Linsanity flooded the sports world this past NBA season as Jeremy Lin brought a fresh of breath air to the New York Knicks franchise. At the top of the Knicks’ off-season questions; will they be able to re-sign Lin and build off their strong play late in the year?
New York Knicks (36-30 last year)
2011-12 Season Summary:
It was a tale of two halves for the Knicks this past season. They made a coaching change nearly two-thirds into season, showing Mike D’Antoni the door while bringing in former Hawks’ head coach Mike Woodson. After starting 18-24 under D’Antoni, the team responded to the switch going 18-6 with Woodson patrolling the sidelines. Woodson was deservedly rewarded as he inked a multi-year extension to remain in the Big Apple.
That was hardly the major storyline for the 2011-2012 Knicks. Linsanity swept the globe as Jeremy Lin came from nowhere to provide a tremendous spark for the Knicks, bring some stability to the point guard position, and become the hot topic in all of sports. Linsanity quickly fizzled out though as he couldn’t keep up his hot start (partially due to the return of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire from injury) and then missed the final month of the season and playoffs due to a knee injury.
Questions remained about the super duo of ‘Melo and Amare. Both guys were banged up throughout the season and the chemistry issue remained a concern as they are labeled more selfish players who don’t exactly mesh well with their teammates. Tyson Chandler did what he was brought to New York to do; provide some physicality and a rim protecting big man in the middle. He was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year (but somehow was a Second Team All-Defensive member.)
Besides Lin, New York received a massive boost off the bench from sharpshooter Steve Novak who lit it from deep and gave the Knicks a needed three point threat from deep. Rookie Iman Shumpert and second year player Landry Fields were steady role players on the wing while J.R. Smith was also brought in midway through the season after his contract expired in China and added to the punch off the bench.
With all that said, the Knicks failed to meet expectations. They finished slightly better than they did the previous year and were ousted from the playoffs in the first round. In a city that is striving for a championship caliber basketball team, more is needed from this group (especially Amare and ‘Melo) and it will be interesting to see if Woodson can continue getting a high level of play from this group of players like he did the final 24 games of the year.
NBA Free Agents:
*PG-Jeremy Lin (RFA)
*G/F-Landry Fields (RFA)
SF-Steve Novak (UFA)
PG-Baron Davis (UFA)
PG-Mike Bibby (UFA)
PF-Jared Jeffries (UFA)
2012-13 Team Salary: approximately $61.8 million
1. What’s Lin Worth?:
The Jeremy Lin free agency issue is complicated. However, the case remains that the Knicks will have to pony up some cash to keep Linsanity in New York. As it stands right now, New York can only use their mid-level exception to bring back Lin which would severely hinder their options in free agency. If the Players’ Union wins an arbitration hearing scheduled for June 13th, then the Knicks can re-sign Lin (and Steve Novak for that matter) and also retain the use of their mid-level. Just how much will New York be willing to pay Lin and how much will Lin be asking for in the off-season?
It is possible that both Novak and J.R. Smith could leave via free agency which would create a major need for a shooter who can stretch the floor and open things up inside for ‘Melo and Anthony. With little cap flexibility in free agency, the Knicks will need to find a low-priced replacement which won’t be easy.
3. Find Bargains:
Piggybacking off the last sentence in #2, the Knicks don’t have the cap space to lure in a major free agent and only have one second round draft pick. They will have to take the “Heat Approach” and find some low-priced veterans who can fill roles throughout the roster, similar to what they did last year with Novak, Smith, Baron Davis, and Mike Bibby. This is a difficult task to take on but New York will have do this for the next three summers since Anthony, Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler are eating up practically all their cap space.
4. Frontcourt Depth:
As it stands now, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan are the only back-ups post players on the Knicks roster… that’s not good. Especially with the always prevalent possibility of an Amare injury, New York needs to find some frontcourt depth to help limit their Big 3’s minutes.
OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
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NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.