Biggest Issues NY Knicks Must Address This Offseason

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Biggest Issues NY Knicks Must Address This Offseason
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Change is coming for the New York Knicks.

Just months into his tenure as president of basketball operations, Phil Jackson has seen enough to know a roster like this won't cut it and is prepared for the difficult task of cleaning house.

Of course, completing a full roster overhaul in just one summer is impossible for a taxpaying team with no draft picks, so Jackson's options are limited if he wants to go into next season with a better squad.

The first step has been taken with the firing of Mike Woodson and his staff, but there's still plenty of work to be done, and the reality is that Jackson will have to prioritize a few key decisions and leave the rest for future offseasons.

Let's go through and highlight the biggest issues New York must address in the coming months to go into next season in better shape.

 

Head Coach

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TV analyst and former player Steve Kerr is amongst the leading candidates for New York's coaching vacancy.

At this point, the biggest decision the Knicks have to make is choosing a replacement for Mike Woodson, ideally with a genuine long-term fix having had nine different head coaches since 2001.

Steve Kerr has been heavily rumored as the primary candidate for the job (via Newsday), likely because of his strong relationship with Jackson and history as general manager of the Phoenix Suns.

With that said, while Kerr and Jackson have a "philosophical connection," ESPN reports that the Knicks' search will go beyond just Kerr, as they look to turn over every stone in finding the best man for the job.

Outside of Kerr, potential candidates include Jerry Sloan, Lionel Hollins and Jeff Van Gundy, all of whom are much more experienced, but also less likely to agree with Jackson ideologically than Kerr, who formerly played for him with the Chicago Bulls.

For the time being, New York is one of three NBA teams with a coaching vacancy, so there's plenty of time to evaluate and ensure they make the right decision.

 

Starting Point Guard

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
The Knicks need an upgrade at point guard, and Darren Collison is one of a few cost-effective free agent options.

Plenty of personnel is needed to convert this roster into an elite group, but the biggest immediate change needed is at point guard after Raymond Felton posted the worst year of his career in 2013-14.

As we've established, flexibility is limited for the Knicks, as they have only the mini mid-level exception and veteran's minimum contracts to spend, assuming that Carmelo Anthony is re-signed and Andrea Bargnani picks up his player option.

In fact, even if Melo leaves, the Knicks will still be over the cap, and the only tangible difference to their potential offseason spending will be that they can then use the full $5.3 million mid level, as opposed to the $3.3 million taxpayers' exception.

Essentially, New York is in position to make only one significant free-agent signing, and the smart move would be to find a short-term, cheap upgrade at point guard.

Given that mid-level signings must be for a minimum of three years, the Knicks need someone in their prime who'd also be willing to play backup if they were to make a splash and sign Rajon Rondo or another star point guard in 2015.

Options tend to be limited in this price range, but Mario Chalmers, Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich, Shaun Livingston, Darren Collison, Luke Ridnour and Aaron Brooks could all be realistic pickups.

 

Iman Shumpert's Future

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A final decision needs to be made on Shump's future. to give him time to develop before he hits restricted free agency next summer.

Even with Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani entering the last years of their respective contracts, the Knicks aren't exactly loaded with trade pieces, making that a difficult option for building the roster.

The one piece they do have, however, is Iman Shumpert, who is clearly talented and a gifted athlete despite losing his confidence last season.

While many will want to keep Shumpert around for his defense, the reality is that New York had three fairly young shooting guards last season, and he was the worst of the bunch, with Tim Hardaway Jr. impressing in his rookie season and J.R. Smith improving significantly towards the end of the year.

Trading Shumpert for the sake of it would be a mistake, as it's still possible to find rotation spots for all three players, but Jackson should feel he has the green light to let him go if it means bringing in an upgrade at point guard or center, which are the Knicks' two biggest needs at this point.

Rondo's a target that's already been mentioned, and although bringing him to New York was little more than a pipe dream at the trade deadline, now that he's in the last year of his contract, he could force the Boston Celtics to move him for what they can get.

There will likely be widespread interest for Rondo if he makes it clear he'll be testing free agency, but Shumpert and an expiring contract is a decent alternative to absolutely nothing, which is what the Celtics will be left with if he bolts in free agency.

A major move like this is unlikely to be made until the deadline, but the bottom line is that Jackson and whoever takes over as head coach must make a decision on Shumpert's future now, as the constant trade discussion has clearly taken a toll on his confidence and is stunting his development.

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