There were mixed feelings in the minds of New York fans over the Knicks season. On the one hand, winning a postseason series for the first time since the Van Gundy era was a definite plus. On the other hand, falling in six in the second round to the Pacers—a team that they had home-court advantage over—was a bit of a disappointment.
But the series is over now and the Knicks need to start thinking about next season and how they will improve.
With the team’s bloated payroll, options are a bit limited, but here are four ways to help:
1. Trade Amar’e Stoudemire.
Naturally, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Stoudemire’s value has plummeted following injuries that limited him to just 29 games this past season. And while his production is down, his salary is still up. Stoudemire is owed more than $40 million over the next two seasons—the second of which is a player option that he’s sure to execute.
So who would possibly take a flyer on Stoudemire? If Knicks GM Glen Grunwald is serious about moving Stoudemire, he should call none other than Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak regarding disgruntled power forward Pau Gasol.
Gasol, possibly the best low-post player in the game, currently finds himself playing on the perimeter (when he’s not on the bench) in Mike D’Antoni’s fast break system. D’Antoni previously coached Stoudemire when the two were in Phoenix (with current Laker guard Steve Nash) and D’Antoni knows how to utilize his offensive skills.
Whether the Lakers would do it or not, is hard to say. Certainly they would have to throw in a draft pick or two before considering it. But remember, this is a franchise that passed over 11-time NBA champion head coach Phil Jackson in favor of D’Antoni, who has yet to sniff the finals, so anything is possible.
2. Hope Kidd Retires.
Jason Kidd is probably second only to Magic Johnson on the list of best point guards of all-time, just edging out the great John Stockton.
Kidd is now 40 years old, and though he has appeared to be ageless for years now, it may have finally caught up to him in the playoffs. He averaged 0.9 points per game off 12 percent shooting in 20.6 minutes of action—this from someone who used be a candidate for a triple-double every time out.
His salary (at $3 million for each of the next two seasons) isn’t absurd, but the Knicks could use the money to sign some young blood next season.
3. Don’t break the bank in signing J.R. Smith.
Smith does have a $ 2.9 million player option that he’ll likely reject, despite his troublesome shooting in the playoffs. But if he does reject it and is open to returning, the Knicks would be wise to stay at or below three years at no more than $6 million per.
The free-shooting swingman, though he averaged a career-best 18.1 points per game in the regular season, hit just 28.9 percent of his shots in the six-game Indiana series and hit just 33.1 percent overall in the postseason.
For a secondary scorer (second to Melo that is) the Knicks are going to need a more consistent shooter. Keep in mind that Smith put up these career-best regular season numbers in a contract year.
4. Resign K-Mart to a short deal.
Martin provided a lot of good physical defense in the paint in his short stint in Manhattan. In keeping with their theme of signing older players in the paint (like Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace, and Kurt Thomas) it would be a natural fit. Plus the fans like him.
Naturally the money has to make sense and the Knicks shouldn’t offer more than two years at $3 million per, for his services. Admittedly, this won’t be a make or break signing for the team, but he would fit in well and the Knicks need healthy post players.