By Steve Kallas
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The Knicks, essentially, gave away the last two seasons in order to clear cap space to make a run at LeBron, Wade, Bosh, you fill in the names. Well, since that trio all went to Miami (and looked putrid in the first half against the Celtics last night before losing 88-80 – the Heat will obviously get MUCH better), the Knicks, essentially, sold their fans a bill of goods. Nothing short of a superstar (or two) would have filled the bill. But the Knicks had to settle for Amar’e Stoudemire, while losing walking double-double David Lee.
Make no mistake — Stoudemire is an upgrade over Lee. But, looking at the rest of the roster, it’s hard to believe that the Knicks are going to make any noise this season. The reality is that, after all the waiting of the last few years, if the season starts with the question “Can the Knicks make the eighth spot in the East?” well, that’s a problem.
And it says here that they won’t even do that.
IS RAYMOND FELTON THE ANSWER?
Well, it depends on the question. Is he better than Chris Duhon (who is now a back-up for the Magic)? Sure, but what does that mean? To play point guard for the New York Knicks is a big deal. Despite what the Knicks told us when Duhon came aboard, nobody seriously believed that a back-up for the Bulls was going to lead the Knicks to the promised land. Duhon, a great guy, simply couldn’t get the job done.
While Felton is an upgrade, an NBA assistant recently told me that the reason the Bobcats (and Larry Brown) didn’t bring Felton back was because he simply couldn’t handle Jameer Nelson of the Magic in the playoffs (the Magic swept the Bobcats in four with Nelson playing a huge role in a few of the games). He’s an improvement over Duhon, but not a big-time player.
CAN STOUDEMIRE DO ENOUGH?
It says here that he can’t since the Knicks really didn’t give him much help. Stoudemire is a beast, but you need at least two stars (or maybe three nowadays with at least one, if not two of the three, superstars) to contend for a title. Knick fans thought that, by now, they would be a legit title contender. Instead, they have a team that, if things go really well, could, at best, make the playoffs.
Will Stoudemire get frustrated? Maybe, but he can hope like the rest of the Knick fans for help next year or the year after. Can the Knicks get Carmelo Anthony who, reportedly, wants to play in New York? Maybe, but even he won’t be enough to get the Knicks to a Final Four.
Knick fans thought that the last six disastrous years (no playoffs) would be a prelude to clearing cap space to make big noise in the off-season. That certainly didn’t happen this past off-season.
Can the Knicks and their fans wait until 2012 for Chris Paul? Well, they may not have a choice. With visions of LeBron and/or Wade and/or Bosh in the minds of Knick fans this past off-season, what has happened this past off-season, frankly, is a big disappointment. There just seems to be too many ifs with the squad as presently constituted and in the next season or two.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE ROSTER?
Is Danilo Gallinari a superstar in the making? Unlikely, especially with this spotty exhibition season. He can shoot it and he doesn’t back down. But it’s hard to believe that the Knicks will really build around him.
Wilson Chandler has a chance to be a really good NBA player. But, again, you are relying on players to make huge advancements in a short period of time. Timofey Mozgov? Toney Douglas? Bill Walker? All have had their moments, but when the real competition begins (tonight), you are hoping more than you know that things will break well this season.
The reality is that this year’s Knicks can’t compete with the Celtics, Magic and Heat. But it’s also hard to believe that they can finish in front of the Hawks, Bulls, Bucks, Pistons, Bobcats or 76ers. That’s nine teams right there.
And that’s a problem. The reality is that the Knicks are going to have a lot of trouble defending and rebounding.
After the hope of this past off-season faded to black when most of the gang went to South Beach, it will be hard to sell to Knick fans that maybe, maybe, next post-season the Knicks will really make a bang.
Don’t hold your breath.
And wait ‘til next year.