Are the Knicks a Playoff Team This Season?

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Amare Stoudemire Knicks

The New York basketball revolution has begun.  It did not receive the immediate boost this off-season as LeBron, Wade, and Bosh chose to join forces in South Beach rather than the Big Apple.  Still, the signing of Amare Stoudemire is the first piece to the puzzle for the Knicks to regain respectability in the NBA and compete for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

By: David Kay

New York Knicks (29-53 in 2009-2010)

2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Ronny Turiaf/Tomfey Mozgov/Eddy Curry
PF: Amare Stoudemire/Anthony Randolph
SF: Danilo Gallinari/Kelenna Azubuike/Landry Fields
SG: Wilson Chandler/Bill Walker/Roger Mason/Andy Rautins
PG: Raymond Felton/Toney Douglas

Offseason Moves:
-Knicks sign G Roger Mason
-Knicks sign C Timofey Mozgov to 3-year, $9.7 million deal
-Knicks sign PG Raymond Felton to 2-year, $15.8 million deal
-Knicks sign F/C David Lee to 6-year, $80 million deal; trade Lee to Warriors for F Anthony Randolph, F/C Ronny Turiaf, and G/F Kelenna Azubuike
-Knicks acquire PF Amare Stoudemire in sign-and-trade deal worth 5-year, $100 million deal
-Knicks acquire C Jerome Jordan (44th pick) from Bucks for Cash Considerations
-Knicks PG Sergio Rodriguez signs 3-year deal with Real Madrid

Off-Season Grade: C+
This off-season was supposed to be THE off-season Knicks basketball was rejuvenated.  The franchise pretty much accepted the fact that they were going to suck for the past couple seasons in an attempt to clean up Isiah Thomas’ mess and clear as much cap space as possible with hopes of making a run at the best free agent class of all-time.

With astronomically extraordinary dreams of landing LeBron and Bosh, or Wade and Bosh, or LeBron and Amare, New York ended up settling for Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton as their splash signings… (insert Debbie Downer sound)  To their credit, giving Felton just a two-year deal was a great move as it does not tie up future cap space.

Also give credit to Knicks management for turning David Lee into a sign-and-trade deal that netted New York Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and Kelenna Azubuike rather than losing Lee via free agency and getting nothing in return.  Turiaf and Azubuike are more so one year rentals, but Randolph could finally have his breakout season in D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense.  The signing of Russian free agent big man Timofey Mozgov is a bit of a wild card.

Danilo Gallinari Knicks2010-2011 Outlook:
The Knicks have not won more than 33 games in any of the past six seasons.  I am not ready to grant New York a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they should certainly top the 33-win mark this season.

Amare is the key to accomplishing that goal.  In Phoenix, Amare had the privilege of running alongside Steve Nash, a player who clearly made everybody on the floor better.  Makes no bones about it; Raymond Felton is not Steve Nash.

We saw what happened to Shawn Marion’s career when he stopped playing with Nash.  While that sort of dip-off is highly unlikely in regards to Stoudemire, I do not think he alone can be the savior.  When/if Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul come to the Big Apple, then we can talk about the Knicks being a legit contender in the East.

The player who should benefit most from Amare’s acquisition is Danilo Gallinari.  The Rooster put together a solid second season and should be even more of a perimeter gunner with an improved roster.

Wilson Chandler will play a bit out of position and start at the two this season while Azubuike, Bill Walker, and Roger Mason all battle for minutes off what should be an improved bench.

The center position is a major question mark.  Eddy Curry is more interested in eating cheeseburgers than being a solid NBA big man.  Turiaf is a solid role player but nothing more while Mozgov is an unknown commodity.  New York could go small and athletic by playing Amare, Randolph, and Gallinari in the same frontcourt.  While it would certainly be exciting from an offensive standpoint, the Knicks would get killed defensively with that line-up.

If the pieces come together, the Knicks will compete for a playoff spot in the East but fall a little short in my opinion.  Acquiring ‘Melo would all but guarantee New York a spot in the post-season.  Until that happens, the Knicks remain at this spot in my power rankings.

Carmelo Anthony Chris PaulLooking Ahead to Next Summer:
Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.  Let’s be honest… more than likely they will eventually call New York home.  The Knicks are the frontrunner to acquire ‘Melo who will certainly be traded before February.  If New Orleans can not make CP3 a happy camper, expect his name to be floated around in trade rumors next summer as well.  This summer was just the beginning of the resurgence of Knicks basketball.  Expect it to be taken to the next level during the summer of 2011.

NBA Power Ranking: 20th

Other NBA Season Previews:
#21 Los Angeles Clippers
#22 Indiana Pacers
#23 Golden State Warriors
#24 Washington Wizards
#25 Detroit Pistons
#26 New Jersey Nets
#27 Sacramento Kings
#28 Cleveland Cavaliers
#29 Toronto Raptors
#30 Minnesota Timberwolves

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