After a horrible 2013-14 season, the New York Knicks have their work cut out to go into next year a better team, with limited assets to work with throughout the offseason.
New York is over the luxury tax threshold, owns no 2014 draft picks and will have to rely on the taxpayers' mid-level and veteran's minimum contracts to improve the roster.
Fortunately, the Knicks don't have many players hitting free agency this summer, but their best player, Carmelo Anthony, is one of the few who is and has a very realistic chance of bolting for the Chicago Bulls or Houston Rockets.
While it'd be unrealistic to expect them all to be filled, let's go through the most glaring holes the Knicks have ahead of the 2014 offseason:
In a move that came as a surprise to no one, Phil Jackson fired Mike Woodson and his staff as his first real decision as president of basketball operations in New York.
That, of course, leaves a significant vacancy at head coach, with the Knicks exploring their options for a replacement as we speak.
Steve Kerr appears to be the front-runner for the job, having met with Jackson to discuss the position on Friday, according to the New York Daily News.
While he lacks experience as a coach, Kerr would be a solid fit, as he learned from the likes of Jackson and Gregg Popovich during his playing career and has a fair amount of front-office experience from the Phoenix Suns to share with Jackson.
Kerr is fairly young for a head coach, giving the Knicks a chance to start anew and build for the long term, which is extremely important for a franchise that has lacked consistency for the last decade or so.
Of course, it's not set in stone that Kerr will take the job, but New York does have other options, namely Lionel Hollins, Jerry Sloan and potentially Mark Jackson, depending on how the Golden State Warriors fare in the playoffs.
Considering that cap space is irrelevant for staff signings, this is the only move we can expect the Knicks to make no matter what, and it's also the most important for the future of the franchise. If the team comes away from the offseason with only one thing, it has to be a legitimate long-term coaching option.
If there's one position on the court that the Knicks need an immediate fix for, it's point guard, where Raymond Felton was the worst starter in the NBA last season.
Again, because of their cap limitations, it will be difficult to bring in a guy who can change the fortunes of the team, but there are players out there who are at least better fits than the troubled Felton.
Using the triangle offense—if New York decides to do so with Jackson in charge—will mean that the point guard isn't quite as important as it was before, but there's still a need for someone who can hold his own defensively, hit an open jumper and create plays when necessary.
Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat would fit the bill, as a defensive-minded guard, known offensively for his ability to hit the three-point shot. It will be difficult to pry him from the reigning champs, but cap space is an issue for the Heat too, and it could come down to who is willing to use the full taxpayers' exception on him.
Elsewhere, options include Kirk Hinrich, Darren Collison and Nate Robinson, and if they're lucky, Greivis Vasquez may be willing to take a contract below his market value as well.
One of the primary reasons New York was so bad this past season was its distinct lack of two-way players, with too many who were liabilities on one end of the court.
Defensively, the likes of Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith and Andrea Bargnani hurt the team significantly, while players like Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler were only able to contribute so much on offense with their inability to create shots for themselves.
Bringing in genuine two-way players won't be cheap or easy, so it's unlikely that the Knicks will come away from this offseason with more than one or two new players who can play effectively on both ends.
Having Jackson in charge could potentially convince some players to take a pay cut to be here, but after the season they had, New York doesn't really have that kind of pull anymore. Pau Gasol—a prime example of a two-way player—has said he'd at least listen to the Knicks, and that may be true of a few of Jackson's former players from previous coaching spots, but it's nothing we should bank on.
The Knicks will have to be focused on winning next season if they want to keep Carmelo Anthony in town, but the reality is that they need to prioritize building for the future if they're ever to truly contend for a title.
For most teams, the foundation is built on draft picks, but New York doesn't have too many in the foreseeable future and should look to acquire some this summer.
Doing so will be difficult, but the Knicks have a fair number of expiring contracts and a solid trade piece in Iman Shumpert and may even be able to work out a sign-and-trade if Melo does decide to leave in free agency.
If the 2014 draft turns out to be as deep as it's expected to be, the Knicks can't afford to miss out on it entirely, and it'd be worthwhile to acquire even just a late first-round pick, which is a genuine possibility considering the number of teams that own multiple picks that may be expendable.
New York made a number of free-agency moves last summer, but ultimately Tim Hardaway Jr., a late first-round pick, ended up being its best acquisition, as well as its most cap-friendly. And, as much as we like to criticize their typical offseason strategy, the Knicks have actually made some decent draft decisions in recent memory, with Hardaway, Shumpert and second-round pick Landry Fields leading the way.
If they can't find a way to trade into this year's draft, future picks will do, because as it stands, the Knicks have only two first-rounders between now and 2018.
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