With the trade deadline just eight days away, the Knicks and Nets must address their weaknesses and determine what fixes can be made right now. For the Knicks, they’ve uncovered Lin-Sanity and signed J.R. Smith this season. For the Nets, the re-signed Kris Humphries, but really haven’t done much else. With the trade deadline quickly approaching, here are the key weaknesses (and appropriately solutions) for each club.
New Jersey Nets
The 12-27 NJ Nets are seven games out of the playoffs with only 29 games to go. Needless to say, it’s going to be an uphill battle. While Deron Williams has produced a ton of the offense, the Nets have sorely missed center Brook Lopez. Williams’ supporting cast, which features Humphries, Anthony Morrow, and MarShon Brooks, has been mediocre at best. Williams is a free-agent-to-be and has stated that he wants to play for a contending team. Given the current shape of the Nets, they are not a contender and their move to Brooklyn will be hapless if they don’t have any players.
Fixing the Problem
By all means, the Nets need to get Dwight Howard. Everyone (and anything) outside of Williams is on the table. Draft picks, players, cash, whatever. It’s all about there for Howard. Last season, the Knicks sold out to get Carmelo Anthony. The Nets must do the same thing in order to get Howard. Orlando ownership apparently does not want to trade Howard and will try to convince him to stay. That will be hard sell when no team is willing to trade with the Magic.
If the Nets get to March 15th and Howard is not a Net, the Nets might as well kiss Williams goodbye. For the next week, the Nets must literally put on a full court press to get their guy. If they automatically become players in the Eastern Conference for years to come. If not, they’ll be 0 for 2 in free agent shopping sprees.
New York Knicks
The Knicks get a lot of attention for being an eighth place, sub-.500 team. The 18-19 Knicks have a lot of moving parts on their team. It’s clear that Mike D’Antoni is still trying to figure out the right mix. The Knicks are 100 percent committed to the Jeremy Lin show now, but after Lin, everyone is still trying to find his place. Carmelo Anthony is getting his shots and learning not to be a ‘stop-ball’ offensive player. Amar’e looks really slow on the court and is not crashing the boards with authority. Tyson Chandler has been pretty good inside while Steve Novak has been excellent from the wing. Add in the relative newness of J.R. Smith and Baron Davis and the Knicks are still trying to put it together. In a nutshell, this team is taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach.
Fixing the Problem
The Knicks still stink on defense. The Knicks are giving up 95 points per game, which is the worst mark amount potential Eastern Conference playoff teams. Carmelo has not committed to playing defense. Expect the Knicks to receive a defensive boost when Josh ‘Jorts’ Harrellson returns from injury. He’s not a lock-down defender, but he plays with energy on the defensive end.
Ultimately, the jury is still out on this Knick team. They don’t need to make a substantial move, given their recent additions.