Monday, September 21, 2015

2015-2016 Offseason winners: New York Knicks

Baby steps, bro
2014-2015 record: 17-65

The New York Knicks need to turn things around. In five years since acquiring superstar Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, the team has won just one playoff series (against an ancient Celtics squad, nonetheless), failing to even qualify for the postseason in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. Sure, they dealt themselves a bad hand with the Ama're Stoudemire signing in 2010, but with his 5-year, $100 million contract and bad knees finally out of the picture, the time for schmuck ups is over. They have four more years tied up in Melo, who has 102 million reasons to prove that he is an elite player. At 31 years old, the time is now for the Brooklyn native.

Not much remains from last year's train wreck and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Melo is of course front and center, with Spanish point guard Jose Calderon (acquired in the Tyson Chandler trade in 2014), sophmore small forward Cleanthony Early (#34 in 2014), undrafted combo guard Langston Galloway, Lou Amundson (acquired in the Iman Shumpert/J.R. Smith trade in January) and journeyman forward Lance Thomas the only holdovers from last year. Gone are the Bargnani disaster (Nets), Quincy Acy (Kings), Cole Aldrich (Clippers), Shane Larkin (Nets), Ricky Ledo, Alexey Shved (Russia), Jason Smith (Magic) and Travis Wear. 

Phil Jackson had a decent summer. Sure, he wanted DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge or Greg Monroe and struck out, and the NBA Draft fielded the unspectacular (if solid) Kristaps Porzingis, but the Zen Master still added some serviceable pieces. The quartet of Robin Lopez - Arron Afflalo -Kyle O'Quinn -Derrick Williams is a decent haul, and guys like Kevin Seraphin (rebounding) and Sasha Vujacic (shooting) fill some holes. Jerian Grant, this year's #19 pick, whom the Knicks acquired for Tim Hardaway Jr. probably won't contribute much.

2015-2016 prediction

A championship isn't quite within reach for these Knicks, but with the pieces they have there is no excuse in the world for Phil Jackson's team to be a bottom dweller. Last year's 17-65 record was a disgrace to NYC basketball, and with all the haters lining up to throw Melo under the bus, you can bet that the forward will be out there to prove people wrong. Will it be sexy? Hell-to-the-no. But at least it's a step in the right direction.

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