New York Knicks: The Top 7 Offseason Moves to Make Them Contenders
The least that can be said about the New York Knicks' 2011-2012 season is that it was tumultuous. The NBA lockout shortened the season; Linsanity took over the league; Mike D'Antoni resigned; Amar'e Stoudemire crippled a fire extinguisher and the Knicks finally won a playoff game.
As much fun as it would be to look back on the season, it is now time to look forward for New York.
It seems the Knicks haven't had a consistent roster since Roger Maris owned the home run record, and that trend is likely to continue this offseason with several moves. New York has holes to fill, chemistry to create and problems to solve.
Fans have been thrilled to see management make the necessary moves over the last two years to put the team in playoff positioning again, but now they want their beloved Knicks to be contenders. The core talent is there, but the humiliation they suffered at the hands of the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs shows there is much work left to be done.
Obviously, the most important thing for New York to work on this summer is team chemistry, specifically between Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. But the Knicks could also help themselves with several key moves.
According to The New York Times, J.R. Smith declined his player option Tuesday, which may have complicated the offseason. We will have to wait and see how things unfold.
However, here are seven of those moves the Knicks can, should or must make to reach that next level.
1. Re-Sign Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak
Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin
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This one is the most obvious objective the Knicks need to achieve. Jeremy Lin has already been pegged as the team's point guard for next season by coach Mike Woodson, and Steve Novak is a fan favorite who was simply brilliant last season.
Both are integral to the team and both fill seats at MSG.
As of right now, both players are virtually a lock to return to the team next season. The problem is that David Stern may not let things stay as they are. According to Fox Sports, the NBA commissioner will appeal the decision that granted Lin and Novak Bird Rights.
If the ruling stands, the Knicks will be able to re-sign both players at up to 175 percent of their previous salary without it affecting their salary cap.
If Stern wins the appeal, the Knicks will be forced to use their mid-level exception of roughly $5 million on Lin and would likely lose out on Novak, as well as other free agents.
2. Pursue Ray Allen
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As is the case with most of these potential moves, this signing is only a remote possibility if Stern does not win the appeal.
If the Knicks do have money to spend past a veteran's minimum contract, they can't afford to not give the best three-point shooter in NBA history a call.
With Iman Shumpert likely out until January, the shooting guard position needs depth. Ray Allen is at a point in his career where winning titles and feeling comfortable are the two most important factors in picking a new team. This is good news for New York, as it probably won't be able to offer as much money as other teams, so it will need to woo Allen with other factors.
Allen had problems with injuries last season, but he can still shoot, is still a leader and could be invaluable.
3. Go After Point Guards Steve Nash and Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd and Steve Nash
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Assuming the Knicks are able to retain Jeremy Lin, the point guard slot will still be a position of need for New York. This is the case for two reasons.
The first is that without Baron Davis, the Knicks have no depth at point guard and need a second option.
The second is that, despite his unreal season, Lin is still a young point guard who needs to be properly reared. Both Jason Kidd and Steve Nash would help with these issues.
Nash is undoubtedly still an elite player and will probably demand more money than the Knicks can afford, but if they can lure him to the Big Apple, he could truly elevate the team. He is an astounding passer, a great shooter, a born leader and his chemistry with Stoudemire is well-documented.
A sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns is the easiest way the Knicks could give Nash the money he wants, but the Knicks don't have too many pieces the Suns would want. The best news for New York is that Nash already lives in NYC during the summer, and he seemingly wouldn't mind moving in full-time.
If Nash ends up somewhere else, New York could do a lot worse than Jason Kidd. Despite his advanced age, Kidd could bring a tremendous locker room presence and is also a proven leader on the court. He has championship experience and shoots well.
He is also more likely than Nash to accept a veteran's minimum contract, which would allow the Knicks to pursue other players in free agency.
4. Give Lamar Odom a Call
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In evaluating Odom, it is important to both remember and forget his season in Dallas. It is important to keep in mind that he struggled so mightily and did very little to affirm his worth in order to not have too many expectations.
However, it is also important to remember that he was the Sixth Man of the Year in Los Angeles and was crucial to the titles the Lakers won with him. If the Lakers' version of Odom shows up, he is a power forward with a good shot who could effectively rotate behind Stoudemire.
Odom has expressed his interest in playing for the Knicks, and New York would be foolish not to attempt to improve its roster with the only remaining Kardashian in the NBA.
5. Inquire About Jason Terry
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We have already pegged Ray Allen as a possible signing at guard, but if he signs elsewhere, Jason Terry is a solid second option. He is fine being a role player and is a great shooter.
More importantly for the Knicks, he has championship experience and could potentially reunite the core supporting cast of Dallas' title run if Jason Kidd signs as well, seeing as Tyson Chandler already starts at center.
Fox Sports has reported that Terry does want a long-term deal and that is the only way he will re-sign with Dallas. If Dallas can't provide that kind of deal, Terry will surely test the market. In that scenario, the Knicks are a possibility, but they should be wary, as Terry is already 34 years old.
6. See What Is Available in Return for Amar'e Stoudemire
Stoudemire with a bandaged arm
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This move is so far down the list because it is looking less and less likely. The Knicks appear to want to hold on to Amar'e Stoudemire and see if he can gel with Carmelo Anthony.
The problem is that Stoudemire has yet to show any signs of playing well with Carmelo, is injury-prone, has had several publicity gaffes including a recent run-in with a fan on Twitter and is costing the Knicks a lot of money.
Considering all of these issues, why not see what trades are available?
The most interesting possibility is acquiring Andre Iguodala from the Philadelphia 76ers in a trade. With Iguodala, the Knicks could start Carmelo at power forward, where he excelled late in the season and would be very solid defensively for the first time in years.
As appetizing as this possibility sounds, it seems the Knicks are just going to wait and see before calling this signing another flop.
7. Make a Run at O.J. Mayo
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O.J. Mayo should be near the top of the wish list for the Knicks along with Jason Terry and Ray Allen, but he seems to be the least likely and least intelligent signing of the three.
He would certainly add depth and athleticism to the team, but the bottom line is that he can't defend. Defense is already a problem for the Knicks, especially with Iman Shumpert out. They can't afford to get even weaker.
Furthermore, Mayo is a restricted free agent and obtaining him would cost the Knicks too much.