Jeremy Lin is gone and Dwight Howard looks much more likely to wind up Los Angeles than in Brooklyn.
That means that another frenzied NBA offseason in New York City has wound down enough for us to start taking a look at where the teams stand without conditional questions about who is going to be on the roster. There might be a smaller addition here or there -- the Knicks could really use a shooting guard -- but we know who will be making up the core of each team.
We also know that there's been a lot of talk about Knicks fans irate about Lin's departure ditching Madison Square Garden for the Nets and the new arena in Brooklyn. NYMag.com took a rather unscientific poll of 60 people walking the streets that said they were Knicks fans and found that a quarter of them are planning to abandon ship.
Decisions have been made for worse reasons, but it's worth discussing whether these people would be making an upgrade or a lateral move if they switched over to the Nets. So we're breaking things down, position by position, to see which team is in better shape at present.
POINT GUARD: Raymond Felton (Knicks) vs. Deron Williams (Nets)
This isn't really a fight at all as Williams, one of the league's best point guards, will be spending the next couple of weeks trying to win a gold medal while Felton will be watching the Olympics. The fact that Williams now has better teammates around him while playing in front of an arena with actual human beings in the stands could make this his best season ever. EDGE: NETS
SHOOTING GUARD: J.R. Smith (Knicks) vs. Joe Johnson (Nets)
Joe Johnson's massive contract obscures the fact that he's actually a perfectly good second or third guy on a winning team who should benefit a great deal from the open looks Williams figures to provide him from the perimeter. Smith figures to start unless the Knicks land a steal for the vet minimum salary, at least until Iman Shumpert is healthy enough to return, and he'll give you good (athleticism, defense) and bad (Smith shoots and misses times 20) that can't measure up to Johnson. EDGE: NETS
SMALL FORWARD: Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) vs. Gerald Wallace (Nets)
Wallace is aces as a defender and he can finish in transition, although his game is so predicated on athleticism that the slightest aging will leave him looking lost most of the time. Anthony showed down the stretch last season how good he is offensively and revealed a competitive side that we hadn't seen before. Figure that stays in place as he continues to get blamed, in part, for Lin leaving and that should be good for the Knicks. EDGE: KNICKS
POWER FORWARD: Amar'e Stoudemire (Knicks) vs. Kris Humphries (Nets)
Humphries can rebound, play some defense, infuriate opposing crowds and contribute to the decline of American culture, but there's a limit to the upside of those things. Stoudemire has to be motivated to regain some of his luster after last year's complete debacle of a season. That and his superior talent gives the Knicks a smaller win than they probably imagined here. EDGE: KNICKS
CENTER: Tyson Chandler (Knicks) vs. Brook Lopez (Nets)
It's oppositepalooza in the paint. Chandler defends, rebounds and leads his team without adding much in the way of a polished offensive game while Lopez can score without doing anything else to make his team better unless reading comic books unlocks some kind of basketball secret. Given the makeup of each team, we'll take Chandler. EDGE: KNICKS
BENCH: Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Steve Novak (Knicks) vs. MarShon Brooks, C.J. Watson, Mirza Teletovic, Reggie Evans, Jerry Stackhouse (Nets)
Just take a moment to marvel at the fact that Kidd, Camby, Thomas and Stackhouse will all be playing in 2012-2013. Donyell Marshall, Joe Smith and Glenn Robinson are all working out like crazy right now.
Watson was a solid pickup for the Nets after a year where he did a fairly good job filling in for Derrick Rose's myriad injuries while Brooks and Teletovic offers some scoring upside off the pine for Brooklyn. Novak does the same for the Knicks, but the success of the bench is going to come down to how well the vets hold up over the full season. If they stay healthy, it's the Knicks in this category but, for now, it's a TIE.
COACH: Mike Woodson (Knicks) vs. Avery Johnson (Nets)
Johnson has taken a team to the finals and won 60 games twice, but he didn't do anything particularly impressive over the last two years with a Nets team that should have won more than 46 combined games. Woodson cast his lot with defense and Anthony, which proved right over the short term last season and figures to be the same approach he'll use this season. The final record will really decide this one because there's nothing to this point that makes it more than a TIE.
FRONT OFFICE: James Dolan/Glen Grunwald (Knicks) vs. Mikhail Prokhorov/Billy King (Nets)
Given the fact that Dolan ranks somewhere below shingles on the list of things people enjoy, you'd think this is a blowout. It's not, though. The Nets are paying way too much for four-fifths of their starting five and have traded almost as many first-round picks as the Knicks. They still get the nod, but only because they are against Dolan. EDGE: NETS
We'll revisit this more than once in the year to come, but, right now, it ;ooks like we've got a dead heat. That should make for a pretty good battle for local hearts and minds in our first year as a two-team town.