Knicks’ Record S.A.D. (Since Anthony Deal) Makes Fans Sad

Published on: 25th March, 2011

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Knicks' Record S.A.D. (Since Anthony Deal) Makes Fans Sad  | read this item

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New York — The hype is now over. The bloom is off the rose for the New York Knickerbockers. THE TRADE was made, the Knicks got their man in Carmelo Anthony. And what has happened in the month since Jim Dolan rocked the basketball world with his enormous mid-season deal?

Well, put it this way. The fans in Denver are having a huge laugh at the expense of the New York Knicks.

The Knicks record S.A.D. (Since Anthony Deal) is 7-9, and their season record has fallen from a high water mark of seven games over .500 to one game below .500, at 35-36. They’ve fallen behind the surging Philadelphia 76ers into seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Although there doesn’t appear to be a good chance of the Knicks falling out of the top eight finishers to qualify for the post-season tournament, one could not look at how the team is currently playing and discount the possibility of a complete collapse, either.

The Knicks have gone from being a team coach Mike D’Antoni loved coaching, mixing and matching the variety of talents (and weaknesses) of players like Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and Danilo Gallinari into a cohesive, fun team to watch  while they struggled and soared within D’Antoni’s system to one that is less dynamic and less interesting. We know which of the two star players are going to be taking the majority of shots and we also note there is less ball movement and far less defense being played. 

D’Antoni’s teams, both in Phoenix and in New York, have always been flawed, especially at the defensive end of the floor but they have always been fun to watch. Now, he’s coaching a team he clearly DIDN”T sign up to coach which consists of two offensive superstars and ten other guys. The chemistry has yet to be seen between these two players, Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, and there is no indication it’s coming anytime soon.

After a mid-season trade of this magnitude, it is to be expected that there will be far more roadblocks to success than free pathways into the playoffs but, there were enough warning signs before the deal was consummated that Anthony might not be a good fit within D’Antoni’s system.

As great an offensive force as Anthony may be, he is a player who is not known for being a quick decision-maker with the ball. Once he gets his touch, the basketball tends not to leave his hands except for the sole purpose of going through the hoop. In D’Antoni’s offense, if the shot is there when you’re thrown the ball, take it. In Anthony’s case, if the shot is not there, juke here, deke there, drive or dribble and stop and pop. In other words, Anthony becomes the black hole for the offense, never to be seen again in another Knicks hands on any given possession.

D’Antoni cannot be happy about it. He won’t say so, of course but we can read his body language and his clipped tone after losses, which have been piling up. He thought he had the makings of a good, young, scrappy team in New York that was of his creation. Now, he’s more or less charged with turning Dolan’s deal into a winning unit.

He may choose to walk away from it after this season, though. With Donnie Walsh being dangled at the end of a string by Dolan, with no indication Dolan is in any hurry to re-up the most respected member of the Knicks organization to a new contract, D’Antoni may be losing the one person with whom he has worked well and can call an allie within the organization. If the coach decides not to come back, one also senses Dolan will let him walk, contract or no contract.

As the team is currently constructed, it is basically playing offense with three guys, Chauncy Billups, Anthony, and Stoudemire. The question is, how well can the Knicks be expected to do in the playoffs when they are going three on five on offense?

They brought in Jared Jeffries to play 25 minutes a night of center, admittedly for his defense and rebounding and ability to guard people on the perimeter at crunch time. But, can you be a real contender when on offense, you have a guy like Jeffries, who is decidedly not a Dennis Rodman type, sweeping the boards to the tune of 12-15 rebounds per game and blocking shots and shutting down whoever he guards. Nope, that’s not Jared Jeffries’ game. One can look at the nightly stat sheets and wonder exactly what Jeffries contributes to the cause, as he’s averaging 2 points, 3 rebounds, 0.4 blocked shots and 1.4 assists per game in his last five games, averaging 18 minutes per night.

The other member of the starting five, rookie Landry Fields, has been a huge asset and an even bigger surprise. But, since the Knicks acquired Anthony, Fields, the so-called shooting guard has dropped in production drastically, hitting for only 7.8  points per game and 4 rebounds. This precocious rookie had been getting double-digit points and rebounds for most of the season, prior to Anthony’s arrival. Now, he’s an afterthought.

Ultimately, it comes down to the Knicks owner, Dolan, who went all-in three days before the trading deadline and made a deal that, according to sources, neither Walsh nor D’Antoni endorsed. It doesn’t mean that Dolan made the wrong move. It just means that if the Knicks continue to struggle with Stoudemire and Anthony, someone is going to take the fall – and owners don’t fire themselves. Or, someone (make that plural) will walk away from this dysfunction.

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