Now that the short-handed New York Knicks have lost a playoff series against the Boston Celtics and succumbed to a sweeping first-round defeat, fans are wondering what is next for the high-profile team.
Granted, the Knicks were stricken with injury issues as point guard Chauncey Billups went down in game one with a strained left knee and Amar’e Stoudemire played through excruciating back spasms, the reality is the Knicks were still defeated and once again it is time to start rebuilding.
With offseason just beginning for head coach Mike D’Antoni’s team, many questions are surrounding the troubled franchise. The top question revolves around D’Antoni himself and his future in New York.
As he enters the fourth and final year of his contract, will the Knicks owners exercise their right to bring D’Antoni back next season or release him for a fresh face to compliment All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony?
Although he wants to remain alongside Anthony and Stoudemire, will veteran Billups remain a Knick or will he become a free agent?
Finally, will the man responsible for the Anthony trade, Donnie Walsh, come back as his contract expires this year and his job could no longer be available?
Let us be practical. Everyone knew the Celtics were going to take the series. Boston had their number all season long, so the Knicks were going down one way or the other.
One aspect that will change is that no one can doubt that basketball once again has become prominent in New York and the Knicks certainly will be one of the top teams to beat, only if they make the right moves in the offseason.
1.”Mr. Big Shot”- The Knicks need to acquire a knowledgeable point guard to lead the backcourt and anchor Anthony and Stoudemire. Who better to take on the responsibility than 14-year veteran Billups, who has the wit and championship experience with to match. The 34-year-old former All-Star is familiar with the team, understands his role and knows the time to step up or when to step back. Billups is the key to making this team a storied franchise and would be an ultimate mistake to not exercise the $14.2 million option, bringing the recovering sharpshooter back for another shot in the Big Apple.
2. Donnie Walsh- The team president brought excitement back to New York when he rocked the NBA with the Anthony trade, which helped the team finish 42-20 and make the playoffs. The man freed salary cap space to improve on his endeavors to make the Knicks a winning franchise for many years to come, so I say keep him in New York to finish what he has started.
3. Mike D’Antoni- D’Antoni brought his fast-paced, quick three-point shooting style to New York, but I think there is another coach out there that can do much more for this team in their rebuilding stage.