By Steve Silverman
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New York, NY (WFAN) – NFL teams often like to kid themselves during the off-season. They contemplate the if’s – credit Pulp Fiction’s Marsellus Wallace for that one – and often come to the conclusion that they are on the path to success.
Even if they are not.
NFL executives often feel the need to defend their actions in public by spinning their free-agent signings, draft picks, trades and assessments of their overall talent.
Example: The Jets bringing in Tim Tebow and saying they believe he can be a special weapon. Even though Tebow completed 46.5 percent of his passes last year and often missed his receivers by open lengths.
But we are not here to bury football’s subterfuge. We are here to wonder why the Knicks are adopting this technique as they conduct their business during the off-season.
There’s quite a bit of celebrating going on about the Knicks’ signing of 39-year-old Jason Kidd to play the point guard slot. He’s supposedly going to make the Knicks a smarter team on the court.
It is as if his mere presence will be the key to getting the Knicks to mesh their talents and play like a real team. He’ll bring out the best in Carmelo Anthony. He’ll work his magic with Ama’re Stoudemire.
At least that’s general manager Glen Grunwald’s theory.
This would be possible if Kidd was 27-, 29- or even 33-years-old. He is a 39-year-old point guard in the NBA. He’s not playing rec ball at the Y. He’s going to play at the Garden and his road trips will be to Boston, Chicago and Miami.
He’s an old man in a young man’s game. The physical attributes that Kidd once had have diminished significantly and it’s not like he’s going to regain his quickness change-of-direction over the summer.
At best, he is a 20-to-25 minute per game player who can provide some equilibrium to the offense. But he is not a complete player. He can’t shoot. He never could shoot up to NBA standards and that means there’s one more player that the opposing defense doesn’t have to worry about.
Does Kidd know the game of basketball? No doubt. Will he attempt to mentor Jeremy Lin? Probably, but the Knicks are not hiring him to coach. They are hiring him to play the game.
He is not a first-rank NBA point guard and that’s what the Knicks – and all teams—need when they have superior offensive options like Anthony and Stoudemire.
Who knows what kind of impact he will have in the locker room? Kidd has a solid resume and he is respected in the league. He’ll have a certain amount of license to speak his mind and plant seeds in the minds of his teammates. But when a player is not performing at a high level, it’s a lot harder to get that message across.
If the Knicks are languishing in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack in mid-February, what is an aging point guard going to do to get the Knicks to surge that he hadn’t done in the previous three months of the season?
Locker room chemistry sounds good, but speed, quickness, talent and execution win a lot more games than salient advice whispered into an ear.
Kidd could serve as a mentor to Lin, but there’s a lot of work to do there. Lin has some level of talent and he showed that he has the nerve to become a legitimate scorer, but he does not protect the ball very well for a point guard. He averaged 6.2 turnovers and the league seemed to figure him out once he got his magazine covers and notoriety. Lin had a lot of big turnover games and after he had a poor game against the Miami Heat in late February – 1-of-11 shooting and 8 turnovers – he lost much of his luster.
Despite his great opening burst, Lin may not be the savior – even if he has Kidd teaching him how to play. His instincts may not be good enough to lead an NBA team down the floor and direct the offense.
He actually may be a better lead guard. He may be better suited as a scorer than a point guard.
The Knicks are putting a positive spin on all the if’s – at least publicly. That’s just not going to work – unless Winston Wolfe is coming into clean up the mess.