New York Knicks: Chauncey Billups and 5 Important Offseason Decisions
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After being swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the New York Knicks have some soul searching to do this offseason. After competing in Games 1 and 2 in Boston, the Knicks struggled upon their return home.
Injuries had a hand in New York's issues, as Chauncey Billups missed Games 2-4 with a knee injury and Amar'e Stoudemire played through a back injury that sapped his explosiveness and fluidity.
The Knicks have big decisions coming up, most notably Billups' $14.2 million team option. What should they do?
Decline Billups' Option
The Knicks would be wise not to re-sign Chauncey Billups for $14.2 million, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't try to get him back.
As poorly as the Knicks played without Billups in the playoffs, next year is not their year either. As a non-contender for the 2012 NBA Championship, why should the Knicks tie themselves to an aging and increasingly injury-prone point guard for $14.2 million?
If the Knicks decide not to renew Billups' option, the buyout would be approximately $4 million. They would also be left with only Toney Douglas at the point, a position he has proven unable to play in his short career.
While declining Billups' option is a prudent move, that doesn't mean the Knicks shouldn't try to re-sign him to a one-year deal for less money. No NBA team is going to pay $14 million to sign Billups, so the possibility remains for the Knicks to get him back for about half of that sum.
That move would allow him to be included in trade talks for free-agents-to-be like Chris Paul, Deron Williams and even Dwight Howard, all of whom the Knicks would love to bring in for their own version of "The Big Three." Teams may not want to take on the aging point guard, but at this point of his career he's no more than a one-year, stop-gap option anyway.
Re-signing BIllups also means they wouldn't have to force Douglas to be their starting point guard and could use some of that money on other needs.
Sign a Legitimate Center
Adding a center like Tyson Chandler would help the Knicks where they need it most.
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Using the money they would save by not renewing Billups' option, the Knicks could potentially sign a center with a focus on defense and rebounding. Samuel Dalembert will surely be available with the Kings already loaded with young frontcourt talent, while Tyson Chandler may hit free agency if the Mavericks opt not to re-sign him.
Both of these players are true centers, with Chandler standing 7'1" and Dalembert at 6'11". They each averaged over a block a game this season and neither has the offensive skill set to demand the ball. Both players would fit perfectly next to Amar'e Stoudemire at power forward.
This would allow the Knicks to bring Ronny Turiaf (who will surely renew his $4.36 million player option) off the bench to back up both spots for about 25 minutes per game, a role he is much better suited for than starting.
Re-Sign Shawne Williams
Shawne Williams was one of the league's better three-point shooters this season and is a player the Knicks could use next year.
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Williams was the Knicks' best three-point shooter this season, finishing the season 85-for-212 (40.1 percent) from beyond the arc. For a team that traded its sharpshooter (Danilo Gallinari) and got back a player in Carmelo Anthony who is more scorer than shooter, the Knicks can't afford to lose Williams.
Williams made just $885,210 this season and surely would want a pay raise for 2011-12, but it would be difficult for him to request a contract worth more than $2 million, especially if there is an NBA lockout. Along with his shooting ability, Williams is a solid defender and rebounder and can play both forward positions behind Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
If the Knicks don't want to pay Williams, they can also bring back Bill Walker at a team option of $916,100. As evidenced by his terrible shooting performance in Game 2, Walker isn't quite the long-distance option Williams is, but if the Knicks are looking to go with a cheaper alternative, he's worth slightly less than a million.
Take a Hard Look at Mike D'Antoni's Status
Mike DAntoni takes a lot of heat for the Knicks issues on defense, but is it all his fault?
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Many people don't like Mike D'Antoni as an NBA coach, but I do. That being said, I'm not sure he's the right fit for the new-look Knicks.
Under D'Antoni, the Knicks were exciting at the beginning of the season. But the trade for Carmelo Anthony signaled a shift in the Knicks' offensive mentality. They went from a high-octane offense predicated on good outside shooting and the ability to get out in transition to more of a half-court team that relied on Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire to go one-on-one offensively.
The current Knicks roster just doesn't fit D'Antoni's offensive style. I've heard the name Rick Adelman floating around as a potential replacement since he won't be back with the Rockets next season. While I'm not sure Adelman is a better coach than D'Antoni, he may be a better fit in New York due to an increased focus on defense.
In all likelihood, D'Antoni will be back next season and I feel like that's the right move; he deserves a full season with this new roster to prove he belongs. Donnie Walsh is also a big fan of the coach, who has been criticized for his team's lack of defense.
Look at the New York roster for a second. Tell me if this team could play defense at a consistently high level with the players they have now. I didn't think so.
Bring Back Donnie Walsh
Donnie Walsh has been instrumental in bringing the Knicks back to relevance.
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Knicks president Donnie Walsh is a major reason for the recent turnaround of the franchise. He has done exactly what he was brought to New York to do and letting him go now, before the process is fully completed, would be an egregious mistake.
Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan is known for making those kinds of mistakes, but not renewing Walsh's option by April 30 could be the worst of them all. Walsh can still negotiate a new deal with the team beyond that date, but he can also go elsewhere if he has tired of Dolan's interference.
Dolan is not an intelligent basketball mind. His meddling in Walsh's decision-making this season led the Knicks to give up more than they might have needed to for an overrated star in Carmelo Anthony, a move neither Walsh nor Mike D'Antoni was publicly in favor of.
Dolan also allegedly solicited advice from Isiah Thomas, the same man who ran the Knicks franchise into the ground as president. The fact that Dolan would trust Thomas' opinion over Walsh's shows what a buffoon he is and represents the major reason the Knicks need Walsh back. Even with two stars on board, Dolan still has the ability to run this franchise into the ground once again.