Charles Barkley never passes on a chance to criticize the Knicks.

Earlier this season, he told ESPN Radio that the Knicks are "not very good" and "not even close" to contending. They were 6-4 at the time. Since then, they had gone 2-11 to fall to 8-15 entering last night's game against the Nets.

At halftime of the Knicks' loss to the Bulls on Thursday night, TNT analyst Barkley offered this: "They need a point guard because if they don't play faster, they've got no chance."

Point guard is the Knicks' weakness. They need someone to take control of the offense, run pick-and-rolls with Amar'e Stoudemire and make sure there aren't too many Carmelo Anthony isolation plays.

Iman Shumpert is a rookie, and coach Mike D'Antoni continues to say he's best suited to play shooting guard.

Toney Douglas? Never mind setting up teammates; Douglas is having enough trouble taking care of the ball and hitting shots.

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Mike Bibby, 33, cannot play enough consistent minutes to be the answer.

The Knicks believe Baron Davis, 32, can fill that role when he returns from a herniated disc in his back. But it's difficult to know how consistent he will be or how he will hold up during this season's grueling schedule.

The Knicks took a risk releasing Chauncey Billups to make room for Tyson Chandler, the defensive-minded big man they were lacking last season. Chandler has made an impact defensively and with his rebounding, but they have been unable to fill the void at point guard.

The recent losing puts more pressure on Davis when he returns, and more heat on D'Antoni to find an answer.


Stoudemire needs help for All Star bid


Amar'e Stoudemire needs the coaches' help if he's going to play in the Feb. 26 All-Star Game in his hometown of Orlando.

Stoudemire said he's "not concerned about" the Knicks' record affecting his chances. But it could. Plus he hasn't played at the level he did in previous years. The reserves will be announced Thursday.

Driven to make the team last season, Stoudemire is torn this time around.

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"Any time you get time off, it would be great," he said. "All-Star Weekend in Florida is always fun. Back in my hometown, my family and friends are already calling. But at this moment, my focus is more so on trying to get us back on the right track and get us in the playoff hunt."


The should-have-been All Stars


The fans voted Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to start for the East All-Stars and Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant for the West.

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Here are the 12 All-Stars from each conference as we see it:


Rose, Wade, Howard, James, Anthony, Chris Bosh, Joakim Noah, Joe Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Danny Granger and Deron Williams.


Josh Smith, Roy Hibbert, Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, Brandon Jennings, Amar'e Stoudemire.


Bryant, Paul, Bynum, Griffin, Durant, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, Danilo Gallinari, Tony Parker, Steve Nash.


Paul Millsap, Pau Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Tim Duncan.


Might need three-team deal to land Howard


For the Nets to land Dwight Howard in a trade, it might take a three-team deal, as Brook Lopez, the main piece from New Jersey, remains out after foot surgery.

But if the Nets don't acquire Howard by the March 15 deadline, they might have to make a decision regarding Deron Williams' future.

There are no guarantees that Howard will sign with the Nets as a free agent in July, and thus no assurances Williams will stay.

Don't sleep on Dallas in the Dwight-Deron sweepstakes this summer. Williams grew up there. And the defending champion Mavericks cleared money -- letting Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson walk -- to make runs at Howard and Williams.

A lot can change in six weeks, but the Nets might have to at least consider moving Williams for a star-quality veteran who has some years on his deal or some good young talent.

It might be worse for the Nets than Orlando if they allowed the face of the franchise to leave without getting something back. The Nets will be in Brooklyn next season, and star power and a strong team will be needed to make the impact they want in New York.

Trading Williams is a last resort, but it has to be considered if things don't go the way the Nets hope in the next six weeks.