Sunday, June 28, 2009

Knicks Building a Talented, Young Team: LeBron to Follow in 2010?

Arizona's Jordan Hill and Florida State's Toney Douglas were smart picks. Hill will bring some insurance should the Knicks lose restricted free agent David Lee this summer. Douglas projects as a PG/SG in the NBA, but he was not the fans' first choice to take over guard duties despite having one of the best work ethics of any player in Thursday's draft and leading FSU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998.

Now, the Knicks turn their attention to Ricky Rubio, the fifth overall pick of the draft and the popular choice among Knicks fans. He seems unlikely to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that picked him on Thursday night.
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Rubio failed to show for his introductory press conference and his father has said that Rubio may stay in Europe rather than head to Minnesota where he will likely win no more than 30 games and freeze his toes off in the process. It has become widely publicized that because of his buyout clause, Rubio would likely play for free in the NBA for at least his first season in the league. He has stated that his dream has always been to play in the NBA and that money is not that important now. But will he play for nothing in Minnesota, a city that, while playing 'NBA City Word Association', he called "too cold"?

So while the Knicks are not the only team to inquire about Rubio's availability and the price tag the Timberwolves may have attached to his head, it appears as though the Knicks are serious about making moves that will improve their roster and hopefully attract a big time free agent next summer.

We are seeing an attempt by the Knicks brass to build a solid core of talented players that will provide the support for a superstar such as LeBron James. Currently, Al Harrington, an 11 year pro who last season enjoyed arguably his most productive season in his first year in New York, is probably their most recognizable player. But by moving to acquire a young, promising point guard such as Rubio, the Knicks are finally taking a step in the right direction.

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In addition to drafting Hill and Douglas, the Knicks acquired Darko Milicic from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Quentin Richardson. Taking Milicic is a gamble considering he has been one of the biggest draft disappointments this decade. Coach Mike D'Antoni will help Milicic reach his full potential, the potential the Detroit Pistons saw in 2003 when they made him the 2nd pick of the draft behind LeBron James.

When it's all said and done it will be hard to judge the moves the Knicks have made this summer until we see their revamped roster and rotation in action come tipoff next season. Wherever Rubio winds up (Minnesota, New York, Houston, etc.) he will find himself right in the mix for the starting point guard position on that team.

Conflicting reports have been swirling on the Rubio trade rumors. David Kahn, Minnesota's President of Basketball Operations, has consistently insisted that the T-Wolves have no intentions of trading Rubio or Johnny Flynn, who was drafted by the team immediately after taking Rubio. Still, Knicks President David Walsh has made clear his intentions of inquiring about Rubio's availability.

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When a player fails to show up for an introductory press conference and makes his discontent known, he usually finds himself shipped to another team in the near future. Although it took a season, Yi Jianlian was finally traded out of Milwaukee after he made his unhappiness known to the team that drafted him. We've seen it in the NFL as well with John Elway and later with Eli Manning. When a highly drafted and highly sought after player such as Rubio wants out, he gets out, sooner or later.

In other news, it appears as though any chances of Amare Stoudemire landing in Oakland were thwarted when the Warriors were able to nab Stephen Curry with the 7th pick after the Davidson product was not chosen by the Minnesota Timberwolves as many had expected. The 7th overall pick was part of a proposed trade that would have sent the pick along with Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli to Phoenix in exchange for Stoudemire. It now appears that the Suns, who thought the deal was a go after the Warriors drafted Curry, will have to accept another player to take Curry's place if the deal is to get done, perhaps Monta Ellis. But it looks as though the Warriors are pleased with Curry, whose upside is tremendous.

Written By Danny Hobrock

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