...a little context is necessary. LeBron James is 24 and Dwight Howard is 23. Their teams are going to be powerhouses next year and for the next half-decade. There are other teams in the east that are improving. Even if Danny fields a very strong team, even if he does his job brilliantly, he may have trouble just getting to the Eastern Conference Finals, even the second round of the playoffs. The bar is very high. The Cs now are in the situation faced by the superb Sidney Moncrief Milwaukee Bucks teams of the early 1980s: no matter how well they played the Celtics and Sixers were always a tad better. Had that Bucks team been assembled in the late 70s, it might have won two or three titles. In the early 80s it got lost in the shuffle. That could well be the Cs fate for the next two or three years.If Boston is in trouble then what about our Knicks. In the East the top three positions are in a dogfight, Miami has Wade, Philly may sign Thibodeau or JVG, and the rest of the East is not sitting on its hands either.
So if the goal is to actually defeat Cleveland and Orlando and the other rising teams, not simply win 54 games and make it a round or two in the playoffs, Danny has his work cut out for him. As we learned this year, he will need more than a little luck.
Ten years ago, many of us on the New York Times forum discussed this very problem and its only gotten worse.
The problem is this; if you are a contending team without a superstar you get stuck in an NBA purgatory. You cannot win enough to be a true playoff contender and you cannot lose enough to qualify for a reasonable lottery selection. To further complicate matters, your team is probably operating close to the cap.
This is why I have long advocated the elimination of the draft. The salary cap is sufficient top keep teams in line. In a free for all, these purgatory teams could finally make a signing they need to advance or ultimately fail. But this is beside the real point.
What this all means for the Knicks is this. The Knicks face a hostile NBA front office. For example, this year the Knicks were not allowed to fill Mobley's spot with a player exception allocation. Is there a team that has suffered more at the hands of NBA fools than the Knicks?
Secondly, unless the 2010 plan succeeds in decapitating one of these front-running teams what chance do the nicks have of escaping pugatory with Bosh or any of the remaining dwarf talents?
To me the answer is obvious and that is to return the vision to the roots. The original Knick champions were built around very talented complementary players. Rather than expecting to sign someone else's pampered stars, the Knicks need to develop and trade for hungry team-first players who understand the challenge and won't let the odds get in the way.