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'Bockers Continue Long Climb In Small Steps

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As much as I hate the New York Knicks, there are some days on which it is simply sobering to look at the point they have reached as far as the condition of the franchise is concerned.  This is one of them.

The Knicks came to an agreement to fill a major need on their team yesterday.  Yet it is a move likely not even close to bring them back to respectability on its own.

As reported by The Sporting News, the Knicks reached terms with free agent point guard Chris Duhon on a two-year deal.  Though the deal hasn't been announced yet, it is expected to cost the Knicks the full mid-level exception and a total of $12 million over two years.  Good times.

It was a move the Knicks likely needed to make, yet it still leaves them so far from where they need to be.

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The Knicks absolutely needed a point guard.  The idea of bringing Stephon Marbury back as the starter could most kindly be described as a last resort, and the team was in dire need of someone who would distribute the ball and not kill the team with a lack of heady play.   In Duhon, they obtained both of those characteristics.

But what they got with the former Duke Blue Devil was a level of play that will likely fall in the decent-to-solid category rather than the  realm of great.  Duhon is generally a safe player.  He is a pass-first point guard who moves the ball capably but not spectacularly and generally does a good job of avoiding silly turnovers.  He plays some defense as well, and he remains generally a low-risk, low-reward player.  For his career, Duhon has averaged nearly 6.5 assists and roughly 2.0 turnovers per 40 minutes, which is a commendable ratio.  He isn't a great facilitator, however, but merely an able one. 

Duhon isn't that much of a threat in the lane, and he isn't expertly adept at picking apart defenses.  Further, not only is he not a big scorer by any means, but he's a fairly inefficient shooter, hitting less than 38 percent from the field for his career and less than 36 percent from deep.  His true shooting for his career is only a shade better than 51 percent, which is nothing to write home about.

Undoubtedly, this signing makes the Knicks better as it gives them a true point guard who isn't an on-court knucklehead and does play both ends of the floor.  That's huge.

But through no fault of Duhon's, it also shows just how far this team has to go.  The guy is a solid player.  But he isn't someone who can make up for the fact that the Knicks' front-court is abominable, that the starting small forward is constantly hurt, that the bench is full of guys who are either out of control or don't have many recognizable basketball skills and that the two-guard is still figuring it all out.  He won't make a group of largely selfish players all that much better offensively, and he certainly isn't likely to have much impact on them on the defensive end.  Few players in this league could even come close to taking care of that.

For most teams in this league, it would seem that one or two acquisitions to fill major needs could make a world of difference.  For this Knicks team, there are so many problems that it looks like all they have done with the sixth pick in the draft and their first free-agent siging is to address the tip of the iceberg.

As a Celts fan, of course, one can't deny that it's certainly possible for a team to make that big trade or two that turns things around in a hurry, but it's tough to see the Knicks being able to do so given current contract situations on that roster.  In the meantime, looking at the Knicks' present situation only makes me more thankful for the way everything has worked out for the green over the last year and aware of how possible it is to screw up just as badly.

Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas truly are the gifts that just keep on giving. 

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