New York Knicks: 10 Things NY Must Do to Compete for a Ring Next Season
Now that the New York Knicks have been knocked out of the 2012 NBA Playoffs by the Miami Heat, it is time for this franchise to look toward next season. There are specific things that it must do if it wishes to return to its championship ways of the past.
Carmelo Anthony is clearly a superstar, but the team around him has been a mess for over a year now. Amare Stoudemire is a complete wild card, no one knows who will be the point guard and there is still no head coach for next season.
These are just a few of the issues that must be addressed in the offseason for the Knicks to legitimately compete for an NBA title. Here are 10 things that must be done.
1. Solve the Point Guard Conundrum
The point guard position has been a source of strife all season long for the New York Knicks, and it absolutely must be remedied in the offseason.
Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis have all played the part for New York—each giving the Knicks different pros and cons to consider. Lin is a young, exciting player who struggles at times due to his inexperience. Iman Shumpert has a limited offensive game, but he has the potential to be a great defensive player. Baron Davis has the most experience, but he is ancient.
The answer may lie in one of these players, a combination of them or a whole new guy coming in. The point is that the Knicks need to figure it out fast.
2. Pick a Head Coach
One of the most important things for the New York Knicks to do in the offseason is to pick a head coach. However, they must pick the right guy for this team.
Mike Woodson has done a very nice job in his interim time as the head coach since the departure of Mike D'Antoni. He's run the offense through his superstar and put an emphasis on defense.
Neither of those is a bad strategy for winning.
Then there is also the option of Phil Jackson. The former Knick player is the best coach in NBA history, and he seems to be the man to bring these Knick elements together in harmony. Whether he'll be willing to try is another issue.
There are few other candidates for this job. Jerry Sloan was mentioned briefly in CBS Sports reports as being interested, but it seems that if Jackson doesn't want the job, it will most definitely go to Woodson.
Which is fine—the Knicks can win with either. However, while Woodson's defense can win in the playoffs, Jackson may be the only man who can lead the Knicks to the promised land.
3. Trade Amare Stoudemire
Amare Stoudemire has been reduced to a shell of the player he was when he first arrived in New York. The arrival of Carmelo Anthony and his dominance of the ball and team has pushed Stoudemire out on the fringe of the game.
Anthony and Stoudemire cannot play together. Their styles are vastly different, and it was a typically bad Knick move to try and mesh them together. The power forward must go, because it is clear now that Anthony is the franchise player.
It will be difficult to trade him, especially considering that Stoudemire is owed over $60 million over the next three years and is injury-plagued, but it is something the Knicks must do, even if they don't get a good price.
4. Get Healthy
A huge priority of the offseason for the New York Knicks has to be getting healthier as a team. Injuries are a big part of why this team underperformed as the season wore on.
Amare Stoudemire has had his issues—even excluding his recent incident with a fire extinguisher case. Carmelo Anthony was banged up for a time and looked exhausted in the latter part of the first-round series vs. Miami. Jeremy Lin, Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert have all been injured, depleting the Knicks at the key point guard position. Tyson Chandler, the new Defensive Player of the Year, has even missed some time.
A team cannot be consistently good when it suffers from that many injuries. This team must get healthy to have any hope of competing for a title next season.
5. Dump the Extra Weight
There are some players on this team that the Knicks simply need to get rid of; that's the nicest way to put it.
Baron Davis and Mike Bibby are two very good examples. Both are far too old to truly have a positive effect on this team, and it is time to cut them loose and wish them well. The Knicks need a dynamic point guard who can control the game and play good defense—not a washed-up three-point shooter.
J.R. Smith is another guy who probably needs to go. While he can be one of the most exciting players in the league, he also takes some of the worst shots you'll see an NBA player take. He is far more risk than reward at this point in his career, especially since his skills are beginning to decline.
The Knicks need to cut the extra weight that is taking up playing time from more talented and dynamic younger players.
6. Stop the Quick Fixes
One thing that the New York Knicks have tried to do in recent years is add questionable veterans to try and quickly fix the team.
Tyson Chandler is one of those choices that worked out, but the others have not. The additions of Mike Bibby, Baron Davis and J.R. Smith are just a few examples of quick fixes that did not make the team much better than it was.
The Knicks' management has to understand that teams take time to mesh. Constant roster changes do nothing but upset chemistry and get in the way of winning.
Make a roster fairly soon into the offseason and stick with it. Allow the team to grow together around Carmelo Anthony.
7. Commit to Defense Permanently
This is something that will happen if Mike Woodson becomes the head coach. He and Tyson Chandler both had a profound effect on this team's defensive intensity, but the Knicks struggled to keep that intensity up consistently.
Carmelo Anthony has never been a great defender or shown a consistent effort to become one, despite having the physical abilities to do so. Amare Stoudemire is much of the same.
Iman Shumpert is another guy along with Chandler who could become a defensive stalwart, but he too needs that defensive leadership. Defense wins championships, and it can for the Knicks, too—but only if they actually play it.
8. Think Like a Champion
Talent is what wins in the NBA usually. However, you'd be surprised how much a team's mindset can affect their play.
The lack of that attitude might be the biggest problem in the Big Apple.
It starts with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. Anthony has never played, but he's a de facto leader based on the money he gets paid. Chandler won a title with the Dallas Mavericks and was considered a huge difference maker. He must lead this team and show what it means to be a champion.
9. Be Decisive
The New York Knicks must make these decisions quickly and efficiently this offseason.
They must make smart choices in the personnel and coaching departments. Picking a head coach and point guard, deciding what to do with the older veterans and Amare Stoudemire and fixing the culture of the locker room are all big issues. However, this franchise must make strong decisions and stop with the wishy-washy way of doing things.
It's time for the Knicks, players and management to reach down and find that little thing called pride. They must use that pride to stop being a sideshow and start being a real franchise through solid, well-thought-out decision-making.
10. Find Some Consistency
This franchise needs to find some consistency. The past few years have been a whirlwind of trades, signings and firings that no team or player could overcome and win with.
Two years ago, the Knicks sign Amare Stoudemire to be their franchise player. Under Mike D'Antoni, Stoudemire plays like an MVP and helps the Knicks challenge the top of the Eastern Conference. The Knicks respond to this success by gutting their roster for Carmelo Anthony, another franchise player, who stagnates D'Antoni's offense.
The Knicks sign more players who aren't as good as what they lost, then D'Antoni gets fired and Mike Woodson takes over. The Knicks finish this year with a first-round exit against Miami.
This falls in line with a few of the other things on this list, but it is the most important: Get some consistency. Keep the same coach for a few years. Let the team grow together into a contender. Don't strive for starpower or headlines over winning. Come in to work every day with a consistent commitment toward winning the right way.
It may not be the Knick way, but considering the past few seasons, that will turn out to be a great thing that can lead New York back to true championship contention.