Post-2014 NBA All-Star Break Predictions for the New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony set a franchise record with his 62-point performance against the Charlotte Bobcats (Jan. 24), and J.R. Smith made everyone question his maturity—yet again—when he untied Shawn Marion's shoelaces (Jan. 5).
The second half of the year will be different. The roster will be tweaked, dead weight will be removed and consistency will emerge.
Let's take a look at what else is to come as the basketball season resumes.
Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.
Iman Shumpert Gets Traded
Iman Shumpert's days with the Knicks are numbered.
The organization tried to move Shump to the Denver Nuggets for Kenneth Faried at the beginning of the season, and again recently, but to no avail. There have also been rumblings about two other destinations for the young shooting guard: the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks.
The deal with the Raptors would deliver Kyle Lowry, but there have been a few snafus in discussions. According to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com:
[New York has] been reluctant to include sharpshooting rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. or a future first-round draft pick in any deal. One of those two pieces is believed to be a prerequisite for Toronto to consider giving up Lowry.
Moving Hardaway Jr. or a first-round pick, in addition to Shumpert, would be a sideways move (at best), regardless of Lowry's talent and the Knicks' need for a competent point guard, so unless the Raptors lower their asking price, it's more likely to see Shump in a Hawks uniform.
The deal with Atlanta would send Jeff Teague to New York.
Although Teague, according to Brendan Maloy of Sports Illustrated, "has veto power over any trades, as the Hawks matched an offer sheet from the Milwaukee Bucks when he was a restricted free agent last summer," it would be hard to imagine him turning down the opportunity to play in New York—especially with his brother Marquis Teague across town as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
Expect Shump to be traded by Feb. 20's deadline and expect it to be to the Atlanta Hawks, where he may finally flourish offensively.
Mike Woodson Coaches the Rest of the Season
Whether Mike Woodson deserves to still be the head coach of the New York Knicks is up to one's interpretation, but like it or not, he's not going anywhere this season. If James Dolan was to fire the struggling coach, it would've happened already.
When asked on Feb. 14 if Woodson would be fired over the All-Star break, Carmelo Anthony told reporters, via ESPN.com, "We got practice in Memphis on Monday, and Woody will be there. Plain and simple."
There's been ample opportunities for Dolan to remove Woodson from the organization, but according to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, "the Knicks would like to keep Woodson through the end of the season and start a coaching search over the summer."
It's unlikely any worthwhile coach takes the job midseason if Woodson is canned, so unless Herb Williams or Allan Houston could turn this team around, it's best to just wait the year out.
Knicks Will Upgrade the 1
The Knicks have no choice but to move on from Raymond Felton, and the 1 will be upgraded in no time.
Felton is a decent player that can contribute positively, but he plays too many minutes and too big of a role for New York. He's not a starter at this point in his career, and the Knicks know this as they pursue better options.
Rajon Rondo remains the premier target, but New York probably doesn't have the assets or draft picks necessary to acquire the star. Kyle Lowry and Jeff Teague have been rumored and are more realistic candidates to take over the 1.
If for some reason the Knicks fail to acquire either of those two point guards, the front office is likely to switch gears and pursue Andre Miller, who, despite his age, is still much more efficient and less of a liability defensively than Felton.
Amar'e Stoudemire Will Average 15 PPG
Amar'e Stoudemire had a solid first half of the year offensively when considering his minutes limit and the 13 games he missed due to injury. The second half of the year will be more rewarding for Stoudemire and the Knicks.
The big man will carry over the energy and success he had scoring the ball over his last four games of the first half. He went 6-of-10, 7-of-12, 5-of-11 and 10-of-15 against the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings, respectively.
Stoudemire will get the same amount of opportunities throughout the second half as he did those four games, and he'll continue to deliver by scoring the ball. For the Knicks to make the playoffs, STAT needs to elevate his game, and considering his body lets him, he will.
Fifteen points per game is achievable for Stoudemire, especially when considering he should be featured more often on offense since he is New York's second-most consistent scorer.
New York Will Sneak into the Playoffs
The Charlotte Bobcats are currently the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Now, that team possesses some talent, particularly Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, but they are unlikely to maintain their presence in the playoff hunt unless they bring in someone else, like Evan Turner for instance.
Despite the struggles the Knicks have endured throughout the first half of the year, they are still a talented enough ball club to be one of the eight best teams in the East.
Anthony averaged 27.3 PPG with a PER of 24.61 in the first half of the year, and seeing as how this is in essence a contract season for him, he will raise his efforts by any means necessary to prove his worth around the league.
With an upgrade at the 1 and Amar'e Stoudemire lightening the scoring load for Carmelo Anthony, New York will sneak into the playoffs.