Charity is a helluva drug.
I might be hopped up on something for wanting to discuss this train wreck a.k.a. the New York Knicks. I thought, “Hey, I could fix the Knicks immediately if given the keys.” And I truly believe that.
I could be the Richard Gere to the Knicks’ Julia Roberts.
First let’s talk about why the Knicks have struggled. They’ve lost 16 games by nine points (three possessions) or less. Ten of those losses have been by five points or less.
So one issue has been the lack of closing games. That’s supposed to be Carmelo Anthony’s job, but if his teammates can’t knock down open shots, it allows for opposing teams to double and triple team Melo down the stretch.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is the only legitimate perimeter scoring threat for the Knicks — other than Melo. J.R. Smith is shooting 32 percent from three. Pablo Prigioni has been shooting well from deep, but his 42 percent three-point percentage doesn’t mean as much if he’s only playing 19.6 minutes a game and not playing in the fourth quarter.
Defense hasn’t been a big issue for New York. The Knicks only allow about 99 points a game, but their offense is averaging about 93 points a game. They’re also turning the ball over about 15 times a game, and it doesn’t take an expert to realize that’s too many giveaways.
So how would I fix the Knicks? Let’s go Michael Phelps and dive right in, shall we?
The first step is determining what the goal is. Do you want to win now or win later? Both are possible.
If it’s win now, moves need to be made. Take Amar’e Stoudemire and his $23 million expiring contract and send him away to a team looking for cap space going into the offseason. Trade Stoudemire to the Detroit Pistons for a deal centered around Greg Monroe. Monroe is likely to walk from the Pistons in free agency anyway and Detroit could then let Stoudemire walk and spend the money elsewhere come July. The Knicks would finally have a consistent offensive threat out of the post — something vital to running the Triangle offense.
Next I would take J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert and send them to the Charlotte Hornets for Lance Stephenson and a second-round pick. It’s clear that it’s a tough fit for Stephenson in the Queen City, and the Triangle offense thrives with bigger guards. Ask Phil Jackson about when he played Scottie Pippen at point guard. It works.
The funny thing is it would benefit Charlotte too. They’d get some defense and athleticism from Shumpert, and Smith would provide some much needed scoring off the bench.
So let’s re-evaluate thus far. The Knicks’ starting line-up under my watchful eye is as follows:
Jose Calderon – PG
Stephenson – SG
Anthony – SF
Samuel Dalembert – C
That’s not bad if you ask me. Calderon would be turned into a jump shooter with Stephenson orchestrating the offense in his home state. Madison Square Garden would erupt with his high-octane highlights.
Monroe would allow Melo to move back out to his natural small forward position, and you still have Dalembert to rebound and block shots. Let’s not forget that you still have Hardaway Jr. off the bench taking over the main role as sixth man.
The final move I’d make is a bit of a head scratcher to some, but I’d take Prigioni — a defensive liability — and send him to Indiana for Chris Copeland. I might even send a future second-round pick to the Pacers for “Cope-Cola’s” services. The 30-year old shoots 39 percent for his career from beyond the arc, and he thrived in the few minutes he played in New York while under Mike Woodson. Copeland would get about 25 minutes a game and take as many threes as his heart desires.
Now we’re talking about a Knicks team who hasn’t lost any defensive prowess and is better equipped to run Derek Fisher’s Triangle offense. And if anyone can talk Stephenson off the ear-blowing edge, it’s Fisher. He’s still seen as a respected father figure by the players. Plus, the Triangle might be the best system for the quick-footed Stephenson who’s suddenly fallen in love with passing the ball (averaging five assists a game, a career high).
There might not be the cap room Jackson wanted going into this off-season, but they probably weren’t going to get Marc Gasol anyway, which would have meant they target Monroe. But wait, under my direction, Monroe would already be wearing orange and blue.
The best part? The Knicks give Isaiah Thomas the cold shoulder and hold onto their first-round pick this year. So if they can’t turn it around this year, can you say top-five pick? I can — repeatedly.