x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Three is the not so magic number for the Knicks

Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are failing to deliver for the New York side, and it could cost the coach, Mike D'Antoni, his job.

James Dolan, the New Yorks' owner, assembled his own Big Three with, from left to right, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire.
James Dolan, the New Yorks' owner, assembled his own Big Three with, from left to right, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire.

Many of the best NBA teams in the modern era have been built around a trio of elite players, and Jim Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks noticed. He assembled his own Big Three and waited for glory days to return to Madison Square Garden, which last saw a championship team in 1973.

Good idea; poor execution. The Knicks won only seven of their first 20 games and many fans in Manhattan already are calling for coach Mike D'Antoni's job; they dream of replacing him with Phil Jackson, the 11-time champion coach and a former Knicks forward.

Most serious NBA followers hardly blame D'Antoni. The real problem is a poorly assembled roster: three above-average front-court players but wretched guards and a thin bench.

When the Knicks brought together Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, they talked of an NBA title. Now, they might not make the play-offs.

Stoudemire was New York's big signing before the 2010/11 season. After much drama, they swung a big trade last season to bring in Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Denver Nuggets.

The Knicks were 14-14 with the new additions and averaged an entertaining 107 points per game. But they are scoring only 93.7 points per game this season.

"It's not puzzling, it's just plain awful," D'Antoni said. "We just can't make a shot and we're not real good."

When the Knicks signed Chandler, a fine rebounder and excellent defender, who was fresh from a championship with the Dallas Mavericks, they had to release Billups to slip under the NBA salary cap. Without Billups, the Knicks lack a point guard to lead the offense. It has been a recipe for disaster because both Stoudemire and Anthony are ball-hogs who kill the movement in an offence meant to be played at a high tempo. The Knicks are reduced to hoping for improvement when Baron Davis, the perennially overweight point guard, is healthy enough to play.

For now, they launch away. The Knicks have cast off at least 25 three-pointers in eight games, and are 2-6 in those games.

"We all have to be willing to space the court, willing to move the ball," Stoudemire said. "It has to be something that we all have to buy into. It works, and it's been proven that it works."

It may not work with this set of players. Anthony's scoring average is down two points from last season. Stoudemire is putting up 17.1 points per game, his worst average since his rookie season in 2001/02.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are a half game out of the Atlantic Division cellar, still waiting for the magic of their Big Three to materialise.