Views opinions and rants from afar...
The Knicks and Heat are virtual twins in NBA style & development. Both teams committed to superstars at the expense of team skill & depth; so now both teams need to fill in the gaps and improve their roster and overall depth with preferably young, skilled, smart, reliable, healthy and durable players who have talent but will understand their roles. Failures to do so by either team could, and likely will, result in failure to win a title.
The Knicks formula of success falls within their current roster, available free agents, available trades, the draft along with decisions in coaching and the front office.
Granted, what is written here is based on operating under current NBA rules and restrictions. What the future CBA holds is unknown; but the one reasonable expectation is that whatever changes, good or bad, will impact all teams so much of the need-to's and to-do's here would still be applicable.
Current Roster... what to do, what to do:
1. Melo (Keeper...duh!!!)
2. Amare (Keeper unless trading him could actually bring back Dwight Howard)
3. Billups (Keeper unless you truly could make that 3rd superstar blockbuster... not likely)
4. Turiaf (Keeper but not long term. He's a heartbreaker; you see the desire & commitment and skill... but his health isn't and won't ever be reliable)
5. Fields (Keeper, likely starter though probably better from the bench)
6. AC (your roster can be 15 deep, 1yr veteran minimum salary, his intagibles are huge and when you actually need a couple of minutes from him, he does deliver)
7. Douglas (Keeper, 1st SG/PG off the bench unless an upgrade is acquired)
8. Jerome Jordan (Bring him on but do not expect much from him... let a 2nd year rookie be a rookie)
9. Shawne Williams (Bring back preferably at 1yr vet minimum, unless you find a good replacement)
Balkman (seems to be a nice enough guy, but really just buy him out, cut him loose and end the age of Balk... him as a NBA player? it ain't gonna happen)
Brown, Rautins, Walker (younger strictly end of benchers, if they're still here it is because the team could not acquire enough improved depth)
Jefferies, Shelden Williams, Mason (veteran strictly end of benchers, if they're still here it is because the team could not acquire enough improved depth)
Offseason Shopping List... so much shopping, too little time, money or credit:
Many players I chose not to include because they either are not realistic, not a good fit, would make no sense to acquire, fall under the Circus Freak or Dumpster Fire category or fall under the Broken Player category. There's also been a lot of "bring back the Melo Knicks" discussion (Chandler, Felton); but are they the right players to acquire and can you really get a reasonable deal with Denver that doesn't require giving up too much or bringing back too much bad paper (players with bad contracts).
Sign & Trade
Wilson Chandler (RFA, Denver won't let him just walk away because of a MLE offer; but can he really be a long term answer as a SG?)
Require a Trade
Raymond Felton (You may have to give up Fields... and Billups; but you may be able to get him... but you'd have to take Harrington with him)
Andre Miller (Not sure what it'll take & Portland may opt out his final year; but real underrated PG, Melo's offensive thrived when playing with 'Dre)
Jamal Crawford (for a team needing a veteran who can shoot, understands his role and actually cares about winning, this would be a strong fit)
Sign & Trade
Samuel Dalembert (longshot and the MLE just won't cut it... but making this deal I'd put as a priority)
Glen Davis (MLE won't cut it and Boston making a s&t here ain't gonna happen)
Require a Trade
Brendan Haywood (Slightly overpriced but a good plan B if you can't get Dalembert... though Dallas probably won't be interested)
Boris Diaw (I think this is far more realistic than you may think; Diaw excelled under D'Antoni and would be an excellent, though smaller fit alongside Melo & Amare. Not the top priority but would be a strong move)
Carl Landry (good skilled big, probably will take all the MLE and there may be a red flag on his durability; plus you’d really prefer a starting Center rather than PF so Amare can focus on the PF position)
Portion of MLE or Bi-annual
Chuck Hayes (A legit young, durable, reliable and tenacious frontline defender ... needs to be a priority)
Josh McRoberts (Only 1 legit year of performance, but worth pursuing for $2.5-3M as a backup or if you can't trade for a legit Center. I’d rather risk this player flaming out than throw money and empty tank and/or broken bigs)
Kwame Brown (has shown he is a little better than being a huge bust... but small minute end of bencher... last resort type of signing)
Nazr Mohammed (don't think he has much left... maybe as a last resort for the minimum)
Don’t swing for the fences, you have 2 superstars, now the team needs young talented player depth. Identify the smartest, most durable skilled PG/SG/PF-C available in the draft. If you can pull off a “buy a late 1st for money and/or a future throw away 2nd rd pick” then double up on the smart players or possibly take a flyer at that time on a boom or bust type.
Shooting from hip, my guess is, the Knicks will draft a PG
It doesn’t really make sense to reward D’Antoni by firing him. Let him continue and see if the team continues to improve with him. He does need to dedicate effort and players towards defense or the team will make the playoffs again but not threaten. There's likely a better coach to lead the Knicks to a title run; but I do not he is out there today.
I’d go with Kevin Pritchard. His ego is huge but really the only thing he did wrong was get caught in a self-serving power play and got released for it. Pritchard's successes include re-building the Blazers roster from the dumpster fire "Jailblazers daze" (handiwork by Mark Warkentien) to a young talented roster. Also Pritchard showed he could operate in a environment with a toxic diva owner (imagine James Dolan without the New York Press and what do you get... Paul Allen!!!).
Lastly, I would acquire the following player through trade:
Dahntay's time in Denver proved one thing: when you unleash the Inferno on your opponent having him focus just on defense... he's huge
Dahntay's time in Indiana proved something else: when you expect Dahntay to do anything else... it's a huge mistake
Indiana wants to get rid of him so you can get him for a song and his money is small ($2.7M next year and a $2.9M player option the year after)
Get the Inferno to be your defensive bulldog and let him loose on the LeBron's, Kobe's and DWades of the world. He's already proven he excels in that role and also has proven he plays very well alongside Melo & Billups.
Stay Away Froms… You’ve Been Warned
Until salary caps and guaranteed contracts go away; a team, unless they have mad Mark Cuban money, has to be cut throat and not acquire circus freaks, dumpster fires or broken players.
And please notice there were no circus freak or dumpster fires on roster of the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks.
So, after all the words words words… my opening night Knicks for the 2011/12 season could look like:
Roster...If I had Carte Blanche…
Dre/Douglas/1st Rd Pick/AC
Lastly… Pop Quiz, You Make the Call.
Your considering two comparable FA to provide a defensive presence on your front line.
Player A – 28yrs old, over the last 5 years has averaged 77games/yr (94%), 452 rebounds/yr (5.5/game over 82games) & 341 points/yr (4.2/game over 82 games)
Player B – 34yrs old, over the last 5 years has averaged 49games/yr (60%), 344 rebounds/yr (4.2/game over 82games) & 549 points/yr (6.7/game over 82 games)
Which player would you choose to sign?