The New York Knicks did something this season they hadn't done in over a decade, win a playoff round. Still, it is New York and as a two seed the expectation for the season was to challenge the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Losing to the Indiana Pacers Saturday night means they fell short of that expectation, but head coach Mike Woodson said after the game he was pleased with the progress his team made this year.
"This is the first time this team has ever been assembled," Woodson said. "I mean we did a lot of special things this season, so to walk away from tonight and say that this is a disaster, absolutely not."
Now that their season is over, the summer will be filled with questions of how to improve a team that is constrained because they're over the salary cap and lack a ton of tradeable assets. According to Sham Sports, the Knicks' payroll will be approximately $77 million, between $17 and $19 million over the salary cap, which is in the luxury tax. J.R. Smith has a player option and is likely to opt out of that deal. The biggest question for the Knicks is do they bring Smith back and if not how do they replace his offense.
Other questions include what to do with the front court trio of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, who are scheduled to make a combined $57 million next season. The three struggle to play together, Anthony and Chandler are unlikely to be traded while Stoudemire's contract is as close to untradeable as their is due to his medical history and the fact that his contract is uninsured. Whether the Knicks can find a way to make Stoudemire a second unit player remains to be seen.
Another issue the Knicks face is what to do with Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby, who made a combined $7.3 million this season and contributed very little in the postseason. It's possible they could move their first round pick (24th overall) and Iman Shumpert for someone who can get to the rim, but that would mean trading their only two assets under the age of 27.
While this roster does have several questions, opening are likely to be filled internally, resulting in players having another year of experience together. Regardless, for the first time in a long time, the Knicks have a core they can build on moving forward instead of trying to rebuild on the fly.