Okafor, Melo, Harris, and Other Second Half Thoughts

Written by Nicholas McGowan

From twenty rows up in the upper deck of the student section I watched my Syracuse Orange go toe to toe with the Duke Blue Devils. It was quite the game. The final score was in Duke’s favor, 80-72, but there was some good to take out of it. I was able to watch Jahlil Okafor play, and let me tell you, he is special. This 6-11, 260 pound freshman came into the Carrier Dome and just played. He went off for 23 points on 10 of 15 shooting, added 13 rebounds and a block. He shut down Syracuse’s best player Rakeem Christmas or “Rak” as we students call him. Rak finished with just 11 points and 6 rebounds, well below his averages of 18 points and 9 rebounds. It was hard to watch as Okafor held Rak to 5-17 from the field. That game last night, only solidifies my stance that the Knicks need Okafor, we cannot settle for a Karl Anthony-Towns or an Emmanuel Mudiay because they are not on the same level. Every time Okafor touched the ball all I could do was think about how much I want him to be Knickerbocker.

While Okafor stated the other day that we would be happy staying in Durham for another year, the Knicks should be more focused on losing. The Lakers are 1-9 in their last ten games, pushing themselves to only 3 games ahead of the Knicks. The Sixers and T-Wolves sit at one and two games ahead of us respectively. While the Knicks should still be considered the frontrunners for finishing in last, there is some competition.

The Knicks’ push for the worst record in the NBA is being fueled by Carmelo Anthony’s surgery tomorrow and reports that Amare Stoudemire is seeking a buyout. Losing Melo should give way to Cleanthony Early playing more (I still haven’t given up on him) and should reduce our points per game. (76ers average 90 points per game to our 92.5). Amare leaving would open up some cap room, which is crucial to getting rid of Calderon. Having Jose Calderon on this team is the worst possible thing. Calderon carries a cap hit of just over 7 million for this year and the next two. We need his contract out of here. Buying out Amare will allow us to take back some bigger one-year deals in return. More cap space next year is the only thing to root for at this point. Another piece that has to be moved in Pablo Prigioni, as his cap hit of 1.7 million next year is not worth it. Rumors have the Pistons interested in him…maybe Prigioni for Luigi Datome would work.

Hopefully for 12 million a year, Phil can move both Calderon and Prigioni. Hopefully for 12 million a year Phil can also secure a second round pick or two, seeing as how we do not have one until 2020…

Seeing what Phil can do at this trade deadline as well as the offseason will truly give us an idea of how good/bad of a GM he is. If you want to talk about poor management however, look no further than the Knicks owner Mr. James Dolan. Did anyone else see that email response to the fan? To sum it up, Dolan called the fan a drunk and that he makes his family around him miserable. What a great headline for the Knicks. Our franchise is really heading in wrong direction and Phil up to this point has not done much to help.

Perhaps my biggest problem with the whole email scandal is the fact that Adam Silver just let Dolan walk. There was no fine, no nothing, only a compliment by saying how James Dolan is a “consummate New Yorker.” Maybe David Stern would have handled it differently, maybe not, but punishing Dolan in some would hopefully wake him up. We need Dolan to handle the Knicks like he does the Rangers. The New York Rangers are run by their president and general manager Glen Sather, and although he has made some questionable moves, he at least he has complete control of the team. Not to say that Phil does not, but I would enjoy the Knicks a lot more if the name “Dolan” was never said.

One last thing, there was a report about a week ago saying that Tobias Harris, currently a small forward for the Magic would be interested in coming to play in New York next year. He would certainly be welcomed in my book. It is important to note that Harris turned down a four year, 36 million-dollar extension and that he will be a restricted free agent come summer, Orlando will have the option to match any offer. Having Harris would be a good fit, and I think his game would compliment Melo’s especially if Melo wants to play more of that stretch four type of role. Not matter the case; landing Okafor should be the priority.

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