This is a period of turnover in America. With Barack Obama winning the presidency and the Democrats picking up a significant number of seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, one thing is clear: The people were tired of the old administration.
After eight years under one of the oddest, least successful presidents in history, the country has moved in a new direction. The only real question that anyone has left to ask is, “What took so long?”
The same rings true for my New York Knickerbockers. Fellow fans and I have suffered for five years under a regime that even a toddler could tell is not doing its job. I would even go so far as to argue that Isiah Thomas has been worse as a general manager than George Bush has been as a president — and keeping this in perspective, most current polls have Bush’s approval rating at under 30 percent.
Remember how Bush took over a country with a massive surplus and turned it into trillions of dollars of debt? Well, Isiah managed to one-up him. He took over a team already devoid of talent and well over the salary cap. Any reasonable person would have recognized the long and difficult rebuilding process ahead; the Knicks would simply have to wait out their overpriced contracts — a difficult task in New York, but a necessary one in this case — and build through the draft until they had enough money to make moves through free agency.
So what did Isiah actually do? He made trades that INCREASED the team’s total salary, and in doing so traded away the team’s draft picks that it was supposed to rebuild with. So instead of LaMarcus Aldridge or Brandon Roy in 2006, and instead of Joakim Noah or Al Thornton in 2007, we got three years of 14 points and six boards per game from Eddy Curry.
That’s right, Isiah traded away the future talent and financial well-being of the Knicks for a career underachieving big man. And what did he do in New York? Surprise! He underachieved!
The most rebounds per game Curry averaged in New York — and for that matter, in his career — was seven. The man is 6-foot-11, 285 pounds, and the best he’s ever done is seven boards per game. To put that in perspective, Jason Kidd, at 6-foot-4, 210, has bested that mark six times in his career, including last season when he was 34.
So obviously, I’m quite happy that through three games this season, the only thing Eddy Curry has recorded in the stat book is “DNP — Coach’s Decision.” This relic of the Isiah administration is just that: a relic.
But there’s another remnant from Isiah that Mike D’Antoni shouldn’t be so quick to discard: Stephon Marbury.
No, I don’t like the guy either, but talent is talent. Curry never showed the ability to put up numbers; Marbury has. Curry was replaced at center by the similar but much more productive Zach Randolph. Marbury was replaced by … Chris Duhon?
It doesn’t make sense. The Knicks finally have a fast-paced system in which Marbury could thrive, and they’re paying him $20 mil to sit on the bench. I don’t care what anybody says about his decline; working under three coaches in three years and playing with the scrubs that Isiah brought in, anyone’s numbers would have taken a dip. With Duhon averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 assists in the first three games, what’s there to lose by giving Marbury a shot?
Team chemistry is obviously important, especially in a sport like basketball in which ball movement makes a huge difference. But are the Knicks playing more like a team with Duhon? I don’t know — D’Antoni certainly has more inside information than I do, but it seems doubtful. Marbury can be quite the ball distributor himself.
So why wait for an excuse like an injury to insert him into the playing rotation? The Knicks, like America, should take a chance. He could be just the change that the team needs.
Dave Heck is a junior majoring in philosophy. He can be reached at David.Heck@tufts.edu.