If there was ever a NBA team that was in need of a book depicting the ongoings of a season, this years New York Knicks team is a prime candidate.
From the beginning of the season the New York Knicks “on paper” appeared to be a formidable team. The signing of Tyson Chandler away from the Dallas Mavericks in the off-season meant a strong defensive presence in the paint, and Tyson made good on that belief winning the Defensive Player of the Year. Also bringing in Baron Davis, and Mike Bibby meant that rookie Iman Shumpert, and Landry Fields had veterans that could help their development. All-Stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony would get their first full season together, and the combination of the two would put the Knicks in the same league as the Lakers, Heat, Boston and Thunder (teams with multiple All-Stars).
The Knicks season got off to a slow and confusing start. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni shuffled the lineup throughout the first twenty games playing nearly everyone on the roster, including Bill Walker. The Knicks went 7-13 in the first 20 games complete with a 4-game winning streak, and a 6-game losing streak. Toney Douglas ran the point as long as he could before everyone noticed that he probably shouldn’t, and the Knicks promptly signed a castaway from the Warriors,and Rockets, point guard Jeremy Lin.
But it wasn’t until a back-to-back-to-back at the beginning of February where the Knicks hopes swayed in a new direction. On the night of the last of the back-to-back’s D’Antoni decided to give Jeremy Lin more minutes and he responded with 25 points, and 7 dimes against the Nets. The win from that game became contagious, and the worldwide phenomenon known as Linsanity began. The Knicks would lose Carmelo Anthony to injury in the next game, and also Amar’e Stoudemire due to the death of his brother. Losing both All-Stars would be devastating to most teams, but thanks to the schedule, and the sudden Linsanity the Knicks rolled off 7 wins in a row, bringing their record to .500.
Only in New York does anyone go from nobody to somebody overnight, and thats whom to blame for Linsanity. Don’t get me wrong Jeremy Lin is a good basketball player, and in D’Antoni’s system he flourished, but when the hype met true talent in the Miami Heat and their 3 All-Stars, Linsanity dissipated.
The Knicks All-Stars finally returned but the rotation of players caused confustion on the court, not to mention the signing of J.R.Smith. Following an ugly start to March where the Knicks lost 6 straight head coach Mike D’Antoni decided to resign.
According to interim general manager Glen Grunwald, D’Antoni came to him on Wednesday morning (3/14) and said he was thinking of making a change. When asked what that was, D’Antoni told him he was thinking of resigning.
Grunwald said he and assistant general manager Allan Houston then spoke to Dolan, who went to the Knicks’s practice facility and spoke with D’Antoni. According to Grunwald, Dolan and D’Antoni then worked out the details leading to the resignation.
D’Antoni had given no inkling of what was to come when he put the Knicks through what he said was a good a morning shotaround Wednesday. “You battle against it and I think we’re cohesive enough to battle through this and we expect to do that,” he said then. Only hours later, he resigned.Mike Woodson, the defensive coach, was named the interim coach and the Knicks finished the season 18-6.
If that wasn’t enough, after the March 24th game against the Detroit Pistons, Lin complained about a sore knee, and an MRI later revealed a small meniscus tear in the left knee. The Knicks announced on March 31 that Lin opted to have knee surgery and would miss the rest of the regular season.
The Knicks tumultuous season culminated in the #7 spot in the Playoffs, putting them up against last years Eastern Conference Champs the Miami Heat. In Game 1 rookie Iman Shumpert blew out his knee, ending his season, and in Game 4 Baron Davis blew out his knee, maybe ending his career. After three beat-downs by Miami including a 100-67 win by the Heat in Game 1, Amar’e punching a frie extinguisher and nearly losing full use of his left hand the Knicks avoided being swept in Madison Square Garden winning Game 4, ending a 13 year winless streak in the Playoffs.
On Wednesday the Heat finished their gentlemen’s sweep sending the Knicks home 106-94. The Knicks lost all four games by double digits and were outscored by a total of 70 points for the series. Carmelo Anthony did accomplish something relatively rare in the Knicks defeat becoming the third Knicks player to score 30+ points in 3+ games of a single playoff series. Patrick Ewing and Bernard King were the only other Knicks to accomplish that feat.
The Knicks might have an offseason decision to make if another team’s interested in Amar’e Stoudemire. Over the last 2 seasons including the playoffs, the Knicks have gone just 31-40 with BOTH Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire in the lineup, including 1-7 in the postseason. Next year will probably bring a new coach, and a slew of new faces but Knicks fans can fall back on the old adage “There’s Always Next Year.”