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This is part 3 of an ongoing conversation between Stop Mike Lupica, and yours truly, the Depressed Fan. Here are parts one and two.

On to part three:

a) My first question, to Brian, since he brought up Isiah - what has he done to warrant getting fired? I mean specifically as GM of the Knicks - I don't care what he did to the CBA, or at previous jobs; and I don't care about non-work related stuff (sexual harassment suits) or as coach (precipitating riots, if you believe the papers). I mean trades, draft, free agent signings, etc.

Players he brought in: Marbury, Malik Rose, Jalen Rose, Jerome James, Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Steve Francis, Jared Jeffries. The result: too many guys for too few positions. Isiah assembled the team out of mismatched parts, and he got the wrong kind of guys for too steep of a price. The most talented player he's acquired, Curry, has a potentially deadly heart condition which he refuses to get properly diagnosed. Allowing him to play without getting it checked out proves he's not only a horrible executive, but a horrible person as well. Probably the worst move he made was using a one-time exception (basically, the league allowed all teams to cut one player's deal from the cap, meaning their salary would not count against the luxury tax total), to cut Jerome "Junkyard Dog" Williams, and his $21 million from the cap number, instead of cutting Allan Houston, and his $41M. Isiah said he thought Houston would be back soon to help the team. Houston retired 1 month later, and as you said, the Knicks are still paying him $20 million this year.

There's no doubt that Isiah inherited a flawed team, but after 3+ years, are they any better than they were back then? Does the future look any brighter? Pointing to Lee and Balkman as proof that Isiah has an eye for talent just doesn't make sense when you look at the trades he's made and the free agents he's signed. Look at the youth on the team, Nate Robinson, Channing Frye, Lee and Balkman. Robinson is basically a shorter version of Marbury with less talent, and possibly with a worse attitude (He's also one of the worst passers I've ever see). Frye may top out at 15 points, 7 boards per game. Lee is a solid rebounder, nothing more, and while we can agree to disagree on Balkman, even you have to admit that he's not a potential starter. Isiah's been rebuilding since he took over, and he still doesn't have the first building block. All he's done is amass bad attitudes, awarded them with huge contracts and sprinkled in some middling young talent.

A sidenote: The Knicks gave up their first round draft pick in 2004 in the deal for Marbury. That pick went to Phoenix who picked Luol Deng. Andre Iguodala was picked two slots after Deng.

b) Hasn't Billy King done a worse job? What does he have to do to get fired?

I've asked myself this question so many times. I just don't know. He's botched draft picks, made questionable signings and horrible trades. Apparently, he's untouchable. I can only hope that if he wastes the 3 first round picks next year he'll be on his way out, but I doubt it.

c) You have AI2 (Iguadala). He's a keeper, I hope. Who else on the 76ers is sticking around during this rebuilding phase?

Dalembert is finally progressing, and Korver isn't going anywhere. Those are the three building blocks they have right now. As I said before, I think Andre Miller is the right guy to run the point for a young team. He puts guys in good spots for higher percentage shots, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him moved before the trading deadline, maybe for a higher pick in the first round.

d) How soon before the 76ers pass the Knicks in the standings, in your opinion? Next season with Oden/Durant? 2008-2009? Basically, how long before the 76ers are even a .500 team again, much less a contender?

I think next year they pass the Knicks. If Brown comes back to coach, he's going to be more motivated than ever. I firmly believe that Isiah lured him to NY with lies, and once there when he realized he couldn't make the roster moves he wanted to make he gave up. He doesn't want that be the last memory people have of him as a coach. Iguodala is a budding superstar, and he's the right kind of guy to build a team around. Last year he wasn't happy with his FT%, so he spent the whole Summer shooting foul shots, this year his FT% is up 8% to 83%. Leaders who put in extra work are essential to a rebuilding process. He's started every game of his career, and his stats have improved in every category every year. (except shooting %, which has dropped since AI left, but is still a respectable 46%).

This is all contingent upon them getting either Oden or Durant in the draft, and assuming they get one player to put into the rotation out of their other two first round picks. "Contender" is a tough word to define. It won't take much of an upgrade to become a contender in the Atlantic, especially if Kidd and/or Vince Carter exit NJ. Contending for a title is absurd at this point.

My next round of questions:

a) Do you think Isiah is capable of taking this team and turning them into a contender? He's got seemingly unlimited resources, given the time, can he get the job done (as GM)?

b) In your opinion, who was the better player Iverson or Ewing? Barkley or Ewing?

c) Outside of Tim McCarver, Is Clyde the worst color man in sports?

d) Are you going to jump ship when the Nets move to Brooklyn?

by Brian on Feb 1 2007
Tags: Basketball | Sixers |