Knicks missing point

Potential addition of Paul no answer to their woes

March 05, 2011|By Mark Heisler, Tribune Newspapers

Now for the arrival of The 13th Knick …

Or not.

"Our own Big Three" reunited last week, eight months after Chris Paul joked about forming it with Amare Stoudemire in his toast at Carmelo Anthony's wedding, in New York, of course.

That was when Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke stomped out, went home and told his people to trade Melo.

Even with Paul stuck in New Orleans, it was as if CAA, The Movie Star Agency, had brought him in for the 2011-12 Team Picture of Knick Dreams.

After two years of staging LeBronstock festivals in vain, fans partied as if it was 2012, chanting, "We want Paul!" as the Knicks romped.

With everyone gushing about "the old electricity back," etc., there was just one cloud on the horizon.

Actually, it's more like an Arctic front … or the glaciers moving south.

That was Chris Paul?

His performance was a clunker (four points, 10 assists), and he has had five weeks of them, shooting 39.9 percent. His previous three seasons he was at 49 percent.

As Robert Burns wrote, without ever seeing a Knick, "The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry."

The Knicks' plans don't oft go awry, 100 percent of them blow up.

Paul is coming off knee surgery and is playing in a new offense in which he no longer dominates the ball a la Steve Nash.

"If you're talking about competitiveness, intangibles, leadership ability, that's all there," Kings personnel director Jerry Reynolds said. "As far as quickness, the ability to separate, I don't see the same guy. I think the game has become harder for him."

As insiders know, Knicks owner James Dolan went bonkers for Anthony after being assured Paul would follow as a free agent in 2012.

Not that arranging it looks hard. CAA's Leon Rose represents both Anthony and Paul.

Paul, who once dominated the conversation about who is the best point guard, is now barely in it. New Net Deron Williams is considered No. 1 over fast-rising Derrick Rose, a better scorer but not as good a playmaker.

Happily for the Knicks, Williams has been coolly polite to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov's effusive welcome.

If the Knicks want D-Will, he's there!

Of course, whether they wind up with Paul or Williams, they'll still be smurfs, Amare and Melo still won't fit and they may not be as happy to play with a me-first, attention-seeking gunner.

What could go wrong?

Oh, right, everything else.

Do I know you? Remember the Heat?

NBA's most notorious team … before playing a game … supposedly capable of winning 72 games with LeBron James averaging a triple-double?

No, really. You can look it up on ESPN's "Heat Check."

Now a mere contender, the Heat just blew leads of 11, 15 and 24 in losses to a new rival (the Bulls), new hype (the Knicks) and old rival (the Magic), respectively.

Then they went to San Antonio, where the Spurs skipped the rally and beat them by 30.

Guess what's next?

"We understand that the only people that matter to us are the people in the locker room," said once-more endangered coach Erik Spoelstra. "We've got to stay connected, which we are."

For his sake, they had better be.

Call the Geek Squad! Happily for the Heat, MIT's annual sports analytics conference convened in time to take up the team's problems.

ESPN's John Hollinger argued the Heat's 2-12 record against top teams may be misleading with "arbitrary endpoints … (so) the factoid's parameters are arbitrary."

Exactly what I thought!

Then there was a fascinating discussion on which Heat player should be taking the last shot.

In other words, the Heat brass better not be holding its breath, waiting for the conference report.

The quote: The Knicks' Jared Jeffries, returning to cheers after being reacquired to fill void left by traded big men Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov: "They used to yell for me to get off the court."

mheisler@tribune.com

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