After being swept in four games by the Boston Celtics in a series where the Knicks clearly should've won the first two games, the team, coaching staff and front office clearly have some adjustments to make in the offseason if they wish to contend for an NBA championship against the elite teams in the NBA.
Watching the series against the Celtics exposed the Knicks primary weaknesses which were and still are coaching, defense, size and effort, which should never be an issue.
While the new collective bargaining agreement will likely be structured in a way that has a harder salary cap than what is currently in place, there are ways in which the team can improve upon each of the aforementioned problem areas this offseason, ultimately improving their chances of achieving their ultimate goal of winning an NBA title.
Addressing Donnie Walsh's contract situation is paramount in determining the Knicks' future success for next season and beyond, since his experience and ability to stick to the plan he has in place has been advantageous for the Knicks so far and will only continue to get better as he continues to put the correct pieces in place to help the Knicks franchise perform to its fullest potential.
Assuming James Dolan gives Walsh the two-year extension he absolutely deserves, the following are the five main things Knicks fans should expect from the Knicks this offseason and next season as well.
While the most logical defensive assistant the Knicks should hire in my mind is Patrick Ewing for the obvious reasons that he was beloved in New York, could get a second chance at winning a ring with them, albeit in a coaching position, and would be a great coach for their big men, the Knicks are likely to go in another direction.
According to several sources, the Knicks have been interested Lawrence Frank of the Boston Celtics, Steve Clifford of the Orlando Magic, Bill Bayno of the Portland Trail Blazers and last, but certainly not least, Dave Joerger of the up and coming gritty Memphis Grizzlies.
Although Lawrence Frank is likely the most familiar name out of the above group and would make a lot of sense, he is one of three coaches being considered for the Houston Rockets vacant head coaching job and has a solid chance at getting it, so he is not likely a realistic choice as he would likely choose taking a head coaching position over accepting an assistant coaching position.
As I mentioned before, I feel that Ewing would be the perfect man for the job, but he has not been mentioned as one of the names the Knicks are interested in lately. The guy who many people are least familiar with out of the aforementioned group of candidates may be the best man for the job. The defensive-minded assistant coach I am referring to is Dave Joerger of the Memphis Grizzlies, who is in the above picture.
The reason that I say he would be the right man for the job is simple: The gritty style which he has helped to employ alongside Lionel Hollins is the perfect complement to Mike D'Antoni's frenetically paced offense.
After famously refusing to hire Tom Thibodeau when he was with the Suns, it is time he stopped being so stubborn and listen to Walsh, who knows what is best for the team. What it comes down to is if he thinks he is going to keep his job in New York, he must learn how to coach defense himself or allow an assistant of his to cover defense, while he covers the offense.
Dave Joerger could help the Knicks become a pesky defensive team and make them well-respected on both ends of the floor, as opposed to being feared only on offense. Although he may not be a big name, the work he has done in Memphis speaks for itself. The Grizzlies have played without their star player, Rudy Gay, and are still competing with the best young team in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder and even have a solid chance to upset them with the series tied at 2-2.
After the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade, the Knicks were left with an even smaller front court after the trade, and clearly lacked size and a presence in the middle (sorry, Ronny Turiaf).
While players like Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan will all be restricted free agents this summer, as the restricted part implies, each of their respective teams have the ability to match any offer and are all expected to do so as the three aforementioned big men all improved significantly and are too valuable to their respective teams to be let go of.
However, the Knicks have recently expressed interest in Dalembert, which is a wise move because, although he may not have as much potential or be as talented as the three previously mentioned big men, he fulfills everything they need and is a perfect complement to Amar'e Stoudemire in more ways than one.
Amar'e is essentially a scorer and was forced to play out of position at times at the center position, which gave them advantages at times, since he is more agile and more athletic than most centers on the offensive end, but ultimately was a liability for the Knicks on the defensive end as he is a mediocre rebounder and a sub-par defender.
Getting Dalembert would give the Knicks a seven-footer in the middle who can protect the paint and rebound the ball with the best of them. The other way in which he complements Amar'e well is that he is a very healthy player and misses very few games. With Amar'e's injury history, the Knicks need someone they can rely on to give them solid minutes and who will be on the floor for the majority of the 82 game season.
While he is not the long-term answer for the Knicks, he is only 29 years old and is more than serviceable enough to fill the void in the middle for them for the next few years, while they look for a better option who can man the middle for them long-term.
Already being anointed in many scouting circles as "the next Dennis Rodman," Faried brings hustle and energy that the Knicks were sorely lacking during the series against the Celtics and during the regular season as well.
While he is certainly undersized for the power forward position which he currently plays, standing only at 6'8" weighing in at only 228 lbs., his freakish wingspan, athleticism and flat-out hustle more than make up for his deficiency in height.
The thing to remember as well is that Walsh has already made it clear that the Knicks will target a big man as their No. 1 priority and continuing from the idea that they sign Dalembert, as mentioned on the previous slide, Faried would be relied on to give the team high energy and bolster their second unit with his tremendous rebounding prowess and ability to run the floor and finish athletically at the rim.
While his comparisons are different depending on whom you talk to, the spectrum for his game at best has been compared to Rodman, as was already mentioned, and at worst to Renaldo Balkman. What player he becomes is anyone's guess, but he possesses the ability to rebound, which the Knicks sorely need and he has been pegged almost unanimously as the best rebounder in the entire draft.
The player he ends up being will likely fall somewhere in the middle on the spectrum between Rodman and Balkman, as he is too good to turn out like Balkman, since he is a much better rebounder, although they do have a similar motor, and it is still too early to call him the next Rodman yet.
The simple reality is that he embodies everything the Knicks need besides size. Rebounding, athleticism, great wingspan (which makes up for his lack of height) and quite possibly most important of all hustle and character.
The Knicks have had players like Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Al Harrington and Zach Randolph all play for the team who had all the talent in the world which meant nothing because their egos and lack of determination got in the way of their success. Taking someone like Faried who shows potential to get better talent-wise and already has a good attitude should come as a welcome change from the aforementioned egotistical players who Knicks fans begrudgingly became used to seeing pollute the locker room in the past during the Isaiah Thomas Era.
Granted this one's a long shot, but it is possible. Chandler will be a restricted free agent this offseason and has expressed interest in coming back to the Knicks, and the Knicks have reciprocated that interest to the media as well.
The reason the Knicks might be lucky enough to get him back is because the Nuggets will have Aaron Afflalo as a restricted free agent this offseason, along with Nene and Kenyon Martin as unrestricted free agents, while also having to figure out what decision they are going to make regarding the whole situation with J.R. Smith. So they have a lot of different players who will garner their attention along with the other players who are out in the free agent pool as well.
Bringing back Chandler would allow the Knicks the luxury of bringing Landry Fields off the bench, with a second unit that could consist of Toney Douglas, Shawne Williams and Kenneth Faried, which would be a great energy lineup off the bench, even playing Chauncey Billups, Melo or STAT with any combination of those players to mix scoring, energy and hustle that could give the Knicks a potent punch coming from their second unit.
Having Chandler in D'Antoni's position-less system gave the Knicks a lot of options as the Knicks were able to play him at the two, three and four position since he was able to guard all three positions and flourish on the offensive end as well.
At only 24 years old, Chandler was a large part of why the Knicks were successful before the Melo trade and would make them even more potent playing next to Melo, ultimately performing the dirty work much like Fields and Faried would do off the bench.
Getting Chandler back may not be easy but should definitely be a priority as he adds a whole other dimension to the team on both ends of the floor.
While the team will have some new additions, which were previously mentioned, the core group will have a more time to play together and form chemistry well before the playoffs roll around.
Barring the fact that Amar'e and Billups are healthy which are big "ifs," the Knicks could be a very dangerous team come playoff time with a very gritty styled team coming off the bench, which would pride themselves on defense and balance out the starting unit's proficiency on offense.
Having the two different combinations would make the Knicks a dynamic team on both ends of the floor and would not be monumental moves, but would be necessary ones in order to obtain the complementary pieces which they will need to surround Amar'e, Melo and a potential third star which is likely to come from the free agent class of 2012.
After being together for another year with less alterations to the roster, the Knicks will not be swept again come playoff time and will have a good chance to advance to the next round if these moves are all made.
As long as Dolan stays out of the way, and keeps Isaiah Thomas out of the way as well and lets Walsh do his job there is no reason that the Knicks would not be able to make all of the aforementioned moves a reality and get one step closer to realizing their goal of competing for and hopefully winning and NBA title.