2011-12 Season Summary:
It was a tale of two halves for the Knicks this past season. They made a coaching change nearly two-thirds into season, showing Mike D�Antoni the door while bringing in former Hawks� head coach Mike Woodson. After starting 18-24 under D�Antoni, the team responded to the switch, going 18-6 with Woodson patrolling the sidelines. He was deservedly rewarded and inked a multi-year extension to remain in the Big Apple.
That was hardly the major storyline for the 2011-2012 Knicks. "Linsanity" swept the globe as Jeremy Lin came from nowhere to provide a the team a tremendous spark, bring some stability to the point guard position, and become the hot topic in all of sports. "Linsanity" quickly fizzled out though when he couldn�t keep up his hot start (partially due to the return of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire from injury) and then missed the final month of the season and playoffs due to a knee injury.
Questions remained about the super duo of Carmelo and Amare. Both guys were banged up throughout the season, and the chemistry issue remained a concern as they are labeled more selfish players who don�t exactly mesh well with their teammates. Tyson Chandler did what he was brought to New York to do: provide some physicality and a rim-protecting big man in the middle. Chandler was also named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year (but somehow was a Second-Team All-Defensive member.)
Besides Lin, the Knicks received a massive boost off the bench from sharpshooter Steve Novak, who lit it from deep and gave them a needed three-point threat from deep. Rookie Iman Shumpert and second-year player Landry Fields were steady role players on the wing, while J.R. Smith, who was brought in midway through the season after his contract expired in China, also added to the punch off the bench.
With all that said, the team failed to meet expectations. The Knicks finished slightly better than they did the previous year and were ousted from the playoffs in the first round. In a city that is striving for a championship-caliber basketball team, more is needed from this group (especially Amare and Carmelo), and it will be interesting to see if Woodson can continue getting a high level of play from this group of players like he did the final 24 games of the year.
2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Tyson Chandler/Josh Harrellson/Jerome Jordan
PF: Amare Stoudemire
SF: Carmelo Anthony
SG: *Landry Fields/Iman Shumpert/#J.R. Smith (PO)
PG: *Jeremy Lin/Toney Douglas
NBA Free Agents:
*PG-Jeremy Lin (RFA)
*G/F-Landry Fields (RFA)
SF-Steve Novak (UFA)
PG-Baron Davis (UFA)
PG-Mike Bibby (UFA)
PF-Jared Jeffries (UFA)
2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $61.8 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. What�s Lin Worth?:
The Jeremy Lin free agency issue is complicated. However, the case remains that the Knicks will have to pony up some cash to keep "Linsanity" in New York. As it stands right now, the team can only use its mid-level exception to bring him back which would severely hinder New York's options in free agency.
If the Players� Union wins an arbitration hearing scheduled for June 13th, then the Knicks can re-sign Lin (and Steve Novak for that matter) and also retain the use of their mid-level. Just how much will the team be willing to pay Lin and how much will he be asking for in the offseason?
It is possible that both Novak and J.R. Smith could leave via free agency, which would create a major need for a shooter who can stretch the floor and open things up inside for Carmelo and Anthony. With little cap flexibility in free agency, the team will need to find a low-priced replacement which won�t be easy.
3. Find Bargains:
Piggybacking off the last sentence in No. 2, the Knicks don�t have the cap space to lure in a major free agent and only have one second-round draft pick. They will have to take the �Heat Approach� and find some low-priced veterans who can fill roles throughout the roster, similar to what New York did last year with Novak, Smith, Baron Davis, and Mike Bibby.
This is a difficult task to take on, but the team will have do this for the next three summers since Anthony, Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler are eating up practically all its cap space.
4. Frontcourt Depth:
Right now, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan are the only backup post players on the Knicks roster. ... that�s not good. Especially with the always prevalent possibility of an Amare injury, the Knicks needs to find some frontcourt depth to help limit their Big 3�s minutes.