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#KnicksState: Part One - Rational Look Back

The season is over. It's very much all over. After watching helplessly for the last few minutes of game six against the Indiana Pacers as my boys in orange and blue tried to keep their season alive, I had to come to grips that it just wasn't in the cards for us to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Forget the opportunity to play the Miami Heat in what would have been a super fun series. Down the drain went a chance to do something greater than just making the playoffs and making some noise. But it is, what it is. And here we are. 

There are so many thing to dive into, but we'll get to all of them in due time. As per normal DP policy, I waited a few days to gather my thoughts, absorb the opinions of others, and finally put together honest reaction pieces regarding the end of the 12-13 season, what lies ahead for the future, and of course, the new lightning rod that is Carmelo Anthony. 

But before we get it into that, let's just re-examine the postmortem that was Knicks Basketball 12-13. Here are some thought regarding this past season. 

Be Thankful

Unlike some Knicks fans who jumped aboard the bandwagon this season and are almost devastated and angry at the second-round loss to the Indiana Pacers, I honestly am not up in arms, waving my fist, and calling for immediate changes to everything Knicks-related. While I admit I wear my fandom on my sleeve, I also like to pride myself in being rational. My goal for this club this season was nothing more than this - make the playoffs and win a series. That is the honest truth.

After making the playoffs two years earlier, winning our first playoff game last year, the next progression seemed logically to actually just win a series. In my mind, from the beginning of the season, the championship has been Miami's to lose (and still is). Would we give them a tough series? Absolutely. However, I'm rational enough to understand that in order to make it out of the East you have to beat Miami, and I don't think we were good enough to beat them four games if it even came to that.

Yet, beating, the always-a-thorn-in-our-side, Boston Celtics, and Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, and their fraud-bag fans in the playoffs? I'll take that. 54 wins on the season? I'll take that. An Atlantic Division crown? I'll take that. And heck, it may be a controversial issue, but having the scoring champion in orange and blue? I'll take that as well. I'll take it all. 

Any fan that sat through the last ten years can't really be upset as if we were a clear favorite to win the championship. So yes, I'm disappointed, but, I'm still oddly satisfied with what the Knicks gave me this year. 

What is the Cause For All of This?

Hard to explain how a thrown elbow turned the tides of the Knicks Playoff Run

Those first three games in the Boston Celtics series in comparison to the rest of the playoffs very much exemplify what this team has been all season - fickle. From starting 18-5, to playing .500 ball for several months before finishing the season on a hot 13 game winning streak, consistency was not an attribute of this squad. When things go right with the Knicks, it goes very well, and when it goes wrong...well you seen what happened in the Indiana Pacers series. 

Speaking of, the Knicks had several problems in this series. You can pick one of the following: 

  • No secondary...or or third, fourth, or fifth scoring help
  • JR Smith struggles
  • Jason Kidd's jump shot couldn't land in water if he threw it out of a boat. 
  • Rebounds!!!
  • Points in the Paint. 
  • Roy Hibbert outplayed Tyson Chandler (by alot!)
  • Lance Stephenson became the player Larry Bird envisioned he would when he selected him in the second round
  • Carmelo Anthony's lousy fourth quarters
  • Limited ball movement

Quite frankly, the Indiana Pacers were a better team. I know that's not something Knicks fans want to hear, but it's true. The cliche thing to say right now is that "styles makes fights", but the Knicks were just in a bad match-up. And because of this match-up, many of these team flaws that came up, could not be covered by the three ball the way they were during the regular season.

[sideblog: By the way, Am I the only one that dislikes when these "experts" repeat these phrases that are meant to sound so sophisticated in basketball jurgen?]

Blame On...Who?

This pic says it all
This has been a hot topic in this city since Saturday night. Who is to blame for the Knicks loss at the hands of the Indiana Pacers? Suspects on this list are the obvious: 

JR Smith - Seemed like the Monstars from Space Jam took his talents following his suspension for the now infamous thrown elbow in the Boston series. 

Tyson Chandler - Surely did not look like a $14M center and former defensive player of the year winner against Roy Hibbert. In fact, he made Hibbert look like Rik Smits, the darker version. 

Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby - For being old. Seriously, it's almost like some Knicks fans suddenly came to this realization during the playoffs. Both could have helped, but were either relegated to the bench, or should have been relegated to the bench.

Carmelo Anthony - The on-going questioning of his game and overall leadership continues. Hero ball doesn't win you much come playoff time. 

Mike Woodson - Questionable adjustments throughout the series cost the Knicks a game, or even two. Why did Pablo Prigioni only play three minutes in the Game 4 loss to Indiana? Why was Chris Copeland not let loose earlier when it was apparent the Knicks needed offense? Why was Jason Kidd playing?! Why did he stay with JR Smith down the stretch in Game 3? 

Glen Grunwald - Simply because he assembled this aging team. 

This may seem a bit of a cop-out to most, but I don't blame solely one person for this disappointing end to the season. Yeah, yeah I know what you're saying..."c'mon, one had to be the sole reason!"...but I honestly see everyone above as a combined effort to what what went wrong in the second-round series against the Pacers. It's really hard for me to single out one person. But if I had to choose the most important person that did not perform, it was clearly (and obviously) J.R. Smith. 

Surely, as much complaining as the Knicks did this year to referees, they should turn that energy of contest inward towards themselves for some serious self-reflection. 

Which brings me to...

Knicks Tantrums

"Kevin, what's your favorite cereal, man?"

If there was anything that annoyed me more than the lazy offense at times (more on that in a second), it was the Knicks belief that they never committed a foul. Somehow, the Knicks developed Mutombo-itis, and complained, cried, moaned, and threw tantrums all over the court when they were called for an infraction. More shockingly, this came from vets and "leaders" such as Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony. 

And they wonder why they rarely got to the charity stripe in Game Six against Indiana? Riiiiight. 

And when they weren't arguing with refs, this team aimed it's focus towards jawing with other teams who easily got into their heads. This New York Knicks team had a fragile psyche and it showed all year.

Next, year, just shut up and play. Please. 

Carmelo's Way is the (Fill in the Blank) Way

Need help, bro?

Poor Carmelo Anthony. Poor, poor Carmelo Anthony. You have to feel bad for Melo as he is taking so much heat for the Knicks season being over. Look, I don't love his game, but the truth is, I can understand the hero-ball mentality when he has absolutely no help. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch. And Its hard for me to condemn Anthony to being a failure as a superstar when there is no one else around him capable of carrying some of the load. 

Caremlo is what he is, an awesome scorer, average rebounded, an underrated passer, and capable on the defensive end when he digs in. I never get the criticism behind him being a great scorer and not very good at anything else? He's not LeBron James. No one else is. And even James needed help. The same way Patrick Ewing did when his team always was a superstar short of having a shot of getting passed the mighty Chicago Bulls in the 90's.

"Anyone in this building can put up twenty points per night? "

Just ask Kevin Durant who got a taste of that basketball life in the OKC/Memphis series playing without Russell Westbrook. That oh-so hard life of trying to do it on your own. Teams easily collapse on you in the half-court. And when teammates aren't sinking shots to keep the defense honest (e.g. JR Smith) and others simply can't (e.g. Chandler, Martin, and Kidd), hero ball is the last resort. 

So, for all of those blaming him for the loss and picking away at his game for not carrying others, I say this to you - where would the Knicks be without Carmelo Anthony this season? 

Offense For Dummies


Now that I've defended Carmelo, and his occasional choice for hero ball, it's time to take to task on the simplicity that was the Knicks offense this year. Is it Carmelo? Is it Woodson? Chicken or the egg? Whatever. The Knicks offense was predictable, simple, and flat out lackluster. I get Coach Woodson likes to feature iso sets for his top players, but the frequency of the calls and the lack of movement in the offense is another reason the Knicks are making summer plans, and that I'm totally geared and focused into my Yankees and Red Bulls. 


The outcomes are simple. It's not re-inventing the wheel nor rocket science. When the ball moves, the Knicks are highly dangerous with so many spread shooters on the floor. When it doesn't, it ends up in Melo's hands at the mid-elbow where it stays as he posts, jukes, jives, spins, twirls, head fakes, and up-and-unders his way into a rather difficult shot eight to ten feet away from the basket. It's the reason no one else "get's it going", and it is the reason Melo's final lines often look something like this: 11-28 FG with 31 points. 

The offense has bugged me all year, and really lends itself to the Good-Knicks/Bad-Knicks-Dr. Jekyyl and Mr. Hyde complexity this team has had all season. 

This has to change next season. Must. Change. 

Raising J.R. Smith

Yes, he drives you nuts. Yes, he goes from looking like a potential All-Star candidate to someone who seems like they've never player basketball before. However, the mentor-ship of Coach Woodson has worked wonders for the maturity of JR Smith. 

Despite the rough postseason, Smith has been great. As I've called him all year, he is John Starks 2013. Lots of good, and lots of bad as well. 

No More Stoudemire Sympathy

He may be a great dresser, but STAT in uniform is preferred

This season has also changed my view on Amar'e Stoudemire. 

Like most true Knicks fans, there is a weird special place in my orange and blue heart for Stoudemire for the simple reason that he was the first guy to come here. Granted, it was a big guaranteed contract ($100M), but, nonetheless, he took the challenge of being a part of the rebuilding process, and for several months played like the league's MVP.

However, when Melo got here, it was just never the same. Yes, I know, just more ammo for the Carmelo Anthony debate. 

Either way, since then, Stoudemire has been hurt. Returned for a little. Hurt. Returned. And then hurt some more. 

In all three playoff appearances during his tenure here, he has not been 100% for any of them. From back troubles, the extinguisher incident, and this year, returning from surgery in the middle of the playoffs, the "star" we thought we had is fading fast. If not, has already done so. 

Stoudemire played well when he was healthy this season, including some stretches of showing off the rewards of his time down in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon. However, is it wrong to begin to feel selfish? As my favorite commercial of the last ten years states, "we want more, we want really like it, you want more". 

[sideblog: Those AT&T commercials with the kids are the absolute best!]

Now that we have tasted winning seasons and playoff runs, we want more! And it's time for the injury bug and Amar'e Stoudemire to part ways. Stoudemire has used up all of his equity from that awesome declaration in front of Madison Square Garden back in the summer of 2010 when he said, "The Knicks are back!" He is an interesting dynamic as he was a big catalyst to the Knicks problems this year, as well as is a big piece to their future. 

No more STAT sympathy. It's time to earn that $100M on the court rather than just being "the guy that came here first".

Best Knicks Cheerleader was...

James White. Seriously, what was his purpose on the Knicks squad this year? I love his enthusiasm on the bench, and he wasn't terrible when he played, but he barely did. Just like White's absence, Rasheed Wallace had  the longest "day-to-day" injury in the history of sports (63 games). And of course, there was Marcus Camby, who seemed like he was on the team only by name. Whenever he checked into a game, it was literally a huge surprise to me. Again, all of them provided veteran intangibles and veteran savvy teachings, as well as positive enthusiasm, but it would've been awesome if they provided some basketball relief as well.

Dirty Kurty Send-off Party

Wait! I Saved the season? I did?

Kurt Thomas was always one of my favorite Knicks. Isiah should have never traded him, but we'll let that go for another post for another day. However, Thomas' return was rather lackluster until he delivered an awesome performance in Utah that literally saved the Knicks season. It was the last time we saw Kurt Thomas in uniform as he broke his foot, and his career looks just about over.

If that's how Kurt Thomas' career ends, what a way to go out! 

and finally...

Knicks Bandwagon Fans

You knew it was coming. Fraugbags still bother me, but I'm coming to grips with simply ignoring them. 

But I still have to ask in terms of the New York Knicks fanbase, where were all of you folks a few years ago? 

*In part two of this three part  #KnicksState series outlook, we'll delve into the future of the New York Knicks and what it holds. 

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