Last week in this space,I covered the five most likely reasons the New York Knicks will be better in 2013-2014, a glass half full perspective in regards to General Manager Glen Grunwald’s off-season. While it’s certainly possible the Knickerbockers have improved, it’s also just as likely they’ll be unable to sustain the success they had a year ago. Here are five reasons why the Knicks will be worse next season:
5. J.R. Smith‘s Knee- Love him or hate him, the always entertaining J.R. Smith was able to squeeze in a Sixth Man of the Year award in between chasing around Rihanna (allegedly) and buying bottles at the club. Smith’s career year came just in time, as his contract expired after the 2012-2013 season. He immediately went under the knife to repair a meniscus tear after the Knicks elected to give him a new three year deal worth $17.95 million. Will surgery rob Smith of the athleticism that makes him such a tough player to defend when his head is screwed on right? Or worse, will a new contract make J.R. rest on his laurels and struggle to find motivation in a city surrounded by temptation?
4. Andrea Bargnani- The strategy this off-season was sound. Go out and get a stretch four who could be a secondary option that compliments Carmelo Anthony. The execution from the front office, however? Questionable. For starters, stretch fours can usually shoot. Bargnani hasn’t shot better than 31 percent from deep in two full seasons. The former Toronto Raptor was once an impact player in this league, but even if he gets back to that form, will he be able to stay healthy? It’s been three full seasons since he has been able to complete better than 66 games. That isn’t going to cut it on a team that already has the chronically sidelined Amar’e Stoudemire forever in the infirmary.
3. Jason Kidd‘s retirement-Forget numbers. On a team with Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, and Carmelo Anthony, having a steady hand like Jason Kidd in the locker room did wonders. the consummate coach-on-the-floor, Kidd managed to guide a group of perennial losers into a contender in 2012-2013. Veteran leadership is important in any locker room, but with the addition of Metta World Peace into an already volatile mix of personalities it may be needed more than ever. Without Kidd, is anyone on this roster up to the task?
2. Tyson Chandler‘s post-season regression- Is this permanent? The 2012 Defensive Player of the Year was completely outclassed by Roy Hibbert in the post-season. Hibbert, a perennial offensive liability, had two 20 point games against Chandler, including one in game six, New York’s final game of the season. Fact is,Tyson allowed Kevin Garnett to have his way with him in round one as well. The 37-year-old posted an average of 14.6 rebounds per game in the series. Was Chandler hurt? Did he just lose his mojo for a few weeks? Or, is Tyson finished for good? On a team lacking any viable interior defenders, Chandler’s demise would be one the New York Knicks could not bounce back from.
1. Competition, Competition, Competition- The Knicks were a two seed last year and this year’s roster (on paper, at least) has improved. But the biggest reason why New York is facing a drop off in the 2013-2014 season is because the rest of the East has gotten better. Indiana has Danny Granger coming back and added a few pieces to it’s bench, including former Knick Chris Copeland. The Brooklyn Nets went out and added Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the mix. The Chicago Bulls have a former MVP in Derrick Rose healthy again. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards, and Toronto Raptors have all made progress as well. ”Leastern” Conference, no more. As it stands now, forget about a two seed. The Knicks are going to have a problem trying to stay in the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.