"When you set up yourself by basically saying, 'We're going to (stink) for the next two or three years,' I don't think there is any way that can be good for your team. They're not going to win because those guys know they're not going to be here next year. To expect them to give 110% is unrealistic." -- Charles Barkley
Sometimes Charles Barkley sounds like a fool with diarrhea of the mouth. But, then there are those times when Charles knows what he is talking about and is willing to share the raw truth according to Charles Barkley's brain. This time, with his brain and mouth in sync, Sir Charles tells Frank Isola (See Charles Barkley rips Knicks' president Donnie Walsh for bad management) why he believes that the Turtle's management strategy sucks. In addition to criticizing Walsh, Barkley has indicated that he wants to be an NBA GM. He wants his chance to fail at a job which he says doesn't require the mind of a brain surgeon.
Charles knows basketball and basketball players, whether he can manage the salary cap is another issue. The gist of Charles's criticism of Walsh is that the Knicks players will not play as hard because they know that they will not be with the Knicks next year. He says,
"The Knicks don't have a good team. I think waiting to do all the free agency thing has hurt the camaraderie and chemistry on the team. Those guys aren't dumb. They know they're not going to be around."
I'm a little torn about Barkley's analysis. Undoubtedly, the 2010 strategy is not a good one -- no one has ever built a winning team the way Walsh has gone about it. It is doomed to fail and fans are doomed to make excuses as to why getting LeBron was not the objective. On the other hand, Charles cannot be totally correct that the Knicks will not play hard because they are a bunch of expiring contracts. I expect the infusion of youth (Milicic, Douglas, Jordan, Landry), energy (Jeffries) and incentives (for Nate and DLee) will have the Knicks playing hard for most of the season.
As to chemistry, Barkley forgets that Lee, Chandler, Jeffries and Robinson are going into their third year together. Douglas fits in perfectly.
The real on court problem will be the amount of energy the high octane offense plus defensive pressure requires. The Knicks are thin in talent and they will not be able to keep up the pace over an 82 game schedule. Last year, it took players a while to adapt to D'Antoni's offense, especially after the changes required when Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford were traded. This year, with defense added, it is as though they have a new system and a new coach. In that regard, they will be exposed as a young team.
Charles has a point, but he doesn't know who thinks they will be with the Knicks next year. Even the expiring contracts have incentive to audition nightly for their next contracts with the Knicks and the opposition. Plus, there is no guarantee that the Knicks will secure the free agent they want which means no one really knows what will happen next summer. Not even many of the players.