It was a great game as Carmelo Anthony led the charge with a Knicks career-high 39 points.
Before this win, the Knicks were obviously in a major struggle and still weren't smooth against the Magic. Their offense has been the struggle as Anthony has not fit into Mike D'Antoni's system just yet.
Part of the problem—and a big one—has been the new point guard, Chauncey Billups. The Knicks started the season with Raymond Felton at the point and after trying to get used to running the pick-and-roll with Amar'e Stoudemire, it worked, and rather nicely.
After trading Felton to the Nuggets in the deal in February that got the Knicks Anthony and Billups as the main pieces, the offense has slowed down considerably.
Billups may still be a solid point guard, but he's much older than Felton and he hasn't been able to keep up with quicker point guards.
He did get off to a great start with the Knicks, averaging 23 points per game through his first four—that was before he got injured in a game in Orlando when he bumped knees with Dwight Howard.
He missed some games and has been very shaky following his return.
He did score 30 in that game in Orlando on March 1, but Magic point guard Jameer Nelson had no trouble getting past him.
After his return on March 13, he's looked very old and his shots have been off. That in large part has had to do with poor shot selection. It helped the Knicks lose most of their six in a row that they did, and most of his problems came in the fourth quarter.
He'd attempt three-pointers that weren't easy and ones that he'd try on the run. He'd take off-balance shots or not pass as much, perhaps not feeling confident playing with Amar'e Stoudemire.
Now, he did have a good game against the Magic on Monday night, scoring 17 points with six assists and six rebounds, but the Knicks will have a huge decision to make this offseason.
After the Collective Bargaining Agreement is settled and everything is sorted out, Billups will have a $14.3 million option on his contract for next season.
Should the Knicks pick it up or buy him out?
It's a tough question and not as easy as you think. You can simply say that he's too old and doesn't fit the system, so let him go and give Toney Douglas a shot for one season, but here are the issues.
If the Knicks let Billups go, is Douglas ready to take over for a season or does he have to share time with someone? If so, the Knicks would have to go after a point guard this summer, obviously of the lesser degree.
The Knicks' bigger need would be a legitimate center to finally add size to the team, and that's where the money should be spent. Plus, everyone knows the true point guards will be out there in the summer of 2012, like Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
If the Knicks bring Billups back, can they trust that he'll stay healthy for another full season and adjust to D'Antoni's uptempo offense? That, of course, is if D'Antoni is still coaching the team, which he will if the Knicks make the playoffs.
The original idea when the Knicks received Billups in the Anthony deal was to have him bridge the gap in between now and 2012 when the Knicks can sign an elite point guard. That sentiment has changed seeing Billups struggle lately.
If you take everything into account, the Knicks should pick up the option. The negatives outweigh the positives for two reasons—the first one being Douglas is solid, but can have awful shooting nights and the second being, why should the Knicks bring in yet another point guard in such a short span?
The problem D'Antoni has run into is the Knicks have changed the roster way too many times. Billups is the Knicks' third point guard in the three seasons D'Antoni has been coach, and it would be nice to have Billups learn the offense for a season rather than start over again.
It'll be a tough decision for the Knicks, and hopefully Billups can make it an easy one by showing up big when the games count the most down the stretch.
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