So the ‘season of hope’ is over. The Knickerbockers gave it a ride didn’t they? Look, at the beginning of the year I really thought that the Knicks were going to be playing “wheelchair basketball” with all the AARP members on board!
Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Jason Kidd have already begun to fill out their applications for Medicare! If you would have told me before the season started that this bunch, which by the way included an injured Amare Stoudemire and an Iman Shumpert coming off of major knee surgery, that they were going to win 54 regular season games and finish first in their division, I would have signed up for that in a heartbeat.
And while the majority of Knick fans are frustrated, upset, or depressed, they’re missing the bigger picture. Besides 1st place in the East, they also garnered the 2nd seed and made it through game six of the second round of the playoffs with some of their players going up and down the court in walkers and casts!
I don’t recall reading before the season began, that this Knicks team was the favorite to win the NBA Finals Championship…do you? Should they have beaten the Pacers? In the words of Sarah Palin, “You Betcha!” ‘Sheed and Kidd were instrumental in the Knicks opening the season at 18-6 but Wallace took himself out of basketball and Kidd just ran out of gas, needing a GPS to find the basket.
Stoudemire, who was averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds in March before his other knee gave out, didn’t have enough stamina in the post season and was limited in minutes on the floor. Tyson Chandler, who lost 12 pounds from a severe strep throat at the end of the season was just a shell of the defensive player he was last year and couldn’t keep up with the superb play of Roy Hibbert.
We know all the reasons why they couldn’t finish off the Pacers but in the opinion of many, the tide and momentum of the playoffs changed right after J.R. Smith’s ejection after stupidly elbowing Jason Terry. The Celtics probably get swept and the energy would have carried over into the series with Indiana if Smith had kept his cool.
The Pacers you’ll recall never ‘blew out’ the Knicks unless you consider losing by 7 to 11 points a ‘blowout’. If J.R. doesn’t introduce his elbow to Terry’s chin, we would have more than likely seen a different result in that 2nd round.
The point is this team, as constituted today, should be a competitive bunch in the 2013-2014 season. However there will be some tweaks made to this roster before next year begins; a year in our opinion that will be the last before its key players are purged and a rebuilding process gets underway…yet again.
With the 24th pick in the first round of the next NBA draft, and perhaps through trades, the Knicks need to find a backup point guard to replace Pablo Prigioni who will take his family back to Spain to finish out his career. Hopefully he’ll be a quick guard who will bring some speed to the second unit. Kidd is NOT that guard.
They also need another big body to play the 5 off the bench so that Amare doesn’t have to. You can’t say enough about the excellent job that K-Mart did for this team but the club needs a taller, younger, and more agile player than Kenyon especially at this stage of his career.
Because of the new CBA, the odds are that the Knicks will not keep both J.R. and Copeland. And to all those that are calling for Smith’s head, that’s all well and good as long as you can find another player that could put up the kind of numbers he did off the bench. The problem in the series with the Pacers is that J.R. who admittedly still hadn’t found his shot, played way too many minutes as Woodson forgot that there was a Chris Copeland on the bench…
We say ‘Don’t despair’ because there still is one more run, we believe, in the majority of this group. It is not a great team! It can’t be when you only have one future Hall of Famer playing major minutes. And at 40 years of age we’re not counting Jason Kidd who will be a lock for the Hall but clearly is not a major contributor anymore. How many do you have on other teams who made it into the 2nd round of the playoffs? Well, there are at least three in Miami and the same in San Antonio alone!
So Knick fans, come back off the ledge! It was a nice run but it was with a team that simply overachieved in the regular season. Be hopeful that Glen Grunwald will make that 24th pick a meaningful one. Pray that he’ll find a player who can finally know how to take a charge. Someone like Anderson Varejao for example. And let’s all hope that there is at least one more ride for the Knicks and their fans…