The New York Knicks' New Look
The New York Knicks have had the 2010 NBA free agency period in their sights for quite a while. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, among other superstars, were set to become free agents, and New York is supposedly the ultimate free agent destination.
The reality is, the Knicks failed to land LeBron James and couldn't get Wade or Bosh either. The back up plan was to get Stoudemire and Johnson, but that failed, too.
At one point it seemed almost certain that Johnson would land in New York, but the Hawks surprisingly made him an offer he, nor anyone else for that matter, couldn't refuse.
The Knicks ended up with only one big-name free agent, Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire is a great player, but it is definitely not what the Knicks had anticipated.
Now that all the big names have signed and the Knicks are stuck with what they got, let's take a look at their assets and how they compare to what they have had in previous seasons, and also how they can shape the Knicks' future.
In the past six seasons, the Knicks highest win total is 33 wins in both the 04-05, and the 06-07 seasons. The Knicks have made a series of bad trades and signings that have prevented the team from seeing consistent success over the last eight years or so.
The team hit rock bottom after the 05-06 season when they won just 23 games, the second-worst in the NBA to the Trail Blazers. The Knicks had a payroll of $130 million that season and were $80.5 million over the salary cap of 49.5 million, and were 68.3 million dollars deep in luxury tax territory.
To make matters worse, they failed to protect a future lottery selection in a previous trade, so they forfeited the second pick in the draft, and they fired and bought out coach Larry Brown for $18.5 million. Wow, what a year.
The Knicks have come quite a ways since then. They have, for the most part, purged the organization of the terrible contracts that prevented them from succeeding for almost the last decade, and have been filling their roster with talented young players and expiring contracts leading up to this year, and have been taking steps in the right direction.
Not getting LeBron is not the end of the world for the Knicks. While it is a big setback they can't possibly be any worse off than they were in 2006.
The Knicks have a huge expiring contract for next season in Eddy Curry, who will make over $11 million this year that will allow them to pursue the top free agents of the 2011 class under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, namely Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker.
Anthony has been rumored to want to go to New York after his contract expires at the end of this season. New York will have more than enough money to sign Anthony and I believe it would be a good fit.
New York is a great place for a superstar to go, and if Anthony could win a championship there, he will become immortal.
The point is that the Knicks can go a lot of different directions at this point. They have the flexibility to do almost anything they feel is necessary.
They have the talent and the expiring contract to complete a big deal, they have a lot of cap room to either save for next year or sign role players or both.
The Knicks have done an incredible job of recovering from the disaster of 05-06, and have the assets to build a solid playoff team.
Despite the Knicks' focus on acquiring expiring contracts and clearing cap space over the past couple of years, they have managed to acquire a good group of talented young players over the past couple of years.
Let's start with the sign-and-trade deal the Knicks just completed. They traded away a very talented player in David Lee, but he is 27 years old and will be 33 when he is released from his contract.
He does fit into D'Antoni's system, but he doesn't play good defense and the Knicks showed little confidence in Lee, and it never really seemed like the Knicks had any interest in bringing Lee back, so I guess the Knicks have to be happy they were compensated for him.
Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, and Ronny Turiaf are all solid players who can log meaningful minutes right away.
Randolph is a talented player who is still developing and is said to have a very high ceiling. He is still only 21 years old. At 6-10, Randolph averaged 13 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game last season for the Warriors, and while these numbers may not seem great, he did this in less than 23 minutes a game.
Those are very impressive numbers for just under 23 minutes a game.
Randolph gives the Knicks another interesting option. Multiple teams have shown significant interest in him, and since he plays the same position as Stoudemire, they might use him as trade bait to potentially get a player like Ricky Rubio, whom they have coveted for a while.
Randolph wouldn't be traded straight up for Rubio, but I can see him being a big part of a future deal.
Kelenna Azubuike could be a solid role player for years to come. He may not be a star but he can bring energy off the bench, or maybe even start if necessary.
He only played in nine games with the Warriors last season before suffering a season-ending injury, but he should be fine for this season.
Ronny Turiaf is another guy who may not be a star or even a starter, but he is a solid backup.
Bill Walker is a solid option off the bench for the Knicks. He shot 43 percent from 3-point range last season and can really shoot. He's only 22.
Toney Douglas is another guy who can score off the bench. He is a point guard, but he could also play shooting guard. He is only 24. Eddy Curry is valuable as an expiring contract.
Wilson Chandler started for the Knicks last season and played quite well. He is another young player as he is only 23, and he averaged just over 15 points and 5.5 rebounds a game last season.
The Knicks have three players drafted in the second round this season. Andy Rautins and Landry Fields are shooters who can come in and maybe create a basket or two.
Jerome Jordan is a raw 7-footer who will need more time to develop and get stronger as he will need some time to adjust to the NBA. He is a talented player who could be decent a couple years down the road.
At this point it seems that the most promising young player on the Knicks roster is Danilo Gallinari. He was taken by the Knicks with the sixth pick in the 2008 NBA draft.
Last season he played in 81 games while averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds a game. Gallinari is a very talented player with a lot of potential.
With the addition of Raymond Felton, the Knicks get a true point guard that they can count on to be a consistent starter.
He can score a little bit, he can pass, and he can play solid perimeter defense. The Knicks roster did lack a true point guard, and Felton gives them just that.
The Knicks' big move of the off-season was the signing of five-time All-Star Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire will bring a unique skill set to the Knicks and will reunite with former coach Mike D'Antoni.
Stoudemire is the perfect player for D'Antoni's system and I expect him to put up really big numbers right away.
I believe Stoudemire makes the Knicks a solid playoff team next year, and if the Knicks can pick up another high-quality player to team with Amare, the Knicks can become a contender in the East.
The New York Knicks have come so far in just four years, and they have the ability to make whatever kind of move they need to in order to improve their team even further.
The Knicks are definitely a team to look out for in the future, as they have an opportunity to compete for free agents for years to come.
I can't imagine New York having too much of a problem getting free agents if they are already a playoff team, we'll just have to wait and see.
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