The Mecca of Dysfunction

by - December 13, 2013 - - Comment Now »

Mike Woodson is the latest problem with the New York Knicks (long list). And deservedly so. He has done about as poor a job managing the roster he’s been given as possible. The problem is, that roster is incredibly flawed. Which is why it makes sense Knicks owner James Dolan reportedly deemed it championship worthy.

Woodson’s seat is currently engulfed in flames and there is a good chance he will be fired before any of you read this. Canning Woodson however is simply treating the symptoms and not the disease.

I am sure you are aware of this but the Knicks have been putrid since the turn of the century. The preeminent basketball franchise in a city starving for hoops has been a flaming bag of disaster outside of a fleeting moment of Linsanity and a 54 win season a year ago, when they won their first playoff series since I graduated high school (clearly proving to be an outlier).

The problem isn’t coaching. The problem is a rancid organization.

Trying to figure out how we got here is enough to test one’s sanity. I’ll go through the abridged version of the first ten years of the 2000’s. Scott Layden put a talentless team on the floor. Ladies and gentlemen…Shandon Anderson, Clarence Weatherspoon and your New York Knicks! After that came Isiah. We all know what happened there. No need to torture anyone further.

Finally, when Donnie Walsh arrived, it seemed as if the franchise had a coherent direction. David Stern recommended Walsh while citing the Knicks as something other than a model of competent management. But it appeared Walsh was handed the power and at least he had a plan. Clear the books and hit the vaunted free agent market of 2010. I still agree with the process, if not the results.

The results led to the signing of Amar’e Stoudemire, who was given a fully guaranteed five year deal. The Knicks were the only team to offer such a deal as the Phoenix Suns predicted Amar’e’s knees (which are made of sawdust) would not hold up beyond year three. This was almost assuredly a move to show fans they didn’t come up empty handed. Still, Amar’e excelled early with a fun squad.

That squad was enough to entice Carmelo Anthony. He made it more than clear he wanted to join the Knicks. Of course, despite having all the leverage in negotiations and with Melo heading into free agency just a few months later, the Knicks decided to give up every asset they had in a deal to acquire him (including what is sure to be a splendid draft choice this year).

This is when reports surfaced that James Dolan had stepped in to override Donnie Walsh. Walsh mysteriously disappeared from the organization the next Summer.

Following the long lockout, the Knicks were granted a gift. In the new CBA was something called the Amnesty Clause, which allowed you to get rid of a salary, essentially a get out of jail free card for Amar’e’s contract. It might as well have been called the Amar’e Clause. Of course, they didn’t use it on Amar’e. Instead opting to get rid of Chauncey Billups, who had just one year left on his deal.

They entered that season with a highly paid front court and atrocious guards to match. In order to compete they needed to somehow stumble upon a competent backcourt player. It was so bad fans were clamoring for the return of a broken down Baron Davis. Enter Jeremy Lin.

For two weeks the Knicks were a heartwarming story. Things didn’t work out though. Mike D’Antoni “resigned” (amidst a blatant if not stated feud with Melo over basketball philosophy) and the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat. That’s ok though, there was hope.

The team even won a case allowing them to go beyond the salary cap to sign players they picked up off waivers. It might as well have been called the Jeremy Lin rule. Of course they didn’t use it to bring back Jeremy Lin. Instead they let him go for nothing. Akin to striking oil and plugging the hole yourself.

Somehow a 54 win season transpired. Hopes were high. Though doubts creeped in when they signed JR Smith to an extension even though he needed knee surgery, promoting a guy who was an atrocity in the postseason and even putting his brother on the team. They also traded a first round pick for Andrea Bargnani when the Toronto Raptors might as well have had an “Everything must go!” sign on his chest. This all happened amidst plentiful reports that the Knicks were doing the bidding of CAA, the powerful agency currently representing Anthony, Smith and Bargnani.

Then another general manager mysteriously disappeared (Glen Grunwald). Right before the season. The architect of a roster the owner had apparently deemed title worthy.

Still, no one could have seen this coming. Not even SCHOENE, the computer model that predicted the Knicks would win just 37 games. A rosy projection in retrospect. Apparently the computer can’t account for dysfunction.

I hope I didn’t miss anything. My head hurts trying to process it all. I guess I could’ve just summarized it better in one sentence: rooting for the Knicks is like rooting for Wile E. Coyote.

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