Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:36 pm
Being the Knicks fan that I am, when I hear major Knicks news, especially trade scenarios involving superstars, I have to voice my opinion. The latest news has the Knicks acquiring Dwight Howard for both Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Obviously, Orlando would have to include other players to make this deal work. The likely candidates would be Hedo Turkoglu (whose hefty contract would definitely be one that the Magic will include in any trade scenario for Howard) and Ryan Anderson.
Before I give my input on this deal, let me just say how crazy things can get in New York. The Knicks are never in a state of rest (in regards to player movement) and seem to never be content with their roster. Patience is never practiced with this team. They are always in "win now" mode yet they have not won a title since 1973! It is nice to see that the Knicks are always trying to find ways to get better but most of the time their aggressiveness in making trades backfires on them. With that being said, allow me to evaluate this potential trade. The deal would like this:
NY Knicks Receive
Dwight Howard ($18 million)
Hedo Turkoglu ($11 million)
Ryan Anderson ($2 million)
Orlando Magic Receive
Amare Stoudemire ($18 million)
Tyson Chandler ($13 million)
From Orlando's viewpoint, this is a pretty good deal. They are receiving a star player in Stoudemire and a great defender in Tyson Chandler. The biggest problem for the Magic in losing Dwight Howard is the loss of his defensive abilities. He is irreplaceable as a defender, however, Chandler may be the next best thing for the Magic from that standpoint as he would be one of the best candidates to make up for the loss of shot-blocking and rebounding that Howard provides. Chandler can also finish well around the basket and would play well in the Magic's uptempo system. Stoudemire, despite the common perception right now, still has a lot of game left in him. He is struggling right now with New York because of the lack of chemistry with Carmelo, who has the ball in his hands the majority of the time and flourishes in isolation sets, and also because of the lack of a playmakers on the team. He is working way too hard to find his offense. He is best in pick and roll sets and as a slasher, he needs the ball while moving. He is not the type of player that you can post up or expect to create shots on his own and that is essentially what the Knicks have forced him to do thus far this season. Stoudemire is a hard worker and is coming off a great season last year in which he was an MVP candidate prior to the Carmelo trade. I think the idea that he is on the decline and that he has weak knees and a bad back are all non-factors. Stoudemire conditions himself better than most players in the league and he does not seem to be plagued by any injuries in recent history. He can definitely still produce at a high level and would be a great player to become the new face of the Orlando Magic. Offensively, Stoudemire is much more dynamic than Dwight Howard. Howard is a dominant center but he is one dimensional as a scorer. Stoudemire on the other hand is versatile on offense. He can shoot from the perimeter, slash to the basket, and is a good free throw shooter. He actually fits in Orlando's offense very well. Let us not forget that it was Amare who brought life back to the Knicks after they missed out on all of their other free agent targets in 2010 and he served as a great leader to the team before the Carmelo trade last year. I think this deal actually makes the Magic a more complete team. I believe that if they made this trade they are actually a more dangerous team. I think this is the best deal the Magic will get unless they can convince the Lakers to give up both Bynum and Gasol. Otherwise, they would have to make this deal if it were on the table because they cannot risk losing Howard for nothing and it is a far better deal than the Nets or Clippers can offer (assuming the Clippers would not part with Griffin or Paul). The only drawback to this deal for the Magic from a basketball standpoint is that even though Amare prefers to play power forward, he is more productive at the center position. The reason this is a drawback is because Tyson Chandler is a center and after watching every Knicks game this year, I could make the argument that it is actually Chandler's presence on offense that is making things difficult for Amare as the two have not gotten their spacing down. Chandler is only effective around the basket so he stays in that area but he is also clogging up space in the lane for Stoudemire. This could limiting the area that Stoudemire has to work with and could be a bigger reason why he is struggling. Remember, Carmelo and Amare found ways to score together last year, that could be a result of Billups being there last year but Stoudemire's struggles this year could somewhat be the result of Chandler's presence. I could be wrong about this but it is something to think about for the Magic. Even if it were true, the Magic may be more successful than the Knicks in creating schemes that help the two stay out of each others way and flourish together offensively.
From the Knicks viewpoint, this is a trade that they would have to consider. I love Amare Stoudemire and he is my favorite player on the Knicks but he is not meshing well with Carmelo, whom, the organization will never give up after they gave up the farm to get him just less than a year ago. I would hate to see Amare go but it seems like Howard is a better asset to the Knicks right now. Howard is the best defensive player in the league and would instantly help them with their rebounding and shot-blocking deficiencies. It also seems as if he would fit in offensively with Carmelo better than Amare because he does most of his work in the paint. He can post up and draw double teams to help create space for the Knicks (which is something they lack). Also, the addition of Ryan Anderson would give the Knicks some three point shooting (which they desperately need) and a player who Howard is used to playing with. They work well together as Howard is now comfortable kicking the ball out to Anderson for open shots when he is being double-teamed. Hedo Turkoglu could also be an asset for the Knicks. He would most likely be included in this deal as a salary dump. However, he could really flourish with the Knicks and have a very valuable role. He could come off the bench and serve as the leader of the second unit. He has good offensive skills as he is a good shooter, can create his own shot, knows how to draw contact and get to the free throw line, and he also has good playmaking abilities. The Knicks currently lack depth and their offense lacks flow and cohesion, this trade definitely addresses both of those problems. From that perspective the Knicks should definitely consider making this deal. Especially if it meant they could somehow add Deron Williams to the mix next summer via free agency or trade (which would be a longshot but something to keep an eye on).
One caveat to this deal which may be a blessing in disguise for the Knicks, is that Tyson Chandler cannot be traded until March 1 (due to free agent signing rules). The reason this may be a blessing in disguise for the Knicks is that it will force them to be patient with their current team and give them some team to get it together. I really like Baron Davis, I do not expect him to be the "savior" for the team but I also do not think that the Knicks are currently a "savior" away from winning. I think Baron Davis can give this team what they are missing; a smart, veteran point guard who can make plays and has the experience and poise to play with superstars like Amare and Carmelo. He fits the offensive system very well and it is worth waiting to see if he can give them what they are currently missing. It would be foolish for the Knicks to make this trade without giving the team a chance to all play together before breaking them up.
In the end, this is all just speculation. But if there are any legs to this rumor and the Knicks continue to struggle and Dwight Howard's trade demand remains then it is definitely a deal both teams should consider. It is a rare deal in that it may actually make both teams better. We will see what happens..............
Posted on: January 12, 2012 3:09 pm
Just a few weeks into the season, there is no doubt that the Miami Heat appear to be the team to beat. They have bounced back well after losing in the finals last year to the Dallas Mavericks and have made adjustments that have made them the favorites early on this year. While things are going well for Miami in this early season, I still ask myself the big question: Will the "Big 3" all play out their contracts with Miami or will the team be broken up?
Posted on: December 4, 2011 3:16 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:40 pm
I am excited for the upcoming season as I'm sure most NBA fans are as well. Now, we can finally talk NBA basketball again instead of lockout updates and players playing with teams overseas. We can actually prepare for NBA basketball. With that being said here are some headlines to follow leading up to the start of the season. What can we expect from the upcoming season? How could it possibly top last year? Which players will change teams? Which coaches are on the hot seat? How will Miami fare in Year 2 of the "Big 3"? Who will be the surprise team(s)? Who will be crowned 2012 NBA Champions?
This season should shape out to be a very entertaining season for more reasons than one. For starters, it will be another season that will include the "surprise element". What I mean by that is there is no clear cut favorite to win the title this year. The Dallas Mavericks surprised most of us last year after their impressive championship run and there is a strong possiblity that we may be surprised again. Parity amongst teams has increased drastically in the NBA over the past few years, it's hard not to believe that every team has a chance. The Western Conference has been very competitive for years now, sometimes only a few games separated the first seed in playoffs from eighth seed. Now, I think the same will start to happen in the Eastern Conference as some of the teams who have been bottom feeders for years now are ready to contend. Its clear now that any team could lose any given night and that makes every game exciting.
The offseason and free agency is typically one of the most exciting times of the year. Due to the lockout dragging on as long as it did, it will be a very short free agency period. However, that just might make it even more exciting. Free agency is set to begin on Dec. 9 with the regular season set to start on Christmas. That leaves just a couple weeks of time for teams to pursue free agents as well as securing their own current free agents. Also, in addition to that, the amnesty provision could result in even more players being available than expected, perhaps even big names. Expect things to get very competitive in a hurry. Some notable free agents to track include:
Some names rumored to be made available via the amnesty clause include:
In addition to those names, we can't forget about the uncertain futures of superstars such as Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams who are all in the last year of their contracts and all sorts of doubt surrounding them resigning with their current teams. We will hear rumors all year similar to the chatter that went on with Carmelo Anthony last year. I believe that at least 2 out of those 3 will be moved prior to the start of the season or by the trade deadline. With all the free agents, amnesty casualties, and superstars available; player movement this year should be nothing short of spectacular.
This will be a vital season for many new coaches and current coaches to produce results. Some coaches may not have too long of a leash and others may be subject to very high expectations to meet. Here is a list of coaches to keep an eye on:
Mike Brown (Lakers) - Large shoes to fill in LA with a team that expects to win......and Kobe Bryant
Erik Spoelstra (Heat)- Pressure to win with Big 3.....will Riley get impatient?
Mike D'Antoni (Knicks) - Last year of contract, Donnie Walsh gone, pressure to win in NY after acquiring Melo/Amare
Mark Jackson (Warriors) - Last coach was only given one season, Jackson has no coaching experience. Will he impress or fall flat?
Stan Van Gundy (Magic) - Has he lost this team? Doesn't seem like any of his players would mind if he was replaced.
Vinny Del Negro (Clippers) - Clippers have talent now, that leads to expectations. Will those expectations be met?
Everyone's favorite team to hate or love last year was clearly the Miami Heat. After a rocky start the team ended up 2 games shy of winning it all. That would be considered a successful season to many teams, however, it was clearly a disappointment in regards to this team. So what lies ahead? Do we see a similar result? Will they take the next step and win it all? Will they take a step back? To answer those questions adequately, we must see what additions/subtractions the Heat will make to their roster. They do not have any cap room so they will have to be creative in acquiring real talent. One of those ways could be to use the amnesty clause on Mike Miller and create cap room to sign a big man or a point guard, Because of how much Wade and Lebron dominate the ball, the money would be much better spent on a big man who could provide a defensive presence and rebound. The big names out there are out of their budget so they may be looking at the likes of somebody like Dalembert or take a chance on somebody like Eddy Curry. They could also use some more reliable shooters. Redd would be an ideal fit for them from an ability standpoint and a financial standpoint. One question that has to be asked is will the Big 3 all play out their full contracts with the Heat, or is it possible that management will deal one of them for a player who fits the team better? With names like Paul and Howard out there, it would have to be at least a possibility that the Heat throw in the towel on their current Big 3 and choose to include one of them in a deal. The Miami Heat will definitely contend next year, I don't expect them to be crowned champions just yet, but they are still a great team and definitely have a chance. It will be interesting to see how their roster looks coming into the season and what adjustments they make to get to the next level.
As the teams stand right now (after free agency this picture will be very different), which teams/players will be surprising? Many teams will surprise us with their success and others might surprise us with their lack of success. One team to keep a close eye on will be the Boston Celtics. The window is closing on this team as father time is catching up to their Big 3. Trade rumors have already began to swirl surrounding Rondo which could create a problem. A compact schedule which will include games on three straight nights on several occasions certainly is not a formula for success for this team. They are obviously still a playoff team but I do not expect them to win their division or have home court advantage in the playoffs. The Celtics era with the current Big 3 has seen its best days. On a similar note, the Los Angeles Lakers, may be facing the same problem. They are just a year removed from back-to-back titles and three straight finals appearances, yet they seem to be headed in the wrong direction. A shortened offseason after bringing in a new coach will certainly hinder the team. The point guard position needs to be addressed as Derek Fisher is clearly past his prime and cannot hang with the likes of starting guards in the Western Conference such as Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, and Barea/Kidd. The Lakers simply lack the necessary youth, toughness and athleticism to compete in the Western Conerence. The fact that they have who I still consider to be the best player in the league, Kobe Bryant, still gives them a chance but they definitely need to improve in many areas. The Portland Trailblazers will be an interesting team to watch. They have an abundance of talent on the roster and some players with health concerns that decisions will need to be made on. The team has great young talent in Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and the newly acquired Raymond Felton. They also have Gerald Wallace, who was acquired at the trade deadline last year, along with Marcus Camby, Brandon Roy (who they may choose to cut via amnesty clause) and also free agent Greg Oden, who they intend on bringing back. This is a loaded roster with no real weaknesses. If they can stay healthy, and thats a big if in Portland, this team is good enough to beat anybody and has a great home crowd to support them. I see them as a top 4 seed in the Western Conference. The Memphis Grizzlies, who were last year's surprise team, should also be able to build off their success last season. Lionel Hollins proved to be a very good coach and helped this team gain the confidence they needed to believe that they could compete. With Rudy Gay returning from a season ending injury the team improves on paper, but hopefully he buys into the team's concept when he was out as it proved to be more successful. If he messes up the chemistry the team had late last season, the team may be better off tradind him for a player who fits the team better. Retaining Marc Gasol is their most important task for the time being. If they lose him with nothing in return, the team will suffer dramatically. I see Gasol as the intangible on that team and maybe the most important next to Zach Randolph. Lastly, the New York Knicks will be a team to watch. This is another team that made some big moves last year and seem to be heading in the right direction. The questions surrounding the Knicks will be, who they add in free agency, if they somehow acquire Chris Paul this year, and if D'Antoni is truly the right coach for the team. The Knicks obviously need to be better on defense if they expect to contend for a title. They added Mike Woodson to the coaching staff to address that but it will also take a commitment from their players (especially Melo and Amare) to truly improve in that area. The team also needs to use their cap space wisely to surround their superstars with the right role players. The Knicks lack overall depth, size, and true shooters and if these areas are addressed they could be a legitimate contender. Without knowing what happens in free agency it is hard to pick a favorite to be crowned 2012 NBA Champions, but if I had to pick a few candidates I would say Heat, Bulls, or Knicks from the Eastern Conference and Thunder, Trailblazers, Mavs, or Lakers in the Western Conference. My predictions will be bolder as the season goes on.
These headlines as well as many others will make this season very exciting to follow. Hope you are all as excited as I am!!!
By: Derrick Karim