The Knicks took a step in the right direction by hiring Phil Jackson, but there are still a few issues that need to be fixed in order for New York to ever be considered a contender.
With a roster full of inconsistent players and Carmelo Anthony testing free agency, changes that border on wholesale need to be made.
In addition to New York's roster woes, a new head coach must be brought in who is capable of leading and adjusting throughout the course of a season.
Replacing Mike Woodson
Woodson may have done a decent job in the past, but this season has shown that the successful previous years were simply aberrations. His stubbornness and inability to tweak his game plan has the Knicks winding down one of their most disappointing seasons of the new millennium.
From his switch-everything-at-all-costs gaffes on defense to the lack of movement and motion on offense, the strategies he has employed this year have done more damage than good.
His unwillingness to give Toure' Murry meaningful minutes is also bizarre.
Woodson said he would start looking at Murry, Tyler and Aldrich.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) April 13, 2014
With a handful of games left, he mentioned the possibility of seeing what Murry had to offer, but he hasn't followed through on that notion. For some reason, Woodson would rather continuously trot out Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni at the 1 despite their incompetence on the defensive end.
The Knicks need a head coach who isn't susceptible to favoritism and knows how to play those capable of defending. Sticking by Felton may seem noble, but it's part of the reason why New York's season has been such a disaster.
By replacing Woodson with a head coach who is willing to adjust his game plan over the course of the year, the Knicks should see a boost in performance and consistency.
Switching often on defense has led to crucial mismatches that have been exploited relentlessly, and the stagnancy on offense hinders the production from the sporadic scorers on New York's roster.
Parting Ways with Inconsistency
The Knicks rely too much on inconsistent players like Felton, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to relieve pressure and attention from Anthony.
Those three athletes could contribute in the right environment, but when they're expected to be secondary and tertiary scorers, a disservice to fans is being done.
Smith—and no basketball player, for that matter—should ever attempt 20 three-pointers in a single game, but his love for chucking behind the arc has become embedded in his DNA. Perhaps New York could rely on Smith if he came off screens and saw some open looks or was willing to drive more often than chuck, but his attitude and demeanor on the court takes New York out of games more often than it helps the organization.
A starting shooting guard should also never go scoreless in multiple games like Shumpert has experienced this season.
It would be in New York's best interest to say goodbye to these feast-or-famine players and look to acquire individuals that can be counted on to contribute positively on a consistent basis.
Re-Signing Carmelo Anthony
Letting Anthony walk away from the franchise would be a crippling blow. Even though the Knicks are set to have a ton of cap space in 2015 and 2016, it'll be awfully difficult convincing any of the worthwhile names to join a team filled with mediocrity.
Maintaining Anthony is the key to luring the kind of talent necessary to ascend above the league's best teams.
Although Melo will be 31 years old, his style of play should keep him productive and in shape for the duration of his next contract. Anthony doesn't rely on his athleticism like a Derrick Rose, for example, and with more talent around him, his minutes should decrease from the 38.7 minutes per game he has received this season.
In order to win a championship, a consistent, gutty scorer who thrives in the fourth quarter is needed, and Anthony fulfills that criteria. By already having that major threat committed to the organization, Jackson could focus on acquiring elite defenders and distributors that will carry New York to new depths.
Without Anthony locked into a new deal, the Knicks will be a perennial bottom-feeder until the next big fish decides to gamble and move to New York.