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Now what, New York Knicks?

Apr 25, 2011, 10:31 AM EDT

Knicks Celtics Basketball AP

If you asked any Knicks fan before the season if they would take a trip to the playoffs and a trade that brings them Carmelo Anthony this season, they would have taken it.

But it’s premature to hang the “Mission Accomplished” banner.

The Knicks accomplished goals and a good season. You can say they are back. But the Celtics sweep showed just how far the Knicks as currently constructed are from contenders. Only the first part of the job is done, there is hard work left before a real banner can be hung.

It appears that the Knicks are going to bring Donnie Walsh back, not just for next season but for two more years. As it should be. The man cut the payroll in half while getting Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in house (Anthony at a steep price, thanks to the Knicks owner). He found Landry Fields and got solid role players in place. He did the hard work of laying a foundation for a title team, he should be allowed to finish the job.

If Walsh is safe, it’s likely Mike D’Antoni is safe too. That is going to anger some Knicks fans who will say his teams don’t play defense. I would say you can’t say his teams don’t play defense until you give him some players willing to play defense.

Then we get to the on the court issues. There are two key areas to deal with this offseason — and no, the answers are not Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Well, those would be good answers, but I prefer to live in reality not in a magical chocolate factory with golden tickets needed for entry (even if Knicks ticket prices make it seem like the tickets should be printed on gold). Those two may be the long-term dreams, but you are not getting them before next season (whenever that starts). And maybe not ever. So, back to our questions.

Do the Knicks bring back Chauncey Billups?

He’s an aging point guard who is due $14.2 million next season, and the Knicks have five days now to pick up his extension for next season or let him walk as a free agent.

Billups at the point changed the Knicks from what Raymond Felton had done. Less pick and roll, for one. But he also brought better scoring — 17.5 points per game — and an ability to get to the line. He hit some big shots and he seemed to be figuring out. He can rack up more assists, he’s a smart player who can adjust and fit his game with D’Antoni’s up-tempo system. But he also will turn 35 next month. He broke down during the playoffs this season, a sin that seems unforgivable to some Knicks fans.

Keeping him pushes the Knicks up to $58 million in payroll. It also gives them a big expiring contract to trade, which may be the best option.

The other real question — who can you get that’s better? Paul is much more likely to come as a free agent in 2012 if he comes at all (and if they have the cap room under whatever the new CBA system is) than in a trade. Billups is still better than much of what is out there. Better than Toney Douglas (unless you hate assists and like your guards to be gunners). There may not be a better choice for one more season.

The more pressing need is to find defense in the form of a shot blocking, rebounding, big presence in the middle center. That is the Knicks biggest need. Which puts them in the same boat as about 20 other teams. There just are not a lot of those guys out there, and the ones that are out there are coveted. And expensive.

Marc Gasol becomes a restricted free agent this summer, but the Grizzlies likely would match anything the Knicks offer. And again, we don’t know what the financial system will be, so the Knick may or may not be able to make a serious offer for him, but you can bet the Grizzlies will have the upper hand. (Smart money says there will still be strong incentives for teams to be able to keep players, and Memphis very much wants to keep him.)

Still, by trade or free agency, the Knicks need a real big man who can own the paint on defense.

After that, it’s about finding role players that fit the system. Landry Fields has a spot. Ronny Turiaf is nice as an energy big man off the bench, Douglas as some scoring punch from the guard spot. But guys that fit the system and can play with Stoudemire and Anthony can be found.

The Knicks have their foundation, but the Celtics showed what a fully built house looks like. What a contender looks like. And the Knicks still have a ways to go to get there.

But at least it looks like Walsh will be doing the building. Which is a good start.

  1. ezwriter69 - Apr 25, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Everyone will call for D’Antoni’s firing, but to take this team to the playoffs and a .500 record is remarkable… even with Melo, this was easily the least talented team in the playoffs.

    • hnirobert3 - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      Not really a major accomplishment for the Eastern Conference where sub .500 teams get in…

    • andyhr17 - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      If the Knicks were the least talented team in the playoffs then why were so many people saying how this was going to be a series and to watch out for the Knicks and how the Celtics should watch out for the upset?

      Oh yeah, hindsight is 20/20.

      • knicksnyny100 - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        Kicks had Celtics beat 2 times in BOSTON,so don’t tell us about talent

      • pellypell - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        “Had” ain’t winning no games, son.

      • andyhr17 - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:50 PM

        Pacers HAD the Bulls beat a few times too…..that doesn’t count as a win.

    • savocabol1 - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      So taking a team, with two superstars on it, to the playoffs is “remarkable”?…I’d say not making it out of the first round is remarkable….

      • andyhr17 - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:56 AM

        Really? They had the Celtics beat in Boston? Last time I checked basketball games were 48 minutes long…not 47. Also, it’s usually the team that scores more points that is declared the winner. I believe the series ended in a sweep. Am I wrong?

  2. dolphinphan - Apr 25, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    oh yea, landry fields is really good.

  3. rdssc - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    The Knicks will be in on the Doc Rivers sweepstakes.

  4. ginnitti - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Their core is signed through next year. Jeffries, Mason, Carter highlight the free agent list for the Knicks. But clearly they will have room to bring in another stud, regardless of who coaches.

    Source: http://www.spotrac.com/nba/new-york-knicks/

  5. ginnitti - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    As for Billups, it seems obvious that he’s not a fit for D’Antoni’s style, and declining his club option and drafting/free agent signing a viable point guard seems less disruptive than yet another coach change, and another style/formation change. NY needs consistency, and youth.

  6. andyhr17 - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    You really think Doc would walk away from the Celtics to go coach the Knicks? If he walks away from the Celtics he’s walking away from coaching for a few years.

  7. LPad - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    I don’t buy get D’Antoni players that want to play D theory. Paul Pierce or Ray Allen weren’t consider good defensive players until Doc started coaching them and their are plenty of other examples around the league of coaches getting players to play D.

    D’Antoni just isn’t a good defensive coach. His schemes are horrible and he rarely adjusts them if they don’t work. For example, he made one adjust to Rondo all year. I’m not just talking playoffs. All year, D’Antoni had his players back off Rondo until Rondo drove into the paint. In about seven games against the Knicks, Rondo had at least five huge games where he scored a ton or got a ton of assists. I think he had at least two triple doubles. D’Antoni waited until the fourth quarter of game four to finally change his approach on Rondo. Shouldn’t take 6 games and three quarters of watching a player dominate to make an adjustment.

    However, I do think he is an above average coach and a good offensive coach. Though, I would like his offense to include some more post play for the days the threes don’t go in. Bottom line, I think the Knicks should find a good defensive coach to be his top assistant and coach the D. It would do wonders for his teams.

    • andyhr17 - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:52 PM

      Actually Pierce and Allen starting focusing on D when Garnett got there. Also helped having Thibideux as an assistant coach.

  8. knicksnyny100 - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    The Knicks had the Celtics beat 2 times in Boston!Knicks were ready this year but antoni{no D]could not handle the pressure!ppl say the players got hurt!however if antoni was to play his bench n rest his starters,they wouldn’t have got hurt,antoni is a west coast coach the east is to slow pace n Tough for his system.Bring back Ewing n VanGrundy

    • pellypell - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

      I think the Knick’s found their next coach. Never would’ve thought it would be a message board poster, but this guy obviously know’s what he is talking about after watching games from his mother’s basement.

    • savocabol1 - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:39 PM

      Learnhowtouseaspacebarafterpuncuationmarks

      • sham13ert - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        .com

    • andyhr17 - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM

      You think by playing Billups less he was going to land correctly and not hurt his knee? Sorry, but you’re an idiot.

    • philtration - Apr 25, 2011 at 8:18 PM

      How many rings did the Knicks win with Ewing and Van Gundy again?

  9. sham13ert - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    When did they get Melo and Billups again? Oh, that’s right, at the trade deadline when half of their starting lineup changed.

    So, a solid month and a half stretch is way too much time for a team to gel, if it isn’t working in the first month it must not work at all…

    NY needs to get off its hypercritical high horse (h cubed), and support this team no matter what. It’s the first time since 2004 that they’ve even been to the playoffs.

  10. bknowledge - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Knicks need a stretch 5 and a D3…
    The prototype Stretch 5 in my mind is Sam Perkins. Your stretch 5 does 3 things- low post defense, defensive rebounds- the ones that fall right around the basket, shoots the 3.
    There aren’t that many in the league. Kevin Love is the best right now, probably. Not that he’s available. Troy Murphy used to be a stretch 5, he’s too old now? Memet Okur, Boris Diaw, maybe that kid Ryan Anderson on Orlando. Maybe there are more that I can’t think of right now.
    D3 is a player like Gerald Wallace. He’s the best right now. Andre Iguadola. A wing player that will get a lot of rebounds, steals, play their heart out on defense.
    Imagine the Knicks starting:
    KLove, Amare, Gerald, Carmelo, Chauncey…with Turiaf, Shawne Williams, Bill Walker, Toney Douglas, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams on bench…
    Good, cause that’s fantasy…
    In reality, if I were the Knicks GM, I’d try to trade Turiaf and Landry Fields for Chris Kaman and Randy Foye.
    Landry is a good player, but, his offense comes from the same spots on the court as Amare and Carmelo offense. He can’t play with both of those guys and be effective. Shawne Williams is currently better a choice as starter- because he is more of a spot up 3 and more help on defense in the paint…

  11. Ryan Karhut - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    The Knicks will be great next year, top four in the east. We are seeing the beginning of the end for the Magic, Howard will play out his last year next year, and the Knicks will only get better. They need a bench badly and will easily add some key vets this off-season to help them do that.

    Weekend Wrap-Up: http://t.co/BDZnIkX

  12. Ben Joven - Apr 25, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    Best case scenario for the New York Knicks is the Orlando Magic do really crappy in the first round of the playoffs, and Dwight Howard demands to get traded and the Knicks pick him up for the 2012 season…

    Know that would be really sick!

  13. rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 27, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    I loved that 5 point offensive possesion the Celtics had, remarkable.
    I had good laugh when the Ref called 3 second violation and there was
    22 seconds left on the shot clock, the ref continued to argue the violation
    until the other refs told him to stop.

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