Stephon Marbury of the Knicks and Jason Kidd of the Nets are the only NBA players to average at least eight assists per game in each of the last four seasons.
Record: 33-49 (T11 in East) Points scored: 97.3 (14th in NBA) Points allowed: 99.7 (18th) Coach: Larry Brown (first season with the Knicks)
Despite recent bad reviews, a new coach and center bring star power
Ironic, isn't it, that the principal actors in the NBA's two biggest off-season dramas wind up with the team that plays just blocks from Broadway? In 65-year-old Larry Brown, who made yet another untimely and excruciating exit in July (this time from the Pistons), Knicks president Isiah Thomas at least knew what he was getting: a brilliant defensive coach who gets the most out of his players before skipping town. In 22-year-old Eddy Curry, who may have a serious heart condition, who knows for sure what Thomas got?
Last season Curry was having the best year of his four with the Bulls, averaging 16.1 points, when an irregular heartbeat sidelined him for the last 13 games. Tests this summer to determine the cause of the arrhythmia were inconclusive; Curry, a restricted free agent, then refused Chicago's demand for DNA testing that could show if he was susceptible to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal condition. When neither side would back down, the Bulls sent Curry to New York in a sign-and-trade (six years, $56 million). The Knicks had Curry examined -- but did not do a DNA test -- and believe Curry is healthy. "It didn't come down to a lot of soul-searching, because we're not dealing with an unhealthy player," says Thomas of acquiring Curry. "Eddy is going to be playing in the NBA for a long time."
If Curry stays healthy and builds on his breakout 2004-05 season, he will be a huge upgrade for a team that has had a void at center since the departure of Patrick Ewing in 2000. Eight players attempted -- and failed -- to fill that hole, but none of them had the blend of size and skill possessed by the 6'11", 285-pound Curry.--Chris Mannix