New York Knicks’ Needs Going Into the Offseason
Knicks concerns going into offseason
The New York Knicks managed to have their greatest season in decades as they captured an Atlantic Division title and made it to the second round of the NBA playoffs. Unfortunately with success comes greater expectations, and the Knicks were unable to dispatch the younger, more talented Indiana Pacer team in a six-game grudge match that took basketball back to the 1990’s with its level of physicality. The Knicks made great strides this season. However, in a world that’s so preoccupied with a championship and not the journey towards one, the Knicks' season can only be described as a failure.
Age was always a worry of the oldest team in the league, and it went and died on them in the playoffs when they needed role players to shine. Jason Kidd, who has been playing the old man in pickup games with his savvy making up for his obvious athletic disadvantages, finally couldn’t outsmart his opponents. Marcus Camby isn’t just washed up — you can rinse him out and hang him somewhere in the rafters. The rest of the free agents that the Knicks picked up from the NBA retirement home went right back there before the playoffs could even start.
Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers showed that only a small-ball team with the greatest player living can truly match its size with speed. The Knicks have a multitude of areas to address with limited cap space, so let’s explore options the Knicks have and try to determine how they could best move from playoff threats to actual championship contenders.
There's no question the Knicks were decimated in the paint during the Conference semis. Hibbert and the Pacers not only got the best of the Knicks down low, but also made what was viewed as a major asset in Tyson Chandler look like a major liability.
The Knicks center needs to bring his critiques to the mirror in the offseason and ask himself why he made one of the slowest centers in the league look like young Hakeem. The Knicks definitely could use help in a rotational big man as 6-foot-9 Kenyon Martin was the only body the Knicks could use. Re-signing him to a relatively small contract is a must for this franchise.
Realistically where the Knicks are selecting, there isn’t a player who could come on their roster and contribute right away. Gorgui Dieng figures to be available at that time, but he is so much of a project offensively that he makes Hasheem Thabeet look like Ralph Sampson coming out of Virginia. A wise man always told me that if you go reaching for needs in a draft, the next general manager will be reaching for needs in the next draft.
Although it is an extreme long shot, kicking the tires on an Andrew Bynum for Chandler and Novak deal wouldn’t hurt. Bynum is injury-prone, but possesses great talent when his mind is focused. On second thought, the Knicks don’t need another J.R. Smith type head case they are committed long-term.
The Best case scenario is they bargain basement hunt for capable big men to give them NBA minutes behind Chandler and Amare Stoudemire. This would mean looking at a previous candidate like Earl Barron or Lou Amundson, or seeing what Sam Dalembert might cost in a market that doesn’t view him as a starting NBA center.
The emergence of Iman Shumpert all but solidified his return as a starter and a main cog for the New York Knicks going forward. After that, questions arise about the availability of J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland, both whom made tremendous strides this season, but only one can be kept by the Knicks. My bet is that Knicks keep Smith and let Copeland find a team like the Phoenix Suns, who are always overzealous to overpay tweeners who don’t play defense.
The Knicks also need to get younger and still more athletic at the wing positions. Lance Stephenson and Paul George hosted rebounding clinics during the series that the Knicks combination of wings weren’t privy to attend because of their many two-point guard lineups. Their lack of flare in transition also harken back to the days when Jeremy Lin was running the point and they had the combination of Smith, Shumpert and Landry Fields on the wings.
The Knicks can actually get a player who could help with their wing nightmares. Ricky Ledo out of Providence was graded the same as Ben McLemore coming out of high school. Due to being a partial qualifier, he could not showcase his skills in the Big East last season, but has been wowing scouts out in Chicago.
The Knicks should also look at Glen Rice Jr. out of Georgia Tech by way of the D-league. Rice has an exceptional amount of offensive capabilities and also excels in getting into passing lanes, and would give the Knicks another superior athlete on the wings. His red flags, which include getting kicked out of school because he liked to live a life of excess, could also post a problem for a kid who is not used to the life of the Big Apple.
As a collective, this is the group that failed the Knicks in their time of need. Jason Kidd couldn’t hit a lay-up in the playoffs, solidifying that he will be working more on his hall of fame speech then calling out picks next year. Raymond Felton was great for 10 out of 12 games during the playoffs, but his stinkers were epic. Pablo Prigioni was the Knicks' best defensive option at the point guard position, but unfortunately had to play at the two and was destroyed in the last game on the boards by Lance Stephenson.
The Knicks have to make a decision on Prigioni as soon as possible. Most reports say that he is headed back to his home country of Argentina because his wife is homesick. The Knicks obviously would love to have him back since the defensive guards on the free agent market consist only of New York pariah Toney Douglas.
The Knicks still have to decide how they can go younger and replace Jason Kidd with a guard who can actually run the offense and knock down open jump shots. Obviously with Novak and Camby still on the cap along with Stoudemire chewing up 30 percent of it, their options are constrained.
Point guards fitting the bill that could be acquired would be Jannero Pargo, Will Bynum, Sebastian Telfair, Nolan Smith and Charles Jenkins. Pargo would immediately qualify as another shooter for a team that lead the league in 3-point field goals. Bynum would most certainly add athleticism to a squad that sorely needs it, while Telfair would be more of a floor general than the rest. Smith would immediately give you a guard on the ball that would pressure the opposition.
Jenkins is definitely the wild card of the group. His size and athleticism are intriguing and he played well in his stint at Golden State before the swish brothers actually became healthy. He is a better pure point guard of anyone of the group besides Telfair and is a better scorer then Sebastian. The enigma is that no one knows if he can fully be trusted to run a NBA offense. The Knicks need to take a gamble on a young guard and the way they struck out with the old guard last season, why not take a chance on Jenkins?
Bench and Coaching
The Knicks are tied to veterans Steve Novak and Marcus Camby for the duration of the next two years. They could use a five who could space the floor, allowing more freedom for Amare Stoudemire to work in the post.
The Knicks could also build on Coach Mike Woodson’s standard of improvement from year to year. Woodson did a stellar job with this collection of talent, yet he still has a ways to go to maximize the potential of this roster.
Woodson has to concentrate this offseason in getting better shot opportunities for his best player, Carmelo Anthony. Whether it starts from player movement or Anthony making quicker decisions in isolation, the Knicks star must improve on his shot selection in order to keep a free-flowing offense from being stagnant.
Sorry, Knick fans who have fond memories of the toast, Los Angeles Clippers standout guard Chris Paul is not going to be donning the white orange and blue anytime soon. Smaller trade possibilities could seem likely.
The Knicks could be interested in Darren Collison to address their obvious lack of defense at the point guard position. Collison, who played his way into Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle's dog house all year, could be easily obtained for the right player.
Another smaller move the Knicks could consider is bringing back big man Timofey Mosgov. The Knicks brass was initially enamored with him so much so that they wouldn’t include him in a deal for Carmelo Anthony. If Glen Grunwald can package the right players, you can surely expect a Mosgov return