Okay. Two frantic pre-alarm wake-ups later, it has sunk in. The Knicks' season is finished. It is the offseason. The fun and uncertainty off basketball season must give way to the tedium and uncertainty of the summertime. Well, it shouldn't all be tedious. New York having a first-round draft pick is rare and intriguing and it'll be fascinating to see how Glen Grunwald fills some open spots this summer. On that note, here is my list of noteworthy uncertainties surfacing with the end of 2012-2013 basketball.
How will the Knicks draft?
I figure this'll be the first question to get answered, but you never know. The Knicks are positioned for the 24th pick in this year's draft, and since 2013 happens to fall in a gap amid the eternity of forfeited picks from past trades, they'll get to use it. Just the one, though, as New York's second-rounder goes to Washington and the other second-rounder they'd acquired from Golden State goes to Denver. So, they've gotta make that 24th pick count. Will they, though? Are they interested in adding a young person to next year's roster? This past season, New York drafted a promising Euro-stash second-rounder-- Kostas Papanikolaou (fuck yeah I can still spell that)-- instead of an immediate contributor, then traded him anyway in the Raymond Felton deal. Then they barely bothered to field a Summer League team and cut all their young camp invites. Even the rookies were old. In short, this regime now has a reputation for preferring gray hair to peach fuzz, so trading the pick, stashing the pick, or trading the draftee must be regarded as possibilities.
That said, I hope the Knicks keep their 24th pick. Even given their gerontophilia, I like to think they will. On whom, though? I watched roughly three combined minutes of college basketball this season, so I'm familiar with exactly zero players. I hope our friend viva_morrison will put together some more "Know the Prospect" pieces for us this year, and I encourage all of you to use the FanPost section to share your own scouting reports. Generally speaking, though, I'd like the Knicks to pursue versatility over specialty. I'd love a guy who could defend and hit threes, run the point and hit threes, or rebound and hit threes. You know, versatility. If this past season's prevailing lineup format is the one that'll be used next season (not a certainty, and a topic for later...like perhaps this afternoon), then I picture the draftee being a wing. Whoever, though. I just love rookies and would like some on the Knicks.
What of J.R. Smith?
J.R. says he'd like to retire a Knick, which is nice of him, but could mean nothing once there's money involved. He is expected to decline next year's $2.9 million option and become a free agent. As holders of Smith's Early Bird rights, the Knicks can offer him league-average (about $5 million per) for up to four years. Note that this is an exception by which the Knicks can exceed the salary cap, not money below the cap that could otherwise be used on other players. Competing teams can offer more money and years, but: 1. They are not the Knicks and J.R. seems fond of the Knicks 2. They might not want any part of J.R. Smith anyway. The Knicks themselves could feel deterred by J.R.'s horrid May, but I suspect they don't. I'd bet on the Knicks exhausting every resource to re-sign J.R, which could end with Chris Smith becoming president of Cablevision or something.
What of the minimum contracts?
I assume Grunwald will endeavor to bring back his choicest minimum-contract signings, Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni. Either could become a restricted free agent by accepting New York's qualifying offer. Either of the two might find more money elsewhere. Pablo may want to return to Europe or South America (the Berman link up above mentions that Mrs. Prigioni sounds ready to leave). We'll see.
Of the remaining minimum bros, Kenyon Martin seems the most likely candidate for mutual interest in a return. James White, Quentin Richardson, and Earl Barron (<3 u, Earl) should all be gone, so there will be at least a handful of empty roster spots. I'm excited see if Daddy Grun and Kevin Wilson and company can turn up some more gems out of nowhere ("nowhere" being Belgium, mostly).
I've used words like "bet" and "assume" in previous paragraphs. That is patently stupid. These are the Knicks. Assume nothing. Anything you feel certain about right now could be directly opposed this summer.
What of Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby?
Both are on long-term deals, but both are old. Both are probably wondering why Knick staff members keep mentioning how swell it would be to own a ranch in Montana and relax out on the porch watching the pronghorns cavort in the frosty mornings but alas duty calls if only we had accrued enough lifetime salary and achievements to comfortably walk away oh hi Jason/Marcus didn't see you there.
It's possible that one of the other uncles might follow Rasheed Wallace into retirement. Unlike Sheed's case, though, that'd involve leaving millions of dollars on the table. Reporters have described Kidd as somewhat undecided about his future. Camby's people say he was healthy during the last however many weeks of DNPs, so perhaps he's unhappy. I don't know how that would affect his willingness to retire.
Of course, either guy could be useful next season. Not out of the question. Kidd had some great stretches this past season and Camby might have been useful if healthy. I dunno. Old people.
Are there trades to be made?
I mean, probably not-- there certainly aren't any obvious outlines of deals-- but one never knows. New York's roster is half bedrock, half jetsam. They don't have loose, substantial stones to exchange. A deal would require either taking a jackhammer to the core or finding a partner weirdly interested in, like, Steve Novak.
What will the offseason bring for the Knick core?
Carmelo Anthony will get his shoulder checked out. Hopefully, he doesn't need any surgeries. He should have a quieter summer than last with no USA obligations on his plate. On that note: Tyson Chandler? What does this guy need to have a 2013-14 more like his 2011-12 than his 2012-13? Will an offseason spent recovering and training instead of competing help? Does his neck need surgery? Should we just flick him on the forehead a few times? And hey, how about Iman Shumpert getting his first full NBA offseason? His rookie offseason got weirded by the lockout and he spent all of last summer recovering from knee surgery. This should be his first experience with a normal training regimen and an opportunity to improve his game unencumbered. I am excited about that!
Amar'e's in a weird place. He is healthy for the time being, but perhaps feeling a little marginalized after a year of being a perfect trouper. The Knicks might make some effort to trade him, but they almost certainly won't be able to. Will they work toward returning him to a prominent role? Will they prepare him for another season playing modest minutes off the bench? Eh?
Around July 10th, the Knicks can legally sign free agent Josh Harrellson. I want them to. I don't care if there are better players out there. I want Jorts back. He belongs with the Knicks.
These are the things on my mind as I gaze over the next five months. I've also been thinking a lot about the identity of this team under Mike Woodson, but that is a topic for...later.