Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Knicks Fall Down And Can't Get Up: With Age Coms Age

Somehow younger than the current Knicks
In the first two months of the NBA season, it was very clear that the New York Knicks had made a fine bet on loading up on Old Guys Who Can Play. They took three of four from the upstart Brooklyn Nets, ran away from the middling Celtics and Sixers, and even beat the Heat a few times. It wasn't as if anyone was taking them too seriously as NBA title contenders -- the first few months of any regular season are for position only, as Boston has proven for many years -- but they were being talked about in the role as Team That Could Test The Heat, especially if they kept draining threes like they were playing Pop A Shot.

Then, of course, what happens to all old teams that aren't the Celtics happened -- a relentlessly stream of injuries that remind everyone just why all of these Old Guys Who Can Play were available in the first place. Jason Kidd went from 25-30 great minutes a night to less and not so much. Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony missed time, and Amar'e Stoudamire's return from injury stalled. Rasheed Wallace suffered a season (career?) ending injury. They started a game the other day with Kurt Thomas (yes, the same Kurt Thomas that was last relevant to fantasy basketball about a decade ago, has played for 9 different franchises and has left and is 40 freaking years of age), and Kenyon Martin (35, 4) with Marcus Camby (38, 6) as the backup. They have one player -- one! -- under age 27 on the roster, and 5 over 35. I think I just aged a week just from writing all of that.

They are 38-25 as I write this, the third seed in the East, but just a game ahead of Brooklyn and three ahead of Boston in Atlantic. I think they might still make the playoffs with a home-court advantage in the playoffs, but no one is talking about them as a threat to anyone anymore, and when the Nuggets turned them into a speed bump the other day, you could be forgiven for thinking them DOA against any team that pushes the tempo. If Brooklyn hadn't somehow lost to Philly this last week, the Nets would have already caught them, and anyone who thinks they can beat the Clippers in LA tomorrow, on national television, may be sniffing glue. Not after losing their last three games by a combined 67 points.

So what, really, to make of all this? The following.

1) This team is well and truly hosed by the Amar'e deal. Especially in a post-amnesty world. No team is going to want to take on this toxic deal, and with his knees, I'd sooner predict retirement than a return to strong hoop.

2) Playing Kidd for too many minutes in the first half of the year was always going to betray them, but it's not as if they could really get away from it.

3) Anyone that whines about their lack of luck on any of these injuries does not understand how the world works. Youth will be served, especially with an 82-game regular season. The Knicks approached this season like it was a big money poker tournament that they had to win in the first hour.

4) As well as Anthony has played this year. he looked exceptionally compromised in his game against Denver last week, and has missed four of the last seven games with fluid issues in the knee. Which leads to the final telling point...

5) If your hopes are pinned on a beaten-down roster of the old, being led by a superstar who has lost in the first round in seven of his eight trips to the playoffs... you probably shouldn't have an awful lot of hope.

Even in the East.

Oh, and there's also this.

If the reason ended today, it'd be Knicks-Celtics.

Anyone want to guess how that's going to go?

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