New Season, New Coach, Same Old Story In New York

Adam FierCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2008


From the 'where have you heard this before' department, the New York Knicks will be entering a basketball season with a new head coach, a roster full of overpaid underachievers and drama filled story lines both on and off the court.

The new coach, Mike D’Antoni, yesterday called out Eddy Curry who has been all but banished not only from the starting lineup but from the coach’s rotation.  Curry missed out on almost all of training camp due to an illness, and has looked nothing short of embarrassing during the minutes he was fortunate enough to receive during the preseason.

D’Antoni, along with the man who hired him (team President Donnie Walsh) were brought in to clean up the Chernobyl sized mess Isiah Thomas left the once storied franchise is.

The season hasn’t started, and won’t for another six days, yet there seems to be no less turmoil plaguing the Knicks both on and off the court than in years past.

Sure, nobody is on trial for sexual harassment (knock on wood), but the locker room is filled with malcontents, from Curry to the struggling Jamal Crawford and of course, Stephon Marbury.

The team also has issues on the court, as they’ll be without one of the few guys with any defensive ability- Jared Jeffries- for more than a month, while Wilson Chandler, who has been among the few really bright spots this preseason, went down with a mildly sprained knee and is questionable for the season opener next Wednesday.

Crawford, who we heard nothing but praises about after D’Antoni was hired in regards to how he would absolutely flourish in the new offense, has looked awful through the pre-season’s first six games. 

Adding to Crawford’s woes, there seems to be no love lost between him and Marbury (shocker), and it was Marbury who replaced Crawford in the starting lineup two nights ago, which couldn’t have sat well with Jamal.

The Marbury situation, which I maintain should result with him being included in the starting lineup with Crawford, seems to be a microcosm of the crossroads the Knicks appear to be at as the new season approaches.

The Knicks brain trust will be faced with a number of decisions following tomorrow nights preseason finale, as the roster currently sits three over the fifteen player limit.

Here is the roster breakdown as I see it (not how I want it), including the opening lineup, the rotation, in-actives and who should expect a pink-slip before next Wednesday night:

Starting Five: Zach Randolph, David Lee, Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Chris Duhon/Stephon Marbury

Rotation: Marbury/Duhon, Nate Robinson, Wilson Chandler, Mardy Collins, Malik Rose, Anthony Roberson, Patrick Ewing Jr.

Injured/Inactive: Eddy Curry, Jared Jeffries, Danillo Gallinari

Cut:Jerome James, Dan Grunfeld, Allan Houston

A few notes:

-While I believe Marbury is more valuable in the starting lineup and my gut tells me he’ll start, D’Antoni has given no indication as to whether or not Duhon will be the starting point guard.

-Eddy Curry needs to go, however finding anybody to take on his over-sized contract and out of shape body will be difficult.  Further hurting the situation is Curry has played his way out of D’Antoni’s rotation, making any attempt to showcase him hard to do.

-Jerome James should be, and hopefully will be cut, as he hasn’t logged a minute yet this preseason, and is probably more valuable to the Knicks as part of any other organization.

-Patrick Ewing Jr. will make the team, as he can be developed, and will play hard when given an opportunity.  He can also provide fresh legs and a defensive toughness the team lacks, especially with Jeffries injured.

-Allan Houston, who I would love to see make this team, likely wont, as his body has betrayed him again, preventing him from taking the court during the preseason (and isn’t expected to play tomorrow night either).  Houston would give this team great (and much needed) leadership, along with an outstanding outside jump shot which D’Antoni’s offense needs.

It will be really interesting to see what Walsh and D’Antoni choose to do with their roster, as they’re faced with decisions that appear to have easy answers, yet if you’ve followed the Knicks at all over the last few years you know such answers just don’t exist.

If Jim Dolan is willing to cough off the money to buy out the bad contract of Jerome James, it would be a start, as a roster spot would open up for Ewing.

But the Knicks problems are as widespread as they usually are, with a feuding locker room and a roster filled with bad contracts and a strong lack of chemistry.

How this all plays out is anyone’s guess, but come opening night, despite a new regime in place, more than likely it’ll be more of the same at the Worlds Most Shameless…err…Famous Arena.