Moving forward after the inevitable disappointment, the Knicks have begun maneuvering through this post-LeBron off-season. The acquisition of Amar'e Stoudemire was expected to be the appetizing lure for a superstar to come to the world’s greatest city and play in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Unfortunately, the Knicks were left with the flexibility and a roster good enough to make get into the playoffs, at best.
Minutes after the announcement that the Heat would complete the trifecta many believed to be pie-in-the-sky, the Knicks made the first strike.
The Knicks agreed to send David Lee to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and Kelenna Azubuike. Randolph, 20, is the key piece that begins the rebuilding process. Randolph’s strengths, on paper, seem to fit well with Stoudemire’s skill set and could help mask his noticeable defensive deficiencies.
Turiaf, 27, and Azubuike, 26, will help fill out the roster and should help strengthen a bench and a roster that has been lacking in talent and heart. Turiaf’s grit and Azubuike’s shooting touch should create flexibility missing in New York for years.
The greatest piece of flexibility these three offers is that they leave the Knicks with financial flexibility this year as all are on the last years of the contracts.
Ideally, Randolph will mesh with one of the league’s tallest front courts with Stoudemire and sharpshooting Danilo Gallinari, but since Randolph has yet to play significant time on a consistent basis and Gallinari has yet to show he can defend the more athletic small forwards, like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, there are obvious concerns.
These concerns could be answered this off-season or we could see how these payers will mesh. Undoubtedly, Walsh will explore all options and look to field the best team he can like he promised when he gutted this roster in anticipation of this summer.
While there is an idea for a front court, the backcourt remains unaddressed and subpar. In fact, subpar is being too nice, because one could say that it is awful. Toney Douglas is a solid role player who could spell a team’s starting point guard, but the point guard position remains lacking.
D’Antoni’s offense only works when there is a distributor to activate the pick n’ roll and spread the floor for the jump shooters. But there are not enough shooters to knock down the open threes. If this roster doesn’t add another significant piece, Wilson Chandler, Gallinari, and Azubuike will be the only shooters in D’Antoni’s offense.
The trade route is the best way to continue to build a team that can put up a resistance to basketball’s new Evil Empire. For instance, why wait for Carmelo to hit the open market next off-season? Can Chris Paul be acquired from the financially-strapped New Orleans Hornets? And imagine ever thinking one could ever see value in Eddy Curry…ok it’s an expiring contract value, but still?
As it stands right now with Stoudemire’s contract and the Lee trade, the Knicks currently have $13.4 in cap space. Do you know whose salary would fit that space perfectly? Chris Paul.
Paul would is the piece Walsh should investigate and work hard to acquire. Much like Steve Nash, Paul could take a roster of unproven parts and make them a quality team that could make it to the second round of the playoffs next year.
Carmelo Anthony is another piece that could join the Knicks this off-season or next. Anthony would thrive in D’Antoni’s wide-open style and the space it allows him to operate in. Anthony is a scorer and D’Antoni emphasizes scoring in bunches.
Then there is the matter of Eddy Curry’s expiring contract?
Curry’s contract could facilitate a major trade with a team concerned about creating financial flexibility. This could be a piece in acquiring Paul or getting Denver to part with Carmelo before Carmelo leaves them with nothing to show, much like LeBron did to the Cavaliers. Eddy Curry will be talked about more this year than the entirety of his career up to this point.
What else should the Knicks part with?
No one on this roster is untouchable. If it means trading away the talented Gallinari or Chandler, all options must be explored. Te key is to look at the 2011-12 season and believe that New York is among the top teams in the conference and at least a minor threat to the terrible threesome on South Beach.
There is work to do here, but as bad as it has been it can only get better. The task is for Walsh is still arduous. His mentality has to be forward thinking and remember that bad decisions are what got the Knicks here. Let’s not repeat them. We can build on this.