2011-12 NBA Record: 36-30, 2nd in Atlantic Division, eliminated in first round of NBA Playoffs by Miami Heat
2012 NBA Draft: F Kostas Papanikolaou (Olympiacos, 48th overall pick)
Offseason Additions: G Jason Kidd (3 years, $9 million), G Raymond Felton (sign-and-trade with Portland Trail Blazers, 3 years, $10 million), G Ronnie Brewer (1 year, $1.14 million), G James White (1 year), G Pablo Prigioni (1 year, $434,000), C Kurt Thomas (acquired from Portland Trail Blazers), C Marcus Camby (sign-and-trade with Houston Rockets, 3 years, $13 million)
Offseason Losses: G Jeremy Lin (declined to match Houston Rockets offer sheet), G Landry Fields (declined to match Toronto Raptors offer sheet), G Toney Douglas (traded to Houston Rockets), F Jared Jeffries (traded to Portland Trail Blazers), F Josh Harrellson (traded to Houston Rockets), C Jerome Jordan (traded to Houston Rockets), C Dan Gadzuric (traded to Portland Trail Blazers)
Re-signed: G J.R Smith (2 years, $5.6 million), F Steve Novak (4 years, $15 million)
Projected Starting Line-up: PG Raymond Felton, SG J.R Smith, SF Carmelo Anthony, PF Amare Stoudemire, C Tyson Chandler
OFFSEASON GRADE: B+
Lin-Sanity seems like but a distant memory now, doesn’t it?
Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler still remain, and that’s all that should really matter to Knicks fans. It’s hard to see such a young promising player in Lin end his tenure with the franchise so soon, but overpaying to keep him would have had lingering negative effects for years to come.
In Lin’s place, Knicks management has brought in 3 point guards who can collectively and maybe even individually replace the productivity Jeremy brought to this team.
After an almost 2 year absence, point guard Raymond Felton has returned to the New York Knicks after a sign-and-trade with the Portland Trail Blazers that will pay Felton $10 million over the next 3 seasons.
Raymond played arguably his best basketball as a Knick back in 2010-11, averaging 17.1 points and 9 assists a game, albeit under Mike D’Antoni’s system. Under coach Mike Woodson, it’s difficult to say what kind of immediate impact Felton will have. He received a lot of grief (warranted criticism) last year in Portland for his very obvious weight gain, but returning to Madison Square Garden in an environment he’s comfortable and motivated to play in could turn his career around. At the very least, he and Amare Stoudemire had a tremendous chemistry together in his previous stint for New York, so hopefully that same cohesiveness will translate on the floor just 2 years later.
To back up Felton (the projected starter as of today), the Knicks lured away veteran point guard and future hall-of-famer Jason Kidd from the Dallas Mavericks with a 3 year, $9 million dollar deal.
At 39 years of age, Kidd’s days of starting and playing 30+ minutes a game are very much over. As a backup, he can still be productive and put up reasonable numbers in his limited playing time. In 28 minutes of action per game last year for Dallas, Kidd averaged 6.2 points, 5.5 assists and 4.1 assists. Those statistics aren’t terrible, but he was eaten alive on the defensive end by the younger, more dynamic point guards of the NBA. Coming off the bench will be a role best suited for Kidd moving forward. The leadership intangibles he will bring to the locker room will be invaluable over the next few seasons, even when he reaches his early forties. Jason will be 42 by the time his deal ends, so perhaps Knicks management would have been better off signing Kidd to a 1-year deal and then taking things from there.
I’ve personally never seen New York’s third point guard acquisition of the summer, Pablo Prigioni, play before, but here is a quick Youtube mix of some of his play last season for his spanish club team.
In another move to shore up the guard depth on this team, the Knicks signed former Bulls shooting guard Ronnie Brewer to a 1 year, $1.14 million dollar deal. After losing Landry Fields to the Toronto Raptors and Iman Shumpert to an injury that will keep him out until the new year, it was of the utmost importance to sign a player like Brewer who could come in and play solid minutes at the 2 spot right away. With starter J.R Smith being more of a scorer, Ronnie can be more of a change-of-pace guard off the bench being more of a defensive threat on the perimeter. At a little over $1 million, he’s an absolute bargain for this team.
A couple of veteran bigs who once called New York City their home now return to the Knicks organization searching for that elusive NBA Championship.
18-year pro Kurt Thomas came over to the Knicks in the sign-and-trade for Raymond Felton. The last time Thomas played for the team was back in 2003-04 when he put up a near double-double average of 11.1 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.
6’11 center Marcus Camby also returns to New York as a player for the first time since 2002. Camby was acquired in a sign-and-trade with the Houston Rockets which will pay the vet $13 million over 3 years. Camby has more to offer than Thomas as a backup center to Tyson Chandler. Last year for the Rockets, Camby put up numbers of 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Marcus can play spot minutes off the bench for Chandler and the Knicks won’t lose much of their defensive intensity in the process.
On a side note, forward Steve Novak is apparently worth $15 million dollars in the NBA.
He did lead the league in three-point percentage last season (47.1%), but $15 million over 4 years seems a bit hefty for a one-trick pony like Novak.
New York made some solid moves this offseason to help compensate for losing Jeremy Lin and not signing all-star Steve Nash to a contract.
The big question heading into 2012-13 will be whether Felton and/or Kidd can be the point guard this team needs to take the Knicks success to the next level. The front court is solidified and the roster is extremely deep (especially when Shumpert returns), but whether or not the team can get consistent production at the PG spot will determine if New York is first-round fodder yet again or a credible threat for the NBA Championship.
OTHER OFFSEASON RECAPS: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports