Hornets square off vs. the NYK's today. The Knicks will be missing the heart and soul of the team in Stephon Marbury (unexpected absence) and Eddy Curry (expected fatness). I talked to the Knicks blog What Would Oakley Do? to find out just how the Knicks will cope.
At the Hive: What exactly did the Jamal Crawford for Al Harrington trade accomplish? Has it actually made the team better, or is it simply a cap space clearing move?
What Would Oakley Do?: The Crawford-Harrington trade accomplished two things. First, it removed the Knicks's go-to player from the roster. Crawford was a solid citizen, a much-liked teammate, and the player who would take the shot at the buzzer. But he is also the person in the NBA who has played the longest without ever reaching the playoffs. Secondly, the trade made a tremendous difference with the salary cap. Crawford had a contract that went beyond 2010 and compensated him extremely well, while Harrington, who is also compensated extremely well, has a contract that ends as we head into the Summer of Lebron. This makes all the difference in the world with this club as it looks to reconfigure the roster over the next few seasons.
@tH: Mike D'Antoni shocked a lot of people by taking this New York job, and he's clearly rubbed off on the Knicks. In the offseason, did you think that the team was equipped to perform in his system, and how has the season gone relative to your expectations?
WWOD?: Around here we weren't that shocked that D'Antoni took the Knicks job. We were just shocked when he was suddenly not working for the Suns anymore. That part came as a surprise, but once he was a free agent I just sort of felt like we'd land him. He is a guy who craves the big stage. Which is good and bad. Since then it's been a bumpy ride. With ups and downs. The one major "down" was his handling of the Marbury situation. I think that he messed up early in the season and then found himself backed into a corner by the media and his own ego. Marbury should have been given a chance to play for this team. He's still the most talented player on the roster. Aside from that, the season started great. The team was playing fast and confidently. They were tops in the league in scoring in the early stages of the season and I felt like they were good at professional basketball, which I haven't said about a Knicks team in a while. Even the inexplicable Zach Randolph was playing well. But, then all of the trades happened and we entered a sort of purgatory where nightly results were less important because the Future was at hand.
@tH: Let's say you don't get Chris Bosh or LeBron in the mad free agency scramble. Who would you target beyond those two?
WWOD?: Aside from Rock Band, coming up with future Knicks lineups is currently my favorite game. For me, the co-headliner of the Free Agent Class of 2010 is Dwyane Wade. I would gut my team for Wade. Other possible scenarios include Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki reuniting. And, I do think that Nash is close to a lock to play at the Garden for D'Antoni (obviously in a slightly diminished role considering his age). Joe Johnson is a phenomenal talent who could be seeking a higher-profile spot than Hotlanta. Amare Stoudemire could potentially be a free agent at that point as well. I would probably put Wade/Amare as the 1a choice just behind LBJ/Bosh. And, I would hope to grab one of either Mike Miller, Hedo Turkoglu or Michael Redd to round out the side. The crazy thing is that these pipedreams are actually possible. The fact that this team was so badly put together by Isiah Thomas means that it can be completely dismantled. Most teams can't really be entirely taken apart to free up the cap space.
@tH: Do you anticipate anybody being moved before the trade deadline? What sort of value is New York looking to get back at this point?
WWOD?: I do anticipate additional moves being made. I think/hope that something will happen with Marbury and am sure that D'Antoni/Walsh are looking to run out Eddy Curry enough in the next month to generate some interest (as his is the last long contract on the books). But the main personnel decision facing the team between now and 2010 is whether to keep Nate Robinson and/or David Lee. Both players are fan favorites, bring unique things to the floor, and will probably command deals that overpay them. If Curry were to be traded it's possible that they could both be re-signed. But probably not. For the right offer, one of them could probably be had at the deadline.