Isiah, allow me to be the first to congratulate you on acquiring Steve Francis for the bargain price of $14,000,000. As bad as the Knicks have been this year at least you lead the league in one category: Highest Team Payroll ($123,337,515). You just aren't leading that category; you dominate it (Second place is the Dallas Mavericks at about $97,000,000).
Your team is currently in last place in the Atlantic Division, 14 games back of New Jersey. You are 4 games behind the Toronto Raptors and already have 37 losses. The season is obviously lost which inevitably leads to the following question:
What the hell are you thinking?
You currently have the most expensive starting backcourt in the NBA. Stephon Marbury at $16.5 million and Steve Francis at $14 million is a lot of cheese to kick down to two guards with a shoot first mentality.
"This is a trade that we all feel makes us a better basketball team for both now and in the future," Knicks president Isiah Thomas said. "In Steve, we add an All-Star caliber player to our team without giving up core assets that are key to our future."
This makes you a better basketball team? It would be pretty tough to be any worse.
Being a helper, not a hinderer, I have come up with three questions you should always ask yourself before making any deals:
1. Is this player a "Larry Brown Guy". Meaning will he get a long with Larry personally, buy into his system, and be mentally tough enough to withstand one of the harsher coaches in the league that demands perfection every night?
Steve has continuously proved in Houston under Van Gundy and Orlando that he is a sensitive player who when things don't go his way can become easily upset and be incredibly ineffective. His talent is unquestioned but to me his heart is suspect. I am going to have to say if he has problems in those systems chances are he is going have a rough time playing for Larry.
2. Through the draft and free agency you have assembled a nice core of young players with bright futures. Eddy Curry, Quentin Richardson, Channing Fry, David Lee and Nate Robinson are all nice pieces. What does this deal do for the future of the franchise? To be more precise, are you setting yourself up to re-sign future stars like Channing Fry?
Unfortunately the answer right now is no. Penny Hardaway comes off the books this summer so all you did was provide cap relief to the Orlando Magic while taking back 14 million and giving away a promising and affordable young small forward in Trevor Ariza.
3. Does George Steinbrenner own this team and are you Brian Cashman?
O.K. that is a rediculous question but James Dolan seems to have endless amounts of money like George Steinbrenner and I am going assume Mr. Dolan wants to be competitive and see a return on his investment. With this kind of payroll the Knicks should be competing every night and not lingering at the bottom of their division. Even though I hate the Yankees my point is that you have a pretty good model to emulate in New York.
Getting back to today's trade I believe it is pretty obvious to anyone that knows basketball that it is tough to win in the NBA with two shoot first, scoring type guards. I am not saying it can't be done, I am just saying it's hard to near impossible.
Francis will probably start off with something to prove, playing with a chip on his shoulder and putting up numbers but slowly the sand castle backcourt the Knicks have acquired will begin to crumble. Chemistry problems will take over and once again the team will be looking to blow up their roster.
What do the Pistons, Spurs, Suns and Mavericks all have in common: Chemistry, ball movement and defense. Three things I don't see on this current New York roster.
I hate to say it but the only way to salvage the season for the Knicks is for you to step down or Mr. Dolan finds a new GM.