After an absolutely dreadful season by the New York Knicks, they are headed into an absolutely crucial off season.
The fans and front office alike are both desperate to win, and desperate to win now. They will have an excess in cap room to spend, but first will focus on which players they currently have. Which should stay, and which should go?
2014/15 statistics: 24.2 PPG, 44.4% FG, 6.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1 SPG
This ones easy. After two consecutive MVP caliber individual seasons, Carmelo Anthony took a hit this past season due to injuries. He was shut down for the year after appearing in only 40 games with a torn ligament in his knee. He still was effective while on the court, despite battling injuries throughout. He’s the leader and by far the best player on the team. He will definitely be back next season, and his no trade clause and massive contract make him unmovable even if the Knicks wanted to move him.
2014/15 statistics: 14.8 PPG, 45% FG, 4.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, .9 BPG
Bargnani unsurprisingly battled nagging injuries for most of the season, appearing in only 29 games down the stretch. The surprising part was him actually thriving in limited playing time. He scored very well and very efficiently, playing much better then anyone could’ve predicted.
The Italian big man struggled on the glass, but was a threat on the offensive end almost every night. Him and the Knicks reportedly have mutual interest in a return, but that would be a very poor choice by New York. He’s hurt far to often to be a reliable option, and a lot of his scoring could be accredited to their just not being many other options on the floor. His injury prone ability and inconsistent play should lead to his departure from the Knicks.
2014/15 statistics: 9.1 PPG, 41.5% FG, 4.7 APG, 3 RPG, .7 SPG
Calderon was Phil Jackson’s first big acquisition for this new Knicks team, and it’s looking like it backfired after the first year. He saw a career low in FG%, and the lowest amount of points and assists he’s gotten since his second season in the NBA. He too was battling injuries, which seems to be the ongoing trend here.
He was limited to just 42 games. His trade value will probably be very limited, and he’s still owed 26 million over the next three seasons. He is a stretch provision candidate which would save the Knicks about three million this summer, but Jackson probably has too much pride to cut ties with his big acquisition so quickly. With a revamped team and (presumably) healthy season ahead, the Spanish guard will have the chance to rebound in a big way.
2014/15 statistics: 8 PPG, 43.4% FG, 4 RPG, 1.7 APG, .5 BPG
Jason Smith was signed to a one year deal this offseason with the Knicks MLE, and was actually disappointing. He saw a drop off in points, blocks, rebounds, and field goal percentage compared to a season ago, and was horrific defensively. He was absolutely abused in the paint, and was too slow to guard the perimeter.
His offensive game also was not impressive, as he cant hit 3’s and struggles in the paint against big men, so he was restricted to the mid range where he struggled often. He was the only Knick to actually appear in all 82 games, but don’t expect him to be back for an encore. The Knicks are better suited going in a different direction
2014/15 statistics: 10.3 PPG, 39.7% FG, 2.7 APG, 2.4 RPG, .7 SPG
Shved was acquired at the 11th hour prior to the trade deadline in exchange for Pablo Prigioni. The Knicks would be his third team on the year, starting in Philly before being shipped to Houston and then New York subsequently. Shved played in 16 games for the Knicks, and the Russian guard actually played solid. He shot a poor 40%, but did put up 14.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.6 APG in 26 MPG.
He’s a 6’6 guard, an ideal height-position combination for Phil Jackson’s schemes. He is a free agent though, so the Knicks shouldn’t overpay to keep him because a lot of his performances could also be credited to the lack of other options on the floor. He could be a solid piece for the future, though.
2014/15 statistics: 6.2 PPG, 43.3% FG, 3.0 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Deciding whether or not to keep Larkin will be one of the toughest decisions New York has to make. He has potential and showed flashes of excellence this season, but was marred by incredibly long stretches of poor shooting and inconsistent defense. His shot is not very good, and he is undersized at 5’11. He is too short to be able to guard some of the bigger, more explosive guards in the league and their is not much he can do to fix that since height has a lot to do with it. He also was inconsistent when finishing at the rim, as well as running the offense.
Larkin has a lot of work to do to improve his game, and its unclear whether or not he will develop into a true NBA caliber floor general after failing continually this season. The Knicks also declined his option last fall, probably eliminating a change of a cheap return. Believe it or not, Larkin logged the most minutes of any Knick this season. Don’t expect him to get a chance to repeat that feat.
2014/15 statistics: 7.1 PPG, 41.2% FG, 1.1 APG, 3.1 RPG, .6 SPG
Lance Thomas was acquired alongside Lou Amundson in the J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert deal. While Thomas was average at best on the court, Derek Fisher praised his locker room leadership. Once him and Amundson arrived, the Knicks went on a mini winning streak and those two helped motivate the rest of the team. Head Coach Derek Fisher’s old Thunder teammate showed flashes of pure excellence, but also struggled with inconsistency. Thomas is only 26 years old and has room to improve. He could become a solid contributor of the bench.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
2014/15 statistics: 11.2 PPG, 38.9% FG, 1.8 APG, 2.2 RPG, .3 SPG
Hardaway Jr. had his struggles this year, never really being able to put forth a consistent effort. It wasn’t much of a sophomore slump, just not developing much after his rookie campaign. He turned things up a notch the last six games of the year, averaging 15.3 PPG on 42% shooting, including a game winner vs. the Orlando Magic.
Hardaway Jr. will absolutely be back next year, barring a blockbuster trade which is highly unlikely as the Knicks don’t have many other prospects to pull one off. He could also compete for a starting shooting guard job if things don’t go as planned in free agency.
2014/15 statistics: 4.9 PPG, 42.7% FG, 1.3 APG, 5.1 RPG, 1 BPG
The other piece acquired from the Smith/Shumpert deal was energetic four Lou Amundson. Amundson, alongside Thomas, helped completely change the Knicks locker room culture according to Derek Fisher. While Amundson isn’t the most skilled player, he does bring leadership and energy off the bench. He will be able to be resigned for the veterans minimum, and with the free agent class rapidly thinning, that very well could be worth it.
2014/15 statistics: 5.5 PPG, 47.8% FG, 1.2 APG, 5.5 RPG, 1.1 BPG
Aldrich developed quite a bit this year, being the only consistent defender on the Knicks team this season. He had a solid defensive rating of 104, as well as being a consistent rebounding presence throughout the year. He averaged over 12 points and rebounds per 36 minutes, very solid numbers for Aldrich.
While he did show some flashes on the offensive end, he simply does not have much to offer on that side of the ball. He has poor foot movement, an inconsistent hook shot, and he’s just too slow. While he is a serviceable bottom or the barrel bench player, he isn’t much more. It may be best for the Knickerbockers to look for a different player to fill his role.
2014/15 statistics: 5.9 PPG, 45.9% FG, 1.0 APG, 4.4 RPG, .4 SPG
Quincy Acy was acquired from the Kings in the summer in a minor, underrated move. While he isn’t a starting quality player, he’s still a solid bench option. He was thrown into the fire from the start, as Derek Fisher was forced to start him at the beginning of the season due to a lack of better options on the thin Knicks roster.
As expected, he struggled a bit to adjust. When put back on the bench though, Acy was a much better player. Through the last 8 games of the season, he averaged 8.7 PPG on 48% shooting. He can be a solid, physical bruiser off the bench and with a team option in the table, the Knicks would be wise to bring him back for a second season in New York.
2014/15 statistics: 3.9 PPG, 40.2% FG, 0.8 APG, 2.1 RPG, .3 SPG
Wear was brought in as a developing rookie after an impressive preseason. The Knicks made an effort to keep him, trading away Travis Outlaw just to keep Wear around. His NBA career started off with a bang, playing outstanding defense on LeBron James in just the second game of his career. Unfortunately for him though, he was never able to replicate that success again. He was average on defense, but not great.
His offensive game also never really developed into what the Knicks hoped, struggling with shot selection and even making the open ones. Wear’s fate may already be sealed, with him sitting out the final 9 games of the season and 15 out of the last 19. He has a player option for approximately 1.1 million next season, but he hasn’t done much to warrant a roster spot so don’t expect the Knicks to pick that up.
2014/15 statistics: 5.4 PPG, 35.5% FG, 0.9 APG, 2.5 RPG, .6 SPG
Cleanthony Early was the Knicks top second round draft selection, and had high hopes for his rookie year. Instead, he missed 43 games and struggled mightily in his limited action. His shining moment of the year wasn’t even on the New York Knicks-it
was in Westchester.
In three games on the teams D-League affiliate, Early averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds a game. Early has lots of potential on the offensive end, evident by his numbers in college and in the D-League. It’s far too early to give up on the Wichita State prospect, and he should very well be back for next season.
2014/15 statistics: 11.8 PPG, 39.9 FG, 3.3 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 SPG
After Carmelo Anthony went down, Langston Galloway was far and away the Knicks best player. As the first ever Westchester Knicks call up, Galloway left a nice precedent for future D-Leaguers to look at. He made an immediate impact on both sides of the ball, being an aggressive defender and a crafty scorer on the other end. He also brought a very clutch gene, consistently knocking down clutch shots throughout the season.
He also played phenomenally for a rookie in big games, putting up 26, 22, and 21 in wins vs three playoff teams, the Hawks, Spurs, and Pelicans, respectively. Him ascending from a D-Leaguer to a starter on an NBA roster is very impressive, and with a cheap team option for next season, he surely will be back, and possibly compete for a starting or 6th man job.
2014/15 statistics: 5.3 PPG, 33.3% FG, 1.1 APG, 2.1 RPG, .4 SPG
Ledo was signed late in the season to fill an empty roster spot, and to see if he had any value to possibly return next season. He did have a solid three game stretch in which he averaged 17.6 PPG and 7.5 RPG, but most of that can be attributed to playing garbage minutes on such a bad team.
He has a limited offensive skill set, and is a very streaky offensive player. The Knicks are better off looking elsewhere.