Monday, July 9, 2012
Would Jason Kidd & Marcus Camby Highlight A Successful Knicks Offseason?
After missing out on Steve Nash, the Knicks shifted gears, turning to a more realistic "plan B" by signing Jason Kidd.
Whether Kidd is acquired via a sign & trade with the Mavericks, or simply signed outright, remains to be seen. That said, New York expects to be able to bring in two worthy veterans (Kidd included) with the assets and exceptions they have available. Thus, the team has aggressively gunned for a Big Apple return for fan-favorite Marcus Camby.
Signing Kidd and (potentially) Camby would prove that the Knicks continue to take pages out of the Miami Heat's book for building a winner, signing experienced players who can step in as key role players around the team's stars. While this plan of action has proven to be successful for Miami, New York may need a little bit more to make it work for them.
Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are two very strong pieces to build around, but they don't quite match up to a duo like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in either skill or level of rapport. It doesn't appear as though it'll be as easy for the Knicks as it was the Heat (two seasons) to take home a championship.
Thus, the team needs stronger pieces around their core. With Landry Fields likely flocking to Toronto, and Iman Shumpert sidelined until at least January, there's a big void at the shooting guard position. In addition to targeting a secondary point guard and backup big man this offseason, the Knicks' other priorities seem to include re-signing the likes of Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, and J.R. Smith.
Smith certainly has the tools to be a solid player. He can fill it up offensively and is a very good on-ball defender. The New Jersey native clearly provided the Knicks with quite the boost off the bench, but would he be able to provide as positive as an impact as a starter?
I say no. Though his shooting touch was inconsistent at times, Smith was able to elevate his team because his offensive spark came while playing with the second unit. The Knicks could afford his poor shot selection because he was in fact the better offensive option off the bench. As a starter, he would stand to take shots away from Anthony, Stoudemire, and Lin on a regular basis. The team needs balance, and Smith is better at providing that by coming off the bench.
Fields and Shumpert both fit with the starting lineup due to their defensive prowess and ability to play well without the ball. Both players were athletic enough to cut to the basket, keeping defenders on their toes by constantly moving, prepared to cash in on sweet dimes from teammates. On the contrary, Smith thrives when the ball is in his hands.
With Smith representing the team's primary two-guard (assuming he returns), should the Knicks have made shooting guard a higher priority this offseason? The fans seem to think so, but even they only hold desperate hopes for a player like Randy Foye to come save the day by playing for the veteran's minimum. Such a solution seems unlikely.
With such a hole at such a vital position, will the Knicks be able to say their offseason was a successful one if the list of acquisitions is highlighted by Kidd and Camby? Will the team have done enough to improve and/or better certain weaknesses? If at the end of the summer, Smith is penciled in as the team's starting shooting guard, I'm not sure. Placing the veteran swingman in the starting lineup would not only create an imbalance to the first unit, but weaken the second one considerably.
Perhaps a solution (given the Knicks' limited options at this point) would be to start Smith, only to pull him shortly into games in favor of a Kidd and Lin backcourt. This would probably work out fine, but certainly isn't the best case scenario. Camby is a solid player and his return will be celebrated due to all the fan-appreciation for his earlier contributions, but the team still has a more pressing need at shooting guard than at the center position.
Given the potential Josh Harrellson displayed while filling in for Stoudemire this past season, it may have been more beneficial to roll the dice on him. Speaking of potential, however, the Knicks hold hope the athletic James White, who most recently played in Italy, can help soften the blow of losing a piece like Fields.
Whether he can remains to be seen.