You know what would be a great Finals this year for everyone to enjoy? New York vs. LA. Knicks vs. the Clippers.
As wild and far-fetched as that idea may be, it's not too early to think that the Knicks can come out of the Eastern Conference. This team is on a mission and when you factor in a performance last night without their best player on the heels of a difficult back-to-back, I think it's okay to start considering the Knicks among the league's title contenders.
Before the season started Mike Woodson talked about this team being the 2004 Pistons and I couldn't picture it. I still don't, other than the fact that they were a veteran group that stuck together. This team reminds you of the Mavericks from 2011. That team was 8th in total offense and 8th in total defense. The Knicks right now are 1st in offensive rating and 12th in defense, and they aren't just beating teams they are dominating them. We can talk about Stoudemire's return because these are the Knicks and we have to worry about something but here's the truth, Stoudemire can only really HURT what they are doing now... and that's fine as long as they win. If he comes back and he's a distraction the bottom line is they have to move on without him. This team is focused and rolling and most importantly winning.
And I say it on twitter all the time but you can't quantify Jason Kidd's intangibles. The guy is just an incredible all around basketball player and leader. Part of my daily reading is the Harvard Business School book on negotiations and they talk about BATNA or the best alternative to negotiating an agreement. The Knicks were faced with trying to work out a deal for Steve Nash this summer, one that would have included trading Iman Shumpert. They felt Kidd was their best alternative and when Nash decided on the Lakers the Knicks had to move in and secure a deal with Kidd. Think about that, Kidd spurned other offers including one with the Nets and his golf buddy Deron Williams to sign a deal with the Knicks. That would be like the Jets letting Joe Namath sign with the Giants or the Mets letting Tom Seaver wear pinstripes.
Sometimes in sports and management you need some luck. You also need to spend and Glen Grunwald certainly spent and lucked out with Kidd. In sports you try to think day-to-day and that's what the Knicks figured with Kidd. Worry about next year and the year after then, for now it's time to try and contend for a title. Thanks to several factors the Knicks are 14-4 and they are not winning because of luck, they are winning because they had a plan, a singular focus and a player in his absolute prime.
And they were prepared to acquire their best alternative.