The Timofey Mozgov Era in New York is officially over. What to make of it now that it’s done? Well, as they say… you can’t spell Timofey without OFEY.
I’ve been discussing the ‘Melo trade with a bunch of folks. People generally seem to agree with me, that it was a good move. To the extent that they don’t, there are a few points that continue to get raised that I don’t agree with.
For starters, I’ve heard a few people say that they don’t mind giving up Chandler, Gallo, and Mozgov, but including the Felton for Billups swap really eats at them. I’m sorry, but when did Raymond Felton become better than Chauncey Billups? I must have fallen asleep for that part of the show or something. No disrespect to Felton, whom I like and enjoyed watching, but Billups has started at PG for an NBA champion, has an NBA Finals MVP Award, and has been an All-Star five times. (Here’s his wikipedia bio.) He’s 34, I know, but it’s not like he’s breaking down — he was an All-Star just last year. And spare me this chatter about him not being “designed for D’Antoni’s system.” As of the moment the deal got made, the Nuggets were leading the NBA in scoring; Chauncey was their PG and second-best offensive player. There are things that Felton does better, but this guy is ready to lead a high-octane offense.
I also keep hearing that the Knicks are going to be terrible at defense. Well, that might be true, I’m not going to address it here. I will, though, hoopserve that, if they happen to somehow figure out a way to ever get their opponent to miss, the Knicks are quite likely to get the rebound; they now have three of the NBA’s top-29 rebounders (Amar’e, Carmelo, and Landry Fields). That doesn’t include Turiaf, who should pull down some boards once his minutes go up.
The last point I’ll make about the Knicks at the moment is that they wound up with three guys who have contributed to championship teams at a high level: Chauncey was a critical part of the Pistons’ championship team, Carmelo was the main man when Syracuse won, and Corey Brewer was a starter on the Florida Gators’ repeat championship teams. I’m not saying this team is winning the championship, but that’s worth something.
Of course, the ‘Melo deal wasn’t the only big deal to go down. Nobody is interested in reading my detailed breakdown of each deal, so I won’t go there. For now, I’ll only hoopserve that some teams that were kind of on the border between contenders and pretenders made aggressive moves to get better: Atlanta got Hinrich, Oklahoma City got a legit big man (Perkins), the Blazers added Gerald Wallace, and the Grizzlies got Battier. Each conference has more than four legitimate teams — it wouldn’t be shocking to see an upset or two.
How can you not address the Knicks’ defensive shortcomings? As you all saw last night, two All-Stars and a fabulous point guard weren’t enough to defeat the worst team in the league, which point up its fourth highest point total of the season against New York. Knicks coach Antoni (notice the absence of a D) is allergic to defense, as are all the teams he coaches. Knicks top priority needs to be one of those grizzly veterans who plays lockdown defense, not adding anymore stars.
Sippy! Nice to have you on board.
Regarding Antoni (I like that, by the way), I hear you that he doesn’t have a record of coaching good D. Four responses to that:
1. Antoni, for better or worse, is the coach of the Knicks right now. To try to win with Antoni as your coach, it makes no sense to construct a roster of players who are primarily focused on D. Now, whether or not Antoni SHOULD BE the Knicks coach, that’s a different discussion. The point is that he is, and one you put him in that spot, you’ve got to build your roster accordingly. Given that he’s the coach, the ‘Melo move makes lots of sense.
2. The Knicks now have a bunch of good defenders / rebounders: Fields, Turiaf, Balkman, Douglas, Brewer. That group at least brings SOME defensive toughness to the team. If Billups / Antony / Amar’e can do their thing on the offensive end (and they will), it’s a group good enough to win lots of games with.
3. I still don’t get what people think would have been a better option than making the deal. When I ask the question of people who didn’t like the deal, all I hear is that the Knicks should have “waited for free agency in 2012” to make their team better. But that’s a year and a half away. And, anyway, didn’t we already try the whole wait-and-hope-free-agents-come-make-us-a-championship-team thing? Haven’t we learned?
4. You’re really making judgments after two games? Two?