One of the more disappointing stories of this NBA season has been watching the collapse of the New York Knicks. It has only been 10 months since the Knicks finished the 2013 season with a 54-28 record, and were battling the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals as the #2 seed.
So what went wrong? How could a team go from being at the top of the conference, to now falling 18 games below .500?
A good place to start is to look back at the Knicks offseason. After looking at the moves made, it’s easy to see where this train began coming off the tracks.
June 3, 2013 – Jason Kidd Retires which leads to the signing of Beno Udrih
During the 2012-13 season, Kidd was a steady back-up point guard for the Knicks. The numbers didn’t stand out for Kidd (6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 26.9 MPG), but you have to wonder if what he lacked in stats, he made up with his leadership and veteran savvy – which the Knicks surely miss this season.
With Kidd’s departure, the Knicks signed Beno Udrih to fill the back-up role alongside Pablo Prigioni. Playing 19 minutes per game, Udrih has averaged 5.6 points, 3.5 assists, and 1.8 rebounds per game. While his numbers aren’t terrible when compared to Kidd, it’s safe to assume that Udrih does not possess the same intangibles that Kidd brought to the Knicks last season.
Although it’s not the Knicks fault that Kidd retired, the responsibility was on them to replace what he brought on a nightly basis.
July 10, 2013 – Raptors Trade C Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-round draft pick and second-round draft picks in 2014 and 2017.
Remember all the optimism in New York once this trade went down. Back in August 2013, Marcus Henry of Newsday reported that Carmelo Anthony felt that the Bargnani trade was a steal. Pretty safe to assume that Carmelo didn’t pay attention to the seven years Bargnani played on the Raptors. Injury woes, poor decision making, lack of rebounding, and poor defense were all part of Bargnani’s game in Toronto, and it carried over this season on the Knicks.
As of today, Bargnani is currently out with an elbow injury, and his most memorable play this year was his end-of-game blunder versus Milwaukee.
July 11, 2013 – Re-Signed J.R Smith
It’s really hard to blame the Knicks for re-signing the reigning sixth man of the year. Smith had a great season for the Knicks (18.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 17.6 PER) and was a key reason they finished 2nd in the East. Flourishing during the 2012-2013 season, the Knicks signed Smith to a three-year, $18 million contract.
However, looking back on the signing, the warning signs had to be there for the Knicks. Anytime a player only re-signs with a team, on the condition they also sign his younger brother to a contract, must have made the alarm bells go off.
Smith’s character has always been a question mark and when you throw in the fact that Smith’s numbers have dropped off significantly this year (13 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 11.6 PER), to go along with the whole shoe lace drama, you get the feeling that the bright lights of New York may be too bright for J.R.
July 16, 2013 – Signing of Metta World Peace
So let me get this straight, the Knicks lost two character guys in Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby and decided to replace them with Andrea Bargnani and the aging Metta World Peace? I think these moved would have only worked if I was playing NBA 2K14.
Peace was signed to a two-year, $3.25 million dollar contract, with the hopes of providing a defensive presence off the bench. However, World Peace only played 29 games for the Knicks this season and before being waived on February 24th, was averaging a paltry 6 points, 3.7 rebounds and, 1.7 assists per game.
Now unemployed, World Peace has indicated he wants to sign with a contender. However as of today, he still remains a free agent and one can only assume that after watching him play for the Knicks this season, he probably won’t be on a playoff roster any time soon.
It’s a simple recipe; when you mix J.R Smith, with a little bit of Metta World Peace and sprinkle in some Andrea Bargnani, the only thing you’re cooking up is a recipe for losing. I also forgot to mention the recent arrest of Raymond Felton; but it’s probably best to save that story for another day.
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