I predicted that at some point of time, Dwight's departure is going to become a distraction, and we are witnessing it now. Is this team worse than the team past last year's December trades? Hardly, in my view. Anderson is playing way better ... Redick is back to form ... Richardson is playing some defense ... and Duhon is finally getting where he was expected to be. So why is the team struggling? I would say lack of Purpose and Focus.
- On defense this team is not worse than last year's (past trades) team unless we claim that Bass is a better defender than Davis ... Anderson did not learn anything on defense ... etc. But this team does not play consistent defense for longer stretches of the games ... again due to lack of Purpose and Focus.
- Offensively, this team has a potent offense, despite not enjoying a slashing guard, thanks to a 3-point shooting squad. This team's offense is better than last year's (past trades) team - at least on paper - since almost all players have shown improvement at the start of the season, unless one ignores Anderson's leap while claiming that Wafer + Hughes is less than Arenas. The team struggles, however, again due to lack of Purpose and Focus.
Is there any real fix? I outline what I think could be the two primary elements which have to be addressed:
- I don't think that Dwight should be traded, and of course no efforts should be spared to retain him, but I hold that the team should not be kept hostage to his whims neither. Coach Van Gundy has to have the authority to lead the team in a manner an excellent coach like him is capable of. Co-captains could assist in leading the team in ways they are capable of, but there is no way that anybody from inside (i.e., players playing in the game) could see what is going on the same way that someone from outside (i.e., the coach) could.
- Otis Smith has lost any and all creditability to handle the situation, and it is best for the franchise to replace him - even though for the interim - so that a meaningful conversation could be started with Dwight and his agent. The two sides should be able to reach a gentlemen agreement on a road-map for the way forward so that some differences - if not all - would be set aside for the time being, and playing without distractions could start, in earnest.