Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Knicks or UKnicks?

Without leadership & pride there is no hope for the UKnicks!
After losing six in a row and nine of their last 10 -- often due to a lack of effort, desire and testicular fortitude -- perhaps the post-Carmelo-trade Knicks deserve to be called the “UKnicks!”

Since the trade, our UKnicks have surrendered 12 of their last 19 games and have become as difficult to watch as any Knicks team during the last 10 years. In fact, six of their last nine loses were to losing teams. Our uninspired UKnicks often gave up huge first-quarter leads while even scoring as little as nine points. Somehow the UKnicks find creative new ways to inspire even the most offensively challenged teams to play as though they were NBA powerhouses! These humiliating losses included crushing defeats by such formidable teams as the Cleveland Cavilers (14-57), Detroit Pistons (26-47), Milwaukee Bucks (29-43) and Charlotte Bobcats (30-42).

The free-falling Knicks, who are now sporting a losing record of 35-38, have dropped to seventh place in the NBA’s East. With nine regular-season games left, the UKnicks don’t know when their losing streak will end or even if they will make the playoffs. Even so, our UKnicks do not appear to be very concerned about their record or inability to win games – even against the NBA’s weakest sisters. Perhaps they don’t feel any urgency because they have a 4 1/2 game lead on ninth-place Bobcats, or maybe it is because nobody on the UKnicks has shown the balls to step up and declare that he won’t allow them to have a fatal collapse into their 10th straight losing season. The only hope for the new Knicks is that someone will demonstrate the leadership and pride needed to keep them from being UKnicks!
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Did Knicks Trade for a Headache?

Knicks Feel the Pain After the Big Trade! 
The Knicks situation now reminds me of the saying “Why trade an upset stomach for a headache?” Before the blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade, the Knicks (28-26) were competitive and beat the teams they were supposed to beat. They were a winning team that was a lock to make the playoffs. But they made a blockbuster trade where they broke up their team in an attempt to get better. But did they?

The Denver Nuggets definitely did get better after the trade. After losing Anthony, the Nuggets rank first in NBA scoring with 107 PPG and are winning more than ever. Denver also improved its teamwork as is evidenced by averaging 24.5 assists. Perhaps the biggest improvement for the Nuggets is on defense from allowing 105.2 PPG before the trade to only 93.3 since.
Although Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups definitely did upgrade NY’s talent level, now the Knicks often are a confused and desperate team that has a losing record of seven wins and eight loses since the trade just one month ago. The Knicks frequently are disorganized and lethargic, especially against sub-500 teams, where they have only one win and six losses since the trade.

Suffering a crushing 100-95 loss to the Bucks (28-41) at the Bradley Center last night, the Knicks (35-34) played the first quarter as though they were rehearsing for starring roles in a walking-dead movie. Unable or unwilling to score or play defense, the sleep-walking Knicks surrendered 32 first quarter points to the NBA’s worst offensive team, while finding only nine points drop into the hoop for them. Nine points established a new Knicks’ record as their worst first-quarter scoring in 55 years. Although the Knicks woke from its first-quarter blackout, even a combined 69 points from Stoudemire, Billups and Anthony were not enough to catch up. This humiliating defeat was the fifth in the last six games for the Knicks and the second consecutive loss to a lottery bound team. As a result, the Knicks have fallen from the sixth to seventh seed, behind the surging Philadelphia 76’ers. After the trade, the Knicks is a troubled team that is no longer certain of making the playoffs. 
Although I intend to explore the Knicks problems and solutions in a future article, I have provided a brief summary:
Knicks Problems Since the trade:
· Exploding roster so late in season, leaves little time to develop chemistry
· Players are not yet comfortable with each other and the system
· Billups plays a slow-down game rather than D’Antoni’s up-tempo system
· Players try to adjust to new point guard’s system rather than fit into the old one
· Chemistry problems at both ends causes confusion & lack of direction
· Carmelo & Amar'e are 1-on-1 players who impede ball movement
· 1-on-1 play at crunch time makes it easy to get double-team stops Vs Knicks
· Plays down to the level of the competition & usually loses to weak teams 
· Prone to slow starts that give even weak teams confidence and big leads
· Team often lacks effort & desperately fights back to try to make up big leads
· Poor individual & team defense on pick & rolls, dribble penetration & post ups
· The trade left team with a lack of height & insufficient attention to rebounding
· Weak bench lacks punch due to trading away so many good players
· Poor defensive coaching & leadership will make the transition-time even longer

Only time will tell if the Knicks trade will turn out to make them a contender or continue to be a headache!
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Knicks :07 Seconds or Loss!

Billups & 'Melo: Get This Book for Knicks to Run!
While the Knicks trade for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups upgraded the talent level, it also did something unexpected and undesirable -- it changed the team's style. Before the 'Melo trade, the Knicks played coach Mike D'Antoni's Seven-Seconds-Or-Less free-flowing, run-and-gun offense that beat the defense down the court and hit the open man for easy baskets. By bringing Billups in as the new starting point guard, who is very familiar with 'Melo's one-one-one game, the Knicks inadvertently changed its offence to more of an isolation half-court game.

The problem is that instead of the new guys, Anthony and Billups, having to fit into the Knick's game, the old Knicks are being forced to adjust to the new point guards offensive scheme. That's why Amar'e, at times, plays as though he was the new guy and is being forced to grind it out more by going one-on-one. This makes it tougher for Amar'e to score, leads to his foul trouble that in turn causes him to ride the bench and play weaker defense when he returns. When Billups was injured, even though Tony Douglas is more of a shooting guard than a point, the Knicks played more fluently with him as the floor general. Amar'e realizing the problem, has called for the Knicks to return to a more up-tempo offense. However, it remains to be seen if Billups can play that style and Anthony will be willing to change his game to fit in.

Another factor that should not be discounted is that it does take time to adjust to three new starters and three superstars. It took Miami Heat one third of the season  for their Big Three of  LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Cris Bosh to get used to each other. Even so there are times that they still look like the adjustment process is still not complete.  

Only time will tell if the Knicks will get their :07 Second or Less act together or it will be :07 Seconds or Loss!
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Knicks Play Dead -- Blame D'Antoni!

Knicks Should Not Lay Down Due to Lack of Effort!
The fact that the Knicks often do not concentrate on defence and rebounding is bad enough. But something needs to be done when they are permitted to play as though they don't even care and are routed by pathetic teams, such as the 12-53 Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Indiana Pacers who lost six in a row before the Knicks rolled over for them. How can coach Mike D'Antoni explain losing all three games to the Cavs, the NBA's worst team? Or why the Knicks are constantly out rebounded and play defence that is often as porous as smoke in the wind?

Perhaps D'Antoni is unable to do much about the Knicks' lack of height since the Carmelo Anthony trade. And this coach may not be adept at teaching his players how to defend against pick and rolls or to clog the middle to prevent the easy layups, that happen repeatedly every game. As a head coach, he should be able to teach defence or at the very least, "the world's most expensive arena," after raising their already high ticket prices by another 49%, certainly can afford to hire a competent defensive assistant who can.

However, as defensively challenged as D'Antoni may be, he should not be forgiven for allowing his well-paid professional players to come out unmotivated and unprepared. If it was just one game, it could be excused. But it has happened all too often this season. There is no excuse for the Knicks team to just go through the motions and play as though they were a junior varsity team.

Mike D'Antoni needs to hold his team accountable to at least play with effort every game. If they don't, there needs to be consequences. Players need to know that if they don't play hard in games, they will have to practice harder, longer and more often to make up for their lack of effort. Conditioning exercises, such as running the stands, will not only build stamina, but will also encourage aggressive game play to win games and avoid tough practises. Bottom line, if coach D'Antoni can't motivate his team to play hard, he needs to be replaced with a coach who can. Hopefully the new coach will teach his team to play much better defence and that the Knicks should never play dead!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Knicks Lovers & Haters Speak Up!

This is YOUR blog, so take full advantage of the comments section, below, to tell us your thoughts about the Knicks

What are the NY Knicks doing right or wrong? What could they do better? Talk about matchups, keys to the next game, post-season prospects or anything at all. What articles do you want to read here? Who is (are) your favorite Knicks player(s) and why? Ladies, do you have a crush on a Knick player? Tell us who and why. Perhaps he will read what you say here. Our readers look forward to reading and commenting on what you have to say!

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Monday, March 7, 2011

NY's efense? Knicks Win When "D" Is Not Missing!

Knicks Took the Fight Out of  the Hawks with Strong "D"
The Knicks surrendered 119 points to the Cavs two days ago, but after stressing defense in practice, NY clamped down on the Hawks on Sunday in Atlanta to hold them to only 79 points. Despite a poor shooting game by Carmelo Anthony (14 points on 6-8 shooting), and playing shorthanded without Chauncey Billups, Ronny Turiaf and Bill walker, New York managed to hold the 5th place Hawks to a Knicks' season low in opponent scoring. Keeping the surging Sixers a half game back in the standings, the Knicks won the low-scoring game 92-79, behind strong second-half defense and timely fourth-quarter stops.

Carmelo Anthony got poked in the eye in the first quarter by Al Horford. It caused 'Melo to get blurry vision and an instant migraine. As a result he did not play the final 10 minutes.

With Anthony on the bench, Amar'e Stoudemire took charge and led the Knicks in scoring with 26 points and 7 rebounds. Landry Fields chipped in with 15 points and Seane Williams had four 3-pointers for 12. Six Knicks shot double-digits, while New York out-rebounded Atlanta 31-27. The Knicks point guards played solidly with Tony Douglas having 10 points, 7 assists and Anthony Carter also contributing 10 important points in only15 minutes. The Knicks shared the ball well with 23 assists. It was a team effort with the bench contributing, including even the seldom-used Roger Mason. Interestingly enough, Knick fans in Atlanta often drowned out the Hawks fans. In the end, all that could be heard was the repetitive roar of M-V-P for STAT as the Knicks cruised to a decisive victory!

What a difference a game makes. New York is now 17-2 when holding opponents under 100 points. The Knicks are an amazing team when they can find the "D!" 

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Knicks Beat Heat, Why Not Cavs?

Cavs Have the Knicks' Number!
Although it seemed like our New York Knicks finally made it to the NBA elite by defeating the Heat in Miami, after the 'Melo trade, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat NY a few days later by four points at MSG. That game was called a must-win payback game by the Knicks, so NY did not take it lightly. In fact, Cleveland has beaten NY in 11-straight games, including the last three without LaBron James. It didn't matter that Amare Stoudemire scored 41 points, Carmelo Anthony added 29 and NY had a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter -- the Cavs won by four, 119-115.

This is a fan discussion where you tell us YOUR opinion:
Post in our comments section, below, what you think the Knicks need to do in order to beat the Cavs. I look forward to do doing a follow-up article using your quotes and demonstrating that we have some of the smartest fans in the NBA on this blog! Perhaps the NY Knicks, Donnie Walsh and Coach Mike D'Antony might appreciate your advice too. Of course, by posting your comments here you agree to allow us to have free use of what you say in full or in part, as well as to use your name. If you don't want us to publish your real name use initials, a screen name or your first name and location. For example "Les from the Bronx." Lets have fun and help the Knicks!

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Knicks from Chumps to Champs?

Will the Knicks Be Reaching for the NBA Cup Soon?
The Knicks are attempting to transform 10 years of failure into their third NBA crown ASAP. Donnie Walsh has done an amazing job in making the Knicks better. Is it a work in progress or are the Knicks ready to contend now, or even by 2012? The answer depends on who the real Knicks are? The team who beat the mighty Heat on its home court in Orlando or the uninspired gang that lost to the lowly Cavs just two days before? In order for the Knicks to win it all they can’t be up one day and down the next! Winning an NBA Championship or even going to the finals requires consistency and playing good “D.” Former winners of the crown, such as the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Heat and Pistons have been able to outscore and stop their opponents with the game on the line.
Knicks Strengths:
The Knicks, who have been losers for the past decade, have taken two giant steps towards being competitive. Donnie Walsh and company have put together a team that is well suited for Coach Mike D’Antony’s speed-ball game and they acquired three superstars in Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Now they have three players who usually score over 20 points a game. Two are among the NBA’s top-five scorers and the third, “Mr. Bigshot,” is one of the NBA’s most clutch players. On any given night, any one of the Knicks Big Three can score 30 or more points and take over the game. For the Knicks that rank second in the NBA in points per game at 106.2, scoring  is rarely the problem. The Knicks have also become an outstanding shot-blocking team this season. Knicks can play excellent defense when they maintain focus. They are excellent from the charity stripe, also second in the NBA. The team possesses strong veteran leadership, role models and willing mentors. Billups has even won a ring with the Pistons. Plus with three outstanding one-on-one players, the Knicks can play excellent half-court offense that makes them more competitive in the playoffs.

Knicks Weaknesses:
The Knicks three worst flaws are inconsistency, defensive lapses and weak rebounding. After blowing up the teams’ roster in the 'Melo trade and adding three stars and lots of new players, it will take time for the team to fully gel. It took the Miami Heat a quarter of a season to integrate its" big three. The Knicks' lack of height is another major deficit – especially since giving up 7’1” Center Timofey Mozgov 6’11” Forward Danilo Gallinari and the 6’8 but high-jumping Power Forward Wilson Chandler in the Anthony trade. The Knicks are allowing 105.5 points per game, which is too many.
Should the Knicks Load Up or D Up to Win the Crown?
Although superstars win games, adding a fourth is not as important as being able to play strong defense that stops other teams. Carmelo Anthony stressed that defense would be the most important factor in determining the Knicks' success. He explained that the Knicks do not have to have the best defense or even play it all game long, “we just have to be able to get stops for a few minutes at a time” to beat our opponents. For example, Amar’e's block of Lebron James' layup turned out to be the game winner for the Knicks against the Magic in Orlando.
How the Knicks Can Go from Chumps to Champs:
  • Get comfortable playing together after the trade
  • Be much more consistent
  • Pay attention to individual and team defense, especially at crunch time
  • Concentrate on team rebounding
  • Get back quickly and guard against giving up easy baskets 
My Predictions:
I believe that it is only a matter of time until the Knicks become serious contenders. They're already showing flashes of greatness. However, they need to get comfortable with their new teammates and develop strong defense and consistency in order to become a force in the NBA. This does not even take into account that Donnie Walsh expects to have caproom for an additional max salary player. Imagine how much better they would be if they can only add Dwight Howard? I would be surprised if the Knicks got past the second round this year. However, Knick fans should be able to look forward to rooting for a serious contender in 2012.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Magic’s “Superman” KO’s Billups!

After being kneed, Billips doubles over in pain
What would the Knicks do if it lost Chauncey Billups? Mr. Big Shot had already scored 30 points before he was injured by Dwight Howard and forced to leave the game to seek medical attention with 2:13 to go in last night’s nail biter between the Knicks and Magic. When the game was on the line, Howard’s hard knee to the thigh of the Knicks’ newly acquired point guard ended the its chances of a win and assured that our clutch player would no longer go to the charity stripe, where he was unstoppable, hitting 18 of 20 free throws last night in Orlando. Although Howard's foul was intentional, nothing was called by the refs. Amar'e Stoudemire’s 30 points and ‘Melo’s 25 were not enough to keep the Knicks from losing by six once Billups went out, with 116-110 as the final score.

The hard-nosed Billups, who often plays through pain, explained "Of course I've been kneed a few times, but never this bad." Limping to the Knicks locker room with what Billups later called "a pretty deep contusion," he looked like he was in excruciating pain. Billips, who was concerned about the pain and soreness long after the game’s end said that he would decide if he was able to play against the Hornets after testing the leg on Wednesday. Update: He is expected to miss at least the next two games.

The 34-year-old Billups, who Denver insisted be exchanged for the eight-year younger Raymond Felton as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal, has been arguably the Knicks most consistent player in the four games since the trade. During that time, he has averaged over 23 points and six assists per game.  We will see how difficult his absence will be for the Knicks in the next two games. Hopefully it will not be much longer.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Miracle Away From 34th Street!

Amar'e Blocks LeBron to Win Game! See YouTube video, below
As in the Vanessa Williams song Save The Best for Last, Sometimes the snow comes down in June. Sometimes the sun goes 'round the moon.” Last night the Knicks burnt the Miami Heat 91-86 behind Carmelo Anthony’s 29 points, a big block by Amar’e Stoudemire on LeBron James when the game was on the line and Chauncey Billips taking over the game in the fourth quarter with key steals and big shots. No wonder he is called Mr. Big Shot.
In a game that had a playoff atmosphere with as many cheering for the Knicks as the Heat, even LeBron James’ 27 points and Chris Bosh’s 20 couldn’t pull it out for the Heat on this strange night, where fans booed LeBron. The key was tough Knicks defense. It is said that if you can hold one of the Heat’s big three down, you have a chance to win. In a matchup that featured four of the league’s top scorers, the Knicks held Dwayne Wade to only 12 points.  Ending each half strong, the Knicks went on a 16-0 run at the end of the first half and saving the best for last, the Knicks went on a 13-2 run to end the game. 

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Can New-Look Knicks Take Heat?

Just two games after the Knicks blew up its roster to get Carmelo Anthony and sent four of its top players to the Denver Nuggets, is New York ready for tonight's ‘Battle of the Superstars’ in Miami against the Heat? Chemistry is the problem when so many new players arrive to a starting lineup. It took the Heat a quarter of a season to gel into one of the top teams in the NBA after the arrival of its big three, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Since the Knicks got Anthony, Chauncey Billips and a bunch of new players with only 26 games left in the season, they do not have that luxury – especially if they want to win now and make the playoffs – much less go past the first round. Add to that that ‘Melo will be playing with a very sore right arm that he hurt in the last game. In fact, he was taking shots in practice only with his left.
Let’s face it; Miami is a formidable team and the Knicks’ Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony Chauncy Billips and company will have a nearly impossible task in tonight’s battle of the superstars. The Knicks chances of winning against the Heat this time are very slight, but Knicks fans can always hope. In any case, the real victory will come when the Knicks gel and become one of the best like the Miami Heat!

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Carmelo Anthony the Good & Bad

How will the big trade shape the Knicks future? Will 'Melo and Billups make the Knicks competitive with Boston, Miami and LA or did the Knicks mortgage its future by giving up too much? This article will try to answer those questions.

By now, you now that the New York Knicks made a blockbuster 13-player trade with the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves. It sent Danilo Galinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofay Mozgov, Eddie Curry, Anthony Randolph, 3 draft picks and six million dollars to those two teams for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. The Knicks unloaded two players they did not want in Curry and Randolph and got players back to make up the salary difference, but I doubt they would have traded for any of them if 'Melo was not included.

There is a lot of controversy about whether the Knicks gave up too much or even more than they had to for Anthony. It is said that Knicks owner James Dolan acting on advice from Isiah Thomas ignored Donnie Walsh's and Mike D'Antoni's pleas and gave the Nuggets just about everything they wanted. Knicks management did not want to trade Gallinary, who is a budding star or Wilson Chandler, both who are having their best season. Nor did they want to swap their young point guard Raymond Felton for the 34-year-old Chauncey Billups, who has turned out to be a major acquisition. But Dolan feared that Carmelo would sign with the Nets or re-sign with Denver rather than risk as much as twenty million dollars on the new collective bargaining agreement. Consequently, the Knicks owner even threw in Mozgov, the raw but talented 7'1" Knicks starting center. NY gave up four of its seven best players to make certain it got Melo. Lets examine whether it was worth it.

The Good:
  • Carmelo Anthony playing alongside Amar'e Stodimire should attract other superstars who will be eager to team up for a title run. Chris Paul toasted at 'Melo's wedding that he was looking forward to being part of the Knicks big three in 2012 when his contract expired to compete with the Miami Heat's LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Derron Williams who is so upset about being traded to the Nets that he has not signed an extension may also escape to the Knicks as may Dwight Howard. According to Donnie Walsh, the Knicks will have cap room for two more max players in 2012 so the sky is the limit!
  • The Knicks no longer have to beg stars to play here. With two superstars, the Knicks are now an attractive destination.
  • Carmelo is a scoring machine! There is no doubt that the Knicks got a great offensive player in Anthony. It has been said that Carmelo Anthony scores more easily than any player in the NBA. You only have to see him slice through a crowd on the basketball court as easily as a hot knife through butter to see that he has an amazing handle. With athleticism and agility he posts up using his ability to soar or he hits a fall back jumper that are nearly impossible to block. His speed and range is among the NBA's best.
  • The Knicks now have three go-to players in Melo Amar'e and Billups who can take over a game and score 30+ points. Now, if one is ill or fouls out the other two can still win.
  • 'Melo and Amar'e demand double-team defence. Double team one and often you will leave the other open. 
  • All three superstars are good passers. They will make teams pay for double teams by hitting the open man for easy shots and unguarded threes.
  • Now 'Melo and Amar'e will be able to score more easily while playing less time. Anthony and Stat have had to create a lot of their own shots by going one-on-one and they had to be on the floor in order for their teams to win. Now, both will be able play less and catch-and-shoot more, making it easier for them to score. Less playing time and easier shots will not only make them more productive, it will also lengthen their careers.
  • All three superstars are very consistent in their play and scoring. Unlike Galo and Chandler who had great games one night and disappeared the next, Amar'e, Melo & Billups come up big more often than not.
  • Chauncey Billups even at 34 is much better point guard than Raymond Felton. Known as "Mr. Big Shot." he has led the Detroit Pistons to a championship and the US Olympic Team to a gold medal. Billups is a great distributor and makes clutch shots. When the Knicks were having a bad game against the Cavs, Billups took over the game with 20 points in the fourth quarter and near perfect free throws (he's second in the NBA at 92%). He brought them within two points three times.
  • 'Melo & Billups bring veteran leadership, toughness and an urgency to play defence. Both players know how to win and motivate their teammates by example and inspiration. Billups has a solid reputation for defence but 'Melo did play excellent D in the Olympics and emphasises that the Knicks have to be able to stop teams, at least for a few minutes in order to win.
  • The Knicks picked up two competent backups in the trade in point guard Anthony Carter and 6'9" forward Shelden Williams
  • The Knicks have added two role players off the waver wire. Center/Power Forward Jarred Jefries & Forward Derrick Brown have been obtained off waivers.
The Bad:
  • Some say that 'Melo and Stat are a bad fit and cannot play together.
  • Anthony is often defensively challenged.
  • Carmelo and Amar'e are 1-on-1 players who hold the ball too long.
  • Exchanging point guards will make it harder for players to blend.
  • Billups is 34 and prone to injuries.
  • After giving up 7'1" center Mozgov, 6'11" Galo, and power forward Chandler, the Knicks lack height and rebounding.
  • The Knicks bench is weak due to giving up so many players.
  • With only 26 games left in the regular season, it will take time for the team to gel and the new players to fit in.
  • The Knicks were unable to take advantage of trades for big men and a backup point guard because it had little left to trade.
I feel that the Knicks superstars will find a way to work well together. It took the Heat 17 games. In my opinion this season is not that important, even if the Knicks don't make the playoffs. By next season, the Knicks should become competitive and if they add another superstar the following year they will challenge for a title. If so, adding Carmelo Anthony should be well worth the exorbitant cost!
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