A Work In Progress??

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: February 20, 2009

NEW YORK — It’s somewhat puzzling how one man can do what another man could not do when it comes to roster makeover in a positive way. When former Knicks President and general manager Isiah Thomas was on scene, he was able to make trades but those trades where usually in the realm of getting back talent but at the price of absorbing cap killing contracts.

Donnie Walsh (not that he’s assembled a championship caliber roster as presently constituted), has brought in Coach Mike D’Antoni type ball players with good contracts and has gotten rid of the likes of Jerome James, Malik Rose and Zach Randolph. Something called, respect and trust doesn’t come cheap in the NBA business.

In the recent trade of Larry Hughes and Chris Wilcox, the Knicks have athletic get up and down the court players that can finish around the basket or in the case of Hughes be willing to take and make a big shot in the fourth quarter when games are usually decided.

That is an element the Knicks lacked ever since they traded away fan-favorite Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for forward Al Harrington. With Harrington the offense runs at its high octane level, but when the game is tight he’s not the type of player that can command the ball and create something for a teammate or himself during ‘money’ time.

Hughes, who is a pretty good perimeter defender and adept ball handler, has the guts and skill to do so. After all, he was supposed to be the Scottie Pippen to LeBron James when he signed his 6-year mega contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers four years ago after his brilliant stint with the Washington Wizards.

He’s 30 years old now and has been in pro ball for nearly 11 years after doing only one year at St. Louis University, so he has some mileage on the tires, but he was on the Bulls’ roster this year in name only as new coach Vinny Del Negro didn’t have him in his rotation with their gluttony of guards.

Wilcox lacks in fundamentals but, is a high flying forward that throws down nasty dunks off misses and fast breaks. He will be able to do what Tim Thomas wouldn’t do and that’s rebound in traffic.

Wilcox doesn’t process the 3-ball the way Thomas does, but that might be a good thing. With both being 6-foot-10 inches and around 240 pounds who needs that massive body roaming away from the basket as opposed to being underneath it.

If the Knicks are going to make a serious playoff push, now isn’t the time for adjustments and re-adjustments. With 28 games left (23-31 through Friday’s win against Toronto) and currently in 11th place for an eight-seeded playoff race the time is now to do what needs to be done.

Giving Walsh and his brain trust credit for bringing in good baller’s with tender contracts is great for the LeBron and others chase of 2010, but with this economy at present being what it is….will it really matter?