PROJECTED STARTINGFIVE with 2006-07 statistics
KEY BENCH PLAYERS:F David Lee, G Nate Robinson, F Jared Jeffries, F Renaldo Balkman, F Malik Rose*New acquisition
Record: 33-49(12th in East) Points scored: 97.5 (16th in NBA) Points allowed: 100.3 (20th)Coach: Isiah Thomas (second season with Knicks)
The Knicks'off-season had a circuslike atmosphere, what with coach Isiah Thomas spendingmore time in a courtroom than on the court and point guard Stephon Marbury,having eaten one too many cannoli, declaring his intention to leave hishometown team and play in Italy after his contract expires in two years. Thesideshows were unfortunate because they drew attention away from a move thatshould put New York in the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04: the tradefor rugged power forward Zach Randolph.
One of only fiveplayers to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds last season, Randolph wasacquired from the Trail Blazers in a draft-day deal for Steve Francis andChanning Frye. Though he comically declared himself in "O.K. shape" incamp, Randolph doesn't play above the rim, so his primary goal will not beconditioning. It will be to avoid making headlines off the court.
Randolph was nostranger to the Portland police blotter and was suspended by the Blazers forviolations ranging from making an obscene gesture toward fans to punching out ateammate in practice. "I'll be no trouble," Randolph says of playing inNew York. "I bought a place out in the suburbs. I'm staying out of thecity."
If Randolph keepshis promise, he and center Eddy Curry will form arguably the top frontcourttandem in the Eastern Conference. Congestion around the rim shouldn't be aproblem as Curry lives in the paint and prefers to catch the ball on the rightblock; Randolph is an effective perimeter shooter who likes to set up on theleft block. "Playing with Zach gives us a lot of options," says Curry."He can play inside-out and score from anywhere. With him on board, I'mreally excited about this season."
That's one emotionthat has not been associated with the Knicks for a long time.
An opposing team'sscout sizes up the Knicks
Is Eddy Curry orZach Randolph the better low-post scorer? Randolph is probably superior becausehe's more versatile, while Curry will try to back you down and overpower youevery time. The problem is that neither is excited about passing it out ofthere. . . . David Lee has developed his niche as a high-energy big man, butare they going to play him at small forward to get him on the court with Curryand Randolph? If so, you'll have three players who are very limited outside 15feet. . . . When Stephon Marbury is playing well, he's not a point guard whodistributes the ball; he needs to score. At his best last year, he was puttingup numbers and they were winning more games. . . . Jamal Crawford's best isstill ahead of him. He can shoot the three and also get to the rim, he has anexcellent medium-range pull-up game, he's a good pick-and-roll player, and hemakes big shots. . . . Quentin Richardson doesn't post up like he used to, butthey need his three-point shooting because they won't get that from Lee orRenaldo Balkman.
David Lee averaged10.1 rebounds in games in which he came off the bench last season. He's thefirst player to average double-digit boards as a reserve (minimum: 25 games)since Dennis Rodman did it in 1993-94.
DOUBLE TROUBLE Randolph (50) and Curry will dominate down low.
GREG NELSON (3)
RAY AMATI/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (2)