HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If veterans and the experience they bring is truly the key to championship basketball in the NBA, someone in New York needs to start mapping out a parade route.
Of course, we all know it’s not that simple.
But there is no denying the fact that the New York Knicks have cornered the market on seasoned veterans’ help this season. While other teams around the NBA are hitting the court for training camp with rosters filled with young stars, the Knicks have done the exact opposite, piling a crew of relative silver foxes into their locker room for Mike Woodson‘s first full season as coach.
TNT’s Charles Barkley is going to have a field day with his Father Time jokes this season, what with the crew of 30-somethings — Pablo Prigioni (35), Marcus Camby (38), Jason Kidd (39) and Kurt Thomas (40 this week) and potentially Rasheed Wallace (38), who is expected to sign this week — on the Knicks’ roster.
And they’re not just the oldest team in the league this season, they could end up being the oldest team in NBA history, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s Chris Herring:
General manager Glen Grunwald said the transactions undoubtedly improved the team. “We don’t think we got older. We feel we got more experienced and better,” he said, adding that these are “some hungry veterans that know how to win and are still very good players.” He cited Kidd and Wallace winning titles elsewhere, and Camby having previously won the defensive-player-of-the-year award.
“We can play,” Camby said, bristling at the notion that he and other players might need days off during the season to stay fresh. “Otherwise the organization wouldn’t have brought us in here.”
Still, it is fair to question whether the signings will help the Knicks close the gap between them and faster-paced teams like the defending champion Miami Heat. Kidd and Thomas in particular are coming off of the least productive seasons of their careers, and Grunwald acknowledged he wasn’t sure how Wallace would respond after having taken two seasons off.
The 2012 Knicks will be almost five years older than they were last year, when the average player was 27 years and 300 days old.
Assuming Wallace signs, their top 13 players would be, on average, 32 years and 240 days old—the oldest team in NBA history, according to Stats LLC. No team has ever gotten so much older from one season to the next.
Coincidentally, the 1997-98 Knicks, who got to the conference semifinals, were the NBA’s oldest group before this year’s team. Jeff Van Gundy, who coached the 1997 club, said he didn’t see the long-in-the-tooth 2012 Knicks as troubling.
“They’re not counting on their oldest players to be their best ones,” the ESPN analyst said. “Plus, Kidd and these other guys love the game. That love won’t negate Father Time, because Father Time is undefeated. But it might stave off a year or two.”
If the Knicks pull this off and ride this old(er) wave of stars deep into the playoffs, this could very well start a revolution in a league notorious for copycat behavior.
Before you know it rosters around the league will be populated by guys who were born in the 1970s … or not!