Kallas Remarks: Miami Success Puts Heat On Knicks

By Steve Kallas
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It’s a little early to write off the “bright” future of the New York Knicks before it has barely started.  But what Miami has done in these playoffs, irrespective of whether they win an NBA title, doesn’t bode well for the future of the Knicks as a championship organization.

Sure, Miami has the “Big Three” and they have been the key to this potential championship run (here’s a vote for the Dallas Mavericks to win it all based on the hunger factor (and window-closing factor) for superstar Dirk, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion, all looking for their first title).  But Miami has a little more than the “Big Three” and that is what has propelled them to the top in the Eastern Conference.

You’re still not sure who is going to take the last shot for Miami and, more importantly, who is going to make it.  But that hasn’t been much of a problem in these playoffs (unlike the regular season).  While Miami exposed the Bulls for what many thought they were – offensively, a one-man show –Miami showed it’s completeness as a team throughout the playoffs.


A polarizing figure, especially in New York, the great Pat Riley (as a coach) changed the way that basketball was played in the NBA, going from the Showtime Lakers of Kareem, Magic and James Worthy to the rugby-scrum Knicks of Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason and John Starks.  After undercutting Stan Van Gundy and winning another championship in Miami with the Wade-Shaq Heat of 2006 (beating Dallas, by the way), Riley eventually moved upstairs, apparently never to return.

While he deserves to be Executive of the Year for somehow getting Wade to stay and LeBron and Chris Bosh to come to South Beach (maybe it was Bosh’s refusal to go to Cleveland that really sealed the deal), Riley’s additional skill was filling in the blanks of a roster to complement the “Big Three.”

He thought he had his big man in Udonis Haslem, but Haslem was hurt virtually the whole season.  He thought he had a valuable swingman in Mike Miller, but Miller also was hurt for a long time and just wasn’t the shooter he was supposed to be – until the Bulls series.  These two were incredibly valuable against the Bulls (more on that later).


In deep trouble, that’s where.  Whatever you think of Amar’e and Carmelo, they can’t defend anywhere near LeBron and Wade.  In fact, no Knick got a vote for NBA All-Defensive team this season while LeBron was first-team and Wade just missed second-team.  You are also seeing what defense does in these playoffs.  What LeBron did in shutting down the NBA MVP (Rose) in the Chicago series the last two games is just not something you see very often and was the turning point of the series.

It looks like the Knick championship future ended when they couldn’t get LeBron James to come to New York last summer.  The power in the East (and, arguably, in the NBA) shifted so dramatically to Miami after Riley worked his magic (no pun intended) that it may result in a championship in Year One, a scary thought for the rest of the league and for the future.

All of this is bad for the Knicks.  Assume (a big assumption) they get their third star (you pick the point guard: Chris Paul, Deron Williams).  What does that mean against the Heat (or the Bulls or the Celtics for that matter)?

Answer: very little.


The only hope left for the Knicks or just about anyone else is Dwight Howard.  A defensive beast and an improving offensive player (no matter what you hear from the “experts”), Howard holds the key to NBA power for another team.

Will Dwight Howard leave Orlando?  Well, the Laker rumors have been out there for some time.  Orlando blew up their team mid-season to bring in Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas and to bring back Hedo Turkoglu.  But it didn’t work as they lost a four/five matchup to the up-and-down Atlanta Hawks.  And even though Howard stated yesterday that, maybe, he wants to stay in Miami (“But I can’t do it alone”), it will be extremely hard for him to win a title in Orlando.

If the Lakers get Howard, they become instant title contenders again, after being made to look old and slow by the getting old and not really athletic Mavericks in an unlikely sweep (that’s not to knock the Mavericks; they are just not as athletic (or young) as the Heat or Oklahoma City).  Kobe gears up for another title run or two, Gasol corrects his girlfriend (or whatever) problem he had (if not traded with Bynum for Howard) and Lamar Odom returns to tough match-up, star level.

Can the Knicks get Howard?  Very unlikely, but you can’t give up hope if you are a Knick fan.  Howard did make a negative comment about the cold weather in New York.  But, more important, if he wants to win a title, he’s looking to L.A., not New York, unless, somehow, Orlando can bring in a superstar to complement him (again, see his comments from yesterday).  Even Chicago, seeing their offensive deficiencies once Rose was limited down the stretch in big games, is now rumored to be thinking about taking a run at Howard.

So all of this looks bad for the Knicks.  While all Knick fans will be happy to see a pretty good (rather than terrible) Knick team on the floor, it’s all about winning championships, especially after the putrid run the Knicks have had this century.  They went out with a whimper, not a bang, against a going-the-wrong-way Celtic team (even coach Doc Rivers said the Celtics made a mistake by trading Perkins to Oklahoma City – that trade only hastened their demise (this season) and will hurt them long-term unless Jeff Green becomes a star).


The reason Miami is winning now as opposed to the regular season is not because they have a sure shot to win or tie games down two or three very late.  Frankly, they have rarely been in that position in the playoffs.  As we have discussed in the past, LeBron James is the greatest player today if he’s hitting his outside shot (and, frankly, he’s not the greatest player today if he’s not hitting his outside shot).  Still not a great three-point shooter (nor is Wade or Bosh for that matter), James has taken over a few games late both offensively and defensively, especially against the Bulls.

But it’s the return of the two injured, non-“Big Three” players (Haslem and Miller) who really contributed to changing the Bulls series.  Haslem, out virtually all year, came out of nowhere to score 13 (with two monster dunks) with five rebounds, two assists and a block to turn the tide in Game 2 (on the road) against the Bulls.  He then had eight points and four rebounds in Game 3, shooting a collective 9-17 in Games 2 and 3.

Mike Miller, for his part, seemed unable to shoot well virtually the whole season after missing time with a (shooting-hand) wrist injury.  But he was huge in Game 4 with 12 points and nine rebounds (Haslem also had nine rebounds) and in Game 5 with seven points and six rebounds, shooting a collective 8-15 in Games 4 and 5.

That’s what the Riley-constructed Heat were missing all year.  And that is, in this writer’s opinion, what put the Heat over the top against the Chicago Bulls.


Well, it’s going to be very hard.  That’s why intelligent basketball people, including, of course, Knicks GM Donnie Walsh, thought it was a bad idea to give up so much for Carmelo Anthony.  Many of the holes, to some extent, were already plugged.  And that’s why Walsh did not want to give up Timofey Mozgov.  While you couldn’t hold off of the Carmelo deal to keep Mozgov, he is either going to be a starting NBA center or, at least, a solid 15-20 minute back-up.  As the saying goes, you can’t coach seven feet – and there are less and less of those guys all the time.

So, to lose Raymond Felton, a good NBA point guard, Danilo Gallinari, a tough match-up improving all the time, Wilson Chandler, a very good NBA player already AND Mozgov, arguably the most valuable down the road to the Knicks because of his size, was a lot to give up (the question, of course, will always be whether Walsh could have traded less for Anthony had there been no owner interference; probably yes, but we will never know for sure).


The Knicks, despite a fantastic job by Donnie Walsh (pathetic the way he’s been treated by the organization), are still far, very far, away from an NBA title.  And absent injuries to the Heat and the Bulls and whatever team Dwight Howard winds up with, it doesn’t look like an NBA championship is anywhere on the horizon for the Knicks for the next few years.

Are the Knicks in trouble? Leave a comment below.


  • Oscar

    I think it all comes down to match ups. With cp3. The knicks will be a match up problem for many teams. Teams will have to cover underneth the basket in cp3. Post up in amarie and Parimeter in camelo, and all three players are versital. Don’t count the Knicks out yet.

  • Alex

    The Knicks are done for years!!! Great article Steve Dave!

  • knicksdefense

    You lost credibility the moment you wrote Dwight Howard plays for the Miami Heat. (the paragraph that begins, “Will Dwight Howard leave Orlando?)

    Have you no editor?

    Agree with you about Donnie and Dolan, but even if Howard doesn’t make it to New York, CP3 gives new york enough hope to overcome Miami’s metrosexuals.

  • Gino Lorca

    I’m sorry but this article has Stevie boy waving his pom-poms too hard for Miami. I agree Miami is going to stick around. They’ll be in the Finals, Eastern Conference Finals or just short of that for years to come. But to say the Knicks future is “dire” because Miami is dominating in the playoff’s in 2011 is laughable. Even hinting (which you clearly didn’t hint at all) that Chris Paul would be a minor blip on the screen really call’s into question your knowledge of the NBA. This is the same Chris Paul who gave the world champion Lakers a run for its money by HIMSELF! Now imagine if he had a player on the wing like Melo or a player in the post like Stat? Let’s get one thing straight. Amar’e and Melo are All-Star players who the MSG faithful have been starving to receive. But CP3 is a Superstar. Huge difference. Try to remember the monster Amar’e was with Nash. Now do the math. Are you even taking into account all the players that will take pay-cuts (vets minimum) to join NY in order to compete with Miami? You do know Riley can’t sign every player to it’s roster. Even if NY doesn’t get Howard (assuming he goes to the Lakers or stay’s in ORL) all is far from lost. Bosh is grossly overrated so in essence Miami will have a problem when the Knicks have a legit 3. One thing I will agree with you on however is it comes down to defense. And that’s up to the coach to motivate it’s players to take pride in that.

  • Xavier D

    I don’t agree with some of your logic. Miami’s weakness is at the point so your telling me that adding a player of Chris Paul’s caliber wouldn’t exploit that? Who would Miami put on Chris Paul? Lebron James? Then who would cover Melo arguable the most versatile player in the league. If I do recall the Knicks split the season series at 2-2 with the heat so obviously they can keep up with them. Second, I highly doubt Dantoni will be there next season an the Knicks will hire a defensive coach because they obviously showed they could play defense the first two games of the playoffs vs the celtics. Lastly there is a strong chance that howard would come to the Knicks in a straight up player for player trade with Amare. The Lakers are getting old an Kobe has Maybe 2-3 seasons left in him.. Melo is 27, why wouldn’t d howard want to play with a player that has at least 6-7 high quality years left in him an the possibility of Chris Paul as well.. Image Chris Paul, D Howard an Melo all around 26-27 years old. I def think they would give the NBA tough problems. I respect your article but strongly disagree on a lot of it.

  • paul a

    Wow, this article is very flawed. Sure–the Heat have shown they will be a formidable obstacle to any team looking to win a championship over the next few years, but its in no way as dire for the Knicks as you say. First of all, they proved against the Celtics that they could step up their performance on the defensive end when necessary–and If not for Billups and Amare getting hurt, who knows what would have happened. Secondly, it’s laughable for you to say that adding Chris Paul or Deron wIlliams to the Amare/Melo duo means “very little”. That’s just absurd, in fact. Adding either one of those players to the Knicks would make them a league powerhouse–perhaps even better than Miami, depending on how the role player blanks are filled by Donnie Walsh and
    Co. So, lets stop getting carried away now, ok?

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