As composed, the New York Knicks are not a championship-caliber basketball team. There are a few fatal flaws that led to their elimination in the second round of the playoffs that need to be fixed in order for them to win an NBA Championship.
They were exposed over and over again by the Indiana Pacers, as they forced them to realized that simply playing isolation basketball and chucking three-pointers wouldn't work with Indiana's lock-down defense.
New York shot just under 41 percent in the series against the Pacers and 35.3 percent from the three-point line.
Honestly, that's all that's really needed to know in order to understand why they lost. Never mind the fact that they turned the ball over nearly 11 times a game or that they had just 15 assists per game in the series.
It was Indiana's defense that became an eye-opener for the Knicks.
Isolation basketball is fine when you have a few players capable of producing on their own. But, when they start to slow down, you better know that the rest of your team can help run the offense.
New York found out just that when Carmelo Anthony shot a few percentage points below his season average and J.R. Smtih completely laid an egg.
Smith and Anthony combined to account for 47 percent of New York's points against the Pacers but shot a combined 38 percent from the field.
One of the biggest problems for the Knicks squad is that very little of what they planned on in the beginning of the season came to fruition.
Knicks 2013 postseason: K-Mart outplayed Chandler, Prigioni badly outplayed Kidd, & Copeland scored more than Amar'e, Novak & Camby combined— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) May 21, 2013
In essence, there never seemed to be confidence in the lineups that were used most often throughout the season, panic set in and drastic measures were taken.
What other excuse is there for a guy who was signed by the team in February taking minutes away from their starting center once the playoffs started?
Martin was playing well, but there has to be some confidence in Chandler to give him a bit of a boost along the way.
So what are the Knicks supposed to do this offseason in order to fix the fact that they are not on the same level as the Miami Heat and the elite teams in the NBA, or possibly even a notch below the Indiana Pacers?
Unfortunately for the Knicks, there's not a ton of wiggle-room for them to do anything in free agency this summer beyond their mini mid-level exception.
The Knicks are going to have to improve from the inside more so than from the outside.
From there, they have to ask themselves questions about some key players.
Can J.R. Smith be a team's No. 2 scoring option? Was Tyson Chandler simply having a down year? Is Amar'e Stoudemire going to fit into next season? How do the old folks factor in?
It seems that the most important question surrounds Smith, especially with the news that he will reportedly re-sign with the Knicks next season.
A sixth man generally shouldn't be the second-best scorer on the team, especially when he is as streaky as Smith. His performance in the playoffs should be reason enough to understand the problems he can create.
What causes a problem is New York's financial situation, which is basically forcing them to re-sign Smith or heap way too much responsibility on a player already in the lineup.
That's the same situation they find themselves in when it comes to Stoudemire, only he's even more complicated.
Stoudemire will make over $45 million in the next two seasons. That, combined with his injury history, makes him nearly immovable for the Knicks, at least in a situation where they would get any kind of value in return.
If they can somehow swing a trade that lands a player who can help the offense, then pull the trigger.
However, the most likely scenario seems to be New York letting him recuperate this summer and hopefully adding him for the entirety of next season.
Is he a perfect fit in New York's heavy-isolation system? Absolutely not. However, it seems that he's the best option they have.
As far as Chandler goes, it seems risky to make assumptions, but the neck injury that slowed him down near the end of the season was the biggest factor in his impact on the series.
If you're New York, the best move possible given the cap situation is to assume that Chandler will be back and ready to lead the team's defense next season.
New York's old folks and expiring contracts are a pretty easy group to figure out. Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby are going to stay unless the Knicks find a way to trade them or persuade them to retire.
They both have two years (two!) left on their current deals paying out over $3 million in each season.
Martin, Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland should all be brought back, regardless of their price.
All three players either showed promise or were playing a solid role by the end of the season and are much more important to the team moving forward than the likes of any other player on an expiring contract.
Basically, it seems that the Knicks biggest step to become championship contenders will be to cross their fingers exceptionally hard.
Unless some trade suddenly appears that lets them get rid of Stoudemire while simultaneously picking up a guy who can score at least 15 points per game, then they're going to have to hope for improvement from within.
That is the only way this team will become championship contenders.
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