Wednesday , Jan , 02 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

There Is No Easy Answer for the New York Knicks

There Is No Easy Answer for the New York Knicks

The days of Larry Johnson’s four-point plays and Allan Houston’s rim-rattling buzzer beaters are long gone. Even further gone is the blue-collar, physical basketball that New York City loved so much. Players with limited talent who compensated their shortcomings with effort, like Derrick Mason, Charles Oakley, and John Starks are what for made Madison Square Garden electric in the 1990s. Unfortunately for the NBA and the fans in the Big Apple, the current team in blue and orange couldn’t be any further away from those teams.

We all know how horrible the Knicks are record-wise, as they battle Miami for the Eastern Conference’s lowest win total. Yet, what is even worse about this team is how difficult it is to cheer for them to improve. The current roster is assembled of overpaid players who consistently don’t show any heart or hustle. Isiah Thomas has destroyed this franchise, so why cheer for him turn them around? Especially after the way he embarrassed them with the sexual harassment lawsuit over the past few months.

The reasons for the Knicks’ problems aren’t difficult to pinpoint when you consider that their supposed franchise players are Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry. Marbury has done one thing consistently throughout his career: lose. Wherever he goes, his team struggles and the players around him struggle. As soon as he leaves, amazingly everybody in the organization gets better. Curry could barely play 20 minutes a night and couldn’t defend Jason Collins if he had to.

Once you get beyond those two, you find a shooter who can’t make a shot in Quentin Richardson, a defender who can’t stop anyone off the dribble in Jared Jeffries and a power forward who can’t play defense in Zach Randolph. The bottom line is that this roster needs to be ripped apart. Treat it like a house that is rotting away from the inside and whose foundation is falling apart: Tear the whole thing down and start over.

Fire Isiah Thomas, which is easiest part. Getting rid of Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and the rest of this pathetic roster is going to be a greater chore. Give them away if you have to, sit them, cut them, just don’t let them take the court and tarnish the uniform anymore. Marbury, Curry, Richardson, Jeffries, Malik Rose, Jerome James, Mardy Collins and Fred Jones all need to go.

The Knicks will have a good draft pick this year, but lack the money to make a difference in the free agent market. Let them send out a lineup with Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, David Lee, Randolph and Renaldo Balkman every night. Bring Wilson Chandler off the bench and build around those six with draft picks. Randolph may not be able to play defense, but he can play major minutes every night and get you a double-double consistently. The fans can get behind Lee, Balkman and Robinson because they play a high-tempo game and nobody can question their effort.

The team still won’t be playoff-caliber for a few years but at least they won’t be an embarrassment, and given the state of the Eastern Conference it won’t take too many off-seasons to field a team that could sneak into the playoffs. Anything is better than what they are right now.