New York Knicks Head into NBA Playoffs 2011 with Major Question Marks
Although the season ending left a bitter taste in the mouths of both Knicks fans and players, we all have to remember major steps were taken in the right direction, and the franchise is in much better shape than it was a year ago.
They have two major stars in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, promising young talent in Landry Fields, Shawne Williams and Toney Douglas and plenty of cap space.
However, there are still big questions that need to be answered.
What To Do with Mike D'Antoni
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In three seasons with the Knicks, D'Antoni was only able to lead the Knicks to an over .500 record once, and only one trip to the playoffs.
I personally like D'Antoni, I think he is a pretty good coach, but I don't think he is the right coach for the Knicks.
As we have seen from D'Antoni in the past, he is a run and gun coach. He likes fast pace, full court games, with little or no setup. Unfortunately, one thing that he does not enforce enough is defense.
We saw this season that the Knicks had no problem scoring in almost all of their games, averaging 106.5 points per game. That's the highest in the Eastern Conference, second highest in the NBA, behind Denver. Unfortunately, they find themselves at the top of points allowed as well, with 105.7. That's the worst in the East, and only Minnesota and Phoenix allowed more points (both teams missed the playoffs and played sub .500 ball).
Therefore, the Knicks need a lock down defensive coach. Someone who will drill this into the minds of the players and get guys like Amare and Melo to commit on defense every possession, not just when they feel like it.
Bring Chauncey Back?
When Billups was healthy, he was great for the Knicks. Unfortunately, he was pretty banged up for the biggest time of the season. The Knicks would owe Chauncey $14 million next season, with a $4 million buy out. I'd definitely like to keep him around, but only at the right price. 14 mill is not the right price. If the Knicks can renegotiate a deal, it would be great to have Chauncey back as the starting point guard, with Toney Douglas and Anthony Carter coming in off the bench.
Essentially, the Knicks would only need to sign Chauncey to a one year deal, in hopes to land either Chris Paul or Derron Williams in the 2012 free agency class, assuming they would want to leave their current teams.
Verdict—Bring Chauncey back for a renegotiated deal
Get an Actual Center
I don't care how you do it, just do it. Sign a defensive center. You don't need a big guy who's going to score 25 points a night, we already have that in Amare. Scoring is not the issue, defensive presence is. A Marcus Camby type would be perfect, something similar to Jared Jeffries, but tougher, and less afraid to actually shoot the ball if needed.
Other Expiring Contracts
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Where Does Donnie Walsh Fit In?
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The Knicks don't keep Walsh around for his beauty—it's his brains they're after. Hopefully they keep him around a little longer. Walsh hasn't necessarily wowed the basketball world in any way in the past few years, but he has done exactly what the Knicks needed him to do—dump salary. He brought veteran players in at the right time with expiring contracts (McGrady), and he cleared enough room for the Knicks to sign Stoudemire in the offseason, trade for Melo and still have room for another all-star type player.
Also, perhaps the biggest and most unsung move in years for the Knicks, is the drafting of Landry Fields.
Walsh was the one who wanted Fields, and that has turned out to be the best draft pick by the Knicks in years. Much better advised than picking Danilo Gallinari over rising stars like Brook Lopez and Serge Ibaka, just because Mike and Danilo's dad were good pals.
The only snag I see in this whole situation is the disagreement on the Melo deal. Donnie didn't want to dump the talent that he did to obtain Melo, and it's a major debate. Some say the Knicks could have easily signed Melo after the season and held onto their other players. Others, including Melo himself, say that he would have signed elsewhere, even though New York was his number one destination.
We'll never really know for sure what the right deal was, but either way Donnie is fully committed to this team, whether or not they did what he wanted.
Verdict—Bring back Donnie, no question