Knicks to Play the Kids?
The Knicks have been playing this season with two different - some might say conflicting - priorities. On the one hand, they wanted to make a run at a playoff berth, to show the world that Mike D'Antoni and Donnie Walsh have righted the listing ship (and avoid watching Utah - owner's of the Knicks' first-round pick thanks to one of Isiah Thomas' deals - make an appearance at the lottery). The other hand is Walsh's attempt to maximize cap space for next summer.
The "make the playoffs" part of the plan is an explanation for D'Antoni's heavy use of veteran players like Al Harrington, Jared Jeffries, Chris Duhon, and - at times - even Larry Hughes, Jonathan Bender and Nate Robinson. But of that group, Jeffries is the only player signed for next season. Meanwhile, lottery pick Jordan Hill and fellow rookie Toney Douglas have been afterthoughts, and even supposed franchise building blocks like Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari have been marginalized at times.
That could be changing. Soon.
They'd need to leap-frog the Sixers, Bucks and Heat just to get into the eighth spot. They're 2-8 in their last 10 games - a stretch that includes losses to Minnesota and Washington. And their post-break schedule just gets tougher. Barring a major roster shakeup at the trade deadline - which seems unlikely given Walsh's reluctance to take on any salary - the sort of hot streak they'd need to get back into the playoff picture seems incredibly unlikely.
And that might mean a second-half focus on players who actually will be part of the team's future, like Gallinari and Chandler, Hill and Douglas, maybe even Marcus Landry.
The Most Added:
The most popular adds in ESPN NBA.com leagues this week:
The Most Dropped:
Picks for the Week
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who will typically be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers. The third batch of players will be guys I've mentioned in previous columns that still seem to be available in a lot of leagues and worth a look.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
(28.1% owned) - Chandler returned to the floor on Tuesday, scoring ten points and grabbing five boards. Look for the Bobcats to bring him along slowly, but he should emerge as a solid source of boards and blocks after the break.
Tracy McGrady (24.7% owned) - The trade deadline is just over a week away, and the McGrady rumors are starting to heat up. If he lands with a team that would want him to make a real contribution in the second half (like, say, the Knicks) he could put up some numbers.
Anthony Morrow (24.0% owned) - Monday's 33-point outburst indicates his knee is feeling better. He should be a good play, particularly if Monta Ellis misses any time.
(17.7% owned) - Back trouble has held down the number of claims on New Orleans' promising young guard - but he should be back after the break, and with Chris Paul
sidelined, Thornton should be a big factor for New Orleans.
Ty Lawson (10.3% owned) - Lawson is a must-start in any game that Chauncey Billups will miss - and a pretty good option off the bench in deeper leagues.
Delonte West (4.7% owned) - Should be back after the break.
A SECOND LOOK
Article first appeared on 2/10/10