ESPN.com has a great poll that’s up right now. Which team is in more trouble: the Brooklyn Nets or the New York Knicks. According to the 19,685 voters (as per 11:33 AM Eastern Time) the New York Knicks received 62% of the vote as the more troubled franchise. New York City is currently home to two struggling basketball teams, and two frustrated fan bases. The Knicks and Nets are both 3-7, mired in losing streaks, and both teams have already had closed door player meetings. It’s an ugly time here in the Big Apple but which franchise is truly the one in the most trouble?
The Brooklyn Nets are an interesting situation. It’s a veteran team, being coached by a rookie head coach coming off of a storied playing career. Jason Kidd should probably be playing with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce but instead he’s coaching them. Or at least that’s his title. The problem with the Nets bench is that Kidd was forced to miss the first 2 games of the season due to a DUI suspension and since that time it’s been made clear that his assistants are running the team. Case in point: YES Network, and the in-house cameras at the Barclays Center have caught assistant Lawrence Frank as the one who talks to the players and draws up plays during the game. That is not good. Yes, the season is 10 games old but Kidd should be taking charge of his team. Coach Kidd looks lost out there, and honestly he looks scared. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and General Manager Billy King, were hoping that hiring Kidd would be a home run with the fans (hard to tell so far but starting 3-7 isn’t helping) but by hiring a rookie coach and then declaring that nothing less than a title would do, Prokhorov has put him in a rough spot.
A spot that should have been softened by a starting five of Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams but the problem is Williams and Lopez are already injured, Garnett is having his minutes monitored, and Pierce as well as Johnson have had some early season struggles. The Nets bench has also been affected with injury to Andrei Kirilenko, however, they have been getting great contributions from Aundray Blatche and Shaun Livingston. The Nets on paper are a deep bunch but it’s a bunch with no chemistry whatsoever. The injuries haven’t helped but the fact that they are old in the tooth, and too focused on the postseason has hurt them so far. All we’ve heard is that by adding Pierce and Garnett the Nets have made themselves into a stronger playoff team. Problem is they have to make it there first. Yes, it is 10 games (sorry to keep stressing that but 10 games in an 82 game season isn’t a lot of time) but if 3-7 turns into 13-27 in a few weeks then the Nets will have to consider starting over.
It’s hard to figure out what is wrong with the New York Knicks. Yes, Tyson Chandler went down but he went down last season too and the team went 12-4 during that stretch. Besides losing Chandler they’ve also lost Raymond Felton to a nerve injury, but they also lost Felton during a stretch last season and were able to overcome that as well. The Knicks are used to injury and that didn’t stop them last season, so what’s wrong now? In my opinion, the struggles of the Knicks are the product of horrible ownership. James Dolan is the Jerry Jones of the NBA. He doesn’t know when to get out of his own way. Yes, Mike Woodson is the head coach and he’s the one that should know how to juggle his lineups and rotations but constantly we hear of Dolan’s influence on this team. It’s Dolan’s beef with Iman Shumpert, it’s Dolan that wanted to start J.R. Smith, it’s Dolan limiting the minutes of Amare Stoudamire and Kenyon Martin, and it’s Dolan that felt acquiring Bargnani was a smart decision. I have no beef with Bargnani who has been a good player for the Knicks but his acquisition doesn’t seem to mesh with Chandler and Carmelo. Bringing Andrea off of the bench once Tyson returns to health would be a wise decision.
So would be returning J.R. Smith to the bench and accepting the fact that Iman Shumpert is the starting shooting guard. Don’t get me wrong. Some fans overrate and overvalue Iman Shumpert. I am not one of them. He’s a good defender, and can contribute some on offense but he is replaceable. Problem is trading him right now will not bring back equal value, so you might as well play the guy at his natural position of shooting guard, and not at small forward in some college type 3 guard lineup. The Knicks right now appear to be an island of misfit toys but it can work. It might take the sacrifice of Mike Woodson but the Knicks franchise have the players, and the necessary experience to turn this thing around.
I understand that in this one blog I’ve contradicted myself. I’ve been blogging about the Knicks and Nets on 7poundbag for some time now, and I’ve tried my best to be positive about their futures but now I must be honest: both teams are flawed! The Nets have a rookie coach and a team that is probably a little too long in the tooth. Add to that, two players in Williams and Johnson who are grossly overpaid and overrated. The Knicks have some pieces that don’t fit, and a head coach that doesn’t know how to work with what he has. Both teams have irrational owners who expect more from their teams, but at the end of the day I think the Knicks have a better shot at turning their early season struggles around. It’ll likely cost them Mike Woodson but I think once Chandler returns to health, Melo plays power forward full time, and Bargnani is moved to the bench this team will get moving.
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