New York Knicks: Looking at What the Players Are Up to This Offseason

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIJune 29, 2012

New York Knicks: Looking at What the Players Are Up to This Offseason

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    With the NBA Finals and NBA Draft behind us, we truly are entering the heart of the basketball offseason.

    Real NBA action is going to be taking a break for a while, as the attention now turns to the work of the front office.

    With free agency coming up in a matter of days, the New York Knicks are a team that really needs to improve themselves if they are going to contend for a championship.

    Though the mid-level exception will give the Knicks a chance to land a key player or two for the bench unit, what's more important is that the current set of players improve amongst themselves.

    The Knicks' core players are set to be here for a long time, and they're going to have to step up to reach the ultimate goal of an NBA title.

    So far, it appears the Knicks players are putting in the required work to take it to the next level, so let's take a look at exactly what they're up to this offseason.

Amar'e Stoudemire

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    Amar'e Stoudemire was the Knicks' biggest disappointment of last season. After really struggling to get things going offensively, there's a lot of work that needs to be done for him to get back on track.

    And that's why Knicks fans should be happy to hear that Stoudemire is following in the footsteps of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and LeBron James in calling upon the help of former MVP Hakeem Olajuwon (per ESPN).

    Effectively acting as the NBA's go-to offseason post-up coach, Olajuwon has done wonders for each of the three players who've worked with him over the last three summers.

    Bryant, Howard and James have all become some of the best post-up players at their position since working with the Nigerian basketball legend, and Stoudemire appears to be next in line.

    Up until last season, Stoudemire was already one of the NBA's best offensive big men even without much of a post game, and it's scary to think of just how dominant he could be once he learns how to play with his back to the basket.

    Considering how poorly he and Carmelo Anthony meshed last season, any new manner of scoring should be welcomed by Knicks fans. We should also look for him to develop his shooting touch from outside the arc, as he did early last season.

    Joining Stoudemire in working with Olajuwon could be Knicks centre Tyson Chandler, although his Olympics plans may reduce his availability.

Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert

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    Besides the 4-1 series loss at the hands of the rival Miami Heat, one of the toughest things to watch in last season's playoffs for Knicks fans was the injury trouble suffered by backcourt duo Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert.

    Whilst both players tore an ACL—Shumpert in his left knee and Davis in his right—things are looking a lot more bleak for B-Diddy.

    The 33-year-old also suffered a partial tear of the patella tendon and a full tear of his MCL in that same knee, and some doubt whether he'll ever play basketball again.

    Both players will spend the summer rehabbing their respective injuries, with Shumpert aiming to come back in January and Davis slated to miss the entire 2012-13 season.

    Though Shumpert aims to be back by January, he recently told Newsday that he's "not a guy who wants to come back and have a nagging injury" and that he'll wait as long as it takes to get back to 100 percent.

    There is much less of a set timetable for Davis, but, as he told New York Daily News, he does intend to return to basketball eventually.

    Injuries are something that no fan or player wants to see, but it's good that both players have such a positive outlook and are ready to work hard to get back out on the court.

Carmelo Anthony, Jeremy Lin and Tyson Chandler

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    With the Olympics beckoning, it should be relatively easy for Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler to stay in basketball shape for next season, and it's good to see that they've already started work for the tournament.

    Along with scaring fans at Madame Tussaud's, 'Melo has lost 12 pounds this summer after head coach Mike Woodson told him he needed to come back in better shape for next season (per SLAM Magazine).

    As Anthony and Chandler prepare to represent Team USA in the Olympics, point guard Jeremy Lin will be facing off against them in scrimmages as a member of the USA Select Team along with other young stars, such as Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins.

    Lin has also been working out alone in California, where he had time to bond with the Team USA duo and head coach Mike Woodson (via Newsday).

    For a player who's still relatively new to the NBA and is still getting used to his teammates, every moment Lin can spend with these guys should help improve their chemistry come the start of next season.

    Chemistry was a real issue for New York in the first half of the 2011-12 season, but if the players can keep up this offseason teamwork, it shouldn't be an issue moving forward.

Jerome Jordan and Josh Harrellson

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    After falling casualty to the lockout last year, the NBA Summer League will make its return in 2012.

    As always, the event will give some of the league's younger players a chance to shine after being drafted or invited by a team.

    Jerome Jordan and Josh Harrellson will be on show for the Knicks, along with any undrafted free agents they decide to invite, such as J.R. Smith's younger brother Chris.

    In Jeremy Lin and Toney Douglas, the Knicks have a pair of players who managed to turn a few heads in their first Summer League appearances. Jordan and Harrellson will be looking to do just the same in pursuit of some more minutes come the start of the regular season.

    The Knicks' five-game slate commences on July 14th in Las Vegas.