Hope For The Future: Now or Never in New York
Welcome to our latest series, wherein we detail why each of the teams who managed to miss the playoffs can hope for better days in the near future. Well, probably, anyway
It's been two years since Donnie Walsh took over and lured Mike D'Antoni to coach the hapless New York Knicks. Fans have been very patient, as they clearly understand the mess that Walsh's predecessor (predator?), Isiah Thomas, left by dishing out unnecessary contracts. After going 61-103 in the past two seasons, can they get the pieces that D'Antoni covets to get him Knicks team like his 58 -wins -a -season Phoenix squad?
Assists: The improved play of David Lee. He averaged 20.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, found a mid-range jumper that he has hit consistently, and was definitely not afraid to go against bigger centers (even though he's really a power forward and only 6'9"). Danilo Gallinari had a good year after injuries slowed his rookie campaign. He averaged 15.1 points per game and was a very reliable three-point shooter outside of a February swoon. They were within a 1/2 game of the 8th spot in the East on Jan. 3rd. The Knicks have a veritable canyon of cap space
Turnovers: Chris Duhon faded this season; he was supposed to be the Knicks' version of Steve Nash in the 'Run N' Gun' offensive system, but he flopped miserably. Speaking of the Run N' Gun, running it with a sub-par team really exposed how little defense is there. In Phoenix, it was somewhat of an issue, but when you win 58 games a season, it's not so bad.
It didn't help that many players were playing for their stats and not their team, since many knew they would not be in New York for the long run. Larry Hughes complained about playing time, while Nate Robinson was benched for a whole month before a trade to Boston. The man he was traded for (Eddie House) did not see much playing time, but was in his Knicks uniform wearing his Celtics championship ring. The Knicks only have Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas, and Gallinari under contract for next year (Eddie Curry has a player option, and Walker and Giddens have team options).
Final Score: This is the off-season the Knicks need to come up big. The names and talent are out there, and Walsh & D'Antoni will have to do everything they can to convince these guys to buy what they are selling. They have the bright lights, the city life, Madison Square Garden. Both guys are proven winners, and now with a whole lot more to work with, this is the opportunity to make NYC proud of their team once again. The sky is the limit.