After a crushing sweep at the hands of those evil Boston Celtics, the unbelievable ride of a season that was the 2010-2011 New York Knicks is now over. From that deflating 3-8 beginning, to a playoff push with a killer pick-and-roll of Felton and Stoudemire, to the big trade, then a long losing streak full of doubt, into another high heading into the playoffs, the season was a rollercoaster of emotions. And of course, the playoff excitement, only to be swept. A rollercoaster ride indeed.
However, after a 41-41 prediction in the preseason outlook (Five Keys to Knicks Season 2010-2011), a 42-40 finish is greatly accepted, and hopefully, an indictment on where things are (finally!) headed. The “You. Us. We. Now.” promotion was one to re-connect the fans with the product, and not only has the Knicks done that, but they have created a sense of interest for the next few years.
With that said, let’s take a look at the off-season decisions that the New York Knicks face, and some personal opinions on where the team should take the roster.
Carmelo Anthony: Retain – Ummm, is this even a question?
Renaldo Balkman: Release – Let’s find a way to get Balkman out of New York for the second time ASAP. Maybe a trade of Balkman and $3M for a second round pick? Who knows, maybe we can find another Landry Fields.
Chauncey Billups: Retain – Obviously, as I write this, Billups’ $14.2M has been picked up. Regardless, Mr. Big Shot should be brought back no matter how high the price tag. The reason? This team needs a veteran point guard that has been around the block, and that can manage two superstars. Also, who’s out there as an alternative? Jarret Jack? Sebastian Telfari? Hey, for one year, I’ll take that chance.
Derrick Brown: Retain – For a waiver wire signing, Brown showed a lot of athleticism and ability to step out and knock down the three ball. I’m very intrigued, and I’m not the only Knick fan.
Anthony Carter: Release – I absolutely hated Anthony Carter when he was part of that Miami Heat team, led by Pat Riley, that battled my Knicks teams of the past. However, Carter is another guy that is intriguing because of his experience, leadership, and toughness. If no options are out there, bring Carter back as the 10th-12th guy off the bench. However, upgrading at the backup point guard position is a critical need for this team.
Toney Douglas: Retain – Douglas is slowly becoming a great player, and will continue to do so under the tutelage of Chauncey Billups. What he is not, is a true point guard. We learned that this post-season. Still feels good to say that.
Landry Fields: Retain – Really, I want to release the post trade-Landry Fields, and retain the one before the trade. Fields really was exposed in the playoffs, and it is becoming more apparent that Fields misses Raymond Felton, who allowed Fields to simply fill the lanes, which he excelled at. Nonetheless, Fields is still a steal, and hopefully will look to improve on his Cinderella rookie season.
Jared Jeffries: Release – I really like Jared Jeffries, I really do. I know that is contrary to popular opinion, but the Knicks needs to get away from decent players, and begin filling the bench with guys who can win now. After all, with Stoudemire and Carmelo, the 4-5 year window has begun. No more waiting. Time to go for it all.
Roger Mason: Release – A great veteran. Mason really showed up own after D’Antoni stopped messing with him (see:D’Antoni). However, when it comes to Mason, see the above explanation of Jared Jeffries.
Amar’e Stoudemire: Retain – No question. The man that started this revolution. The Knicks are back!
Ronny Turiaf: Retain – Only because I don’t think there is much option. With a $4.3M player option, Turiaf most certainly will pick up the option, especially with a lockout looming. Although, Turiaf is a solid interior guy whenever he is healthy. Of course, that is whenever, he is healthy.
Bill Walker: Retain – Walker has a lot potential. a very athletic and solid defender when motivated, and can rebound the basketball. Now if D’Antoni can get him to stay aggressive, and quit settling for so many perimeter shots…
Shawne Williams: Retain – It is quite amazing the story of Shawn Williams. Remember when everyone ripped Waslh and D’Antoni when they selected him over Patrick Ewing Jr. out of camp? Well Williams developed into the best player off the bench, and also my favorite New York Knick. Tough, gritty, and knocks down the three with consistency.
Shelden Williams: Release – Williams had a few decent games, but he is not the Knicks answer in the front court. The Knicks need more athletic and agile big men to fill out this roster.
Donnie Walsh: Retain – The guy is one day going into the DP Hall of Fame as I’ve said so many times! The architect stays! And oh yeah, give him full autonomy Dolan!
Mike D’Antoni: Retain – Here is the biggest wild card of them all. All the talk about firing D’Antoni needs to stop. The guy has had 63 players over the last 3 seasons. He has had his teams blown up in the middle of each season. And he has never had an opportunity to work with a group he knew was not just here as trade bait.
However, on the other hand, D’Antoni has shown this year that he needs help on coaching and stressing the defensive side of the ball. He has also shown a continuing habit of benching and playing guys for no apparent reason. For most of the season, Roger Mason rode the pine, until he decided he’d dust the veteran off for a run. Irony may have it, in the closing game of the Knicks season, with the entire season on the line, D’Antoni put Mason in the game. Too confusing.
D’Antoni, gets the keeper tag here, but next year, all excuses and training wheel-ridicule must come to an end. It’s time to improve. It’s time to produce. It’s time to win.
Man…the season is over, but it feels good to have such high expectations again. Can’t wait for next season.