New York Knicks
I remain steadfastly unconvinced the New York Knicks braintrust has anything resembling a plan besides [vulgarity meant to describe fornication with a celestial object that would probably burn your genitalia to a crisp]. Or, more to the point, plans are jettisoned by the hour. We're told it's because the players' egos cannot stand the most logical solutions.
Carmelo Anthony doesn't want to play power forward because of egos. Amar'e Stoudemire won't come off the bench because of egos. Jason Kidd received three guaranteed years at age 73 because of egos. Mike Woodson's only job is to massage egos because of egos. Raymond Felton ate the last six toaster waffles from the pre-game spread because of Eggos. And so on.
If we can avoid toasting our own long-term memories, we will all remember how little ego played into Jeremy Lin's ascension in New York last winter. Amar'e limped in joy. Carmelo limped in joy. Tyson Chandler was thrilled someone noticed he was on the court when the Knicks had ball possession, too. The stirrers of excrement attempted to foment dissent in the first few days of Linsanity and failed miserably. This team, against all odds, was a team.
That's not to say there aren't egos. However, they're the egos of talented and productive workers that have had success under certain conditions and believe firmly they can contribute again under those conditions. It's not perfect, but it's understandable.
The only ego to fear in New York City is the one whose last successful act was to come from the right sperm donor. The first and last fruitful straight shot in James Dolan's life has left the Knicks front office lurching, Knicks players miscast as prima donnas, and Knicks fans lurching from one wishful plan to the next. Jeremy Lin is gone because of egos. That's the truly damaging ego.
There's talent on this team, much of it aging and some of that aging premature. (I see you, Amar'e's knee. Like, way too much.) Almost all of it is a Name. Barring significant injuries, the Knicks will win more than they lose in the Eastern Conference.
Unless Ronnie Brewer goes full Lin this winter, though, there isn't much to celebrate here. It will hurt to watch Melo pound the ball while Tyson waves his long arm futilely. Amar'e's going to have that towel around his neck more than he should.
Bonus prediction: Iman Shumpert will play the first ever lockdown defense in the frosh/soph All-Star contest, thrilling all 12 home viewers and 3,000 bussed children in attendance and rating the highest plus/minus in All-Star weekend history besides Magic Johnson's 1992 All-Star layup line performance.
Two weeks ago, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a stirring defense of Joe Dumars' fallow period as Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations. In no particular order, Woj offers the following reasons for the Pistons' problems:
- The death of two of Dumars' brothers
- The death of the owner, Bill Davidson
- Ownership sale gridlock
- Detroit's economic collapse
- The petulance of the players during their not-so-silent protest
- John Kuester
- The losing itself
- And, oh, by the way: Joe Dumars' own actions
But that's okay because two other teams totally wanted Dumars recently so he's still a vital force in the league so he shouldn't be fired please please Mr. Tom Gores sir please.
That can't be a comforting list for Pistons fans. Who could have succeeded with all those weights lashed around their ankles? After all, who could have foreseen the passing of an 86-year-old man in failing health and prepared a succession plan in advance? Who saddled a grumpy team with John Kuester in the first place? And how does 9/11 play into this?
As Wojnarowski points out, there are players on which to dream, especially in Greg Monroe. Mostly, though, the Pistons are a team begging you to conflate youth with potential. Don't fall for it. And don't expect Joe Dumars to turn this around. I mean, look at that list above: the only man in Detroit who could rescue the Pistons from this mess is Alex Cross.