No Need to Fear, New York
Lin to Rockets is No 3-Year Death Sentence
Upon examining the Knicks’ 2012 Roster, a Knicks fan has to be happy. That said, the absence of one “Jeremy Lin” immediately changes the attitude of many. If you can get past the reality of Lin leaving, you‘ll soon warm up to the squad Mike Woodson will lead to the court come October.
Let’s look at the guard position without Lin. To start, you’ll most likely have Raymond Felton, and behind him Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. That means you’ll have a true point guard on the floor for 48 minutes each night. Moving to the 2, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert will do very well in Landry Fields’ absence.
The main reason is the latter guy, Shumpert. Everyone likes to focus on the team’s new acquisitions, or their rostered stars in Anthony and Stoudemire going forward, but people quickly forget about Shump. He captured the hearts of many fans with his play at the point after Douglas flopped, and may have been on the all-rookie 1st team if not for two injuries. He’s the only thing this team has for the future, and he may have been a steal in the middle of the 2011 1st round. He’s incredibly athletic, and is already an elite perimeter defender. When he’s back, he should start over Smith, and I think he helps this team at the end of the year.
As for the other offseason acquisitions – Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas – they’re probably the best veterans this team could have brought in outside of Steve Nash. Camby offers great defense at the 5 coming in for Tyson Chandler (who’s often in foul trouble, so Camby will play), while Thomas provides valuable leadership to a locker room that might need some gluing together. Let’s not forget Amar’e Stoudemire punching a fire extinguisher last year.
The bottom line is New York’s had a pretty good offseason. They missed on Lin, but is that really a problem? Anthony needs to carry the team; Lin wasn’t needed to do that. A decent point guard is all the Knicks needed, and they picked up two. Jeremy Lin may go on to do great things in the NBA, or he may flop, but New York simply couldn’t fit him into their plans.
They’re best suited picking up a point guard in this year’s draft. He’ll be a cheap option (depending on where they pick, probably $2-5 mil/yr), and he’ll be a restricted free agent after his rookie contract runs out. The team needs to go all-out to get a point guard in the next year or two, whether that’s in the draft or in free agency.
A big question here is whether or not James Dolan has Chris Paul in his plans. The all-star is due to become a free agent next year if he doesn’t sign a new deal with the Clippers. If LA has a first-round exit in the playoffs, the all-star may consider playing elsewhere – maybe with his friends Amar’e and Carmelo.
Have confidence in this Knicks team, because they all have something to play for. Carmelo wants to prove the critics wrong, Stoudemire wants to overcome injury and return to his dominant form, Felton wants to make New York fans forget Jeremy Lin, and others like Kidd and Smith need to prove to the rest of the NBA they made the right decision signing with New York.
Speaking of Carmelo, you’ll enjoy watching the Olympics, because you’ll see a player who lost weight and is hustling on both ends of the floor. After D’Antoni left, Melo started playing much better defense, and it’s continued through the summer. If you get 100% effort out of Carmelo Anthony, what’s stopping your team from being a contender?
This team can be top-4 in the Eastern Conference if everyone gets healthy and plays well together – they’ve got great depth and the potential to win 50+ games. All that needs to happen is for each player to play up to his capability.