(Long Island, NY) A new beginning. New month, new season, new coach. Same bad roster. The 2006-07 New York Knicks are looking to erase the nightmare that was last year and hope that all these fresh starts transcend into wins. Former head coach Larry Brown seemed to get all the blame from the locker room. Now they don’t have him to point fingers at anymore. The only digits they can stick out will be in the mirror.
Knicks owner James Dolan made it plain and simple. He removed Brown and gave Isiah Thomas a second hat to wear, to go along with his General Manager duties. Thomas is the bottom line; He’ll have to make the decisions behind the scenes and on the bench. And he has only one year to make enough progress to satisfy Dolan. What that is has not been established. But when you consider that the 2005-06 squad finished 23-59, just about anything would be considered progress.
With no salary cap room to do much, Thomas signed forward Jarred Jeffries to a free agent deal. As Knicks’ luck would have it, he suffered a broken wrist in the pre-season and will be out at least another six weeks. Rolando Balkman was picked number 22 in the NBA draft, and the consensus was that it was a reach. But Thomas knew that he had to improve his defense and needed a player of that nature that will go after a loose ball as if it were a million dollar check on a winy day. But what does that say when you have a roster of battle-tested players who want to remain upright? Makes one think.
The bottom line with this team is if center Eddy Curry can be the player that he was projected to be. The Chicago Bulls gave up on him and received not only Michael Sweetney in return, but the Knicks’ first round selection this past June (second overall-Tyrus Thomas), but have the option of switching picks with the Knicks next year. It will be a no-brainer to say right now that the Bulls will finish ahead of the Knicks, thus capitalizing again on this deal. For it to swing into the Knicks’ favor, Curry needs to become a dominant big man. He will have plenty of competition in the East, with Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Wallace being the names mentioned regularly. If he can stay in good condition, start playing tougher on defense and on the glass and keep the fouls to a minimum, this trade will not look so one-sided anymore. A lot to hope for. But as Knick fans have been doing since Patrick Ewing left, what else is there but hope?