Al Iannazzone joined Newsday in January 2012 as the Knicks’ beat writer, after covering the NBA for 11
It's been 2 1/2 years since Chris Paul made the toast at Carmelo Anthony's wedding that got every Knicks fan excited. Paul said he, Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire would "form our own Big Three" in New York.
Paul will be at the Garden Sunday with the Clippers, but teaming with Anthony and Stoudemire to challenge the Heat's Big Three is highly unlikely now.
Paul will be a free agent this offseason, but unless the Knicks can make some salary-cutting moves, they won't be able to acquire Paul in a sign-and-trade. The Knicks are more than $4 million over the tax apron next season, and teams in that position can't execute sign-and-trades.
To get under, they probably would have to deal Stoudemire for next to nothing, which would be next to impossible, and if they did, there goes Paul's version of the Big Three. Although a Paul, Anthony and Tyson Chandler Big Three would be pretty good, too.
Bottom line is it will be extremely difficult, and it's possible that it will be a moot point anyway if Paul re-signs with the Clippers.
They've built a talented team that could compete with the Thunder in the Western Conference if they stay healthy and retain Paul. Owner Donald Sterling has to be willing to sign off on a max deal and Paul has to want to continue playing with Blake Griffin and in Los Angeles. There are worse things.
But the Knicks need help on the perimeter and could try to address their backcourt by the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
Raymond Felton is playing well offensively and getting his teammates shots, but the Knicks don't have a true shooting guard.
Defensively, the Knicks' backcourt has been lacking all season. They're not quick-footed with Felton, 39-year-old Jason Kidd, 35-year-old Pablo Prigioni and Ronnie Brewer back there. Iman Shumpert is an impact defender, but he's not all the way back from ACL surgery. When he gets there, that should help the Knicks.
It's only going to get tougher in the playoffs. The Knicks could face Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and -- if by chance they reach the NBA Finals -- Russell Westbrook.
But the Knicks will need better guard play to have any shot of getting there.
What a difference a year, a change in philosophies and a roster overhaul makes.
A year ago this past week, Jeremy Lin started to become an international phenomenon and turned the Knicks' season around. Some players said Linsanity was fun, but they're having a better time being on a legit contender this season.
"It was an exciting moment, but we didn't have the type of cast that we have now," Tyson Chandler said. "That was just like a period in time. This team has the chance to do something special, has the chance to do something that hasn't been done in a long time."
Carmelo Anthony also put the Lin run in perspective.
"I don't think we will see that again for a long time, how much that took off," Anthony said. "The way we're playing as a team, what we've been doing for the whole season so far, we're doing a great job. Playing offense, playing defense, but the most important thing is that we trust one another, we believe in one another. We hold each other to high standards."
The buzz is that Kevin Garnett won't waive his no-trade clause unless A) Boston deals Paul Pierce and B) Garnett is moved to Los Angeles. Doc Rivers already dismissed reports that the Celtics and Clippers talked about Garnett. But as the trade deadline nears, conversations will heat up everywhere.
Rasheed Wallace spent one season with Garnett, Pierce and the Celtics and said the trade talk is nothing new.
"It's been like that every year, even the year I played," Wallace said. "That's all it is pretty much to me -- just talk. I don't think they're going to trade any of those guys because they're big, intricate pieces to their team."
Not too cool for old school
Warriors coach Mark Jackson didn't want to be on the ugly end of an NBA record Tuesday. The former St. John's and Knicks point guard instructed his players to foul before the Rockets could connect on their 24th three-pointer.
You can't blame Jackson, especially after Houston rubbed it in a little during the blowout win.
"We're not going to lie down,'' Jackson said. "I was an old-school basketball player. I'm an old-school coach. If you can't appreciate that, that's on you.''
Rookie forward Draymond Green was thrown out for committing a Flagrant 2 after Jackson gave the order. Afterward, Chandler Parsons chided Jackson on Twitter, saying "Hand Down, Man Down" -- one of Jackson's catchphrases as a broadcaster. It should make for an interesting rematch Tuesday night in Oakland.