First the first time since 2003, both “New York” teams should be good. In 2003, there was no contest; the Jason Kidd led Nets were better when they swept the New York Knicks in the first round. Things have changed since that match-up, the Knicks have made the playoffs two straight times for a combined 1 win the past two years. The New York Knickerbockers have gotten better since Amare Stoudemire claimed that the knicks were back but after two playoff appearances they have resulted in two first round exits. The Knicks need to win this year and they need to win now because Knicks fans are getting restless and there’s a new team in NYC called the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets are the biggest winners of the July free agency frenzy. They could have lost forward Gerald Wallace and their superstar point guard who could have taken his talents to his hometown of Dallas. They ended up with not only Wallace and Deron back but arguably the third best shooting guard in the NBA in Joe Johnson. Johnson has a terrible contract and one of the worst contracts in sports with four years and 90 million remaining. This might bite the Brooklyn Nets in the end but in the interim this will create a great vibe for the new Brooklyn team. The Nets also added guard Keith Bogans, forward Reggie Evans who is a ferocious rebounder his stats of 4 points and 4 rebounds last year do not tell the story due to a lack of playing time. If you give Evans twenty minutes of playing time he might not tell you the world (1010 news would) but he will get you at least 7 rebounds. They also added point guard C.J. Watson, European import Mirza Teletovic and Jerry Stackhouse who was probably a chemistry/locker room move cause he has played less than 42 games the past four seasons. They also re-signed power forward Kris “Mr.Kardashian” Humphries for 12 million a year for two years and Center Brook Lopez for 61 million over four years.
The Knicks also had a really good off-season and they made moves that defiantly made them better. They did not get Steve Nash and lost Laundry Fields and Jeremy Lin but they added some really good players. The New York Knicks added former Net Jason Kidd for nine million for three years, shooting guard Ronnie Brewer for the veterans minimum of 1.4 million, former Defensive Player of the Year and former Knick Center Marcus Camby for three years 13 million, point guard and former Knick point guard Raymond Felton for four years for 15 million, European point guard Pablo Prigioni for veterans minimum, former Knick power forward Kurt Thomas and shooting guard James White. They also signed re-signed big-time three point shooters J.R. Smith and Steve Novak who led the NBA in three point percentage.
The Jeremy Lin saga was well documented by other great web sites such as ESPN’s six part series on the Lin saga. Grantland’s Jay Caspian Kang’s article was also a must read. Both articles broke the situation into different sections because there is not one plain reason why Jeremy is not a Knick. Here is another great article on Lin from GQ for safe measure. As for my opinion, I am ambivalent it did not make financial sense to let Lin go he alone made MSG over 600 million dollars during his 24 game rise, he put butts in seats and fans were actually proud of their team. This move angered fans and as a Knicks fan it has been a tough ten years since the good old days of Ewing Starks and Houston. In the past, the Knicks never passed on a guy because he was too costly we gave a 100 million dollar contract to a guy who has two bad knees a bad back and needs to wear googlies when playing (spoiler alert he still plays for the team). We even gave Jerome James who’s nickname is Snacks a 5 year 30 million dollar contract after averaging a dominating 5 points and 4 rebounds a game. That was just one of the terrible contracts given during the Isiah Thomas era. The GM might be different but the owner is still the same in Jimmy Dolan and this Jeremy Lin move has his fingerprints all over it. There were two offers the first one was for four years and 32 million, then the Knicks came out and said they would accept it; bad move. Then the next move is uncertain, there was a second offer for three years and 25 million. Carmelo Anthony said the offer was ridiculous which lead to a spiral of people including Stephen A. Smith ripping Lin apart would was uncalled for cause the Knicks DO NOT make the playoffs without Linsanity. Did the Rockets change the offer because Lin and his agent told them he wanted to play for Rockets and not the Knicks? I guess we’ll never know, but he’s not the Jeremy that I used to know (Spoiler Alert: if you want to watch any video in this article, watch this one!)
What we do know is that James Dolan was irked at the second offer without even getting the first offer and he strongly felt that Lin did not want to come back. Carmelo will never admit this but he did not like Lin and the more Lin played the more it became Lin’s team not Carmelo’s team. I also think this is a good move because I am not sold on him after watching him play in 24 plus games. I am sold on his offensive game and I do believe that he posses top-notch athleticism.I am still dubious of his commitment to defensive and his NBA record 30 turnovers in 5 games to start a career. Earlier this summer, I thought the Woodson over Phil Jackson move was a good move because the Knicks have always tried to get the best coach/player for their team. Currently they focus on the better fit for the team. There is no argument in the world that can prove to me that Phil Jackson is a better coach than Mike Woodson but at this current time Coach Woodson is a better fit. Jeremy Lin is the better point guard but I think Raymond Felton is a better fit because he actually wants to be a Knick and he is a pass first point guard that will benefit Amare and Melo.
So which NYC basketball team is better?, According to a survey by the NY Post, NBA insiders think the Knicks are better but not by much. Here is my breakdown of both teams.
The New York Knicks weakness two years ago was a Starting Center they dramatically improved from Ronny Turiaf to Defending NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler. Last year, it was a revolving door at point guard Toney Douglas (not even on the team anymore) started the season, then came Iman Shumpert (is not a point guard then came Linsanity, following by Baron Davis (who has hurt) that finally turned into Mike Bibby (too slow and old). This year, they have three new point guards in Raymond Felton who played out of shape last year and still averaged 6 assists. He was a former Knicks two season ago averaging 17 points and 8 assists and made Amare look like an MVP with all the pick and rolls. If he averages similar number were in trouble because he will not be an offensive focus this time around to score but to facilitate the ball to Carmelo, Amare, and Tyson. The knickerbockers also signed Jason Kidd who is old and does not have alot in the tank but he is a top-5 chemistry builder he raised Dirk’s play two years ago when they won it all. Kidd is a future Hall of Famer that guys like Carmelo do not want to disappoint; stars love to play with other stars and they raise their game for them. Kidd is also a fan favorite known for bringing the now Brooklyn Nets back to prominence back in 2003. My only concern with the move is that, they limit his minutes so he is not burned out come playoff time. The third string point guard on the Knicks is Pablo AKA the Maestro Prigioni from Argentina who recently played in the Spanish league. If you saw his youtube video you would have seen a guy who is a creative passer who always finds the open man. What scares me is: he is 35 and only signed for the vet’s min. If he is an upgrade of Toney Douglas this group is a huge improvement.
The Nets have their best player Deron Williams as their point guard which is a very good start to a basketball team. He has been a Net for the last two years and recently resigned with the team for 5 years and 98 million. What scares me about him is: the Nets have been one of the worst teams in the NBA with him and stars are supposed to elevate teams and make them better. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt that the Nets will turn it around because they have not 1 but 2 stars now. C.J. Watson is their back up point guard coming over from the Bulls. I am not sure if he is an upgrade over fellow Jew Jordan Farmar but he is a lock-down defender with playoff experience.
The Knicks lost their starting shooting guard in Fields to the Raptors but there were no guarantees that Landry would have kept the starting job. The Knicks made the most underrated move of the off-season with the signing of Ronnie Brewer. Yes, he’s a career 24 percent shooter as a shooting guard but he is a lock-down defender and with Shumpert out for most of the season next year with a torn acl, we desperately needed a guard/forward that can cover a team’s best perimeter player. He is also a great finisher we could leave the three pointers to Felton, Kidd, J.R. Smith and Novak. The Knicks also have J.R. Smith who should not start because he’s one of our best shooters but he has terrible shot selection and he is a ball hog. There should be only one ball hog on the floor at one time and Melo and J.R. are not a great fit on the floor at the same time. J.R. did fit well with Novak and Kidd will love to pass the ball to a possible open J.R./Novak.
The Nets made a big time upgrade with Joe Johnson. Deron and Joe Johnson now make the Nets the best back court in the Eastern Conference and the third best back court in the NBA. The Lakers Nash and Kobe are better and so is the Thunder’s Westbrook and Harden. Johnson should have no problem averaging 20 points a night but do not expect any steals, rebounds or assists. MarShon Brooks is back amid of the Dwight Howard trade rumors. He will hope to improve on his rookie year and continue to show potential. Keith Bogans is the third string shooting guard look for him to be a good locker room guy.
The Bockers’ star and Olympian Carmelo Anthony is the area’s best player. He is the third best small forward in the league following Lebron and Durant. The Knicks have built the team around him and his is also in Dolan’s ear. There were rumblings that Melo get D’Antoni fired; I think it’s true. Anthony is a guy that can score in bunches and when he is on fire he is hard to stop. Carmelo is finally playing defense and I think he is physical enough to play the power forward position. Carmelo is under the most pressure out of any athlete in the NYC tri-state area because the Knicks have one playoff win in two years while fellow super-friends, Lebron now has a ring and Wade has two rings. If there ever a year to step up it would be this year. I am hoping Melo continues to play at an elite level and takes us to at least the Conference Finals. James White is the other small forward who has played in Italy the past two years; he must earn his minutes if he wants to play for this deep New York Knicks team.
The Nets resigned Gerald Wallace to a four year forty million dollar contract. I like his game but he is not a big time offensive player anymore. A career 32 percent three point shooter, Wallace is known for his defense and will be a perfect complement to three offensively gifted starters in Deron, Johnson, and Brook Lopez. Jerry Stackhouse is the other small forward he will be mostly a good locker room guy like Bogans.
Amare Stoudemire has been the Knicks power forward for the past two years. He was a MVP caliber Power Forward before Melo came on board and they both have struggled playing with each other. I think he should come off the bench and make Novak the starting small forward. Stoudemire wants to start but not all great players start; look at Harden on OKC and Jason Terry now on the Celtics. Amare has the potential to get 20 points and 10 rebounds a night but the question is: Will he fall apart again in the playoffs? In his first season, his back gave out and last season he punched a fire extinguisher. Which Amare are we getting this year? I really hope he comes out playing well because he need him and Felton should help him but up numbers if he is healthy. Steve Novak who plays absolutely no defense and Kurt Thomas who will turn 40 before the season are the back up power forwards. The Knicks are one Stoudemire injury from having another roller coaster season.
The Nets have Kris Humphries as their starting power forward for the third straight season. He is one of the most hated players in any sport. He gets booed everywhere . After signing a two year twenty four million dollar contract guys are going to be gunning for him. If he keeps up the rebounding he might actually justify his contract. Reggie Evans and Bosian Mirza Teletovic were great additions to the team. Evans is another great rebounder; if you put Humphries and Evans on the court at the same time they would probably fight each other for rebounds. Teletovic is a young shooter who is coming off a career high 21 points a game and I may be no Fran Fraschilla but that is a lot of points for the Euro Leagues.
EDGE:EVEN (depending on which Amare shows up)
The Knicks now have two Defensive Players of the Year in Tyson Chandler the Olympian and Marcus Camby the old man. Camby like Jason Kidd can still be a serviceable player if his minutes are monitored. Chandler and Amare have been working on their post moves with Hakeen Olajuwon. If Hakeem “the dream” can do the same for them as he did for Lebron then the Knicks front court just got a lot better. What worries me about Tyson is that his two healthiest season have been the last two. He needs to be healthy for another whole year for him to rid himself of the injury prone tag that plagued him in his earlier seasons.
Brook Lopez who played in 5 games last season hopes to comes back strong this season after breaking his foot not once but twice last season. He is one of the best offensive centers but has not been a good rebounder since Humphries joined the team. Will they learn to share? Probably not but Lopez needs to justify his contract somehow. Backing up Lopez is nobody if Lopez is out again for an extended period of time Teletovic or another undersized power forward will have to step up.
I feel that the Knicks have a top 5 bench this season. They have a future hall of famer at point guard two sure fire three point shooters and two serviceable big men. I would take the Knicks bench over the Bobcats starting lineup. What else does this bench need? Kenyon Martin? It could happen.
The Nets have a good and much improved bench this season. They have a decent point guard and a decent shooter but two big men under 6’9. Brooklyn should consider getting another shooter and a bigger back up center.
The Knicks have all the ingredients of a great team: they have a point guard who is a great passer another one that is also great passer and good defender. They have a guy who can lock down on guards and small forwards. They also have two great three point shooters and a Superstar in Carmelo Anthony. They also have not one but two 7 footers who protect the rim and who knows how good Amare will be. Finally, they have locker room heros in Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Kurt Thomas who will hold Carmelo and Amare accountable if they step out of line. Fire extinguishers will be saved from Amare’s wrath this season! I think the Knicks are in the 2-4 seed range for the playoffs and anything lower than the 5 seed will be a massive disappointment.
Brooklyn has a much improved team and a better starting 5 than the Knicks if all the players gel. If Deron Joe Johnson and Lopez commit to defense this could be a very interesting team. Lopez must stay healthy tho, they have no one backing him up. If the Nets don’t make the playoffs they will also be a disappointment and that is very un-Jay-Z like.