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I want to declare the Knicks winners. I really, really do. And before I attended last night's Knicks/Bucks game, I was going to. I was going to write this (in bold):
"Eventually, these guys will figure it out, just like the Miami Thrice did. Remember, the Heat started the season just 9-8 before they reeled off a super-impressive 21-1 stretch immediately after. Now, I'm not suggesting the Knicks are about to win 21 of 22 games, but I am suggesting that we all might be overreacting just a bit when declaring this trade a loss for New York.
The Knicks' struggles since the blockbuster trade that brought Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and the since-jettisoned Corey Brewer to New York have been well-documented.
They own a record of just 7-11 since the deal.
They can't seem to play any semblance of defense.
They REALLY struggle to find their offense in the fourth quarter.
Amar'e Stoudemire and Billups have shown little-to-no chemistry on the pick-and-roll, the axis from which all else in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense flows.
But I can't, just CAN'T call a trade in which the Knicks wound up with Anthony, a top 15-20 player in the NBA at worst, and Chauncey Billups, an NBA Finals MVP, a loss. Just can't do it."
But after that game last night, you can't help but think this...
The Knicks roster, as constructed, is certainly flawed. For one, they don't have a true center on the team.
When you're trying to guard Dwight Howard with the combination of Jared Jeffries, Ronny Turiaf and Shawne Williams, something is seriously wrong. And when you resort to playing Shelden Williams in crunch time, something is even more wrong.
Secondly, they don't really have a backup point guard. Toney Douglas has flashed some serious range a few times since the trade, but his play-making abilities leave a lot to be desired.
It doesn't help that Billups has looked older and slower since getting kneed in the thigh by Howard a few weeks back. He's either just old, done or both.
I legitimately texted my friend who was also at the game, "Chauncey is killing us. He can't guard anyone, so we have to play Douglas or Carter with him when Jennings is in the game. He should just sit down the stretch."
And I meant it. Not a good sign.
At this point, it seems like the Knicks should be past the point of "growing pains" and "we need time to jell." It really does. You can't be making those kinds of excuses when you're losing to the Bucks, Pacers and Cavaliers twice each in a span of 18 games.
Let's remember though, the Knicks do have wins over Miami, Memphis (twice), Atlanta, Utah and New Orleans since the trade.
This deal will ultimately be judged into the future, and who Carmelo and Amar'e are able to recruit to join them in the summer of 2011 or 2012. This trade was as much about getting more guys to join up as it was about getting Carmelo.
Carmelo and Amar'e WILL be on the New York Knicks for the next four years. Only time will tell if they can bring a championship back to Madison Square Garden.