The New York Knicks wanted their own Big Three but really might only have a Medium Two. Overrated "superstars" Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire return. But gone is Jeremy Lin. And instead of Linsanity, New York will have to settle for Lincontinence -- the major additions to the Knicks roster are NBA dinosaurs Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas. The team is betting big that former interim head coach Mike Woodson's 18-6 record to end the year last season was no mirage. Let's explore why that is unlikely.
2012-13 New York Knicks Offseason Recap
Draft Picks: None.
Free Agents: Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Pablo Prigioni, James White.
Trade Acquired: Raymond Felton, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby.
Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, Bill Walker, Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, Renaldo Balkman.
Prospective Depth Chart
PG: Raymond Felton | Jason Kidd | Pablo Prigioni
SG: J.R. Smith | Ronnie Brewer | Iman Shumpert
SF: Carmelo Anthony | Steve Novak | James White | Chris Copeland
PF: Amar'e Stoudemire | Kurt Thomas
C: Tyson Chandler | Marcus Camby
The New York Knicks are not built to last. Their marquee free-agent signing was 39-year-old Jason Kidd. They traded for a trio of former Knicks well past their best years: Raymond Felton (28), Kurt Thomas (39), Camby (38). They even signed a 35-year-old rookie from overseas in Pablo Prigioni.
I would say that the is going all in in its quest for a championship but if they were wouldn't they have re-signed Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields, who both took big contracts elsewhere? Instead, it seems, they are completely dismantling they style of play favored by the fired Mike D'Antoni and giving the keys to the franchise (and the ball) fully to Carmelo Anthony.
The only problem is Anthony is a second-tier star. He is a good offensive player, can play solid defense and rebound when he wants to but he doesn't really make his teammates better. His play improved markedly under Woodson because the coach put the ball in his hands and let him dictate just about every offensive decision on the floor, often to the detriment of those around him. Yes, he is a good scorer who sometimes plays great, but one game of 45 points on 18 shots doesn't erase the four previous games where he needed 18 shots to score 22 points.
Even when he played out of his mind once he got D'Antoni fired he still shot just 47 percent from the floor. And he won't be that good again. More likely he'll put up numbers in the 44 to 45 percent range that he has over the past several years in both New York and Denver.
And his running mate, Amar'e Stoudemire is even more of an offensive black hole, with athleticism and skills quickly diminishing. After five straight years with a true shooting percentage above 60 percent in Phoenix, Stoudemire's production has plummeted to 56 percent his first year in New York to 54 percent last season. Oh yeah, and he's a dreadful defender with, again, declining athleticism. Does anyone doubt that if the team had a mulligan on which player to amnesty in order to free up money to sign Chandler they would pick Stoudemire instead of Chauncey Billups?
But Stoudemire will at least have plenty of company in the no-defense department in the regular rotation: None of Stoudemire, Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Kidd, or Steve Novak can play quality D. And the best of the bunch are probably Anthony (remarkably inconsistent) and Kidd (too old to rely on night after night).
That means that even if Tyson Chandler plays out of his mind defense (again) and is the most efficient offensive big man in the league (again), and even if Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas can find the fountain of youth and play the dominating defense they played years ago, this team is still going to struggle to be anything more than an also-ran against the likes of Miami, Chicago and Boston. They didn't get better they got worse, and they weren't that good to begin with anyway.
The New York Knicks upside seems to be a third seed in the East (with Derrick Rose iffy in Chicago) and an inevitable second-round exit in the playoffs. Not good enough considering the money, age and declining skills of its roster. And it could get even worse than that. The team has jettisoned a dynamic multi-pronged scoring attack for a conventional isolation offense featuring Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Predictable and easy to coach against, especially in the playoffs. Those two will lead the team in shots and will not shoot at the elite level to justify the amount of possessions they soak up. And last season's fifth-ranked defense is relying on a bad starting five and some extremely old, creaky legs at point guard and down low off the bench.
The team has a mediocre offense, a defense that can't accommodate an injury of any kind to Chandler, aging "superstars" that are just going to get worse and little flexibility to improve the team. I predict they are going to be the most disappointing team in the NBA this season.