's ailing the Knicks and get the season turned around? Probably not.
Don't get me wrong. As far as talents at the point guard position go, Lowry is pretty high up on the list. He can score, shoot from virtually any range, rebound and defend like a bulldog when he wants to. He's an upgrade from Felton and brings a completely different game than Pablo Prigioni does. Devoid of price, he'd be a really nice addition.
But that's sort of missing the forest for the trees. The Knicks' biggest need isn't a point guard or even getting Tyson Chandler back.
The Knicks' biggest need is an owner who understands he has no concept of value. The Knicks' biggest need is a management group that isn't CAA, a sports agency with obvious motives. There's a need to develop a front-office culture that actually cares about the draft and the players who come out of it.
Acquiring Lowry would be like putting a band-aid over a leaky faucet. It may work for a little bit and allow the Knicks to get their heads above water and get back to .500, but is that enough to solve the bigger issues?
Maybe the urgency of a contract year and the bright lights of Madison Square Garden could allow Lowry to finally fulfill his potential as a dangerous all-around point guard, but even in that best-case scenario, keeping him in New York may be difficult.
But who knows? Maybe Lowry could help the Knicks win a playoff series or two, which feels overly optimistic for a team that's 6-15 right now.
But even if all that does happen, then what?
Anthony can still become a free agent, and it's doubtful Lowry's presence changes that one bit. The Knicks will likely owe a draft pick to another Masai Ujiri ran team. The future will have been further mortgaged, and the process will still be broken.
Does that mean the Knicks should just give up and stop making moves? Of course not, but the franchise can't be ran so recklessly either.
The Andrea Bargnani trade with Toronto at the beginning of the season is a good example of this. Bargnani has been perfectly fine, just like Lowry likely would be. But do either realistically change anything beyond this season? If the Knicks keep trading away the contents of the cupboard in exchange for one nice meal, they'll be starved soon enough. This isn't a sustainable way to run a franchise.
Maybe it's not exactly what you'd like to hear, but at least Knicks owner James Dolan is acknowledging some of the concerns others have voiced, according to Adrian Wojnarowski's latest report on the trade:
Dolan became livid over the public disclosure of the deal terms and became aware over some segments of reaction that deemed the package a third straight debacle in dealing with Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri, sources said.
How Brooklyn's pursuit of Lowry impacts Dolan will be interesting, because his sensitivity to criticism over his meddling into basketball deals might be only rivaled by his desire to outdo Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
The prospect of a bidding war with Brooklyn is scary, because what's being bid isn't money. While it's true Lowry could conceivably stay with either franchise long-term, since his Bird rights would be acquired, this is likely a battle of who wants to bet more of their future on the outcome of this year.
The real race for the title is happening in Miami and Indiana, and nothing that's happened this year should lead anyone to believe otherwise. So what are Brooklyn and New York doing other than compounding mistakes?
If the price is right, Lowry can help the Knicks. But based on everything we know about how Dolan and the CAA runs the Knicks and everything we've seen Ujiri pull off leading up to these negotiations, the price won't be right.
New York's biggest need isn't a point guard. It's a future.