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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, October 27th (All times eastern)

New York Knicks (0-0) at Toronto Raptors (0-0), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Atlantic Division rivals kick off their respective campaigns tonight when the New York Knicks head north of the border to face the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

The Summer of LeBron has quickly morphed into the Fall of Carmelo for the once proud New York franchise.

The Knicks spent two years gutting their roster and mortgaging their future on the idea LeBron James was coming to the Big Apple this offseason. Heck, the franchise actually went to "The King" after an initial meeting this offseason to make sure it was OK with him if they offered a monster deal to his potential sidekick in Gotham, Amare Stoudemire.

Yep, New York wanted the blessing of a player who wasn't even part of its organization and now likely never will be.

So what now?

Well the club made some moves, inking the aforementioned Stoudemire to a massive deal and also bringing in a point guard in Raymond Felton who's a much better fit for Mike D'Antoni's seven-seconds-or-less offense.

But, instead of going back to the drawing board and developing a real substantive plan for a long-term fix, the Knicks' brass has simply moved on and set its sights on the next "Hail Mary," Denver All-Star and Brooklyn native Carmelo Anthony.

In the Knicks' defense Carmelo to New York has a better chance of being the NBA's Flutie to Phelan, and not some run of the mill heave at the end of a meaningless NFL regular season game.

Anthony loves The Big Apple and has reportedly had conversations with Knicks superfan Spike Lee, who in turn has let the organization know that the overtures are real this time.

Of course you need two to tango and Denver is not thrilled with any of the assets the Knicks possess for a possible trade, meaning the team would have to bring a third and possibly fourth club into any potential deal.

New York also has to deal with its rival across the Hudson River, the Nets. New Jersey is a much better match for the Nuggets in any possible deal and Anthony may be amendable to playing with the team since they are scheduled to move to Brooklyn in a few years.

Right now the Nuggets are content to start the regular season with 'Melo on their roster and the process of trading him will likely take some time.

For now Stoudemire and Felton are the cornerstones of the rebuilding plan in New York.

Amare and his $100 million dollar deal is clearly the "sizzle" but Felton may be the "steak" in the team's offseason moves.

D'Antoni's offense never took off in New York with the serviceable but less than dynamic Chris Duhon as the point guard. Felton, who signed a two-year, $14.6 million dollar deal, brings far more athleticism to the spot and may be able to push the Knicks' offense up a notch.

"I think any team, wherever you go, the point guard is critical," D'Antoni told NBA.com "It doesn't matter. If you've got a really good point guard, you're going to be pretty good. And the coach is going to look pretty good. If you don't, then you're going to struggle some nights."

Felton will start in the backcourt with either Toney Douglas or rookie Landry Fields while Stoudemire will join floor-stretching Danilo Gallinari and rookie Russian center Timofey Mozgov. Meanwhile, the versatile Wilson Chandler is expected to be the Knicks' sixth man.

Last year, a late-season swoon kept the Raptors out of the postseason.

Things figure to be much tougher this time around without star forwards Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu.

Toronto fell from a playoff position at the All-Star break into ninth place in the Eastern Conference at the end of the year, while Bosh struggled with a pair of injuries.

The facts say Bosh, who signed with Miami in the offseason, averaged nearly 22 points and nine rebounds in 36 minutes per game during the month of March. In just two healthy games in April, he rung up a 28-point, 12-rebound game and a monster 42-point, 13-rebound effort. Colangelo, however, feels Bosh took an inordinate amount of time recovering from an ankle injury that only should have necessitated a few days off.

Either way, with Bosh in South Beach and Turkoglu sent to Phoenix for the Brazilian blur Leandro Barbosa Colangelo, along with his head coach, Jay Triano, must go about rebuilding the franchise around talented center Andrea Bargnani, athletic swingman DeMar DeRozan and a host of solid role players like Linas Kleiza, Barbosa and Jarrett Jack.

Toronto swept the four-game season series between the two clubs a year ago.

10/27 11:03:20 ET

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