Knicks Approach Fork in the Road

Will they make a trade, play the youth or both?

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010  |  Updated 9:46 AM EDT
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Knicks Approach Fork in the Road

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D'Antoni has reason to smile.

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The trade deadline in the NBA is fast approaching, which means the Knicks won't have another chance to significantly change their roster after Thursday. So it wasn't particularly surprising to see Newsday scribe Alan Hahn send out a tweet that has Mike D'Antoni pushing Donnie Walsh to get Tracy McGrady in a trade from Houston before the deadline passes.

At this point, acquiring McGrady isn't going to do much to radically change the postseason prospects of the Knicks. Those chances are a longer shot than Ashton Kutcher winning a Best Actor Oscar, so you have to wonder if there's any real reason why the Knicks would choose to make such a deal. That makes Marc Berman of the New York Post's dispatch from Chicago -- "Mike D'Antoni hinted today about playing the young guys from here on in" -- as unsurprising as Hahn's.

They aren't exactly things that fit well together, however. McGrady is younger than D'Antoni, but it's safe to assume that's not what Berman meant the coach was hinting at when it came to the final 31 games of the season. Grabbing McGrady wouldn't preclude heaping helpings of playing time for Jordan Hill or Toney Douglas, but the word on the Rockets has always been that they weren't down with trading him unless they got a young player back in return. 

Maybe they've changed their mind in light of other happenings around the league or perhaps they've just come to an epiphany about how wonderful it would be to welcome Al Harrington or Larry Hughes to their team dinner parties, but that would be a way to reconcile the dueling reports. As would making the deal so that there are fewer grumps on the bench when the Knicks do turn things over to the younger crowd.

The bigger problem with digesting both reports at face value is that making the move to young players would force D'Antoni to swallow his notions about winning now and accept that this team may only wind up with 27 or 28 victories this season. That's clearly been something he hasn't been willing to swallow to this point. It's hardly a detriment when you are in the professional sports business to try and win, but it does run counter to the idea of playing youngsters, accepting mistakes and hoping for growth.

We'll see what happens, because how the Knicks approach the losses to come is about the only question left to answer during another season in the weeds.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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