Even though the Knicks got their first playoff win in over a decade and their NBA odds were not bad, the 2012 postseason for Knicks fans was almost as bitter as previous years. Last season, the Boston Celtics swept the Knicks in the first round, and this season, they lost in five games to the Miami Heat.
With a lot of cap space tied up, and a large mountain to climb; the Knicks are desperately in need of a full training camp and preseason to get their chemistry right. A lot of things happened this season to the Knicks, let’s take a look back, see if their regular season had anything to do with their early postseason exit.
D’Antoni, Lin & The Turnaround
After Mike D’Antoni was fired, and the Knicks had found Jeremy Lin, things were looking up. Even after Lin’s injury, which held him out of the playoffs, the Knicks were looking good. It seemed like they would get a playoff spot, and it looked like if they could only get Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to play together, they could be a force.
The latter never seemed to happen. Amare got hurt down the stretch, which opened things up for Anthony. Then when Stoudemire came back for the playoffs, he had a few good showings, but ultimately, it was easy to note that when both Stoudemire and Anthony were on the floor together, the Knicks’ offense doesn’t run like it should.
After Mike Woodson took over, this team started playing much better, especially on the defensive end. Tyson Chandler improved even more, and New York started holding opponents to less than 100 points on a nightly basis.
However, not even Mike Woodson could coach this team out of the stopgap that was the Amare/Carmelo situation. Other than the 1.5 good games out of the five they played against the Heat, the Knicks were demolished in the playoffs, especially in game one.
Now they face an offseason with a lot of questions, and a next season that looks blurry. They have a couple of options on where to go for 2012-2013, and I’ll go into those in the next section.
To Nash or not to Nash?
The problem of Carmelo and Amare is first and foremost. Let me start by saying this, the Knicks will not and cannot trade Amare Stoudemire. He has three years and $60 million left on his deal. For a guy that is that injury prone, and because the Knicks already used the amnesty clause, Stoudemire will be in a Knicks uniform next season.
Barring a random return from retirement by Phil Jackson to the Knicks, I think Woodson will be back as the head coach. He earned a one-year contract at the very least.
Woodson’s problem will be the Amare/Carmelo situation, and I think the best way to solve it would be to use Amare off the bench. The Knicks have already proven they run better with a frontcourt of Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. I don’t care how much money Stoudemire makes, if he isn’t contributing as a starter; you have to play him off the bench.
Which leads us to our next big Knicks situation, will New York use their taxpayer-exempt mid level exception to try and lure Steve Nash to the Big Apple. If this is the case, the Knicks will let teams match a Jeremy Lin offer sheet, and let him go. However, I don’t see Nash heading to New York as one of his first options. However, it is not his last option, either.
For the Knicks in 2012-2013, the questions will remain, but if they finish lower than 5th in the East next season and lose in the first round again, heads might start rolling in the Big Apple.