No doubt they are a good basketball team. But since beginning the season with a blistering 18-6 record, the Knicks have gone just 10-9 and enter play February 1 as the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Still, with just three games separating the Knicks from the sixth-seeded Atlanta Hawks and the trade winds swirling around the NBA – you know, with it being February and all – let’s take a look at six names.
Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni.
Will Bynum, Sebastian Telfair and Aaron Brooks.
The first group of point guards is the group the Knicks currently have. The second group? Guys whose availability they need to inquire about.
Aside from the fact that this team is capable of mailing it in on any given night, since Felton’s injury we also learned that the Knicks are a completely different team without him. Quite simply, Mike Woodson’s team needs Felton to pressure opposing defenses on the perimeter and challenge them with the threat of getting into the paint.
Felton’s penetration and Carmelo Anthony drawing double-teams on the lower box is what has led to open looks from beyond the 3-point line. If they are to have any hope whatsoever of beating the Heat in a seven-game series – and that’s where the Knicks’ thought process should be – they will need that.
They will also need Kidd to regain his health and form. Since Felton’s injury, Kidd has been forced to play more minutes and orchestrate the offense. His back woes have flared up, and that culminated in him spending most of the second half of Sunday’s win over Atlanta at Madison Square Garden “resting” in the locker room.
Is that what they call it these days?
He was then held out of Wednesday’s victory over the Orlando Magic.
As good as the Knicks have been this season, this statement is as true now as it was when I initially made it in October: For the Knicks to be successful, Kidd needs to be at his best. His skip passes are too valuable, his court vision is irreplaceable. His 3-point shooting – though it has floundered recently – is too important to this team.
Without Felton, I said that Kidd and Prigioni would help the Knicks stay afloat, and they have.
But without Kidd? I’m not sure that Felton and Prigioni can replicate what he’s given them.
What this all means is that the Knicks have until Feb. 21 to try to do something to improve their roster and shore up the fault lines in the core. Right now, the uncertainty at point guard is disconcerting.
Since we used the word “trade,” it would also be a good time to point out that the Knicks don’t really have much to offer. They have eight players 30 or older, massive contracts attached to both Steve Novak and Amar’e Stoudemire and no desire (or reason) to consider trading Anthony or Tyson Chandler.
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Hell, they can’t offer cash in any trade until after July 1, 2013, and by rule, can’t trade either their 2013 first-round pick or their 2015 first-round pick. The Denver Nuggets have the right to swap first- round picks with the Knicks in 2016 as well.
Remember when I told you that the Knicks gave up too much in their sign-and-trade for Marcus Camby? I was virtually tarred and feathered.
Now, the cash and pair of second-round draft picks surrendered would probably come in handy.
For what it’s worth, Camby has played in 14 games and is averaging a whopping 2.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.8 blocks. That acquisition has “genius” written all over it.
Perhaps Camby can make an impact during the playoffs, but 39-year-old centers don’t usually get healthier as the season progresses.