Website: Bench Renaldo
Last Year’s Record: 23-59
Key Losses: Maurice Taylor (OK, not exactly “key”, but what the hell do you want from me? I need to fill column space!)
Key Additions: Umm…Renaldo Balkman? Yikes.
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
The most important offseason move was the dumping of Larry Brown. And now we all wait in gleeful anticipation for David Stern to put the hammer on him in the contract dispute.
Brown was such a disruptive force that the Knicks have no choice but to get better. Unlike Brown, Isiah will settle on a lineup and stick with it for the majority of the season, and unlike Brown he won’t feel the need to give certain guys huge minutes just because they’re playing in their hometown on any given night. The biggest problem for this team last year was chemistry. For the entire season all you heard about was how miserable everyone in the locker room was; this year that’s going to change because Isiah is a player’s coach (meaning the respect between him and the players will be mutual). I guess this means he probably won’t be losing his job, but unlike Spike Lee, I don’t think he’ll be good enough to win Coach of the Year. That’s just silly.
Word is that Isiah is going to try and turn this team into a running squad (which will work from time to time with gifted athletes like Marbury and Crawford), but the biggest adjustment will have to be on the defensive end. Assuming he doesn’t die on the court because of his ticker, Eddy Curry has to become an absolute monster on the boards, and the only way for this to happen is to keep him happy by pounding the ball into him a lot more on the offensive end.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
-The Knicks have talent; it’s just a matter of using it properly (not impossible).
-There’s no pressure. Most people expect this team to be the laughing stock of the League again, so there’s only one way for them to go. Up.
-Did I mention that Larry Brown won’t be coaching again?
-They play in The Garden. Still the best place in the world to play basketball.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
– Last year it was team play and chemistry. The biggest question this season will be whether or not they can get their act together and play like a true “team”. This means that Marbury and Nate Robinson won’t be chocking each other over the ball at crunch time.
-If management can stay out of the picture and just let Isiah run the team (wait, hear me out!), they should be alright. Last season, a major distraction was that no one knew who was calling the shots. There was a power struggle between Brown and Thomas from day one, and now that Brown has lost the fight, it’s on Thomas to prove that he’s the right man for the job (or else James Dolan will have no choice but to can him). Remember, he did a commendable job as coach of the Pacers a few years back (albeit, with a better team).
4. What are the goals for this team?
I don’t think it’s unrealistic for this team to aim for the playoffs. In the East, there are six teams that barring an absolute catastrophe, are pretty much guaranteed a playoff spot (Detroit, Cleveland, Washington, Chicago, Miami, New Jersey). The Knicks will be hard pressed to nab one of the two final playoff spots, but it’s not out of the question.
5. What can we expect from this squad?
-Despite the amount of crap I give the guy, I think Renaldo will become a fan favorite due to his hard work and enthusiasm for the game. If he can stay out of foul trouble, rebound and play tenacious D, the New York fans will fall in love with him.
-Marbury will once again become one of the elite point guards in the Association; Isiah will give him the freedom to run the team and they won’t be dueling it out in the papers. Unless those cheap shoes screw his feet up, I expect a big year from Starbury.
-There’s good size and athleticism on this team, so if Isiah can get everyone to be on the same page, we should see an improvement in defense and rebounding (which will lead to wins).
-The Knicks will surprise a lot of people this year, and basketball fans will have to find a new team to make fun of consistently. May I suggest the tried and tested Blazers?
6. What should the team’s slogan be this year?
Your 2006-2007 Knicks. 44% Less depressing!!!
Predicted Record: 41-41
That’s an 18 game improvement from last year’s pathetic showing, and in the East that gives you a legitimate shot at the postseason.