Can the Knicks Have Too Much Talent?

By Jerald Hoover
Updated: July 16, 2007

Basketball Hoop NEW YORK Knick boss Isiah Thomas may just have a problem on his hands.

Albeit a good problem when you consider the wealth of talent and young and active talent that he possesses on his roster.

Is Isiah becoming the next Jerry West in as far as being able to spot talent that is as heralded but much more talent than given credit for?

Hey, all jokes aside, Isiah did take a chance on Tracy McGrady while boss of the Toronto Raptors.

He did select Marcus Camby with the second pick overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft.

He took a flyer on the diminutive point guard out of the University of Arizona Damon Stoudamire with the seventh pick of the 1995 Draft and he became the Rookie of the Year.

As far as Isiah’s penchant for free agent busts, well that’s a story for another time.

But, in all actuality, Jerome James has been the only real bust.

Once he got paid, (over $28 million for 5 years) he simply got fat(ter).

The other free agent signing, Jared Jeffries is a role player deluxe so the jury is still out on him.

Once he gets himself settled in, he should be judged by that. After he missed the first 20 something games to a wrist injury and then coming back only to be suspended another four games due to the suspension after the brawl with the Denver Nuggets he was never in sync.

Therefore, fans shouldn’t think that Jeffries went from as Isiah put it, “balancing the plane ride,” (with his character and unselfish play), to perhaps being left on the run way.

But since Isiah has come to the Knicks he hasn’t lost his touch as far as finding diamonds in the rough as far as draft picks.

He plucked former Knick Trevor Ariza out of UCLA with the 41st pick of the second round a couple of seasons ago who has become a very serviceable player down in Orlando.

At last season’s NBA Draft, Isiah was booed lustily for grabbing Renaldo Balkman with the 20th pick. Not only did the fans in attendance lose their minds with fury but even the ESPN panel with consisted of Grey Anthony, Stephen A. Smith, Jay Bilas and Mike Turrico questioned the sanity of the pick.

Only super fan Spike Lee was optimistic saying, “He’s a sleeper pick.” Every one else including yours truly thought Isiah needed his medicine.

It’s funny how a few trips down the floor in the Vegas Summer League changed all of that. Marty Collins turned out to be a great find too with the 29th pick of the first round.

The season before was David Lee with the 30th pick (the last pick of the first round), Nate Robinson (who was picked with the 21st pick by Phoenix and then traded to the Knicks along with Quentin Richardson for Kurt Thomas) and former Knick Channing Frye with the eighth pick.

All have done very well in their inaugural years on the pro hardwood.

Which brings us to the present newcomers; to which Collins said, “I think these guys are better than me and Renaldo in our rookie years here,” with here being the Las Vegas Summer League.

The new guys that Collins was referring to are DePaul’s 6-foot-8 forward, Wilson Chandler who was taken with the 23rd pick and Demetrius Nichols out of Syracuse who for some unknown reason lasted until the 53rd pick until Portland selected him for the Knicks and then traded him.

And we must not forget the heist that Isiah pulled of last season in snatching power forward/center Randolph Morris out of University of Kentucky.

Balkman is a beast on the boards and a nightmare as a defender. (Just ask Seattle’s super rookie Kevin Durant). And is still getting better on the offensive end. Lee is another monster on the boards and a better defender than being credited for.

Collins is as steady as they come and getter better at being steady and crafty — once he gets a jumpshot, watch out. Nichols can shoot akin to former Knick Allan Houston but, with more height and more athletic prowess.

But, the gem of the young bunch would be Chandler who basically can do it all: shoot, handle the ball, make plays, defend (three positions), has composure and is long and strong.

He’s the complete package and could be a starter at small forward within a year or two. And Morris is a stud under the boards and is showing progress on the offensive at the pro level.

Unlike last season as he looked like (in his short time in the League like a deer in head lights).

Sure it’s only Summer League play but, talent is talent. And these guys have shown that plainly put, they one and all can play the game of basketball. With 17 members on the Knicks squad and only 15 max permitted by the League, the Knicks will have to find a way to cut two players.

If a trade can’t be made, look for the Knicks to admit the wrong in signing Jerome James (a media favorite) to be cut. If James who has an affinity of not only being overweight but out of condition, comes into camp as such there’s more than an immense chance that he will get the scissors.

If that were to happen that still leaves one player that has to be done away with some how. Isiah says, “There’s still a long summer to go and still a lot of basketball to play before any decisions have to be made.”

He’s absolutely right about that, but judging from the Knicks undefeated entry in the Vegas League and the emergence of Robinson who earned League Most Outstanding Player and also amplified his trade value to the next level, anything can happen.

Let’s just hope for the Knicks’ sake it continues to be for the good.