2012 NBA Off Season Preview: New York Knicks

New York Knicks

2011-2012 Record: 36-30, 2nd in Atlantic
Stat Leaders: Carmelo Anthony, 22.6 ppg. Tyson Chandler, 9.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg. Jeremy Lin, 6.2 apg.

Depth Chart

C - Tyson Chandler, Josh Harrellson (TO), Jerome Jordan
PF - Amar'e Stoudemire
SF - Carmelo Anthony
SG - JR Smith (PO)
PG - Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert

Restricted Free Agents: G Jeremy Lin
Unrestricted Free Agents: FC Jared Jeffries, G Baron Davis, G Mike Bibby, GF Landry Fields, FC Dan Gadzuric, F Steve Novak

The Good: The Knicks finished with their best winning percentage since the 2000-2001 season. The season was such a roller coaster ride, as the team had monster winning and losing streaks during the season. Of course, there was also February, aka Linruary, where Linsanity absolutely took over the sports world. Lin settled in as a solid starting point guard, albeit one who turns the ball over way too much, before injuring himself in late March. Tyson Chandler really made a huge difference for the Knicks, providing a strong inside presence on both the glass and with shot blocking. Carmelo Anthony had an up and down season, but from March 26 on he went on a terror scoring wise, reminding everyone that he is one of the best scorers in the NBA.

The Bad: Mike D'Antoni finally wore out his welcome in New York, and he was canned. Amar'e Stoudemire is starting to show signs of regression, and that is a huge cause for concern because of his monstrous, long term contract. Looking closer at his percentages, they are not that bad, so maybe with an off season of rest and a regular season that isn't so fast paced, Stoudemire can get back to scoring 20 points per game. The Knicks bench was a mess much of the year before guys like Lin and Steve Novak came out of nowhere to provide production.

Rumor has Jeremy Lin appearing on the cover
of NBA 2K13, showing how much of a marketing
dream he is for the Knicks and the NBA.
Key Free Agents: The Knicks have to and will sign Jeremy Lin. There are a few reasons. One, the Knicks are popular again mainly because of Lin. Jersey sales, commercials, yadda yadda yadda. But more importantly, there is no better alternative at point guard then Lin. Even if he is a turnover machine, he excites the crowd, gets the ball to Carmelo Anthony and can create his own offense. Steve Novak will most likely be back as well. He cannot do a thing but hit three pointers, but he nailed almost 50% of them last season. Landry Fields and Jared Jeffries could be brought back for depth purposes.

Projected Cap Space: -$4,450,617. The Knicks entire cap space is basically composed of three contracts. Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. The team will probably resign Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak and Landry Fields, putting them well over the cap. The team will most likely only be able to bring in guys on the veteran minimum.

Amnesty Possibilities: None. The Knicks wisely used the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups prior to last season, so they could in turn go out and sign Tyson Chandler. That worked out well for New York.

Free Agent Possibilities: The Knicks have no money available so they will have to settle for veterans making the minimum. They should be able to add a backup point guard and a reserve big man though. Maybe Keyon Dooling and Shelden Williams. I know, not exactly exciting. The team does have its mid level exception but will probably use that to resign Lin.

Draft Possibilities: The Knicks do not pick until mid way through the second round so they will not be able to improve their team this way, either. They don't usually rely on rookies but if they want a guy to fill out the bench taking a big man like Robert Sacre of Gonzaga or Drew Gordon of New Mexico wouldn't be a bad idea.

Contending, Rebuilding or Status Quo?: Status quo. I don't think this roster is anywhere near championship caliber, but with the contracts this team has, the roster is not going to look much different next year. The Knicks probably would like to rid themselves of Stoudemire's contract, but I can't see a team taking on that salary without dumping a whole pile of crap on the Knicks table. New York is going to have to hope the trio of Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler plus Lin and some shooters is enough to bring them to the promise land. Judging on the careers of Anthony and Stoudemire, I just don't see either guy as hungry enough to carry a team on their back to the NBA Finals. This looks like a team that will have another first or second round exit next year.

All logos courtesy of http://www.sportslogos.net/

Jonathan Carrano

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