This off season Donnie Walsh has a difficult task in trying to upgrade the Knick Roster. Now we have thrown around enough names of Free Agents especially Centers that there isn't any need to go into them here. I just want everyone to keep in mind a few things:
1. No one knows what a potential free agent is worth until they sign a deal. Remember every year there is a guy who signs a deal for 12 mil that we only thought should have gotten 6mil or a guy who gets six that we thought should have gotten league min.
2. When saying that players will sign cheaply to play with a contender, you have to keep in mind the types of players who sign cheaply. Often they are not the types of players that would make the average poster and toaster happy.
3. There is also a possibility that the guys you are so certain that will sign with us, may end up signing elsewhere. So keep in mind that Donnie knows this and is planning multiple options to bring in players. Donnie will be flexible so we should be as well.
However even if we get locked out of all the "sexy" names this off season all is not lost.
With The Knicks picking up Billups' option and the near 100% possibility that Turiaf will not opt out of his deal, the Knicks will return in tact their starting lineup from game one of the Boston series. Now if with a few minor additions that starting line up, plus Toney Douglas could win enough games to get a high seed in the east and possibly do some damage in the playoffs. Now the players:
Chauncey Billups- Will be 35 in August. Now while he is obviously a player in decline, if healthy he is still a good enough player to lead the Knicks to a high seed in the east and a deep playoff run. Greater familiarity with the offense and personnel should help him perform at a higher level next year than he did post trade. Health will be a key with Billups, but given that he is more than enough to get the job done.
Landry Fields- Some question whether he should continue to be in the starting line up. I do not. Greater familiarity with his teammates should help him get the ball in more places where he needs to in order to be effective. Also Fields should put in some hard work this off season on aspects of his game. But at his core Fields is an effort and energy player who can be effective for a top seeded team. Fields should be supported by the Knicks acquiring a player who is a more consistent producer on the offensive end to compliment Landry's strengths. Give him the right support on the bench and he can be an effective starter.
Carmelo Anthony- Was pretty much as advertised, both positive and negative. Anthony's major issue coming into this season will be his mindset. Carmelo demonstrated that he can play defense but he needs to come in with the mindset that he is going to play it every game. Carmelo can rebound, but he needs to take the burden on himself to rebound every game. In the most interesting development to me is Carmelo is an excellent passer when he decides to be. The number 5 is something you guys should keep in mind as in 5 assists. The closer Carmelo gets to 5 assists per the closer the Knicks will get to the #1 seed in the East.
Amar'e Stoudemire- Proved that he was not a creation of Steve Nash but a star in his own right with the ability to carry a team. Like Carmelo, the amount to which he comes to the arena on a nightly basis with the will to play defense and rebound will determine the Knicks fortunes. Magic Johnson once said, "NO REBOUNDS, NO RINGS," someone needs to tape that over Stoudemire's locker, his bathroom mirror, and record it and play it in his ear as he sleeps. Amar'e would be well served to work on his technique boxing out this off season, he loses 4-5 rebounds a game simply because he either doesn't box out or he boxes out poorly. Likewise, Amar'e should either front his man or 3/4 him when defending in the post. Amar'e is a weak on the ball defender. Now if you cannot stop your man after he gets the ball then your defense should be based on trying to prevent him from getting the ball. Amar'e is long enough and quick enough that he could be effective at trying to deny entry passes. 20 is the number to keep in mind. The closer that Amar'e and Carmelo get to combining for 20 rebs a game. the Closer the Knicks will be to the #1 seed.
Ronny Turiaf- Surprisingly Turiaf is the most important player on the Knicks. When Turiaf has played at least 20 mins a game the Knicks were 8 games over .500 they were 6 games under when he either did not play or failed to log 20 mins. Turiaf started 21 games for the Knicks last season and their record 15-6 in those games. In addition in games started by Turiaf Knick opponents averaged 97 pts a game on 42% shooting. Clearly Turiaf's impact was greater than his stats. However that is the problem. Turiaf could not stay on the floor for the Knicks. Now officially Turiaf missed 18 games however, he never played more than 10 games in a row and missed large sections of games he did play in,, and that in and out of the lineup hurt continuity and effectiveness. Now assuming that Ronny will not become more durable, the Knicks either need to get a starting Center and relegate Ronny to the bench or acquire enough big bodies that the team is better able to cope when Ronny is out of the lineup.
So see even bringing back the starting lineup from game one of the Celtics series all is not lost Knick fans. From this vantage point with a little luck from the health fairy we should be in a good position.