Melo has changed uniforms to beat Andrew Bogut before.

Test Drive

Looking back at yesterday’s post, it read like a funeral dirge.  That wasn’t my intention, but days like that are the hardest for me as a fan.  I always think first about what we gave up, and hardly ever about what we got in return.  I wrote last week that I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and although I’m probably the only person under the age of 50 who still regularly uses that, I broke my own promise and treated the acquisition of a top-ten player like a day of mourning.

(I still think we overpaid and I still wouldn’t have pulled the trigger.)

I wanted to post late yesterday with some memories of the newest Nuggets and Wolves.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that I and likeminded Knicks fans need to look forward.  This is where we’ve wanted to be since San Antonio buried us over a decade ago; it is a little scary, after all that time safe in our misery at the bottom of the league, falling into that routine of bitching and moaning and always knowing better than the guys in charge, to now be thrust into the spotlight of the league’s elite and hoping the team doesn’t crumble under the weight of New York expectations.  Exciting, sure, but there’s a fear of the unknown too, a feeling that with these stakes, and this ownership, another wrong move could lead to another decade of that.

So I don’t want to look back.  I turned on ESPN this morning and the first image was of Danilo Gallinari, talking about how he’s glad it’s over and how he’s looking forward to starting a new chapter in his career.  It struck me that he was wearing these strange glasses – they almost looked like a pair Amar’e would wear, but Italianized so Gallo could probably go out and bag a few models after the game.  You probably know the way glasses can make someone look like a totally different person – as a former wearer, I can attest – and as I looked at Gallo I saw a guy I used to know and one I hardly knew at all.  Almost like a Bizarro Gallo, or when you see a Canadian and you know there’s something a little off with him, there was something…different about him.  Maybe I was just seeing the guy we once thought maybe, just maybe, could be superstar of our very own, forever and ever – except he could still be that star, but he won’t be our own anymore.

And, of course, he was staring at me, telling me it’s time to move on.  If it’s good enough for Gallo, it’s good enough for me.  The sentimentalizing BS is over.  Thank God.  It is time for basketball.

Projected Starters:

PG – Brandon Jennings: Logged 45 minutes last night against Minnesota, and doesn’t have the strength to check Chauncey Billups in the post.

SG – John Salmons: Shoot first, ask questions later.  Solid defender.

SF – Carlos Delfino: Like Jennings, should not be able to deal with his man, Carmelo Anthony, down low.

PF – Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: An excellent defender who should see plenty of time on both Melo and Amar’e Stoudemire.  Where Amar’e is concerned, Mbah a Moute is in the Chuck Hayes, Joel Anthony mold of quick undersized frontcourt players who give Amar’e fits.  Played just 12 minutes last night and, though he picked up 4 fouls guarding Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, he should have a full tank tonight.

C – Andrew Bogut: Was kept relatively quiet last time against New York, but with Mozgov gone it’s up to Ronny Turiaf to let Amar’e save his energy for the offensive end.

Knicks Starters: The new Knicks will all be in uniform tonight: Melo and Billups will be joined by holdovers Stoudemire, Turiaf and Landry Fields.  They’ll be back up by Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Shawne Williams, Shelden Williams, Renaldo “Burn” Balkman and 185 pounds of fury, Corey Brewer.

Bucks Rotation: First round pick Larry Sanders has been sent to the D-League.  Ersan Ilyasova made his return last night after missing some time from a right eye contusion, but Jon Brockman grabbed 14 rebounds in 25 minutes, so I expect Scott Skiles to use more of Brockman to exploit the Knicks up front.  Earl Boykins and Keyon Dooling back up Jennings; neither has particularly availed himself of late.  Corey Maggette and Salmons spell each other when one’s shooting arm gets tired, and C D-R has played himself out of the rotation.


This is an interesting test drive for the new-look Knicks in that the individual matchups really favor the new players – Billups v. Jennings/Boykins and Anthony v. Delfino/Maggette, rather than Amar’e v. Mbah a Moute/Bogut – so I’m curious to gauge Stoudemire’s willingness to cede control of this offense to the newbies early and often.  We’ve seen him make the offense a one-man show, particularly early in the year, but of late he’s channeled the extra motivation of special nights into unselfish, winning basketball. 

We’ve heard all the talk about how Amar’e and Melo’s styles may not complement each other, and may not fit into Mike D’Antoni’s style.  The statistics back that up, of course, and I’m already on record that I wouldn’t have made this deal.  But there are two caveats: 1) Donnie Walsh has a track record of uncovering those cheap, hidden gems that might turn this Heat Starter Kit into title contenders, and 2) as it relates to tonight and going forward, I will never underestimate the ability of great players to find ways of adjusting their styles to make something work.  It may take time, and it probably won’t show up tonight.  But tonight is the beginning of finding a way.

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