Thursday , Oct , 19 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

New York Knicks 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – New York head coach and team president Isiah Thomas, who
replaced Larry Brown as the team’s general, is expected to win in the 2006-07
season or find another place of employment.

Brown left the Detroit Pistons for his “Dream Job” with the Knicks and guided
the team to a dismal 23-59 record. Not only was the record the worst for the
Knicks since an identical mark in 1985-86, but the 2005-06 season included a
reported rift between Brown and Thomas. After just one season, Brown is gone
and Thomas, who joined the Knicks as president and general manager on December
22, 2003, will be next unless the team starts to win.

The troubled Knicks have huge salary cap problems. New York needs a new
attitude and hopefully it will have it under Thomas. This team is simply made
up of names. Steve Francis, who was obtained from Orlando in a trade last
season, Stephon Marbury and Jalen Rose all make a lot of money and all have
question marks regarding their character. Rose, who was acquired from Toronto
last season, is in the last year of his contract, while Francis and Marbury
have multiple years remaining.

Center Eddy Curry averaged 13.6 points and 6.0 rebounds during his first year
with the Knicks, who finished in last place in the Atlantic Division during
the 2005-06 season. Guard Jamal Crawford netted 14.3 per contest, while
forward Channing Frye contributed 12.3 points and 5.8 boards in 65 games
during his rookie campaign.

The 29-year-old Marbury led the Knicks in scoring (16.3 ppg) and assists (6.4
apg) in 60 contests. Guard Nate Robinson, who averaged 9.3 points in his
rookie season, and Quentin Richardson add some depth to the disgruntled
Knicks.

On draft night, the Knicks did not have their own pick as they had traded it
away to Chicago, which got the second overall selection in the lottery with
it. However, they did have the 20th and 29th picks in the first round, which
were acquired in separate deals with Toronto and San Antonio. With No. 20, New
York selected South Carolina forward Renaldo Balkman, who is expected to play
tough defense and contribute on the boards, and guard Mardy Collins of Temple
was a solid pick with the 29th overall selection.

During the offseason, the Knicks had a solid signing as they inked forward
Jared Jeffries to a multi-year deal. New York officially gained the services
of the 6-11 Jeffries after the Washington Wizards failed to match a five-year
offer sheet to the restricted free agent forward.

Jeffries, who turns 25 on November 25th, posted 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in
77 games with the Wizards last season. He has averaged 6.1 points and 4.9
rebounds in four NBA seasons, all with Washington. He was originally drafted
out of Indiana by the Wizards with the 11th overall pick in the 2002 NBA
Draft.

However, the news isn’t all good on Jeffries, who will miss the start of
the season with a fractured left wrist. Jeffries was hurt during a preseason
game against the New Jersey Nets on October 13th and is expected to be
sidelined for six-to-eight weeks with the injury.

Thomas will try instill a positive attitude into the Knicks. He believes he
can with the current roster and that is just what he has to do if he wants to
keep his job.

BACKCOURT

On paper, Collins, Crawford, Francis, Marbury, Richardson and Robinson makeup
a deep backcourt. However, what this group will most likely be missing is
chemistry.

The 6-3 Francis averaged just 10.8 points and 3.5 assists in 24 games for the
Knicks. A three-time All-Star, Francis did not fit in with Brown’s style of
play and his new teammates. Thomas will have to figure out how to get Marbury
and Francis to co-exist and play team ball.

Marbury is a shooting guard who is playing the point. There is no doubting his
talent, but the fact is he can be selfish with the ball and thinks shoot first
and pass second.

Like Marbury and Francis, Crawford’s strong point is scoring, while Richardson
is a three-point specialist and Robinson is lightning quick and is more of a
play-maker. The 6-6 Collins has good size for a guard and will probably wait
on the pine until some of his current backcourt teammates are either traded or
benched for their play.

FRONTCOURT

Jeffries was a nice pickup. He plays defense and will allow Thomas to be
flexible with his rotation up front. Curry and Frye are not strong off the
boards and have to improve on their rebounding if the Knicks hope to put up a
fight in the low post.

The 33-year-old Rose averaged 12.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 72
contests for Toronto and New York last season. He could be traded before the
deadline, but while he is with the Knicks he will be asked to provide scoring
off the bench and could find himself in the starting lineup at times as well.

Malik Rose, David Lee and the rookie Balkman will battle for minutes. All
three will make their living around the hoop and on the glass. None of them
are offensive threats.

OUTLOOK

Thomas gets the chance to win with the squad that he assembled. Can he do it?

Too many attitudes and not enough players who think team before their own
statistics. It will take a lot to get New York’s roster to jell. Unfortunately
for Thomas his tenure in the Big Apple is coming to an end.

NYK