HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — It feels like Metta World Peace, a Queens native, was just meant to play for the New York Knicks. He’ll do just that after agreeing to a two-year deal with New York, on Monday, a move first reported by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. World Peace’s arena football career will apparently have to wait.
MWP and J.R. Smith in the same locker room has the potential for fireworks, but if he can keep his personality in check, the enigma formerly known as Ron Artest gives the Knicks something they need on the floor: a strong defender who can spell Carmelo Anthony and allow the league’s leading scorer to play minutes at power forward, where he’s most potent.
The defense is more important. The Knicks had the third best offense in the league last season, but only three teams — Philadelphia, New Orleans and Chicago — regressed more defensively. New York ranked 17th on that end of the floor after ranking fifth in the 2011-12 season. But the Knicks could now have a strong defensive unit with Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, World Peace, Anthony and Tyson Chandler on the floor.
Potential New York rotation
PG: Felton, ?
SG: Prigioni, Smith, Hardaway
SF: Shumpert, World Peace
PF: Anthony, Bargnani
C: Chandler, Stoudemire
If Anthony is now back to being more of a four than a three though, New York has two back-up bigs – Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire – who will make more than $32 million next season and really hurt the team defensively. If Mike Woodson dares to play the two together, his goatee will be gray by December.
New York also needs to find a third point guard to give Woodson the option of playing Prigioni at the two, a key to the team’s success at the end of last season. Furthermore, World Peace – whose effective field goal percentage (47.0 percent) and true shooting percentage (49.7 percent) over the last three seasons are both well below the league average – adds to the Knicks’ list of one-way players.
If they’re going to truly contend in the improved Eastern Conference next season, New York will need Chandler to play more like he did in ’11-12 than he did in ’12-13. He clearly regressed last season, failing to make the defensive impact that he made when he was voted Defensive Player of the Year.
There are still some questions to be answered, but New York is certainly a better defensive team now than they were 24 hours ago. And they’re certainly a lot more interesting.