By Ian Teti
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In a relatively quiet offseason, the Knicks caught a lucky break and were able to sign Metta World Peace to a two-year deal.
Before we look into why this pickup was great and highly necessary, let’s finally rid World Peace of his “problem status.”
It’s been ages since the infamous Palace brawl. World Peace paid his price for breaking the league rules and it’s time that we all got over it. There has been no instance in an NBA game that compares to that since, and there are no signs of it happening again, especially out of World Peace.
His attitude will not be a major problem.
The James Harden elbow to the head, whether it was intentional or not, was a bad move by the former Defensive Player of the Year, I admit. But how many elbows do we see a night in the league these days? It’s part of the game. World Peace was fired up and Harden was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And couldn’t this temperamental, fiery personality be exactly what the Knicks need? This is a team that is battling to claim a place among an Eastern Conference that is growing more and more competitive. The Knicks are lacking passion, and World Peace fills that void with his energy. Am I the only one who questioned why no one else on the Knicks stood up to Kevin Garnett when he called out Carmelo Anthony’s wife? That’s your teammate. World Peace understands that.
This is a former Defensive Player of the Year. This is a veteran who has won a championship and who played with Kobe Bryant. Any player that Bryant wants on his roster, because he thinks they give him a better shot at a sixth title, is a highly desirable one. The Knicks were lucky that he was waived, lucky that he was available — seeing that 11 teams that were under the salary cap had the priority — and they were even luckier to grab him at his veteran contract of $1.4 million.
Why shouldn’t the Knicks have jumped on this opportunity? It’s practically a steal.
And let’s not bring up age as a possible problem either. World Peace is 33 years old, but still has a lot left in his tank. He played a full season last year and is still quite tenacious.
What World Peace brings to this Knicks team is a pristine defender, a reliable open three-point shooter and a New York native that is going to love playing for his hometown. World Peace said he wouldn’t play for a non-contender. Consider that a compliment, Knicks fans.
THE KNICKS’ STARTING FIVE
The only question is how the Knicks will establish a cohesive starting lineup. Knicks coach Mike Woodson has already stated that he isn’t worried about being able to coach World Peace and finding the right position for him on the court, but with the addition of Andrea Bargnani, where will World Peace fit in?
I think Anthony has to start at the three spot, at least to start off the season. I’m choosing that side of the infamous debate. See, with Anthony being 6-foot-8, I’m not worried about him outrebounding other small forwards. He might grab one or two less than he would if he was at the four spot, but the three spot is where he is going to see the most open jumpers and have the most space to create. His scoring ability surpasses the need for him to rebound.
Throwing Bargnani and Tyson Chandler in at the four and five, respectively, creates a real balanced frontcourt of scoring and rebounding. It does put a lot of emphasis on Chandler to rebound, but if Woodson can help Bargnani establish more of a post presence, that lineup could be gold.
World Peace shouldn’t be mad about coming off the bench to start the season. He will be used frequently — maybe not 33 minutes per game like he was getting in L.A — but his presence on the court will be made.
And he’s making $1.4 million on top of the $7.7 million that the Lakers already owe him. He should be happy no matter what. Plus, he has been quoted as saying that he wants to coach. He will be able to get a good look at Iman Shumpert and help him become one of the leagues best defenders by teaching him from the sideline how to be a strong perimeter defender. In fact, Shumpert could become the next World Peace.
(Of course, when one says that, the majority of people will jump to the conclusion that he is being labeled as a problematic player, but it’s actually a compliment to a player’s defensive skills to be compared to World Peace.)
And look at the Knicks’ bench: World Peace, Amar’e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni and Tim Hardaway, Jr. There is relief and depth in that second unit. There are a ton of five-man units the Knicks could throw at opponents; it’s just a matter of which one works best.
Like I said, start off with World Peace on the bench. See what happens, and if the Knicks are starting to look a little shaky, leave it up to Woodson to make the right decision. A rotation starting lineup with Stoudemire and World Peace cycling in and out could be extremely effective, as long as Woodson doesn’t attempt to further experiment with the Chandler-Stoudemire starting lineup.
Certainly, World Peace isn’t that “one missing piece” that will propel the Knicks to a championship. (I still believe that piece hides in an elite point guard.)
But World Peace is a player that is going to help bring this team together. I like the depth he brings to the Knicks’ roster. He can establish that second unit that comes in and challenges opponents when the starters are winded. He can completely change the game, get the crowd pumped up and propel the Knicks forward.
He can establish that second unit that comes in and challenges opponents when the starters are winded. He can completely change the game, get the crowd pumped up and propel the Knicks forward.
You can follow Ian on Twitter @icteti.
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