December 15, 2005 -- FASTER than you can say Frederic Weis, the Knicks need to do everything in their power to trade for Ron Artest, especially after another despicable defensive effort last night at the Garden.
When I asked Stephon Marbury if he could see any light at the end of the tunnel after the Knicks' 105-90 loss to the Magic, he answered, "Right now as far as the way we're playing, we're going backwards, we're not going forward," Stephon Marbury said after the Knicks' 105-90 loss to the Magic.
Is there any light at the end of the tunnel?
"If we continue to play the way we're playing, the light is going to be further away than this," Marbury said.
The light may get closer, the light of the oncoming train.
Artest can be a team's worst nightmare, but it can't be any worse than the nightmare the Knicks — and their fans — are living. Orlando shot the Knicks into 3-point oblivion, banging in 11 treys, six in the fourth quarter, as the Knick defense never rotated to the shooter.
Afterwards, in the shower, Nate Robinson and Malik Rose could be heard shouting at one another. This is one tense team.
Marbury wound up sitting the last eight minutes of the game as Larry Brown pulled him with the Knicks down 14.
With such a grim outlook, it makes Artest a gamble worth taking. He has always wanted to play for the Knicks. He needs to play in New York again. He needs to come home. The Knicks need Artest's defense, his passion, his ability to fire up the Garden crowd, a crowd that now boos early and leaves early.
The only thing they don't need to do is trade Channing Frye for Artest. Frye is The Keeper on the Knicks roster. Artest is a star who has flamed out in so many ways, the most notable being last year's 73-game suspension after the disgusting brawl in Detroit.
Isiah Thomas said he finally put a call into the Pacers yesterday. He needs to keep calling — and calling. Brown is a coach who thinks he can save every player until reality hits him in the face, that is a strength and a weakness. It's clear Marbury and Brown are not making progress together. After the loss to the Bucks on Monday, Brown said the Knicks didn't have anybody "with a head," orchestrating the flow.
Noted Thomas before the game of his troubled point guard, "He was in a rut, he came out of it, and then went in another rut. I'm at practice every day and every single player in that locker room is doing whatever he can to try to please the coach."
As for Artest, he's let his basketball world spiral out of control, but there is another side to him, too. He has not forgotten his roots. Every September Artest is in New York to help with the Wheelchair Classic, following the lead of Mark Jackson. The former St. John's star gives hugs and encouragement to players. He is there to show he cares.
Artest makes $6.8 million, so a financial match can be found for such a trade, if Indiana wants to trade him to an Eastern Conference team.
"I thought at the beginning of this year with the team they had, they had a chance to win it all," Brown said of the Pacers. "I hope he gets some sense and realizes he has a great opportunity there. Maybe he is just going through a bad period."
Artest is averaging 37.7 minutes, 19.4 points and is taking 15 shots per game. He is shooting 46 percent from the field. He gets to the line because he goes hard to the hoop and he leads the league in steals with 2.63 per game.
All that makes the gamble worth taking. Artest is only 26. The Pacers don't want any part of Artest, who has been placed on the inactive list. Once again he finds himself alone in the NBA. He has millions of dollars. He has incredible God-given talent, but he cannot find happiness.
The Knicks need him. They need to make this trade.