This season is supposed to be the last losing season on Broadway for a long, long time. Because once the clock strikes midnight on the free agency market next summer, some combination of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be sporting blue and orange. At least that's the plan.
But what's the plan for this year?
The fans and media surrounding the Knicks certainly understand that the future of the organization starts in the fall of 2010, not 2009. However that won't stop the criticism and booing during the first letdown at the Garden or the first extended losing streak.
Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni have done an excellent job in freeing up cap space to put the Knicks in the best position to succeed a year from now. What has gone under the radar, though, has been the minor moves and deals made to not just put a winning team on the court, but to put a team on the court that can represent the franchise and city well. A team that fans want to root for.
The one-year deal for fan-favorite Nate Robinson proves that Walsh and
D'Antoni are in for the long haul, and once the Dark Age at MSG ends,
they don't plan on returning to it. And getting not only good
players, but good personalities as well, is a good place to start.
Robinson's one-year deal leaves him with no job security in New York — the only team he has ever known — after this season. The Knicks appear to be prepared to choose to build a roster from scratch next summer rather than move forward tinkering the one they already have.
There is no denying that when Robinson is on, he has the ability to take over a game, single-handedly energize a crowd and become the biggest scoring threat on the court. The problem lies in the many other times when Robinson can't find the net and lets his frustration and emotions get the best of him with officials — a significant problem that led to 12 technicals a season ago. That, coupled with his off-court issues in the offseason are what left the Knicks' front office with doubts in their mind when it came time to sign the dotted line.
"That's why we're on a one-year contract. That's why we've won 32
games," D'Antoni told Newsday. "If Nate gets it and
we get it, we can get in the playoffs and the guys can find homes. I
think that's everyone's goal."
D'Antoni knows his best days in Manhattan are ahead of him, and the championships might have to wait until the Knicks have that one marquis player on their roster. That doesn't mean the postseason appearances have to wait, though, and with Robinson getting an increased role with the Knicks over the last year, his play could decide how far the Knicks go this season.
"Nate is trying to do a better job of keeping his composure and being able to focus and that's regardless of who's on the floor," D'Antoni told Newsday. "Nate needs to do that for his future and he knows that. And he's doing better."
Right now, Robinson's future in New York will expire at the final buzzer of the season, but his career on 8th Avenue doesn't have to end before the Knicks have the chance to become a powerhouse again.
Robinson can join the team in their challenge to end their championship drought next season if he can become the player, leader and person the Knicks are looking for in their franchise makeover this season. If he can't, then the Knicks will find someone in the summer who can.
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