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What’s Next For Knicks?

Nick Laham, Getty Images

The Knicks first playoff series in 7 years didn’t last long.  Boston defeated New York on Sunday, 101-89 on Sunday to win the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series, 4 games to none.

A promising season ended with a thud.  So what’s next for New York?

There are several questions about next year, so I’m going to try and answer a few of them for you.

Will Mike D’Antoni be back? My gut reaction tells me, “Yes.”  But honestly, the New York Knicks just can’t win with D’Antoni as the head coach.  He didn’t show anything when he was in Phoenix and in the last three years hasn’t changed my mind about his defensive coaching style.  D’Antoni doesn’t have one.  This series showed he is not really that great at play calling, substitutions or using timeouts either. Just as Amar’e changed the culture in one season and brought New York back to the playoffs, the Knicks need to establish a defensive culture - regardless of the roster make-up.  This means bringing in the personnel that can actually coach and play defense in a half court set.

Elsa, Getty Images

Will Donnie Walsh be back? The Knicks General Manager should be back but with Owner James Dolan pulling the strings, you never know.  Three years ago, Walsh took over a mess left by the Isiah Thomas regime and has essentially gutted the entire roster.  No less than 60 players have come and gone since Walsh arrived in New York.  Walsh might not have landed LeBron last summer, but getting Amar’e Stoudemire and trading for Carmelo Anthony was nothing short of a miracle.  Plus, the Knicks have positioned themselves to make a run at Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and/or Chris Paul in the summer of 2012.  Walsh seems like the right guy to finish the job but I wonder if the 70-year old still has enough left in the tank.

Will Chauncey Billups be a Knick in 2011-12? Billups is scheduled to make $14.2 million next season in the final year of his contract. However, just $3.7 million of that is guaranteed, so the Knicks could buy him out for that amount and make him a free agent.  The Knicks guard is 34-years old and will be entering his 15th NBA season next year.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Billups was back but clearly he’s not in the Knicks’ future plans beyond next season.

Nick Laham, Getty Images

What do the Knicks need to do to become more competitive next season? Even though the Knicks made the playoffs for the first time in 7 years, keep in mind – they were essentially a 500 team this year (they finished the regular season with a 42-40 record).  New York went 14-18 with Carmelo Anthony.  Let’s face it, the trade for Carmelo left the Knicks very thin at several other positions and that was ultimately their demise this season.  They will desperately need a real center, a new point guard (backup or starter) and some more depth off the bench if they want to take the next step in the 2011-12 campaign.

Overall, it was a great season for New York Knicks fans but let’s be honest, did you really think this was the year they made a run?  Probably not.  The foundation is there with Carmelo & Amar’e.  It’s time to build the rest of the team around them – starting with a new head coach.

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