Carmelo Anthony in action against the Brooklyn Nets this pre-season.
The 2012-2013 New York Knicks have an uphill battle this season if they want to improve on their previous season’s results. Although their first round exit in the NBA playoffs was disappointing their first playoff victory in a decade was a step in the right direction, but doing any better this season seems unlikely though.
The Heat have a stranglehold on the Eastern Conference, and the Celtics have a hold on the Atlantic Division. The Celtics still have some question marks after losing Ray Allen to the Heat, but they return Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who even as they have aged haven’t slowed up much in production. Rondo is undoubtedly one of the best point guard’s in the league and will continue being a walking double double regardless of having Ray Allen.
The Knicks 36-30 record was good enough for eighth in the conference. It was a season of ups and downs, with the explosion of Jeremy Lin and the rising and falling spurts from Carmelo Anthony.
Mike Woodson will get his first chance at a full season of coaching, one that he will need to improve their winning percentage, get out of the 7/8 seed spot and compete for a division championship in order to keep off of the hot seat. The Knicks are in win-now mode and need to be as their stars are only aging further. Their off-season moves were geared towards getting players with experience, something that shows their win-now mode. But how did their off-season fair?
Discussing the off-season moves
The draft was unsuccessful for the Knicks, they have nothing to show for their one pick they actually had in the draft. They had traded away their first round pick in a previous trade, and held only a second round pick.
With their second round pick they drafted Kostas Papanikolaou, a promising role player from Greece, who ended up being dealt in the sign-and-trade of Raymond Felton to the Portland Trailblazers. That trade sent Jared Jeffries, Kostas Papanikolaou, Dan Gadzuric and a second round pick to the Trailblazers in return for PG Raymond Felton and PF Kurt Thomas.
The sign-and-trade stemmed from one of the biggest debacles of the off-season, Jeremy Lin. NBA Insider Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported in this tweet:
This was untrue and the Knicks passed up on the poison-pill contract of 4 years, $28.8 million with the fourth year being a team option. the poison-pill refers to the way the contract was back loaded. The third year of Lin’s contract would have cost the Knicks $9.3 million, something management decided was beyond their willingness to pay. If the Knicks matched the offer sheet they would have had to pay a massive luxury tax, something James Dolan wasn’t willing to pay.
Linsanity was a crazy 20 game stretch but management decided that this was too much to pay for an unproven star and decided to give up their young upside talent to obtain two veteran point guards instead. They obtained one via free-agency and other other via the sign and trade with Portland.
They added Jason Kidd as an unrestricted free agent in a two-year deal. Kidd has had a pretty sharp decline in his skills, He averaged career lows in the 2011-2012 season (6.2ppg, 5.5 apg season vs. 13.0 ppg 9.0 apg career) and seemed much slower than his previous days. He’ll play backup to felton and provide as a solid chemistry player to the team.
In the frontcourt they added veteran, and yes very, very veteran, big men in Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby. Camby should be a solid backup to Tyson Chandler. Chandler has had some knee issues but Camby can slide right in and play tough defense as well. It’ll be interesting to see how many minutes Thomas will be able to log at age 40.
Russell should see less playing time than Camby, but with Amar’e Stoudemire out for at least six weeks with his recurring knee issue we’ll have to see how Woodson decides to use him.
The Knicks lost Landry Fields to Toronto by not matching their massive offer sheet to him. The Raptors wanted to block the Knicks from getting Steve Nash by taking away the Knicks ability to use fields as trade considerations. Toronto hugely overpaid for a player that became an afterthought in New York after the Anthony trade. It was a good decision for the Knicks to to mach.
Overall, the off-season was highlighted by the decision to let Jeremy Lin go even though he sparked the middle of the season after the playoff outlook was grim. Linsanity was a great period for the Knicks, but I agree with their decision to let him go. It was just too much money to keep someone who had only performed well for 15-20 games. After his late season knee injury we’re not sure where Lin even is. He had 12 points and 8 assists in his Rockets debut.
I expect Raymond Felton to return to the form which he was in previously on the Knicks and be able to lead the offense effectively.
The Knicks season hasn’t even started yet and already there are some serious injury issues that need to be looked at realistically. The Knicks gave Amar’e a giant contract even though his knees are that of an old man. He re-injured his left knee recently and according to ESPN he’s going to be out for at least six weeks. The article goes on to say they don’t know whether he’ll undergo a procedure or just rehab the knee. Either way it isn’t good and Amar’e will most likely be nagged by this all season, harboring his production for the 2nd year in a row.
Tyson Chandler has also had some knee issues and had a collision with Gerald Wallace
Tyson Chandler grimaces in pain after suffering a knee injury early in their pre-season game against the Nets. (Credit NY Daily News)
last week in the Knicks pre-season game against the Brooklyn Nets. If this nags him throughout the season it could be a long year for the Knicks who desperately need the defense of the returning Defensive Player of the Year 2011-2012. He’ll supposedly be ready for the opener, but keep an eye out on Chandler’s knee.
What to expect/Predictions
First let’s just start with an overall season overview and where NYKnicksTape predicts the Knicks to finish in their conference, division and overall record. The eastern conference will most likely be run-away with by the returning champion Miami Heat. Here’s our prediction for the end of the regular season standings by record in the Eastern Conference, along with a brief explanation:
- Miami Heat – Returning NBA Champs are just ahead of everyone else in the Eastern conference, with the Celtics aging I don’t think anyone will unseat the Heat, especially with Lebron James in prime form.
- Boston Celtics- Losing Ray Allen hurts the Celtics, but they still have significant talent with Rondo, Pierce and Garnett. Those three are more than enough to get them to second in the conference. Their bench arguably got better this year too, and Doc Rivers is one of the best coaches at managing his bench.
- Indiana Pacers-They have a lot of pieces and will be a very good regular season team. Good enough to win their division and place third in the conference.
- Chicago Bulls-No Derrick Rose, so what? This team played very well without Rose in the previous season and I don’t see them playing that much worse. Yes they lost Omar Asik, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, but those pieces shouldn’t matter too much as long as Luol Deng can be the all-star caliber player he has shown himself to be.
- New York Knicks- The Knicks won’t win their division, but will play well under the leadership of Carmelo Anthony, and with so many veteran players they’ll be much more consistent. This will lead to the ability to put together some good stretches of play. No Linsanity this year, but consistency will help them to fifth place.
- Brooklyn Nets- From last in the division to making the playoffs is a huge leap, but they’ve added heaps of talent this off-season and will make their first playoff appearance in their first year in Brooklyn under the superstar talents of Deron Williams.
- Philadelphia 76ers- Although they lost some pieces, they have Andrew Bynum who is an offensive beast. The East drops off talent-wise around here so it shouldn’t be to rough for the 76ers to make it back to the playoffs.
- Milwaukee Bucks-My surprise playoff team. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are a dynamic duo that with some improved play from some role-playing big men can make a run at the eighth seed in the Eastern conference. This 8th seed is up for grabs though, another team that could make a strong run is the Raptors, but we’ll have to see their first few games to see how good they actually are.
- Boston Celtics
- New York Knicks
- Brooklyn Nets
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Toronto Raptors
The division is more set in place than the conference I believe, the most believe change in this prediction would be the flipping of the Nets and Knicks or the flipping of the Raptors and 76ers. The Raptors could be a stealthy good team with some of their additions and the maturing of their better players. The Celtics are pretty much a lock for the division title, although we’ll have to see how the Knicks and Nets fare in the begging of the season before citing them a total lock.
Knicks predicted record: 48-34
50 wins probably aren’t in the cards this year, but the Knicks will be close. They’re improving year by year, but the time to win is now. Although getting better yearly certainly can’t hurt, the division is only getting better talent wise, so the Knicks will have to match or do better than this record to prove they can be a dominant force not only in the division but also the East.
Melo will have to lead this charge to the fifth seed in the East if they want to get out of the bottom two seeds rut they’ve been in the last two years. Melo is certainly capable as we saw at the end of last season, but someone else is going to have to step up offensively as well. Melo can be the man, but the team has to be firing on all cylinders to win playoff games.
I think that person that steps up will be Raymond Felton, Felton was in all-star level form during his first stint with the Knicks, and running the pick and roll again he can be the facilitator the Knicks have been looking for since the Melo trade.
The dark horse bench player to step up would be Chris Copeland, who performed well during the pre-season,with the Amar’e Stoudemire injury will probably see some decent minutes at the beginning of the season and have the ability to prove himself. He exploded for more than 20 points multiple times during the pre-season and was very aggressive with his offensive game. If he can fill the void of Stoudemire, the Knicks will be a much better off. The Knicks need some youth to step on the oldest team in the history of the NBA.
This season should end at best in the second round though. If they can avoid the Heat or Celtics in the first round a playoff series could be winnable, but after that it seems pretty bleak for them to make it past the second round. The second round would be a step forward, but this team needs to show serious improvement before we can come close to talking about an upset over the Heat or Celtics in a seven game playoff series.
This has been your season preview for the 2012-2013 Knicks. We’ll be bringing you coverage after every game with a game recap and analysis looking forward. including returning our picture of the day posts as well. We’ll also be introducing a few new types of posts: 1) Social Media Update post in which you can get the previous few days talk on twitter in just a few short minutes, 2) What if’s for the Knicks because who doesn’t like wondering about the what if’s? 3)D-League update will provide a quick update of the Knicks d-league talent and how they’re developing.
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