What a roller coaster type year for the Knicks Organization, and their fans. The Knicks off-season was nothing flashy. The Knicks acquired Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas for Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, the draft rights to Forward Kostas Papanikolaou and Guard Giorgos Printezis, and a protected future second-round draft pick. The Knicks also re-signed Steve Novak and JR Smith, while adding Jason Kidd. The debated decision to move on from the “Linsanity” debacle led to the additions of Felton and Kidd.
Expectations rose dramatically for this Knicks team when they started off hot, and were at the top of the standings. However, in the midst of the 27 game winning streak those expectations died down, and the Knicks settled in at the 2nd seed of the Eastern Conference Standings, while posting a 3-1 record against the Heat in the regular season.
Despite an impressive regular season record against the Number 1 seeded Heat, the Knicks were considered to be a team to either make a deep playoff run, or get eliminated prematurely. The skepticism proved fair, after going up 3-0 on the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, they lost Game Four, and Game Five, and nearly blew a giant lead in Game Six. However,they won 88-80 and advanced to play the Pacers.
The series against the Pacers proved an old basketball saying, “live and die by the three”. Nothing went right for JR Smith that series, shooting around 20%, and seemingly unable to buy a bucket. JR Smith is not the sole reason for the Knicks underachieving against the Pacers. Mike Woodson did not help the cause by having rotations that consisted of players on cold streaks, and lineups that played into the Indiana Pacers’ hands. Minutes were rare for guys producing like Prigioni or someone who was a part of their regular season success and identity like Copeland. Who knows if they would have won the series playing with the formula that got them there, but some very questionable coaching decisions leaves many questions in the aftermath of their second round playoff exit.
This should lead Knicks fans to question the management and transactions by their General Manager. The Knicks lack an inside presence to deal with the big men of the Pacers or other bigger teams. As proved by the Memphis Grizzlies, big men with a physical presence can tire out a faster team, and take them out of their rhythm. The management of the Knicks simply failed to construct a team built to make a deep playoff run. The success or failure of a team that is heavy on three point shooting is determined on whether or not they are hot or cold. The Front Office of the New York Knicks should have been aware of this, and added players with other strengths to have a more balanced team.
The thing is, the Knicks posted the best regular season record they had in many years, and won their first playoff series in many years. There is not much cause for them to change the surrounding talent around Carmelo. There may be enough contractual situations to cause for a few personnel changes.
JR Smith may opt out of his contract, which would free the Knicks of $3.9 million next year, unless they attempt to re-sign him for a larger contract. It has been reported that JR Smith wants to retire as a New York Knick, and that he may receive a four year contract from New York. Many fans think that trading Amar'e Stoudemire is an option. He is making $19,948,799 million this year, and still has a large amount due. Fans think that the Knicks have to realize that Stoudemire is not producing to the equal amount that he is getting paid. At age 30, and declining numbers, the time is now to get something for him, without losing him for nothing. His large contract will be an issue if they wish to trade him. Unfortunately, Stoudemire is having more and more injury problems. That, plus his age being at 30 (going on 31 in November) does not make for a good combination. Twenty-Nine games played (33 games if you include the playoffs), and zero games started is definitely something to be worried about for a 30 year old with an injury history.
Either way, the large contracts the Knicks are paying players will make it harder for the New York Knick Organization to make significant improvement next year in their attempt at a championship.
This is not meant to cloud a good run by the New York Knicks this year. They went 54-28, and won the Atlantic Division. This type of season is nothing to mock for a fan base that has been waiting for a very long time to have a team win the division and win the first round of the playoffs. When the off-season comes and goes, depending on what moves the Knicks Front Office makes, there may be more optimism from the Knicks fan base. The off-season will be sure to make Knicks fans even more hungry for more success in the 2013-2014 season.