Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming. Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players. Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.
The New York Knicks have formed their own superstar tandem with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Now the franchise must follow the Miami Heat game plan from last off-season and find the right pieces to compliment their star players.
By: David Kay
New York Knicks (42-40 last season)
’10-’11 Season in Review:
Dating back to a couple of years ago, the New York Knicks put into motion a plan to clear as much cap space as possible and make a run at LeBron James in the summer of 2010. While that plan did not exactly go as hoped, the Knicks took the first step towards re-building their reputation when they signed Amare Stoudemire last off-season. The second domino then fell when, as many expected, New York was able to trade for Carmelo Anthony prior to the trade deadline and embark on their own Miami Heat-like journey.
Prior to Melo’s arrival in the Big Apple, the Knicks were already on pace to finish with their best record in a decade. Surprising as it might seem, New York only ended up with a five-hundred record after the blockbuster acquisition, partially because the team was still trying to find a chemistry on the court and partially because the deal gutted the already thin depth across the roster. However, that was the price management knew it would have to pay to form their dynamic duo that averaged nearly 50 points per game in their time together.
The almost forgotten “throw-in” of the ‘Melo trade was veteran point guard Chauncey Billups who took the reins from the dealt Raymond Felton. Felton was having a breakout season in New York and Billups played well after the trade but also began to show his age a bit. With Billups entering the final year of his contract, expect it to be his last in New York and the Knicks could actually try to use him as trade bait during the season in hopes of acquiring a player like Chris Paul…
The biggest surprise of all for the Knicks was second round pick Landry Fields who was considered a reach when New York took him with the 38th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Fields wound up starting 81 games and was exactly what the team needed from a financial standpoint; cheap but effective production.
The lack of depth caught up to New York late in the season when they were swept out of the playoff by the Celtics as Billups was sidelined with injury and the team relied on guys like Jared Jefferies, Anthony Carter, and Roger Mason to play significant roles. Still, the 2010-2011 season is just the beginning of the re-birth of the Knicks franchise. Now the goal is to continue to make improvements so New York can once again be a legit factor in the Eastern Conference.
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: #Ronny Turiaf
PF: Amare Stoudemire/Renaldo Balkman
SF: Carmelo Anthony
SG: Landry Fields/Bill Walker/Andy Rautins
PG: Chauncey Billups/Toney Douglas
’11-’12 Team Salary: Approximately $60.6 million
1. Cheap Depth:
With their own big three pretty much eating up the entire Knicks cap space, New York now enters Miami Heat zone in trying to find veterans who are willing to sign league minimum deals to fill out the depth of their roster. This is not an easy mission to accomplish although the attraction of playing in New York City should only help their cause.
2. Frontcourt Help:
Depending on what happens with the salary cap after the pending lockout is resolved, the Knicks biggest asset in free agency will be their mid-level exception. That should be spent on finding some frontcourt help, ideally a true center who can protect the rim on the defensive end.
3. Front Office Stability:
Despite playing an integral part in resurrecting the franchise, team president Donnie Walsh stepped down (cough was forced out cough) of his job with the Knicks. With that decision comes uncertainty about Mike D’Antoni’s future with the team as the head coach is entering the final year of his contract. Owner James Dolan must replace Walsh with someone who can continue the blueprint that Walsh laid out for this franchise while also figuring out if D’Antoni is the man for the job or if there is a better replacement available. Any franchise that has hopes of contending for a title needs stability at the top so the men wearing the expensive suits in the Knicks front office better figure things out.
OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
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CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT
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.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.