by Marcel Mutoni

Can you believe that the regular season is only four days away? That’s right, only four days away from the League’s 61st year. Before that jumps off, some of the best hoop writers from around the web would like to say a thing or two about their respective teams, and we’re more than happy to give them the floor.

Today, SLAM’s very own Sam Rubenstein helps us preview the New York Knicks.

SLAM: They can’t be any worse than they were last season, right?

SR: Well, they were really really bad last year. On the court they were the worst of the 30 teams for weeks at a time. They had an X’s and O’s coach, yet I watched them lose a game when they couldn’t even inbound the ball to run a final play. The coach mysteriously benched his two rooks, Channing Frye and David Lee, that were on the short list of players on the team that gave you the impression that they actually cared about the games. A third rookie, Nate Robinson, was fun to watch but was possibly the least disciplined player in the league. They made a few panic trades that made the team worse and became a parody of themselves. The GM got sued for sexual harrasment and everyone in the media had lots of fun writing vicious, biting opinion columns about how bad they were. Many of those columns were factually accurate. The Knicks were the laughing stock of the league. Not only were they one of the very worst teams in the NBA, but they had no lottery pick to show for their trouble. The Bulls got their pick and ended up with their pick of LaMarcus Aldridge whom they flipped for Tyrus Thomas. Oh, they also had the highest payroll. So, no it can’t be worse. Since there’s nowhere to go but up, that’s where it’s going.

Do you know anyone who’s actually worn Stephon’s shoes? Will he be able to survive the season in them?

No, I do not. People are stupid and they are willing to spend their money on the ridiculous mark-ups that go into selling Nikes and all the established name brands. If people took a minute and thought to themselves, wait I’m paying $70 or more for a pair of shoes? there would be rioting in the streets. Wait a second… those sneaker price mark-ups probably trickle down and pay mine and everyone else in the basketball industries salaries. HEY! Don’t let yourself be seen in a $15 shoe. That’s embarrasing. Girls will laugh at you. You gotta spend that money! Stay fly-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y. Will Steph be able to survive the season in them? Sure. He played on the unforgiving Coney Island blacktop for years as a kid. His ankles have been toughened by that surface. NBA hardwood is like playing on cotton candy compared to the condition of the courts out there. If he does get hurt, then there’s a Starbury offcourt shoe he can slip into that will complement his tailored Joseph Abboud suit. In fact, it might be a good marketing move for him to sit a few games out to put those Starbury dress shoes on display.

Why do I get the feeling that we’re going to have more Isiah Thomas in our lives and not less?

Because he’s got a great smile, and he knows how to network or con people into trusting him. He’s got to have some serious dirt on James Dolan. There’s got to be something behind the scenes we don’t know about. I welcome all conspiracy theories. The fact that he did such a bad job last year and went through a power struggle, then had a sexual harrasment suit on top of that, then couldn’t get along with the coach he hired so the organziation had to take a to be determined $40 million or so hit, and he was actually rewarded for this by becoming the head coach, clearly proves that the guy is bulletproof. I kind of admire Isiah’s resiliency. Not to get all literary here, but there’s a well-known book called “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. The premise is that an artist paints a painting of this pretty boy socialite type named Dorian Gray, who has an innocent face and smile much like Isiah Thomas. In time, as Dorian commits various scandalous acts, his appearance never changes, no wrinkled forehead or snarling mouth or any tell-tale signs that you can read from a man’s face and know that he is pure evil. So people just assume he’s a nice, innocent guy. However, with each lew act, the painting starts accumulating all the markings of someone that has been doing terrible things in their life. Let’s just say that there might be a painting hidden in Isiah’s closet that’s not so pretty.

At this point, is it still possible to tell a good and original Knicks joke?

No, not original. Every anaology has been used up. The Kincks are the Titanic. The Knicks are Enron. The Knicks are a dog that eats premium food and takes a dump on your rug. The Knicks themselves are the joke. Just reading the players names and salaries is funny enough. I actually pity them.

Alright, enough foreplay, how will the Knicks fare this season?

They’ll be one of the more improved teams in the league and could be as high as the 5th or 6th seed in the East. Yeah I said it! And I started writing this before Spike Lee went on national TV on Monday Night Football and said the same thing. Part of that is because they were so so so so bad last year. They had the wrong kind of coach with the wrong kind of players last year. A teacher? The students didn’t want to listen. Isiah brings the arrogant swagger that this particular crop of players will respond to. Isiah has been hated on and challenged his whole life as have many of these players. Unlike Larry Brown, Isiah doesn’t cling to a mantra like “play the right way.” No, Isiah says things like “I’d sell my mother to win.” Ironically, Isiah is pulling a Larry Brown. You see, back when Larry Brown still had a reputation that was worth a damn, what he would do was pick and choose coaching jobs based on the most pathetic situation he could find. That way, Larry would look like the savior once he took a team from bottom of the league to say, a decent playoff team, the exception being Detroit, where he took Rick Carlisle’s team to the Finals twice only to leave because he wanted to taint his legacy and get that money money. Isiah watched the Knicks bottom out under Larry, and now he gets to be the savior. Larry was probably gunning for Isiah’s GM job all year, but he lost the power struggle. Deep down you know he’s got to be mad and probably a little impressed that Isiah beat him at his own game. Now that the Knicks won’t be a team that’s caught in the crosshairs of a power struggle, they will have a coach that actually wants to help the team win and won’t tinker with the lineup to a non-sensical degree. Plus they got Balkman. The Knicks are going back to the playoffs, Isiah will be a coach of the year candidate, and the team will never advance beyond the second round at best until the year 2012.