I'm not referring to the Knickerbockers mindset, which as this point is win at all cost. I'm referring to the refusal to want to tweak something that is working when it could, in fact, be even better.
Though New York is currently tied for the best record in the NBA at 7-1, it is not free from deficiencies. We saw as much in the team's first loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and bore witness to as much in each of their victories as well.
Take the Knicks' average number of points scored in the paint this season. To date, they are dropping just 34.8 points in the painted area, fourth lowest in the league.
Or how about their shortcomings in transition? New York is averaging just 7.6 fast-break points per game, the lowest in the NBA. I understand this team is older and not exactly built to run, but you have to be a threat to run at least or defenses will eventually zero in on you.
And how about that age factor? Why not add some unbridled youth to a docket that is dependent on a slew of injury-prone players over the age of 30?
Again, I'm not belittling the Knicks' current success—nor should anybody else—but to ignore their flaws as a team would be shortsighted and the exact genre of mindset that could prevent this squad from making the championship push it is capable of.
DeJuan Blair, C, San Antonio Spurs
Anthony has the athletic edge over most power forwards in the NBA, but as we saw against the San Antonio Spurs, Grizzlies and even Indiana Pacers, there are some nights that he is going to take a beating.
Quite frankly, the Knicks cannot have that, which is why it certainly wouldn't hurt to go out and get another younger big who could help New York defensively on the glass and, most importantly, take Melo out of potentially dangerous situations.
Enter DeJuan Blair.
The 23-year-old is listed as a center, but at 6'7", he is more than capable of manning the 4. After three impressive seasons in San Antonio, his minutes have declined and he doesn't appear to be a favorite of Gregg Popovich's.
In fact, it's gotten to the point where Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy is reporting that Blair could still be had at a reasonable price:
Blair has been on the block for awhile. The Spurs worked the phones in the days leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft, gauging interest in the 23-year-old. They didn’t receive an offer that blew them away so they decided to hold onto Blair, but that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly part of the Spurs’ plan going forward. Even though the team kept him, Blair understands that he could be shopped again.
With guys like Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner on the docket, the Spurs arguably have little use for Blair, who is posting an 18.84 PER this season.
But where he is a seldom-used body in San Antonio, he could be Melo's savior when the Knicks go up against teams where small ball is actually the counterproductive.
Knicks Get: DeJuan Blair
Spurs Get: Kurt Thomas, two future second-round picks and cash.
Why the Knicks Do It:
For obvious reasons, this trade takes a lot of pressure off Anthony when his body isn't up to the task of defending bigger and strong forwards.
Though the Knicks could try and rely on Amar'e Stoudemire to provide that type of relief, his fragile physical state is even less suited for such battles than Melo's at this point.
Blair would ultimately add some younger toughness in the post, which would be a welcomed sight for guys like Tyson Chandler and Rasheed Wallace as well.
Why the Spurs Do It:
Popovich loves veterans, and Kurt Thomas provides some gritty toughness on the glass and defensive end. He also adds a touch more versatility on offense than Blair does.
Make no mistake, though, this would be about the draft picks, as San Antonio is great at turning late selections and undervalued youth in general into prolific role players. Plus, the Spurs don't really have a need for Blair and may welcome some cash in return.
Derrick Williams, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Derrick Williams isn't making any friends with the Minnesota Timberwolves, even in Kevin Love's absence.
And according to 1500 ESPN, that has landed Williams on the chopping block:
As for other Wolves trade talks, all is quiet. But the internal belief is that dialogue will pick up after all teams play 15 games.
The Wolves are still expected to be busy before February's trade deadline. [Derrick] Williams and guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea are the names cited most by the sources.
Now, as much of a bust as Williams has been in Minnesota, he was still drafted second overall less than two years ago.
Translation? He won't come cheap.
That said the Knicks may have the means necessary to acquire him if David Kahn and company really want to move on.
Knicks Get: Derrick Williams
Timberwolves Get: Marcus Camby, two future second-round picks and cash
Note: Knicks must wait until January when teams gain the ability to first trade free agents they signed over the summer.
Why the Knicks Do It:
Sure, Williams presents plenty of risk, but he's young, athletic and would provide plenty of post relief to Melo on the nights he needs it most.
The Knicks are also barely using Camby, and while he can be a great defender, sound shot-blocker and prolific rebounder, so can Williams.
Obviously, the sophomore is a much rawer product than Camby, but once Stoudemire returns to the rotation, the center's minutes stand to get reduced anyway, making this a risk that could be worth taking.
Why the Timberwolves Do It:
Let's not pretend Minnesota is getting a deal here. Camby is one of the oldest players in the league at 38, and it's a rarity when teams embrace trading away such young talents for an aging veteran.
That said, Camby provides more consistency. He can block shots and grab rebounds at a higher rate than Williams, and would be a quintessential backup to Nikola Pekovic and a healthy Kevin Love.
If January roles around and Williams still isn't producing, and the offers for his services aren't rolling in, his price will drop significantly.
Which would make this deal possible.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News just said what everyone was thinking after Mike D'Antoni was hired to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.
Wonder if Mike D'Antoni can convince the Lakers to trade for Amar'e Stoudemire. The Knicks will gladly take Pau Gasol— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) November 12, 2012
With Steve Nash already reuniting with D'Antoni, would Stoudemire really be opposed to a third reunion with his former coach as well?
It also doesn't hurt that Stoudemire was at his best alongside Nash either.
When healthy, he's the perfect fit for D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense and would spread the floor just as much as Pau Gasol, who is better suited for the half-court offense Mike Woodson has implemented in New York.
And since ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported the Atlanta Hawks have no interest in dealing Josh Smith for Gasol, would Nash and D'Antoni be able to convince the Lakers to take a chance on Stoudemire should he return from his injury and be productive?
Knicks Get: Pau Gasol
Lakers Get: Amar'e Stoudemire
Why the Knicks Do It:
Make no mistake, Stoudemire can help the Knicks in the post. But he is best served coming off the bench at this point. If he's unwilling to do so, New York might want to explore other possibilities.
Let's not forget that Stoudemire's contract is a financial cancer as well. He's owed more than $60 million over the next three years, so if the Knicks have the opportunity to shed his salary—even if it means taking back a 32-year-old Gasol—they'll take it.
To be even more honest, Gasol may be a better fit for the offense. He can step back and hit the jumper too, but he's a better post scorer and a much better defender as well, which would definitely sit well with Woodson.
Why the Lakers Do It:
Here's where it gets dicey.
It's not so much that the Lakers would be taking back Stoudemire, as it is that his contract extends one year past Gasol's.
That said, he is a much better fit for D'Antoni's offense and has already exploited opposing defenses with Nash. He runs the floor better than most power forwards—including Gasol—and is also much more explosive than Gasol himself ever was.
If Stoudemire returns to New York's rotation and proves he has some fight left in him, his contract may not be as immovable as most believe.
It also wouldn't hurt if the Knicks through some second-round draft picks and/or cash into the pot as well.
All stats in this article are accurate as of Nov. 19.
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