The NBA preseason is underway, meaning it’s time again for Dime’s team-by-team season previews. Last year we debuted the “Highs and Lows” system — predicting the respective ceilings and basements for each team. In other words, what is the realistic best-case and worst-case scenario for the 2009-10 campaign?
Added: Jordan Hill, Darko Milicic, Toney Douglas, Gabe Pruitt
Lost: Quentin Richardson, Chris Wilcox
Ceiling: Attract a superstar free agent
Since I’m fairly certain the Knicks aren’t actually trying to win this year, I’m not going to preview them as if they were. Hamstrung by some truly terrible contracts they chose to take on ($13.6 million for Larry Hughes?), New York had no flexibility this summer, and seemed to be trying everything they could to NOT reward their best interior player (David Lee) or their best perimeter player (Nate Robinson). How many games can the Knicks win? Maybe they finish fourth in the Atlantic Division at best, behind Boston, Philly and Toronto, and ahead of the Nets. In Robinson, Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler, they have volume scorers playing in a system built for high-volume scoring. They’re stronger up front, pairing Lee with Darko and rookie Jordan Hill, who are at least usable bodies where Jerome James and Eddy Curry were not. They don’t have the dark cloud of Marbury or Isiah hanging over their head for the first time since 2003, and youngsters Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas have potential to do something.
Basement: Status quo
But who cares about this season, right? The Knicks are all about 2010, when cap space is plentiful and made-for-TV stars like LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Amar’e and Dirk are available. Best-case scenario, New York lands LBJ and one of his buddies, and the young core develops into a nice supporting cast for said superstars. Worst-case, the superduperstars stay home and the Knicks throw enough money to entice a lesser star like Joe Johnson or Carlos Boozer, flank them with a discounted T-Mac, and flub another draft by accidentally taking Tyler Hansbrough‘s brother because they forgot to check the first name. Future fantasies aside, there’s a lot not to like about this New York squad. The fact that Hughes and Jared Jeffries are in contention for starting jobs should tell you that much.
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