I’m still in mourning.
#Knickstape had an incredible run. Despite having the oldest roster and 2 rookies who had never played in the league before, we did what we haven’t done since the 1998-1999 season. We made it past the 1st round. We swept the Heat in the regular season. We likely ended the Boston Celtics reign of greatness
(or maybe that credit goes to Ray Allen). I thought that we’d beat the Pacers in 6 or 7. But alas, our weaknesses were exposed.
It’s easy to blame certain players. It’s convenient to blame injuries. However, my biggest problem with this Knicks team has always been its coaching choices. There was an outcry to get rid of Mike D’Antoni last year. Honestly, D’Antoni’s not that bad of a coach.This is the same coach who went to the conference finals in back to back years. This is the same coach who successfully coached Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Steve Nash, and Quentin Richardson. For D’Antoni to flourish as a coach, he needs a pure point guard. He clearly had that as a coach in Phoenix and could’ve had that in LA this year. He didn’t have that in NY. Sure, as a professional coach, you should be able to adjust and play to your roster’s strength. But why change what has proven to work in the past?
In contrast, Mike Woodson has never gotten past the 2nd round as coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Part of the reason is that the Hawks could’ve had Chris Paul and drafted Marvin Williams instead. So for that reason alone, they’re forever cursed. But seriously, Woodson has shown time and time again he struggles making sensible substitutions in the crunch. With the Knicks particularly, I also think he often over-coached a rhythmic starting 5.
While many Knicks fans are screaming to amnesty Stoudemire or trade Tyson Chandler, I’m not ready to give up on this squad yet. You don’t just blow up a team after 1 stellar season. However, Chandler did disappear in this Pacers series. At times, I was screaming at my tv “move your feet, Chandler!”. When he wasn’t getting beat for the rebound, he was committing ridiculous fouls. 1 bad series isn’t indicative of how much of an asset he is though. Chandler averaged 11 rebounds, 4.5 offensive rebounds for the season per 36 minutes. He’s not on the floor to score. He’s out there to own the boards and get 2nd chance point opportunities for teammates. For the most part, he did that quite well over 82 games.
Stoudemire was a liability when the Knicks decided to commit $100 million. James Dolan knew that and signed him anyway. Stoudemire’s not going anywhere, period. I don’t think he has to. He said earlier in the season that he had no problems coming off the bench. He did that willingly this season and it wasn’t majorly problematic. The thing we all realized is that Melo is both strong enough and agile enough to play the 4; few players do the ISO as good as Melo. I don’t think it was a “him or me” type of situation like the media hyped it up to be. On both sides of the ball, Melo is far more effective at the 4 because of the mismatch he poses against other power forwards.
What’s lost in the fury of another too soon playoff exit after is we had some unsung heroes step up in big games. Iman Shumpert had it raining 3s in Game 6. Chris Copeland was often money when Woodson actually let him play. I often wondered over the past 2 weeks how many swing games the Knicks would’ve won had they signed Kenyon Martin sooner. Jason Kidd was crucial in making the Knicks 1 of top teams in forced turnovers. Although, he hurt the team greatly by going into 1 of the worst shooting slumps I’ve seen a future HOF guard be in. He didn’t score for nearly 3 weeks. If your point guard can’t score or get to the rim, clearly that’s a big chunk of offense that you’re missing. And then there’s Earl Smith Jr…
Quite frankly, I don’t see the Knicks making any significant roster changes this summer. I do hope they hang onto Jr and Copeland. Because of the money that’s already tied up, there’s not much we can do in free agency either. So what will Dolan and the Knicks front office do? Hopefully look at the season in its totality and stick with who and what got them there.