Knicks Need to Find Another Player Under the Tree

Undermanned squad rotating only seven

In training camp, the Knicks kept Anthony Roberson over Patrick Ewing, ostensibly because Roberson played guard and was a good three-point shooter. When they dealt Zach Randolph, the Knicks took Cuttino Mobley back in a trade because he could replace Jamal Crawford in the backcourt rotation. A brief glance at the box score from Sunday's rout in Boston shows that neither acquiree saw action.

Mobley retired, of course, because of a heart condition that the Knicks were fully aware of when they made the trade. Roberson rarely plays, even though the team is shorter on guards than a manure silo. That means 48 minutes for Chris Duhon in the rout mentioned above and, since the Knicks only play seven players, a heavy workload for all the rotation members. That's a big reason why the team is currently on a four-game losing streak.

Mike D'Antoni inherited a less-than-ideal roster, but this isn't all that surprising. His Phoenix teams always featured a limited rotation, albeit one larded with players in a different universe than the collection he's got with the Knicks. Plenty of coaches do that, they only want to play guys they "trust," but if you grind your players down to nubs then trust doesn't help you all that much.

It wouldn't kill D'Antoni and Donnie Walsh to look to Knick teams past for a solution to the problem. Surely Walsh, who used to run the Pacers, remembers a couple of fellows by the names of John Starks and Anthony Mason. Both of them were found on the scrap heap, and turned into elite players who meshed perfectly with Pat Riley and his system. Why not try to do the same thing with D'Antoni's system?

The whole LeBron 2010 project is predicated on keeping salary down, but they also need to have some kind of supporting cast in place to entice James. Use the open roster spot to audition some guys who might be the Starks or Mason of the D'Antoni system. When and if they ever jettison Marbury, that's two spots to play with. They've got to do something, though, or the slim playoff hopes will totally evaporate.

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