It was about a year ago at this time when Stephen Curry's public love affair began with the Knicks. It was a fleeting romance, which heightened after his pre-draft workout in New York in June, when Mike D'Antoni left the gym with wide eyes and giddy anticipation.
Then the Warriors snatched him one pick before the Knicks were on the clock. Beyond his first Garden appearance, he is somewhat of a non-story at this point. Even in the Rookie of the Year discussion, Curry, who has had a strong second half, really isn't a legit runner up with a Golden State team at 21-53). In fact, you could argue that Tyreke Evans may not even deserve it with the Kings at 24-52).
Brandon Jennings not only has the Milwaukee Bucks (41-33) as a lock for the playoffs, but he just earned his fourth Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award out of five this season. That's got to count for something.
[Bloghost note: By the way, the ballots were passed out today. We don't have Rookie of the Year, but were designated to vote on MVP, Coach of the Year and Most Improved Player. Can I choose LeBron for all three?]
Obviously landing Curry would have been a major plus for the Knicks, who could have had one more talented young player to promote to free agents this summer. Instead, the pick turned into a player (Jordan Hill) who helped make the Knicks more appealing by helping them acquire more salary cap space.
At least the Knicks also seem to have found a keeper in Toney Douglas, who was purchased with the 29th pick from the Lakers. Douglas said Friday's game against the Warriors didn't have anything extra in it for him because of Curry, who everybody knows was the Knicks target in the draft. What you love about Douglas is his attitude, even with eight games left in this brutal season.
While all-star Deron Williams was making him literally spin in circles on the court in Utah, Douglas went to D'Antoni during a timeout looking overwhelmed and pleading, "What should I do?"
D'Antoni replied, "Go sit right there and watch for a little bit."
When Williams finally went to the bench, assistant coach Dan D'Antoni leaned over to Douglas and teased, "Now would be a good time to get back into the game."
In Wednesday's loss to Portland, Douglas was literally run over by veteran guard Andre Miller on one play.
Douglas says the nightly beatings -- the Knicks trailed by as many as 36 points to the Blazers -- are "embarrassing" and called out his team as much as a rookie can do such a thing when he said that even with nothing left to play for, the team has to give its best effort at both ends of the court.
"We've just got to be committed as a team on the defensive end," Douglas said. "I feel like we're not there yet as a team."
If they aren't Friday against the Warriors, it could get ugly. Both teams play a wide open style and are capable of scoring in bunches, but the Warriors run a heck of a lot more (league-leading 24.3 fast break points per game). The Knicks don't have the athletes to get into an up-tempo game (proven by their 10 fast break points per game, which is 28th in the NBA).
"We've got to get back on defense," Douglas said.
But with that in mind there is also opportunity for the Knicks to score, which they've proven they can do on a given night, because the Warriors (league-high 112.5 points against per game) are even worse defensively than the Knicks (105.1).
"They're one of the best teams in the league getting out and running, but have they been winning games?" Douglas asked.
He then shrugged, "There's not much defense."
Don't expect there to be, either.
* * *
* - After visiting the Nike campus in Beaverton, I have to say I am more impressed with the people at Adidas, who are far less self-important and, quite frankly, have better looking gear.
* - Wilson Chandler says it'll be a 6-for-8 week rehab for his groin injury and that he expects to be back playing basketball in late May. Chandler may have value in a package deal for a star player in a trade or sign-and-trade, but the Knicks know this guy is more than just an asset.
* - Al Harrington sprained his left ankle in the loss to Portland, but said he wants to play Friday against the Warriors. It's his former team and, of course, his former coach, Don Nelson.
* - Tomorrow is Good Friday. Is there a better city to be in on a day you can't eat meat than San Francisco? Fisherman's platter, please.
* - Programming note: We'll host a LIVE CHAT here tomorrow at 11 a.m. (8 a.m. PT). I might have to do it in my PJs.