Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Ship Be Sunk

Another night, another 20-point loss for New York's aptly nicknamed Team Titanic and the Unsinkable Larry Brown. On a day that saw Isiah Thomas and James Dolan add another ill-advised max contract holder to their collection (Stevie Franchise), the Heat came to town and laid the smack down, beating the hapless Knicks 103-83.

Francis was acquired for nothing much—the moldering corpse of Penny Hardaway and the delusional Trevor Ariza—but it's hard to imagine how his arrival is going to do any good. Unless there are more trades in the works (and seeing that Isiah remains in charge, they probably are), Francis's arrival probably makes things worse. Assuming that's possible.

For starters, minutes. Penny hadn't played a one for the Knicks this year, and Ariza had fallen out of favor long before yesterday. Francis, on the other hand, has been a constant starter, and will probably expect 35 minutes a night, minimum. It's hard to imagine Stephon Marbury's minutes being reduced, so Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson should expect a change of scenery or drastic reductions in playing time.

Then there's the fact that Francis is essentially a carbon copy of Marbury—and he's had a hard enough time figuring out Brown's way (which, incidentally apparently involves lots of different starting lineups and games that are decided by the midway point of the third quarter). While a starting backcourt of Steph and Franchise may be good enough in the world of fantasy basketball, it's hard to imagine it working very well in the real world. Both want to dominate the ball, and neitehr are going to be terribly thrilled about guarding opposing twos.

And of course there's the little matter of getting under the salary cap, which at this rate should happen around the year 3000. I'm actually amazed at the fact that Isiah didn't mention Stevie's contract expiring in 2009 or whenever as one of the main reasons for acquiring him (when he can then be traded for some other guy with four years or so left on his own ridiculous max extension, like Boris Diaw or Darko Milicic).

Meanwhile the Knicks continue to stagger towards the lottery, where they can drop Rudy Gay or J.J. Redick or that big kid from Texas right into the waiting arms of the forever grateful Chicago Bulls. Tonight, Eddy Curry, the centerpiece of that trade, managed a whole four points and four rebounds before fouling out and getting booed all the way to the bench. Yet he still looks like a combination of Wilt Chamberlain and Mechagodzilla next to Jerome James, who's pretty much done nothing to distinguish himself since partying too hard on New Year's Eve.

Best I can tell, Isiah is assembling this team by poring past All-Star rosters and seeing who he can get, with no regard how they fit together. Which, as seemingly anyone could figure out, is a bad idea. Look at it like food: say you like steak, and chocolate, and bacon, and sushi, and pizza. That doesn't mean they'd taste good mixed together. Not sure why it's taking Zeke so long to realize.

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