In his infinite wisdom, James Dolan has declared that Isiah Thomas must show “measurable” progress to keep his job after this season. What exactly that means hasn’t been defined, but the question is; how can this team not improve on last season? The Knicks managed only 23 wins last year and seemed to use a different lineup every night. Larry Brown ruined his reputation as a great coach by sniping at his players in the media and failing to set a rotation. In short, there is no possible scenario where this team plays worse than it did last year.
That doesn’t mean things are going to be a lot better. The Knicks did the smart thing and got rid of Maurice Taylor and Jalen Rose before the season started, stopping Isiah from being able to use their expiring contracts as trading chips later. Coach Thomas will still have to figure out how to get this roster of mismatched parts to play together. A backcourt of Marbury and Francis may score 80 a night and give up 100. Eddy Curry has to quickly become a great player or the trade Thomas made which cost New York the #2 pick last year and gave the Bulls (the team that crushed Miami last night) the right to swap picks this year, will go down as one of the worst ever.
Channing Frye should contribute positively and David Lee will too. Renaldo Balkman looks like he can be a terror on defense, but you still have to wonder why he was picked so high. Jared Jeffries will be missed, while he recovers from a wrist injury, since he was one of the few guys on the roster capable of playing defense.
In the end, it should all add up to a team that wins around 35 games. The Eastern Conference is full of mediocre teams, so that might even be enough for a playoff spot, but is it enough to save Isiah?