5 Tough Decisions the New York Knicks Must Make This Offseason
5 Tough Decisions the New York Knicks Must Make This Offseason
If you ask any reasonable NBA analyst, the New York Knicks had a successful 2012-13 season. They continued to build on recent success and managed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time this millennium. Mike Woodson further reinforced his reputation as a tough, defensive-minded, no-nonsense head coach, and his players continued to respond. They also posted their first 50-win season since 1999. Still, if you ask any Knicks fan, this past season was an unforgivable, epic disaster.
The Knicks have always had a problem with failing to live up to expectations. Granted, that's only because expectations for the team are always sky-high, which makes little sense given the team's lack of a winning pedigree. The Knicks haven't won a championship in four decades, yet year-in and year-out, fans expect and demand nothing less. Fans of any other organization with as little winning history as New York would have been ecstatic to see their team win 54 games and ultimately lose the conference semi-finals in six games to the Indiana Pacers. But unfortunately for the Knicks, it seems as though the bar will never effectively be lowered.
The following list presumes that the Knicks' aspirations will remain the same and that nothing less than a championship will be considered a success. If the goal for the team is to win a title, then there are a number of tough decisions to be made. For that matter, if the team even hopes to repeat the relative success of last season, then some changes are necessary. Following the retirement of Jason Kidd and the continually declining health of Amar'e Stoudemire, there are holes in the roster that need filling in both the front and back court.
Here is a list of 5 tough decisions the New York Knicks must make this offseason.
What to do With Amare Stoudemire
Amar'e Stoudemire is clearly on the decline. This mostly pertains to his athletic ability, but as the majority of his game is based around that athleticism, his overall effectiveness as a player is on a down-slide. When he was healthy last season, he proved to be a valuable role player. Unfortunately for the Knicks, valuable role players are not worth $100 million. Stoudemire's contract is befitting of 2008 Amar'e, the athletic freak who posterized everyone and anyone who dared to get in his way. It is hardly befitting of 2012 Amar'e, who was repeatedly blocked by the likes of Luke Babbitt and Tiago Splitter. Some fans may be screaming for the Knicks to trade Amar'e, but for one thing, it would be next to impossible to find a team interested in taking on his whale of a contract. For another, despite his recent struggles, Amar'e deserves better than that. Stoudemire was the first star to come to NY in the wake of LeBron James' infamous 'decision' and finally brought the team back to relevance. Not only that, he has been working tirelessly to improve his low-post game to compensate for his lack of explosiveness. He showed off some great moves in his time on the floor last season, and with reports that he will continue to work with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer, the best move for the Knicks is to keep him around and make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
Whether or Not to Re-Sign J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith has decided to test free agency. This is bad news for the Knicks, at least as far as the hopes of re-signing Smith are concerned. Smith had his best NBA season to date last year and showed flashes of truly spectacular, All-Star worthy play. His invaluable contribution to the Knicks' stellar season earned him sixth-man of the year honors, and he even said that he would like to retire a Knick. However, the Knicks are already over the salary cap, and the cost of re-signing Smith may outweigh the benefits in more ways than one. J.R. practically disappeared in the playoffs this year when the Knicks needed him most. He was spotted clubbing in the midst of a vital series and shot less than 30% from the field throughout the postseason. Meanwhile, Iman Shumpert was coming into his own as an offensive player and in his second year is already a better defender than Smith has ever been. If I were the Knicks, I would let J.R. walk. Fans might hate the decision, but it would ultimately benefit the team in the long run. There are a lot of things the Knicks need to be true contenders, but another high-volume scorer is not one of them.
How to Fix the Front-Court
The Knicks' front-court was devastated by injuries last season. That makes sense, given that most of its players were well over 30 years old. Marcus Camby, who is inexplicably signed on for two more seasons, has very few useful minutes left in the tank. The same is doubly true for Kurt Thomas. Rasheed Wallace played a vital role for the Knicks early on, but his season was also cut short by injury and he appears headed towards a second retirement. Assuming Amar'e makes yet another comeback, that still leaves only him, Tyson Chandler, and Kenyon Martin to shoulder the load up front. The Knicks must address this issue as soon as possible, especially since their first pick of the 2013 NBA draft was a guard.
Who to Bring In to Help Melo
If last season proved anything, it's that Carmelo Anthony cannot do it alone. New York will need at least one more All-star to be able to compete with Miami, or even Indiana. It's clear that the NBA has entered the 'Big 3' era, and between the oft-injured Amar'e and the limited offensive game of Tyson Chandler, the Knicks maybe have a 'Big 2'. The Knicks should look to bring in another (preferably younger) star to complement the shoot-first mentality of Melo.
Whether or Not to Trade Carmelo Anthony
Call me a hater, but I still firmly believe that Carmelo Anthony will retire without a single championship. He certainly didn't do anything to prove otherwise this last postseason. His play throughout the regular season was nothing short of spectacular, but once again he failed to make much of an impact on the stage that really matters. After all, how many offensive-minded, high volume scorers can you name who won a title as the focal point of their team? And don't say Kobe, because even the Black Mamba has historically been far more committed on the defensive end than Carmelo. To get past the Heat, a team must be built in the mold of the Indiana Pacers or the San Antonio Spurs - a defense-oriented club that values team play above all else and can overcome Miami with their size and rebounding. A small lineup featuring Anthony at power forward will simply never get it done. Of course the Knicks won't trade Melo, especially after trading half their team away to get him, but if they ever hope to win a championship, Carmelo Anthony can no longer be the centerpiece of the team.