Wednesday, April 12, 2006

For Knicks, more failure not impossible

If my math is correct, and I think it is, the New York Knicks are not making the playoffs this year. In fact, the 2005-06 season has been THE low point of the past few years, which is saying a lot considering the last few years have prominently involved Scott Layden, the knees of Antonio McDyess and Allan Houston, and a 300-pound Clarence Weatherspoon.

You may be asking yourself, “Why the heck is he devoting an entire column to the Knicks, especially when the baseball season just kicked off? I stopped thinking about the Knicks like, four months ago.” And you would have a point. However, when you think about it, this season has been truly special. In an amazingly awful kind of way. I mean, if we’re so quick to celebrate greatness, why can’t we celebrate greatness in the realm of total, unabashed failure? After all, this a team that lived by the motto, “Rock bottom is only a game away” all season long. In fact, I think there was a sign above the locker room door with this saying, and the players slapped it before going out to the court for every game, similar to the way Notre Dame football players do, except their sign says something about “victory,” which is totally not the point.

Yes, this was quite a year. The players – if you can call them that – blatantly mailed it in on their coach about three weeks into the season. But even the coach was a less than sympathetic figure, since he sporadically sat the young players for no reason, stooped to the level of his veteran players regarding petty differences, and did so while wearing women’s glasses. And I won’t even get into the job of the general manager, who generally managed to bring down an entire franchise in the span of several months, and who would often leave his luxury box to stare blankly at the bumbling, overpriced circus he produced.

But the question remains, how can the Knicks continue this run of success heading into next season? It seems inconceivable that the team could equal their ineptitude. Even if they just took a year off, and went backpacking through Europe, it would be better than this year, because they wouldn’t be playing basketball. But I have a few pointers on how this franchise can do the unthinkable – be worse. Because if anyone can do it, these guys can.

Get another shoot-first point guard. Why not? I’m thinking along the lines of Jason Williams, or maybe Baron Davis (which would be a bonus since he’s always hurt). I mean, could you imagine Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Jamal Crawford, AND Baron Davis competing for shots?! Passing is soooo five minutes ago, anyway. To boot, it would be another “asset” that Isiah Thomas claims to keep acquiring, although I’m not exactly sure that he knows what the word means. He knows the first part of the definition, in that an asset is “something,” although he often ignores the latter part, which is, “that somebody else wants.” He thinks the flu is an asset.

Sign Allan Houston to an extension. Here’s a riddle. What is a salary cap if you can go over it? Tough one, huh? Well, the answer is…the Knicks! Sure, Houston is already retired, and hasn’t played in about a decade. But the Knicks have been paying him this whole time anyway, so why not keep it going? They don’t want that money coming off the cap! That would mean they’d have to give that money to somebody more deserving of it, like someone who is physically capable of playing basketball (in the sense that they can run up and down the court without falling). And that’s NOT the sign of a great team.

Trade away draft picks for the years 2009 until infinity. This is one of the Knicks strong points already, so I don’t see any reason why they can’t continue this trend. The Knicks are trailblazers (another great team) of sorts in that they realized very early on that draft picks can only make you better, which is why they avoid them. Why go young, good and cheap, when you can go old, bad and expensive? Hopefully, David Stern will simply eliminate the Knicks from the NBA Draft altogether, giving their pick to another team just in case the Knicks forgot to trade it already. But they won’t forget. The Knicks are aware that draft picks are not “assets.” They are more like herpes, in that you can give them to someone else if you try hard enough.

Make Larry Brown wear a black cloud over his head at all times. I’m thinking he can stick a coat hanger in the back of his suit jacket, which angles over his head, and has a large piece of black cotton at the end. This is the only way I can think of to make the most miserable $10 million coach in the world even MORE negative. I mean, how funny would it be to see Larry Brown’s reaction on the bench after another Knick turnover, while he literally has a black cloud over his head? I’m laughing already. And also crying. This may seem far-fetched, but if the Knicks are going to be better (a.k.a. worse) than this year, they have to take this thing to the next level.

Give Isiah Thomas a TV show. This is a no-brainer. The entire free world is interested in how Thomas goes about his daily life. How much does he ruin on a day-to-day basis? Do fires start out of nowhere when he walks by? Hire a cameraman, and let’s find out! This way, we can watch his show on MSG, where he will have interactions with the concession stand workers like this:

Isiah: How much for that hot dog?

Worker: $4.50.

Isiah: I’ll give you $7.50 for it.

Worker: Ummm, okaaay. But the one you’re pointing to fell on the floor.

Isiah: Okay, fine. $10.00, but that’s my final offer! You drive a hard bargain (squinting to read name tag)…Steve.

Worker: My name is Jim.

Sign someone with a serious heart ailment, who is always at least 25 pounds overweight, and who exerts as much energy as a chair. Oh wait, they already did this?! Well, find somebody else like this! Do some research, Knickerbockers.

And finally,

Keep everyone on the current roster - except for David Lee, Channing Frye, and Nate Robinson (they showed too much promise) - but give them more money. If the Knicks can manage to exchange Lee, Frye, and Robinson for, say, Baron Davis, Shawn Kemp, and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, I think they will be in good shape for next season (well, not literally in good shape, considering Kemp, but you get the point). That’s a lot of assets right there. Plus, the other guys who it gave it their all this year, like Jerome James and Eddy Curry, deserve more money. Why, you ask? Why not?! Extensions all around!

Using these guidelines, it’s entirely possible that the 2006-07 Knicks can do the impossible, and be worse than their predecessor. In fact, they’re already off to a good start, considering the Chicago Bulls have their draft pick this June, a result of the Eddy Curry deal.

Man, I just have to laugh. I mean, what were the Bulls thinking?

What they need is a good motto.

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