Let’s start with the obvious part…
The combination of Jeremy Lin and Jason Kidd is a massive upgrade over the Toney Douglas/Baron Davis point guard tandem in place at the start of last season. J.R. Smith, for all his faults, is better than Landry Fields. And Marcus Camby will give the Knicks a lot more than they got from the surprisingly-effective Josh Harrellson. Glen Grunwald still has some work to do, but assuming he is able to add a couple more pieces – maybe Jared Jeffries, a wing shooter/defender to fill in until Shump is healthy and a third point guard – the Knicks will enter the 2012-13 season with a roster far superior to last year’s.
But does the roster make sense?
For the most part, yes. The Knicks’ biggest problem is creating an offense in which both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire can thrive. Kidd’s presence will be a big factor in that effort, as a steadying presence to aid in Lin’s development and veteran voice in the locker room. And Camby will help the Knicks maintain their defensive intensity and give the team a real rebounding presence when Chandler is on the bench, without being a total liability on the offensive end (in other words, a better version of Jeffries).
But here’s my concern: Anthony’s best position seems to be power forward. And Stoudemire’s… on offense, anyway… is probably center. Chandler’s arrival meant STAT would log fewer minutes at the five, and I believe that was one of the reasons he had trouble getting on track last year. With Camby added to the mix, Stoudemire will see even less time at center. Which means he’s not playing his ideal position. And whenever Stoudemire is in the game, neither is Anthony.
One of the most obvious ways to get Stoudmire going on offense might have been to sub him out early in games and then bring him back as the featured player in the second unit, while Anthony and Chandler are on the bench. That’s still an option now, but STAT and Camby will face the same “fit” issues as STAT and Chandler. Playing Stoudemire at center with Novak at power forward – camped out in the corner ready to pop a three – might make more sense.
Of course, this all raises another important question. Does the acquisition of Camby position the Knicks to trade Stoudemire for a wing player? Yes, his health, spotty play in 2012 and enormous contract make any trade a long shot… but many of the league’s worst deals have changed hands in recent years; nothing is impossible.