The Living New York Knicks Nightmare

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The New York Knicks showed potential after a successful season finishing with a 54-28 record. But they failed to follow up on that season. They missed the playoffs and questions are still left hanging.

Submitted: June 10, 2014

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Submitted: June 10, 2014

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The Living New York Knicks Nightmare

By Nick Guillen

 

The New York Knicks had high expectations for the 2013-2014 regular season after finishing as the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference, the season before. They were expected to capitalize from their 2nd round exit and make a strong playoff push. Not to mention, their player payroll was the 2nd highest in the NBA. However, their high expectations were never fulfilled. They never found the spark they had the past season as they ended with a losing record of 37-45. The Knicks failed to make the playoffs and many questions are still left hanging. How did a promising team such as the New York Knicks manage not to make the playoffs? How did the New York Knicks past affect their current status? Well, there are many reasons as to why they’re in their current predicament. Trades, signings, and personnel all played a role in the Knicks’ living nightmare.

Before the 2013-2014 NBA season began, the Knicks decided that they needed another scorer to compliment Carmelo Anthony. March Berman of the New York Post had a source report that Carmelo Anthony wanted the Knicks to add another scorer on the team. J.R. Smith, whom the Knicks relied on as a secondary scorer during the 2012-2013 season, struggled throughout the 2013 NBA playoffs. Now, the Knicks wanted to please their star so they pulled off a puzzling trade. On July 2, according to Jared Zwerling of ESPN, the New York Knicks traded Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-rounder, and two second-rounders in 2014 and 2017 to the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani, the first overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft. Bargnani averaged 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 39% from the field, and 30% from behind the arc during the 2012-2013 NBA season. He managed to only 35 games during the same season as he was injury prone. Bargnani is considered to be a draft bust since he’s failed to live up to a first pick overall’s expectations. Coach Mike Woodson commented on the trade, “Andrea has great size and can create huge matchup problems for our opponents. He can score both inside and out. He will be a great complement to Carmelo, Tyson, and Amar’e.” Carmelo Anthony also commented, “I hate to lose Novak and Camby, but when you get someone like [Bargnani] in return, it’s kind of a win-win situation.” Anthony was pleased with the trade but his positive judgment would come too early. The Andrea Bargnani trade left many curious as to why the Knicks completed the trade. Bargnani had two years left on his contract at the time of the trade with the final year being a player option. Bargnani is expected to accept the player option since he would be paid $11 million and his services isn’t worth a high price to other teams. The trade was one the Knicks would soon regret.

Andrea Bargnani’s season with the New York Knicks ended up being a disaster. Bargnani only played 42 games out of the 82 games. He averaged 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 44% from the field, and 27% from behind the arc. His scoring didn’t help as his season high was 25 points and he ended his season early after an elbow injury. He tore a ligament in his left elbow after a failed dunk attempt. After his injury, the Knicks went on to win 5 straight games. His presence on the court was barely ever felt since he failed to help the team. On December 18, 2013, the Knicks were in OT against the Milwaukee Bucks and Tyson Chandler got an offensive rebound. He quickly passed it to Bargnani with about 15 seconds remaining and Bargnani attempted a 3 pointer that left everyone puzzled. He missed the 3 and the two teams headed to another OT as the Bucks capitalized on Bargnani’s questionable shot. The Knicks luckily got the win. Andrea Bargnani continues to prove to everyone why he was draft bust.

Draft picks are important to any NBA team’s future. Draft picks can end up being a star or a solid role player on the team. The Knicks management may have never understood that. When Carmelo Anthony arrived to New York from the Denver Nuggets via trade, he would come at a price. What price? It would be the price of 2012 and 2013 second-rounders, 2014 first-rounder, and the option to swap 2016 first-round picks. The 2016 pick would end up being apart of the Bargnani trade so the Knicks had no first round draft picks in 2014 and 2016. When Bargnani was selected as the first pick overall in 2006, he was selected before LaMarcus Aldridge, a 3x NBA All-Star. Chicago Bulls used their pick to draft Aldridge. Chicago’s pick originally belonged to the Knicks but was traded as part of a trade that the Knicks completed to land Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis. As you can see, the Knicks have a habit of trading away picks. The Knicks managed to have a draft steal in the 2013 NBA Draft when they drafted Tim Hardaway Jr. as the 24th pick of the draft. Hardaway would end up being a bright spot in the 2013-2014 season for the Knicks. Hardaway averaged 10.2 points, 0.8 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 36% from behind the arc, and 42% from the field. His scoring helped the Knicks throughout the season, which gave another reason for people to wonder why the Bargnani trade ever happened.

Besides the Knicks draft picks and trades, their signings are also what got them into their current situation. In 2010, the Knicks signed Amar’e Stoudemire to a 5-year, $99.7 million contract with the 5th year being a player option. Stoudemire was previously with the Phoenix Suns but the Suns decided to not re-sign Stoudemire due to his injury prone seasons. His injuries would continue to happen after his first season with the Knicks. Earlier in the season, Stoudemire had minute restrictions until mid-season. In 2011, the Knicks completed a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards. The Knicks sent Ronny Turiaf and a 2013 second-round pick to Washington and Andy Rautins to Dallas. The Knicks went on to sign Chandler to a 4-year, $56 million contract, according to Ian Begley of ESPN. Chandler missed 27 games in the 2013-2014 NBA season due to injuries, which was a major blow to the Knicks’ defense. Today, the New York Knicks have four players that take up nearly the entire cap room. Carmelo Anthony declared, before the start of the season, he would opt out and enter free agency. He expressed his desire to be a free agent. Below is the New York Knicks salary cap from basketball-reference.com.

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  The Knicks salary cap has too many highly-paid players which prevents them from signing any big names or solid role players to the team.

The Knicks also had trouble with the players on their team. J.R. Smith was suspended for the first five games of the season after violating the NBA drug policy. J.R. Smith’s antics wouldn’t stop as he was fined $25,000 for threatening Brandon Jennings, point guard of the Detroit Pistons, on Twitter. Smith went on to be fined $50,000 for untying opponent’s shoelaces. Besides Smith, the Knicks ran into more trouble when Raymond Felton was arrested for the possession of an unlicensed firearm, according to Tom Harvey of the NY Daily News. The Knicks nightmare would continue on. Besides both players’ off-court antics, their on-court issues were clear. Felton’s numbers were down from the past season. Felton averaged 9.7 points, 5.6 assists, 3 rebounds, 31% from behind the arc, and 39% from the field. Smith’s numbers also declined. Smith averaged 14.5 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds, 39% from behind the arc, and 41% from the field. Smith’s game didn’t pick up until near the end of the season. Smith and Felton weren’t the only ones struggling as Iman Shumpert averaged 6.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 33% from the 3-point line, and 37% from the field. Shumpert was expected to be traded by the trade deadline but was never traded. The supporting cast of Carmelo Antony wasn’t up to par to a championship contending team or even a playoff team.

Nearing the end of the season, the Knicks tried to make a strong playoff push. They battled for the 8th seed with the Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks failed to make the playoffs with a record of 37-45 in the atrocious Eastern Conference. The Hawks landed the 8th seed and faced the Indiana Pacers in the first round. The Knicks failed to make the playoffs after three consecutive trips to the playoffs. The Knicks were in trouble. They have the second highest payroll in the NBA, 3 NBA All-Stars, and their star (Carmelo Anthony) was opting out of his final year on his contract. What can the Knicks do to save their team?

The New York Knicks introduced Phil Jackson at a press conference on March 18, 2014 as the President of the organization. Jackson has coached Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Scottie Pippen, and Michael Jordan. He went on to win 11 championships as a coach throughout his whole career. Jackson’s success as a coach made fans believe that the Knicks had a bright future ahead. James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks, stated at the press conference that Jackson would have complete control of basketball operations. “Willingly and gratefully” was Dolan’s response on whether he’d give up full control to Phil Jackson. The first move of Jackson as President, during the offseason, was firing the entire coaching staff including HC Mike Woodson. Dolan reportedly prevented GM Steve Mills from firing Mike Woodson, mid-season, according to Frank Isola of the Daily News. Jackson is continuing the search for a new head coach that can lead the Knicks to a winning record.

Carmelo Anthony has let everyone know he plans to opt-out but the question remains, where will he go? Will he stay re-sign and be paid a hefty amount of money? Or will he leave the Knicks and join a championship contending team? Larry Coon, ESPN salary-cap expert, says that Carmelo Anthony can make as much as $129 million for a total of five years if he re-signs with New York. If Anthony moves elsewhere, the maximum he will earn is a little over $95.8 million. The Knicks will not have cap space until 2015 so they can’t sign another star to pair with Carmelo Anthony. Stoudemire, Bargnani, and Chandler all take up cap space and will be contracted until 2015. This means that Anthony will likely face another losing season until he can be paired with another star. Anthony will be 31 by that time and he’s stated in exit interviews: “I want to come back. I also want to win.” Anthony is about winning at this point in his career. The Knicks are far away from being Anthony’s championship contending team. His options of teams include the Houston Rockets and the Chicago Bulls as possible destinations. In Houston, he’d be paired with 2 All-Stars, Dwight Howard and James Harden. In Chicago, he has a similar pairing but with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Who’s in New York? An injury prone Amar’e Stoudemire, an aging Tyson Chandler, inconsistencies in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, and very poor management is what Anthony will have if he chooses to re-sign. The decision is now in Anthony’s hands.

The New York Knicks should look to rebuild their team if they want to better themselves. Carmelo Anthony should be let go by the Knicks in order to begin their rebuilding process. All high priced contracts will be off the books in 2015. Also, the Knicks have a first-round draft pick in 2015. They can choose to tank and get their pick to be a lottery pick. They may be able to attract a free-agent to sign with them and start their playoff contending team. Stars that will be free-agents in 2015 include Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Marc Gasol. The Knicks will be in the hands of Phil Jackson. It is up to him to be able to guide the Knicks to an eventual championship.

The New York Knicks were a promising team in the 2012-2013 NBA season but collapsed the next season. They may have the option to either rebuild or re-sign Carmelo Anthony and wait until 2015 to become a contending team but Anthony will be 31 by that time. The Knicks should move on from Anthony since he hasn’t brought much success to the team. The farthest the Knicks have gone with Anthony was in the 2nd round of the playoffs in 3 trips to the playoffs. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs twice and are still failing. Carmelo Anthony’s time in the Knicks may end this offseason and no blame should be put on him. He has no future with the Knicks until 2015. The New York Knicks led by Phil Jackson should look to rebuild the team and begin the new age of the New York Knicks.


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