Death by Knickerbocker
Today’s game is dominated by the point guard position. I don’t think I’m stating anything new here, this isn’t some great revelation, I’m just saying––it’s a point guard driven league. And it seems like everybody gets this but the New York Knicks.And possibly the Utah Jazz. Or maybe they get it more than most. I can’t imagine they––James L. Dolan and Steve Mills, the ones who run the team, who see them day in and day out, in practice, in warm-ups, and in games––I can’t imagine that they don’t understand how important the point guard position is, mostly because they don’t have one.
The season so far has been a disaster for the Knicks and as much as we talk about Carmelo Anthony and all his deficiencies as an alpha dog, the biggest problem is at the point guard position. Raymond Felton is one of the lamest-duck point guards in the league right now, starting or otherwise. Some of the things he does on the court are mind-boggling in the worst way possible. His passing is, on good nights, suspect, and he drives to the bucket as if he’s literally trying to go though the defense. It’s as if he plays the game every night as if it were for the first time; like watching some Bizzaro Groundhog Day where in Bill Murray is playing as Raymond Felton and he learns nothing, never improving, making the same mistakes over and over and over, without an epiphany, doomed to spend eternity in an endless loop of his own misguided effort.
I feel like I’ve thrown Felton under the bus. It’s not all his fault. It’s easy for us to watch the games and point to Felton and say, “If it weren’t for that guy we’d winning games. He’s the worst.” He may be the most useless starting point guard not playing for the Jazz this season, but if the worst thing you’ve ever done is turn the ball over at crucial times during the course of the games, or foul a three point shooter while you up one with no time left on the clock, if that’s the worse thing you’ve ever done in your life than your doing pretty good. And it’s not his fault he’s one of the worst point guards in the league right now, starting or otherwise. It’s not his fault that he turns the beautiful game into something more akin to the slaughter of wild turkeys. That’s just genetics. We can’t blame a guy for genetics. Raymond Felton hustles, he plays hard, and he competes. He’s just not at the level of the people he competes against on a nightly level. He would rule the court in most city league games, and his bulldog tactics and hard untimely fouls would fit in nicely in most church leagues. But in the NBA they are maddening. So I don’t hate Raymond Felton, I just hate watching him play. It’s not his fault.
The problem is in the people who put this thing together. I’m not confident James L. Dolan and Steve Mills could GM their way out of a paper bag, let alone one of the largest franchises in sports. They’ve run Knicks like it was a bad situational comedy. Bad in that the writing stinks, the actors are mis-cast, the show runners are clueless, and the only jokes are the ones on us––for watching. Its like Friends all over again. This isn’t anything new to the Knicks or their fans, they’ve been a disaster, or teetering on being so, for over a decade-in-a-half now.
To be fair, I didn’t even know Steve Mills was the GM until I started this piece. I doubt he knows what he’s doing, but ultimately he’s not the one responsible. The man in charge, the one constant through the years, is James Dolan. He’s the one that turned Latrell Spreewell into Keith Van Horn. He’s the one that gave Isaiah Thomas carte blanch to do to the Knicks what he did to the CBA, setting in motion some of the most non-sensical, logic defying moves this league, or any other, has ever seen. Trading for Starberry, signing Jerome James, trading for Stevie Franchise, and the deathblow of deal acquiring Eddy Curry, a deal that saw the eventual draft picks involved turning out to be LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah. Dolan has been there for the trading of Knick icon Patrick Ewing, and the signing of the sadness that has become Aamr’e Stoudemire, and where as it is too early to tell if the Melo experiment is a total wash, it is safe to say that it has been thus far mishandled. Melo has been made to play with ageing past-their-prime point guards, or Raymond Felton, who shaky grasp on point guard play has flatlined the Knick’s offense. It’s to bad. Some of the pieces are there for a fun team, but the mix of Dolan running the front office and Felton running the frontcourt is just too much to overcome. The Felton dilemma is a fixable one and one that could and should be made in the near future. If in a perfect world, they would find a way to trade back for Jeremy Lin. Lin is in no way a savior, but at least they would be interesting again. As for Dolan… I got nothing.