Indeed, another reason to write about the Knicks has presented itself. No need to think twice.
Though the New York Post's Mike Puma is now reporting that it won't happen, word continues to swirl around the Knicks that Eddy Curry is likely to be headed to the bench at some point in the very immediate future. Baffling.
Yes, Curry is playing largely putrid basketball at the center position. He is averaging 5.6 rebounds and just 0.6 blocks per game, he doesn't move well, and he is loathe to guard anybody. All that said, moving him out of the starting lineup makes no sense. None.
Supposedly, Curry's lack of defense as of late has been a glaring issue.
Hey, fellas? Um, folks? Did somebody miss the boat on this one? That's a crucial part of the package with Eddy Curry: He has become a decent scorer around the rim, doesn't do anything else particularly well, and he virtually refuses to play any defense. That was the story when Isiah Thomas brought him to town in 2005 to be the centerpiece of this franchise, and that is the story now.
When the Knicks brought him in, the company line was that he was 23 years old and had time to develop as a player. Now, he is a seven-year veteran coming off of the best season of his career, and he is still only 25 years old, leaving him close to a decade left in the league if he can stay healthy. Given that the Knicks believed when they brought him in that he could become a big-deal player, abandoning that line of thinking now certainly doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Curry progressed last season, averaging career highs of 19.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 57.6 percent from the field. Clearly, those aren't the greatest numbers in the world (particularly in the boards department at center), but they represented major progress for Curry. He had improved his offensive game, and the next step was to keep building his rebounding and to insert some modicum of defense into his all-around game.
Curry has had a slow start to the season, averaging just 15.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game and continuing to not play any defense. But given that he is locked in for $40.4 million over the next four seasons, and given that many other teams passed on him two and a half years ago for the obvious -- he is perpetually out of shape, doesn't play any defense, doesn't rebound well, doesn't have any touch and doesn't do all that much well offensively besides put the ball in the basket -- it is hard to imagine him going anywhere. The Knicks brought him in because they had faith that he could improve (which, in some regards, he has during his tenure in the Big Apple), and they brought Zach Randolph in behind him and kept Steph Marbury, Jamal Crawford and Quentin Richardson at least partially because they believed they had a chance to make a playoff run in the East right now.
As Isiah Thomas should have learned with the Starbury saga earlier in the season, benching a player on this team simply for the sake of benching him to send the proverbial message will likely acheive nothing. Benching Curry to make the team better in the short term seems like an idea destined to backfire. Whether he is an intriguing prospect or not, throwing Randolph Morris in the middle isn't going to help this team. Starting power forward David Lee next to Zach Randolph in the front court deprives the team of any sort of center presence -- Curry has to be giving them at least something there, right? -- takes Lee out of his optimal role of being a high-energy reserve and likely only serves to further stunt Curry's growth as a player.
The Knicks knew what they were getting when they brought Eddy Curry in. For better or for worse, they chose to acquire him. Now, for better or for worse, they are stuck with him. So unless they are going to tear the entire existing structure down and start anew, they need to give him his shot to keep on keepin' on and perhaps maybe even improve a little bit. For better or for worse.