Why Mo Williams, Not Baron Davis, Should Be the Focus for the New York Knicks
You have got to give it up for Glen Grunwald.
Yes, Donnie Walsh may be the godfather of the Knicks' return to prominence. Walsh is the one who did all the dirty work by spending years clearing salary cap space and fixing the atrocious mess left by Isia—I mean, the man whose name shall not be mentioned in the five boroughs.
Without that, the dream that is now MTA—Melo, Tyson and Amar'e—would not be possible.
But Grunwald has taken it to the next level.
Instead of holding the franchise hostage by lusting over another team's player for another year, Grunwald moved quickly when the pipe dream of Chris Paul started becoming more and more of a fantasy. It was Walsh's vision to build the team around two max salary superstars, and the franchise has that in place with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
What the team needed was a strong interior presence and legit center who would allow Stoudemire to play more as a power forward, his natural position. Grunwald got creative and swooped the best available center out there, Tyson Chandler, at the 12th hour when nobody saw him coming.
Although MTA may give the Knicks the best frontcourt in basketball (come on, who's better at the 3-4-5?), it leaves them incredibly thin and alarmingly inexperienced at the guard spots. And knowing Mike D'Antoni's high-powered offensive game plan, turning all this talent over to Toney Douglas or a way-past-his-prime Mike Bibby does not seem like a precursor to a ticker-tape parade down Manhattan come June.
Giving Bibby just the veteran's minimum for a year is good for Grunwald. It makes Bibby a low risk with the potential for high reward. But there may be a better option—a far better option, actually—available very, very soon.
No, the answer is not Baron Davis. A lot of talk has centered around the Cleveland Cavaliers using their "amnesty" clause on Davis and how the Knicks should swoop in to get him. It even got so far that Stoudemire had to address Davis' ability while talking to the media on Thursday.
But the real focus should be on what is going on with Davis' former team, the Los Angeles Clippers.
With news that the Clippers traded for CP3 in the wake of adding exiled Knick Chauncey Billups to the mix, the freshly-minted "Lob City" suddenly had an excess of point guards. Mo Williams joined Paul and Billups in a crowded backcourt, not to mention 2010 first-rounder Eric Bledsoe out of Kentucky.
If Williams is available, he would be more than just the perfect fit for New York. He may actually be the guy that completes the Knicks' championship-caliber nucleus.
It was in Cleveland where Williams became an All-Star in 2009. That season he averaged career highs of 17.8 points per game and a 43.6 percent mark from three-point range. His 183 treys in what was an otherwise stagnant Mike Brown-led, LeBron-dominated offense more than doubled his previous career high.
If Mo Williams clears waivers, should the Knicks try to sign him as their starting point guard?
The next season, Williams helped the Cavs exceed 60 wins for a second straight season, again rivaling his three-point shooting and scoring numbers from the previous year. After LeBron left, Williams continued to be productive for a floundering Cleveland team by averaging over 13 points and seven assists a game.
The knock on Williams by a lot of the "haters" has been that he needed LeBron to help him have a career year. Well, it is not like the Knicks would be asking him to be the franchise player. Although he had just LeBron in Cleveland, he would have two explosive scorers as his forwards and a lob machine at center.
Williams' ability to shoot extremely well from downtown—especially when opposing defenses focus a ton on his other teammates—makes him ideal for D'Antoni's offense. He may not be Chris Paul or Steve Nash as a passer, but he is definitely a true point guard.
How can the Knicks get him? If the Clippers use their amnesty clause on him, he may not get far enough to make his way to Manhattan. Another team with cap space could put a bid on him a la the Clippers and Billups, and that would be that.
In fact, beating LeBron and sticking it to him would be a prime motivating factor for him to join the Knicks.
Should the Clippers not "amnesty" him, the Knicks can look into trade offers. But that's going to be really difficult. Williams makes $8.5 million for the 2011-12 season. The Knicks would have to scrap together a little over $5 million worth of salaries. Take a look at their payroll, and it becomes painfully obvious that waiting for him to clear amnesty waivers is their best bet to add him.
Williams is not a superstar nor a respected veteran in the mold of Billups, so the idea of him clearing waivers is very realistic. And if that happens, the Knicks should forget their past public allegiances to Toney Douglas and their extremely low risk signing of Mike Bibby and add Williams to complete their team.
Davis, meanwhile, has been said to be out eight to 10 weeks with a back injury. At 32, he is already three years older than Williams, who just turned 29 last month. So Williams—unlike Davis—can be a long-term solution playing for the next four to five years with STAT and Melo instead of just a stopgap.
It's not really a tough decision, but a lot of things have to break the right way for the Knicks.
Hey, it is Grunwald's job to complete this team, anyways. The heavy lifting has already been done.
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