In the midst of a very exciting NBA Finals, fans across the country have turned their heads away from their own teams in order to root on their pick for the championship. However, the offseason is approaching fast, and NBA executives are scrambling to workout draft prospects, rethink their rosters, and assess the free agent pool.
The New York Knicks ended their season in the second round of the playoffs, and if they expect to make it further next season, then there is much work to be done in the coming weeks. Some decisions have been made for them, like the retirement of Jason Kidd (who subsequently became the new head coach of the Nets). Kidd leaves a large void, as he was not only the backup point guard, but also brought a great deal of experience and on-court coaching to the team. So now the Knicks must find a new backup point guard.
Pablo Prigioni fit that role nicely in the playoffs, but the 36 year old free agent may get a slightly larger offer if he left the Big Apple. The Knicks could also use some added athleticism so they may look for a younger option to replace Kidd, such as Will Bynum. No matter what they decide to do, the Knicks have to find a suitable back up point guard, and it’s one of their biggest issues heading into the offseason.
J.R. Smith is the next big dilemma. He is almost certain to opt out of the final year of his contract, but the Knicks have his early-bird rights, allowing them to sign him to a roughly $5 million dollar a year deal. The problem is that the reigning Sixth Man of the Year could probably get more more money elsewhere, and even potentially a starting role.
Smith has made it seem like he is fully committed to staying, and has no interest in other teams, but for the right price anything is possible. The Knicks need Smith as he is the only player besides Carmelo Anthony who can create his own shot. He also performed better than expected defensively this season.
The Knicks could use some help in their frontcourt, possibly through the draft. Kenyon Martin is a free agent who, like Smith, has stated he would like to return to the team. However, he would most likely require taking a big pay cut to stay as he has proven himself worthy of bigger deals from other teams.
Chris Copeland is another free agent, but similarly has likely played his way out of New York, mostly due to his impressive scoring ability. The Knicks may need to look beyond these players in order to improve their front court.
Chad Ford’s Mock Draft currently has the Knicks selecting Tony Mitchell with the 24th pick. Mitchell is a 6-8 forward who is extremely athletic and can rebound the ball, two areas the Knicks need improvement in. The Knicks need to draft smart as they do not have much money to spend in free agency and could really use a player who is ready to make an impact now.
The final problem facing the Knicks is ironically the same thing that saved them from a decade of despair: Amar’e Stoudemire.
STAT has gone through his share of troubles in his career, but this upcoming season is arguably going to be the biggest turning point. Can he return from injury and rise back to a near all-star level like he has time and time again, or will it be a relegation to the bench and continued demise for the former Rookie of the Year? Stoudemire will be working out all summer, as well as returning to Houston, TX for a week to train for the second summer in a row with Hakeem Olajuwon. Hopefully, STAT returns to the team healthy and with an even better low-post game ready to help the team contend for a title.
The Knicks have their work set out for them this summer. Glen Grunwald and his staff need to fully examine all options and get creative in order to improve the team with the limited cap space they have available. Grunwald has proven to be resourceful in the past, and hopefully the 3rd runner up for executive of the year can do it again.