SG: Wilson Chandler/Bill Walker/Roger Mason/Andy Rautins
PG: Raymond Felton/Toney Douglas
Head Coach: Mike D'Antoni (3rd season)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $56.2 million
Off-Season Grade: C
This offseason was supposed to be THE offseason Knicks basketball was rejuvenated. The franchise pretty much accepted the fact that they were going to suck for the past couple seasons in an attempt to clean up Isiah Thomas' mess and clear as much cap space as possible with hopes of making a run at the best free agent class of all time.
With astronomically extraordinary dreams of landing LeBron and Bosh, or Wade and Bosh, or LeBron and Amare, New York ended up settling for Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton as their splash signings... (insert Debbie Downer sound) To their credit, giving Felton just a 2-year deal was a great move as it does not tie up future cap space.
Also give credit to Knicks management for turning David Lee into a sign-and-trade deal that netted New York Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike rather than losing Lee via free agency and getting nothing in return. Turiaf and Azubuike are more so one-year rentals, but Randolph could finally have his breakout season in D'Antoni's up-tempo offense. The signing of Russian free agent big man Timofey Mozgov is a bit of a wild card.
The Knicks have not won more than 33 games in any of the past six seasons. I am not ready to grant New York a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they should certainly top the 33-win mark this season.
Amare is the key to accomplishing that goal. In Phoenix, Amare had the privilege of running alongside Steve Nash, a player who clearly made everybody on the floor better. Makes no bones about it; Raymond Felton is not Steve Nash.
We saw what happened to Shawn Marion's career when he stopped playing with Nash. While that sort of dropoff is highly unlikely in regards to Stoudemire, I do not think he alone can be the savior. When/if Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul come to the Big Apple, then we can talk about the Knicks being a legit contender in the East.
The player who should benefit most from Amare's acquisition is Danilo Gallinari. The Rooster put together a solid second season and should be even more of a perimeter gunner with an improved roster.
Wilson Chandler will play a bit out of position and start at the two this season, while Azubuike, Bill Walker and Roger Mason all battle for minutes off what should be an improved bench.
The center position is a major question mark. Eddy Curry is more interested in eating cheeseburgers than being a solid NBA big man. Turiaf is a solid role player but nothing more while Mozgov is an unknown commodity. New York could go small and athletic by playing Amare, Randolph and Gallinari in the same frontcourt. While it would certainly be exciting from an offensive standpoint, the Knicks would get killed defensively with that lineup.
If the pieces come together, the Knicks will compete for a playoff spot in the East but fall a little short in my opinion. Acquiring Anthony would all but guarantee New York a spot in the postseason. Until that happens, the Knicks remain at this spot in my NBA power rankings.
Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2011:
Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Let's be honest... more than likely they will eventually call New York home. The Knicks are the frontrunner to acquire Anthony who will certainly be traded before February. If New Orleans cannot make Paul a happy camper, expect his name to be floated around in trade rumors next summer as well. This summer was just the beginning of the resurgence of Knicks basketball. Expect it to be taken to the next level during the summer of 2011.