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Home / NBA / Knicks Nation: What’s Next?

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The smile on Pierce's face says it all

After the Boston Celtics swept the Knicks on Easter Sunday, many fans are left grasping as to what had just happened. The New York Knicks riding high coming into the playoffs seemingly healthy with the swagger to not only accept the challenge of facing the Celtics, but to win the series against the favored Celtics never came to fruition. In  fact it wasn’t even close for the most part the last two games with the Celtics holding 20 point leads in both. A nice comeback in game four was halted by the much more experienced Celtics as they showed the Knicks they are a lot further away from being a real contender than they think.

First and foremost it must be said that the Knicks were most definitely not at full strength which clearly threw a wrench into this series. Jeff Van Gundy brought up an interesting point, he said “if the Celtics had lost Rajon Rondo for the last three games and played with an injured Kevin Garnett since the second half of game two, how well would they be doing in this series.” Fact is, you can bring up all the excuses in the world the Knicks have a long way to go if their dream of being crowned champions is ever going to happen.

Billups may be the Knicks only option at point guard

Next order of business, do the Knicks sign Chauncey Billups? All indications seem to point that the Knicks will indeed pick up the last year of his contract, as sources have said the Knicks have a verbal agreement with Billups. Mixed feelings on this. First, Billups for many years has been durable and clutch. This however doesn’t excuse the fact that he will be a 35 year-old point guard who can’t guard the fast athletic guards in this league. He fits D’Antoni’s system as a shooter, but he has always been a better half court offensive player then run and gun type point guard D’Antoni craves. The Knicks however are in a bit of a predicament. Unless the Knicks want to go after a player like T.J. Ford, Delonte West, Jose Juan Barea to run the team on a one-year trial basis as the team gears up for either Chris Paul or Deron Williams in 2012, the Knicks are pretty much limited in what they can do at point-guard. Toney Douglas has shown he’s not ready to play point guard in this league and was absolutely exposed by Rajon Rondo, in fact Rondo not known for posting up took Douglas to the block and abused him. Douglas fits the mold to come off the bench and might be the Knicks next version of a poor mans John Starks. He is inconsistent, but when Douglas is playing well he is an asset to  this team. With that said, the Knicks should pick up Billups’ last year on his deal.

The Knicks also need a true center. Ronny Turiaf had a few good moments in the postseason, but we all know he is not the answer. The Knicks do hold the rights to Jerome Jordan, who played overseas last year in Europe. He was considered very raw last year coming out of college, so for him to play one year in Europe and transition to NBA basketball successfully is a long shot. If the Knicks pick up Billups’ option it will leave them with no cap room to go out and sign free agents. The Knicks have very little to offer (Douglas, Fields,Walker) so acquiring one via trade isn’t likely. The most realistic option is drafting a center. If the Knicks can’t draft a center I would expect them to either go point guard or another big PF to play alongside Stoudemire.

It doesn’t get any easier moving forward in Knicks nation as they must make a decision on whether or not to retain General Manager Donnie Walsh. Seems logical right? Well the nasty, gut wrenching rumor going around is that owner James Dolan would want Isiah Thomas back as GM. Dolan feels that Thomas was instrumental in bringing Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Also he would be intricate part in luring future free agents that may want to join the team. This is a horror story for any die-hard Knicks fan. If Donnie Walsh doesn’t come back the Knicks should promote Allan Houston who has been the understudy of Walsh take over the reigns. New GMs usually means new coach, so stay tuned to this situation.

Oh man, this is what gives Knicks fans nightmares

Speaking of the aforementioned GM/Coach scenario, the Knicks have to be thinking long-term if coach Mike D’Antoni is the future of this franchise. The funny thing is, although Donnie Walsh gets credit for getting the Knicks under the cap and bringing in two all-star players the Knicks were better equipt to run D’Antoni’s offense with the team he inherited at the start of his tenure. Players like Jamal Crawford, David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallanari, Zack Randolph, Stephon Marbury all were built to just run and gun. In fact I’d argue although they had a few knuckleheads on that team, they could have been a playoff team the last three years building chemistry together rather than winning 28 games a year. I know it sounds convoluted, but it may just be true.  To take it one step further, if the Knicks didn’t botch the Jordan Hill pick and drafted Jrue Holiday, they could have a lineup of Holiday, Crawford, Chandler, Gallo, Zack Randolph, with David Lee coming off the bench. People forget the Warriors had a Monta Ellis for David Lee trade in the works that Donnie Walsh turned down as well. This team could have been dramatically transformed. The Knicks have two superstars and a bunch of question marks.

I will contradict myself though and agree the Knicks are in a better situation with the route they went. They weren’t going to win anything with that cast, but the last two years of trying to get under the cap while losing was misery for any Knicks fan. Anytime you can get two superstars you have to do it.

Point is this Knicks fans, Donnie Walsh hasn’t been the savior everyone thinks. The Knicks were actually playing well when he had that fire sale and traded Randolph and Crawford. I feel by hiring D’Antoni you should have kept players and acquired players that fit his system, not put all your eggs into one basket by getting under the cap in hopes of signing Lebron James.

The Knicks should seriously consider going hard after three coaches if they’re serious about winning a championship. Three come to mind, Jeff Van Gundy, Phil Jackson, and Doc Rivers.  Jackson and Rivers currently under contract are both rumored to be retiring at season’s end at least short-term. All three fit the profiles to be coach of the Knicks. One word: Defense. The New York crowd doesn’t chant Defense for no reason. New York loves its Defense and unless D’Antoni choreographs the crowd into some offense chants, I doubt this will be changing anytime soon.

In Knicks nation they’re several things to be optimistic about, but until the Knicks solve their GM, Coaching, point-guard and Center issues this team is a few years away. If James Dolan will let his brain trust do the thinking and transitions, this team could very well be a legitimate contender the next several seasons. I’ll believe it when I see it.


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