Many NBA observers foisted huge expectations on the New York Knicks, once they acquired Free Agent center Tyson Chandler last year. However, despite the talent in the club’s front-court, with Chandler joining Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, a lack of consistency at the point guard slot, kept the squad from reaching the lofty heights that many predicted.
New York had a myriad of players last season at the point, including veterans Mike Bibby and Baron Davis, as well as rookie Iman Shumpert and Jeremy Lin, who the Knicks picked up after being released by two teams. Lin, briefly became an overnight sensation; when he went from the twelfth player on the bench to starter, while Anthony was injured.
Lin was put into a game out of desperation against the New Jersey Nets and knocks down a career high 23 points to lead New York to the win. Knicks former head coach Mike D’Antoni inserted him into the starting lineup in the club’s next game, and a star was born. Lin would go on to carry his squad to a seven game winning streak, even outscoring Kobe Bryant when he dropped 38 points in a win over the Lakers and pushing the club above the .500 mark.
The magic on the floor for New York disappeared when Anthony returned from injury and expected to be the focal point of the offense, once again. The cohesion that been displayed on the hardwood by the squad vanished, as it soon became apparent that Anthony and Lin could not both be productive on the floor. D’Antoni, resigned his position as bench boss, with Mike Woodson being elevated from assistant to running the club. Lin would tear his left meniscus in late March, and was out for the rest of the campaign.
Davis’ career could be over, as he suffered a partial tear of his patella tendon and completely ripped his ACL and MCL in his knee during the first round Playoff loss to the Miami Heat; he will at the very least miss the rest of this season. Lin was a restricted Free Agent and signed an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, that New York declined to match. Instead the club has signed two Free Agents this past summer; former Knicks starter Raymond Felton; who will once again be the player to lead the offense. They also brought in veteran Jason Kidd, whose leadership skills will be an asset; plus he can be a valuable player off the bench.
Chandler told “Newsday,” that he is very excited with the new faces that will be handling the point. The big man told reporters “The intensity is way up and also there’s also calmness when we’re coming downcourt, with the point guards getting things under control and making sure we get good shots every possession. “I think the toughest thing last year was our best players were at the 3, 4 and 5 spots with nobody really to get them the ball in the right places . . . This year, with the additions that we got at (point), Melo can play his natural role and be a finisher and Amar’e can do the same thing.”
The Knicks center clarified that he was not trying to insult either Davis or Lin with his comments. He said “Baron was hurt and Jeremy was a young point guard who was just learning, trying to learn and figure out an offense. It was nothing against them and it was definitely nothing against Baron. Baron was hurt the whole year and giving us everything he had. Jeremy was a young point guard who was inexperienced, who brought a great light to the organization. But as far as being able to run the offense and putting players in the right position he just wasn’t there. We got some veteran point guards that are capable of doing that.”
Felton was successful during his brief stint with the Knicks in the 2010-2011 campaign, before he was traded to the Denver Nuggets in the deal that sent Anthony to New York. While Kidd’s best days are behind him, he is still capable of doing amazing things on the court; although not as consistently. Barring injury, the Knicks could go deep into the Playoffs this season, instead of being knocked out in the first round, as they were during the last two campaigns.