The Knicks recently closed out the season, finishing with a 29-53 record. This, however, should not be a surprise or a disappointment to anyone.
It is simply what was expected. The Knicks have now gone several seasons without a “star” player. Seven-time all-star Tracy McGrady was acquired by the team at the trading deadline, and the move was met with much hype that T-Mac could possibly fill that star void the Knicks have been desperate to fill.
Instead, he was outplayed by players such as David Lee, Danillo Gallinari and even former D-League standout Bill Walker.
From a competitive standpoint, one could say that the trade was made too late in the season because T-Mac did not have enough time to gel with teammates. By February, the season was already lost. Nevertheless, based on his play during his 24-game stint, I am not sure he would have made more of a difference had he arrived any earlier.
I wish him good luck with his further rehab. I do, however, wish him happy trails elsewhere. I don’t believe there will be spot for him on the roster next season.
This season for the Knicks was obviously not about being competitive, but simply getting it over with. Fortunately, that time has come, and the only way to look now is forward.
The Knicks are in line to offer maximum contracts to two of this summer’s top free agents in hopes of building a winning team again.
There are a few pieces that the Knicks can and will hold onto next season. Gallinari, Toney Douglas and Wilson Chandler (who will be coming off ankle surgery for the second straight summer) will all be back next season.
It’s my belief that all three of them will be starters next season. In Douglas’ case, it’s simply the smart move to make. He has shown some flashes of solid talent, and while he needs to mature into a smarter player, the best remedy for that is time and experience on the court. Did I mention he is also already under contract next season? There is no need to spend money on a point guard when you clearly already have one.
This season, before his injury and Gallinari’s request to guard each opponent’s best player, it was Chandler who was guarding the big guns like Lebron and Kobe. As Chandler has developed, his offense has been consistent but not yet overwhelming. He has, however, become regarded as the team’s best defender since the departure of Jared Jeffries. His elevated defense this season came as a pleasant surprise, but is also an even more valuable piece of this team’s future.
Although Douglas and Chandler are valuable pieces, no one other than Gallinari will be the most crucial in the Knicks’ recruiting process.
Gallinari is the perfect complementary player. His offensive repertoire has been compared to that of Dirk Nowitzki’s. He can unconsciously hit jump shots from anywhere on the court. This would create difficult matchups for opponents’ double teaming the Knicks’ main offensive threat(s), whoever that may be next season.
The beauty of Gallinari is that he could seamlessly fit into a role as the second or even third offensive option in the Knicks’ offense. If he were the latter option, he could pile up points by simply positioning himself behind the three point line and waiting for the pass.
Having a teammate like that could be very enticing for the upcoming free agents.
But what if the Knicks fail to sign two top free agents, and end up with just one? That’s just fine too. Everyone knows Gallinari, who averaged 20.8 points in his last fourteen games, loves to shoot.
Those last fourteen games of the season helped Gallinari prove that he can increase his offense productivity if forced to do so. If the Knicks are able to sign Lebron James or even Joe Johnson, two very gifted passers, either one of them could help Gallinari average 20 points.
Eddy Curry is also under contract for the Knicks next season, which at this point is nothing more than simply unfortunate.
This summer could end up becoming monumental for the Knicks, but the pressure is mounting. Donnie Walsh has some great pieces and has put his team in a very strategic position going forward.
The position the team is in, however, is nothing more than just the opportunity for success. What Walsh does with this opportunity will define the organization’s future.