Marc Stein has a surprisingly upbeat take on the New York Knicks:

The growing consensus seems to be that Thomas can indeed coax a playoff-contending 40 wins out of these misfits by playing a lot of guards and going up-tempo. That's still the way I'm betting, too, figuring that Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis are so desperate to spruce up their reputations that they'll find a way to coexist. For 82 games, anyway.

Let me first note that if Stein really thinks this, he should have given the Knicks a much higher offseason rating. He has them ranked as the number ten offseason performer in the Eastern Conference but is also predicting a dramatic improvement in performance -- they only won 23 games last year and nothing about a strategy of playing a lot of guards and going up-tempo sounds like it will do much to improve a team whose problems relate to making tons of turnovers and playing poor defense. What's more, two of New York's Eastern Conference cellar-mates -- Toronto and Charlotte -- took actual steps toward improving through such gambits as not trading away their lottery picks. Meanwhile, Stein fails to note that the Knicks made the fairly insane offseason non-move of suddenly deciding to get stingy and not resign Jackie Butler who could have been kept for a very reasonable price by Dolan standards.