Can the 2008-09 New York Knicks turn into the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns?There are more than a few eerie coincidences in this scenario.
Mike D'Antoni, in his first full year with a sub-30 win team, inherits a roster full of swingmen. There were seven players on that Suns team between 6-foot-6 and 6-9 just like the current Knicks roster.The team will most likely start a point guard whose old team chose not to re-sign him because they felt they had a better chance to win without him, having a younger, flashier point. (Steve Nash was deemed expendable because of Jason Terry, much like Chris Duhon is now in New York because of Derrick Rose.)Quentin Richardson. Stephon Marbury. Suns in '04-'05, Knicks for now.
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The starting five is what matters on a D'Antoni team, so let's take a look-see. The Knicks will probably get a backcourt of Duhon and Jamal Crawford. Duhon playing like Steve Nash is a stretch, I know, but just for fun let's say that he has a great season. Jamal Crawford can put up similar numbers as Joe Johnson, but he has to work on his 3-point shot. If he's smart, he started working on it the moment he heard D'Antoni was coming to the Knicks.
At small forward we have ... Quentin Richardson! Q-Rich was productive under D'Antoni, and he's still a 35 percent 3-point shooter. He was banged up last season, but there's no indication he won't start the season fully healthy.
Now the dilemma: Can Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry match Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudamire? The obvious answer is of course not. But what if? Actually, Randolph's offensive numbers last year weren't far off Marion's from '04-'05.
Z-Bo (07-08): 17.6 ppg, 10.3 rpg
Marion (04-05): 19.4 ppg, 11.3 rpg
But defensively, it's night and day. Marion could play better defense drunk than Randolph could on 'roids. Curry? He won't get Amare's 26 points per game, and even his 8.9 rebounds per game is stretching it. Defensively, Amare and Shawn combined for 3.1 blocks per game. Nobody on the Knicks last year averaged more than one per game.
So what needs to happen?
1. Cut Stephon Marbury. Getting rid of Marbury worked with the Suns, didn't it? Since Starbury switched teams the Knicks haven't made the playoffs, and the Suns haven't missed it. Seriously though, just pay him off and get rid of him. You paid off everybody else, and if you're saying it's time to get serious, this has to be your first move.
2. Hit the gym and work on the three-pointer. This one should be self-explanatory.
3. Find a way to resolve the center position. This is obviously easier said than done. Maybe by tracking down the trade exception you can steal an unhappy big man off a losing team. Andrew Bogut, Emeka Okafor and Weird Al Jefferson come to mind. Actually, with Emeka's new mondo contract and Charlotte's love of swingmen, maybe that could be a good fit.
4. Get Steve Nash a Chris Duhon costume, and then fake his death.
5. Trade your entire bench for Marcus Camby and Al Thornton. Seriously, I think this could work. Thornton may be one or two years away from being a 20 and 10 guy, and Camby is still the best defensive center as long as KG is sticking with the I'm-a-power-forward shtick. You then have Duhon, Crawford, Q-Rich, Thornton and Camby. Sign a couple of scrubs, and you make the playoffs for sure in the East.
6. Capture a leprechaun and force it to take you to its pot of gold. Then use the gold to bribe a magician into hypnotizing a genie. While hypnotized, get him to grant you unlimited wishes. And then start wishing, baby, 'cause it'll never happen!