Backdoor Cut: 2010 New York Knicks Preview or What, LeBron Isn’t on the Team?!?

Time to preview the 2010 New York Knicks

Music to listen to: Leaders by Nas and Damian Marley

Showing love to arguably my favorite New York rapper, Nas. This track is off of his new album with Damian Marley. I highly recommend it.

Last season/offseason changes: I can really just use my alternate post title as the entire preview but I won’t do that to you.

The Knicks did miss out on many things last season and this offseason. On the court, New York had another uninspired year, finishing the year 29-53 and missed the playoffs again. In fact, the last time the Knicks made the playoffs was in 2000. The last conference title was in 1999 during the strike-shortened season and the last division title was in 1994. There has been a culture of losing with the squad for years, but this past offseason was supposed to change that.

The Knicks believed that they finally had a competent general manager in Donnie Walsh, who has previously had success building the Indiana Pacers into a NBA title contender. New York had a proven NBA head coach in Mike D’Antoni who I will evaluate further in this post but it was a major upgrade over the previous coaches.

However, Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade decided to become Superfriends in Miami. Carlos Boozer took his talents to the Windy City. The lack of tradable commodities makes things even tougher to gain top talent. Carmelo Anthony is a year away from free agency. Chris Paul is several years away. Kevin Durant looks like a lifetime Thunder player, you get the idea.

Oh yes, your best player last year, David Lee, is now in Golden State.

The good news is that the Knicks did acquire power forward Amare Stoudemire via free agency along with raw talent and potential All-Star Anthony Randolph.

The bad news is that the point guard position is still in question, which is the most important position in D’Antoni’s offense. The lack of outside shooting, rebounding and defense are also issues.

Outside of that, things should be fine in Gotham.

Strength: The Knicks will be more entertaining this year because they have athletic forwards who can score.

Stoudemire is a tough player to project for this season. He leaves arguably the top passing point guard in the league in Steve Nash from Phoenix and now has to play with Raymond Felton. Major dowgrade. However, he does return to an offense where he saw his most production in his career. Either way, Stoudemire will finally get the numbers he seeks and gets to play in the weaker Eastern Conference.

You may scoff at me saying that Randolph can be an All-Star but he has the physical talents to reach that level. Unfortunately for him, he ended up in Don Nelson’s doghouse in Golden State but to be fair, every power forward that Nelson has had outside of Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas has been in Nelly‘s doghouse, dating back to Chris Webber. A change of scenery and offense can possibly do wonders for them.

The third breakout forward is the team’s most important player but I’ll save that for another section.

Weakness: The contributing centers on the roster are Ronny Turiaf and Eddy Curry. The former does play hard, rebounds the ball well and may actually be productive but isn’t good enough to anchor the spot for a playoff team.

The latter has had many issues in New York from his weight to fitness to overall mental state. Curry took some time away from the Knicks last year to deal with his issues and the organization is hoping that this time away will be helpful for all parties involved. I’m not so sure.

The other weakness is at point guard. D’Antoni’s offense is only truly effective with elite point guard play and Steve Nash isn’t walking through Madison Square Garden anytime soon. The Knicks got competent play from Chris Duhon, who is a smart player but can’t guard or hit long shots.

Raymond Felton is Duhon with more speed. The alternative point guard is Toney Douglas. How many years does Chris Paul have on his contract?

Most important player: If/when the Knicks hope to contend in the East with Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago…shoot, make the playoffs, forward Danilo Gallinari has to be a major part of the equation.

You can always play the fun game of who the Knicks can have on their roster. Steph Curry instead of Jordan Hill is a fun one to analyze. However, Gallinari may become the third-best player in his draft class behind Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. Brook Lopez is another candidate.

The point is that Gallinari has tremendous talent for his age. He’s only 22 and has already shown an ability to shoot well in the perimeter and even drive to the basket. The defense is a borderline lost cause but that’s the way that the Knicks want to play.

When the clock is winding down and a big shot needs to be made, its going to be Gallinari on the Knicks and when New York plays close games towards the end of the season to make a playoff push, he’s going to have to make some of those.

Stoudemire is the best, but the reasons mentioned above is why Gallinari is the most important player on the team.

Celebrity crush from the city: So many choices can be made and it’s a tough choice because its my hometown. I came down to two women who represent the city the best in their backgrounds, attitudes and overall appeal.

Screw it, they’re both winners. My crushes are Alicia Keys and Rosario Dawson.


Coaching: D’Antoni has had an interesting path to the NBA. He was a legendary point guard in Italian basketball and began his coaching career in the country. You can see the European influence in every aspect of his coaching, especially on offense.

After flaming out as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets in 2000, the Phoenix Suns made him their head man in 2002 and many of you reading this know the rest.

This year was supposed to be the time for his offense to take full flight in New York with an upgrade in talent. However, the only additions have been Stoudemire, Randolph and Felton. That’s not a good situation for his offense.

However, its better than last year and while the top half of the East has improved greatly, there are still playoff sports to be had in the conference. The Knicks have to make the playoffs to justify the hiring of D’Antoni.

First memory of team: Some cities are baseball towns, football cities, hockey provinces, etc.

New York is all of those things…when the team of choice is winning. When the Yankees are winning, it seems like everyone is in a Yankees cap. When the Giants are making a run to the Super Bowl, everyone is wearing blue. Even when the Rangers had their good run in the early 1990’s, culminating with winning the Stanley Cup in 1994, people who didn’t even know the rules of hockey were looking for Rangers gear to wear.

There was a time when the Knicks were the toast of the city and that time ended in the 1990’s.

The Knicks enjoy the advantage of not having split allegiances like the other major sports. Mets/Yankees, Jets/Giants, shoot, there are New York Islander fans out there, seriously, they exist and I’ve met a ew.

If you like basketball in the city, you follow the Knicks. This is why I was a big fan of Patrick Ewing as a kid, wanted to be friends with Charles Oakley and thought Mark Jackson was the best point guard in the NBA.

However, the Knicks have started to lose often right when I moved to the southeast for college and got into college football.

Knicks games used to determine my mood for the entire day. However, I got older and found out things to occupy my time like work and women, so the passion for the Knicks has weakened but I still would like to see them win.

Best case: Making the playoffs.

Worst case: Despite all of the offseason changes, the last nine seasons.

Uniform grade: Its hard to go against blue and orange. However, I would like to see the team lighten the blue and stop incorporating so much black into its uniforms. Also, ban the green jerseys. Much love to my Irish peeps and St. Patrick’s Day but I don’t look forward to seeing the highlights from the Knicks’ game that day. Grade: B

Overall outlook: I think the Knicks win more games and the players maturate. However, I don’t see them making the playoffs for another season but the franchise is heading in the right direction and something will have to required of the fans that doesn’t want to be heard. Patience.

Those are my thoughts, what about yours?

2010 Backdoor Cut Previews:

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

Toronto Raptors

Philadephia 76ers

New Jersey Nets

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