April 25, 2011

Where do the Knicks go from here?

When Amare Stoudemire signed with New York this offseason, he claimed the Knicks were back. At the end of the season, it turned out he was right. New York was back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

But the season ended much the same as it has the past few years, and as it has for the majority of Knicks history: in disappointment. And just like 2004, it ended in a playoff sweep.

At the end of their 101-89 defeat to Boston, the few stragglers left in Madison Square Garden gave the Knickerbockers a standing ovation. For those few stragglers, I have a simple question. Why?

I'll give the Knicks a little credit. They took Boston, a much better team, to the wire in the first two games of the series. They came back from 23 down in game 4 to pull within 4 points. And they did this all without Chauncey Billups and with a banged up Amare Stoudemire.

But the cute stories end there. New York STILL hasn't won a playoff GAME since 2001. Sure they finally made it back to the big dance, but making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference is easier than Paris Hilton. And after those two heart-breakers in Beantown, they were blown out in their own house TWICE. Game 3 was a disaster, and the 23 point hole in game 4 was worse. And a sweep is never a good thing, especially a regular season/post-season sweep at the hands of arch-enemy Boston.

All is done. The season is over. So where do the Knicks go from here?

This is a tough question to answer, especially due to the lockout. But I find it hard to see the Knicks improving much over the off-season.

New York has two phenomenal scorers in Carmelo and Amare, and a solid (though aging)point in Chauncey Billups. After that? They've got jack diddly crap. Any team that puts a guy like Jared Jeffries in their rotation is either:

A. Batshit insane
B. On drugs
C. Has no depth whatsoever.

We'll go with answer C. When the Knicks shipped off Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and even Timofey Mozgov to Denver, they gave away a ton of solid role players in exchange for one superstar (Anthony) and a solid veteran point guard.

Hindsight is obviously 20/20. But when I saw how well Denver closed out the year after bringing in those ex-Knicks, and then saw the New York bench struggle without Chauncey and Amare, it made me wonder if this trade was really necessary. Think about it. Carmelo didn't want to go anywhere but New York. He likely wouldn't have signed an extension with New Jersey had they made the trade. Sure it may have been a risk to stand pat and wait, but all signs pointed to New York being able to sign him this offseason if he had opted out of his contract (which he would have).

But with the would've/could've argument well in the past, the Knicks have to figure out to make due with what they have.

So what do they have? For starters, they have $36,737,705 locked into two Amare and Melo next year. They have a team option on Chauncey Billups for $14,000,240, and a player option for Ronny Turiaf for $4,360,000. That's a lot of money for 4 guys: $55,097945 to be exact. The 2010-11 salary cap (a soft one) was $58,044,000 million for the past year. And if you toss in the contracts of Reynaldo Balkman, Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Andy Rautins, and a player option for Bill Walker, you have a team with a total salary that is a bit above that cap number.

You've also got 5 unrestricted free agents (Antony Carter, Jarred Jeffries, Roger Mason, Shawne Williams, and Shelden Williams) and 1 restricted (Derrick Brown). Bottom line, if New York brings all their guys back, they aren't going to have a whole lot of money to sign through free agency. They also won't have a lot of assets to use as trade bait. Let's face it. The majority of those free agents are old (Carter), washed up (Mason), or just plain horrible (Jeffries).

With the soft cap in the NBA, there are ways that the Knicks could use the mid-level exception or bi-annual exception to bring in a free agent or two. But the problem is there are no high impact unrestricted free agents set to hit the market, let alone sign for the mid-level exception (around 5.9 million) or bi-annual exception (around 1.7 million, can be divided among two players). The Knickerbockers are going to have to convince players to join New York for a lot less money.

And they aren't going to get much through the draft. New York has the 17th overall pick in a draft class that many draft experts are calling one of the weakest in recent memory. And they have no second round pick. Another Landry Fields isn't walking through that door.

It's going to be a long NBA off-season, especially with possible lockout. But it's going to feel 10 times longer for New York. Because there is literally no way this team can improve itself this summer.

They've built the foundation for a big mansion. But they still need to build the first and second stories. That's takes a whole lot of money and time. Unfortunately for the Knicks, they almost have no money to spend, and in a high pressure sports town like New York, you don't have a lot of time to toil in mediocrity.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.


  1. So I basically just read a rant about how the Knicks are screwed, you really couldn't give me anything more than that.

    Every NBA team is over the cap and the Knicks are usually like 30 Million over so they can sign some guys. Lets all pray they dont get a good center like Marc Gasol or DeAndre Jordan to pair with Amare.

  2. Both Gasol and Jordan are restricted free agents so they'd have to out bid Memphis/LA and any other teams looking for big men. Both would likely get a ridiculous pay day else where. Would be great for Knicks if they got either but I don't see that happening.