Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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New York Knicks (Last Year: 54-28)
2012-13 Season Summary:
The New York Knicks finished with their best record in 16 years. Unfortunately, that success didn't carry into the playoffs where the Knicks were bounced in the second round by the Pacers.
There remains mixed reviews on the Knicks supposed "Big Three." Carmelo Anthony led the NBA in scoring while Tyson Chandler controlled the paint, but Amar'e Stoudemire remains an eyesore for the franchise. He once again battled injury and spent more time in a suit than an actual uniform on the bench. That put extra pressure for Anthony to rise to the occasion, which he did more often than not this season, though he still was very much a volume shooter.
With Stoudemire banged up, somebody needed to step up and take some of the scoring load off Anthony and that fell to J.R. Smith. He won the league's Sixth Man of the Year Award posting career numbers in points and rebounds. Last offseason's acquisition of point guards Raymond Felton proved to be a vital part of New York's success, and Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni also added value to the backcourt.
The rest of the roster was very up and down. Chris Copeland came out of nowhere to be one of the surprises of the NBA season. Iman Shumpert missed about half of the year due to injury and never quite hit stride. Veteran big men Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, and Rasheed Wallace couldn't get the job done, so the Knicks turned to Kenyon Martin who was solid down the stretch and in the postseason. Steve Novak caught fire from three every once in awhile but didn't do much else.
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Tyson Chandler
PF: Amar'e Stoudemire/Andrea Bargnani
SF: Carmelo Anthony
SG: Iman Shumpert/Tim Hardaway Jr.
PG: Raymond Felton/Pablo Prigioni
NBA Offseason Transactions:
The Knicks acquire PF-Andrea Bargnani from the Raptors for C-Marcus Camby, SF-Steve Novak, a 2016 first-round pick, a 2014 second-round pick (via the Thunder) and a 2017 second-round pick.
NBA Free Agents:
SG-J.R. Smith (UFA)
PF-Kenyon Martin (UFA)
SF-Chris Copeland (UFA)
SG-James White (UFA)
SF-Quentin Richardson (UFA)
C-Earl Barron (UFA)
2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $71.4 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
1. What's J.R. Worth?:
Smith will certainly opt out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks since it would only pay him a measly $2.9 million next season. Coming off his NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, Smith is due a hefty pay raise but can the team afford to keep him? He is a perfect fit in New York as the sixth man, but will probably be in line for a near $10-million-per-year deal. Several questions pop up: Can the Knicks afford to keep him when they are already so far over the cap? Will Smith be happy as a sixth man in New York or seek a starting spot elsewhere?
2. Point Guard:
Jason Kidd's retirement opens up some minutes at the point guard position especially since Mike Woodson used a lot of Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni in the same backcourt. New York should be looking in free agency for another affordable point guard to add depth at the one or possible draft a younger point guard who can add some play-making ability.
3. Bargain Shopping:
With only their mid-level exception and league minimums contracts available to use this offseason, the Knicks need to land some veteran, role-player free agents looking to join a contender in hopes of having a shot at winning a ring. Adding guys like Chris Copeland and Kenyon Martin were key pickups last season, and the team needs to find more of the same this summer without having to open up the checkbook too wide.
4. Don't Count on Amar'e:
At this point, the Knicks simply cannot count on Amar'e Stoudemire to be a productive player. His injury issues have derailed his career and suddenly with two years at more than $45 million, he has perhaps the worst contract in the NBA. Anything Stoudemire provides from here on out these next two seasons will be considered a bonus, so New York needs to find some more talent at power forward in preparation for Stoudemire's inevitable relapse injury.
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