Via Ryan Wallace
The Knicks just lost to what may be the best team in the NBA in the first round of the playoffs. This is good and bad in a sense because they now have a measuring stick going forward. I feel like the Knicks played on par or slightly below their potential when Mike Woodson took over the team. Miami’s core is locked in for the same duration as New York’s core. Assuming the Knicks retain Jeremy Lin I think it’s fair to assume a core of Lin/Shumpert/Melo/Amare/Chandler is what the Knicks are planning on building around going forward. Major question marks surround who will coach this team going forward. You can’t put players around this core unless you have a coach locked in for 3 plus years. As we saw with Woodson his offensive philosophy was very much in contrast to Mike Dantoni’s. Woodson did a good job getting to the post season but much of that could be attributed to the “bump” most teams get after a coaching change. The Knicks were clearly not the seventh best team in the East as they under achieved and were plagued with injuries for most of the season. Not many teams in the league are blessed with the core New York has going forward so this is a major positive. However uncertainty around the Head Coach could stump the growth of the team going forward.
Mike Woodson. Woodson was able to get the team to the playoffs after the resignation of Mike Dantoni. His defensive numbers were very good. Not many will debate that this is his strong point. However his record in the post season is among the worst in NBA coaching history. To be fair the Knicks were shorthanded due to injuries, but he was not able to get the Knicks to be competitive against the team that they need to get past in order to achieve their long term goals of a championship. One disappointing aspect of his strategy was to not use Toney Douglas more often as he is a player that the team controls for next season. His benching sucked all of the value out of him as a trading chip to potentially trade for a first round pick which the Knicks don’t have this year. Here is where we see the problems of having a coach that is not locked in long term. If Mike Woodson is the guy get it over with and lock him in for the duration for Melo’s deal. If not need to move quickly as the best candidates will be gone.
Core Group. I think that the core group of Lin/Shumpert/Melo/Amare/Chandler is the way to go. Good mix of two very young players with three guys in their prime. As I discussed earlier getting a coach that has a vision for this core is essential. Only issue I see with this core is 1)Injuries and 2)Chemistry. Injuries are something that every team has to deal with and many of the issues could be attributed to the nature of this past season. Chemistry is going to be interesting because it is going to be the vision of the next coach that will determine if it works. If I’m the coach I have to assume Melo and Amare aren’t going anywhere. Bottom line is there needs to be a vision of how your top two investments can provide you a return. It doesn’t make sense pay both these guys max money unless there is a plan for both to play to their best. Isolation basketball is Melo’s strength but that will provide you no return on your Amare investment.
Role Players. Allot of what will be added here is going to be determined by the philosophy of the head coach. Landry Fields has many strengths and weaknesses. He has a relatively low price tag, but with most of the Knicks spending going towards Jeremy Lin in the off season I could see a situation where Landry is lured away by more years then the Knicks are willing to give him. JR Smith if he picks up his option great, but same thing the Knicks aren’t in a position to give him years or more then his player option. Steve Novak has a very defined skill and certainly will get paid for it in the offseason. His limitations were exposed in the post season. This decision might be made for the Knicks as their cap situation may not make them a player for Novak. If one of Josh Harrelson or Jerome Jordan can be turned into a player behind Amare and Chandler that would be great. I think both will be back. Mike Bibby could be a vet minimum guy, but at the same time there will be options for vet minimum deals. Toney Douglas has been a good player for the Knicks in varying roles throughout his career. I think his fate will be determined by the next coach. At the end of the day I think Toney will be in the league for quite some time whether it’s here or somewhere else.
Glen Grunwald proved that he can get the right players around a system/coach. However the Knicks changed that formula mid way through the season. Grunwald is staying so his legacy will be who he chooses to coach the team. I personally think it would be a mistake to lock up Mike Woodson without testing the waters of who is out there. Woodson and Grunwald go way back so I’m sure he has a comfort level that he wouldn’t have if he were to choose someone else. At the end of the day I think the Knicks coaching job is a very attractive situation and there will be no shortage of interest from top candidates.