The 2013-14 season for the New York Knicks got off to a bad start and it pretty much stayed that way. They got off to a 3-13 start and where as many as 19 games under .500 for the season. This was a Knicks team coming off a 50+ win season and to see them plummet so far was painful to watch. From injuries to Felton, Bargnani, Chandler to headaches with JR Smith, this season unraveled from the start. Add in the fact this team did not protect home court and disappointing losses to under .500 teams and you have a club missing the playoffs for the first time in 3 years.
There weren’t many highs for this team but you can point to a few. The resurgence of Amar’e Stoudemire is one of the few bright spots for this club. When Woodson finally let loose the chains, let STAT play 25-30 minutes a game, become a starter, and finish games, STAT responded. He averaged almost 16 points and 6 rebounds since March 1st, and the team had their best stretch of the season. STAT himself stated once he we inserted into the starting lineup, he became more of a leader. Now he has trade value if the Knicks plan to move him or they can bring him back for the final year of his contract and try to make it work with Carmelo Anthony.
The other highs included the steal of the draft in Tim Hardaway Jr. In his first season in the pros, Hardaway became a legit ROY candidate and impressed with his scoring and improving defense. He averaged 10 points per and had many nights over 20. He is one of the pieces to the future that Jackson must never part with. Also Melo’s 62 point performance versus the Bobcats was just awesome to watch. Carmelo Anthony put in a solid season in general as he averaged 27 and a career high 8 boards, but he will be measured on wins, losses, and championships.
Future of Woodson – Phil Jackson is the new President of Basketball Operations and this will be his first offseason with this job. He has a lot of decisions to make and none more pressing then that off the fate of Mike Woodson. Mike Woodson is one of the winningest coaches for the team and sports a 58% winning percentage. He’s lead this team to the playoffs 2 out of 3 years, but at the end of the day he’s not Phil’s guy. Phil has hinted he wants to change the philosophy of the team’s offensive and defensive schemes. It would be easier to do this with his personal pick coach at the helm, rumors have pointed to Steve Kerr being a heavy favorite. Woodson is a good coach and should stay if you look at the facts, but GM/Presidents need to have their pick at coach to make the system as a whole work and Woody might be on the outside looking in.
Carmelo’s Future – Carmelo Anthony has stated that he will opt out of his contract this season to test the waters. Now the question is will the Knicks bring him back. The Knicks can offer him the biggest contract (adding an extra year via his Bird Rights) and the lure of NYC. But the Bulls and Lakers have the cap space or stars to pair him with to make the chase for a championship a bit easier. You can add the Rockets and Clippers to the mix but they are long shots. The Bulls are the most attractive, they have a coach he respects and the blueprint for winning, and they just need an elite scorer. The Knicks need Melo to come back, but accept less in a lot of area. He needs to take less money like Lebron James did to go to Miami and win. This way the Knicks can afford to bring in top talent in 2015 and surround him with a supporting cast that can win championships (not just win 50 games and a division). 2015 sees top free agents like James, Kevin Love, Rondo, Dragic, etc. If he takes up all the money then it’s clear he’s not willing to do what’s needed to win. He needs to accept a lesser roll on the team as far as scoring. He carries too much of the scoring load and he’s paid for it. He wears down in the fourth quarter and has had two year of a recurring shoulder injury. He needs help, let someone help. If Melo can’t take less per year ($20M or so) and a reduced roll then the Knicks need to move on and start over in Phil’s image in 2015.
Roster Needs – The big problem on the court for the Knicks was the point guard play. Raymond Felton was disappointing this year, from injuries to inconsistent play, and the winds of change are ready to blow. The PG position is one of the most important in the league, the class of elite point guard all have speed, quickness and big play ability. This is something the Knicks have lacked since Marbury to be honest, and we need an upgrade. The Knicks couldn’t pull the trigger on a Lowry trade, and at the end of the day we are glad they didn’t. But that still leaves us with a major hole, and limited ways to fill it. We have no first round pick this year and little cap space with Bargnani, Chandler and STAT eating up close to $50M alone. We can’t provide Melo a second scorer until next year, no one will take Smith’s contract, or Bargnani. We might be able to move Chandler and STAT but they could help this team more by staying. Jackson has his work cut out for him, but in the end this roster need to be gutted and hit the reset button.