Sunday, September 29, 2013
Knicks' preseason primer
By Ian Begley
NEW YORK -- Expectations for the Knicks have been sky high since Carmelo Anthony came to town.
New York's basically been considered a "win now" team since Anthony arrived in a three-team trade from Denver in 2011.
But the "win now" mandate may never hold more weight than it does entering this season. The 2013-14 season could be the Knicks' final chance to win with a team led by Anthony and coached by Mike Woodson.
With that in mind, we take a look at five pressing questions surrounding the team as it enters training camp:
MELO'S OPT-OUT: The biggest issue hanging over the Knicks this season is Anthony's opt-out clause. If he chooses to do so, Anthony can opt out of the third and final year of his contract extension with the Knicks and test free agency.
He has said that he has no plans to leave town, but his opinion may change if the Knicks don't take another step toward the NBA Finals. If the Knicks don't make any progress, maybe Anthony decides he wants to chase an NBA title elsewhere.
It should be noted, though, that if Anthony chooses to opt out and sign with another team, he can sign a four-year contract worth $95,897,372, according to calculations by ESPN salary cap guru Larry Coon. If Anthony opts out and re-signs with the Knicks, he can sign a five-year contract worth $129,135,806. That's a difference of $33,238,434.
WOODSON'S JOB SECURITY: Despite winning 54 games last season and leading the Knicks to their first playoff series win in more than a decade, Woodson is on shaky ground heading into this season. His contract is guaranteed for this year but contains a team option for next year.
So Woody likely needs to have a strong showing in the playoffs in order to keep his job.
Complicating matters for Woodson is owner James Dolan's decision to demote ex-GM Glen Grunwald.
With Grunwald out, there is one less voice in the room to support Woodson when the front office and Dolan discuss the coach's future.
WHO STARTS? Woodson has plenty of options here. If he chooses to play small ball, that means Raymond Felton and either Pablo Prigioni or Beno Udrih will share the backcourt and Anthony will play power forward.
If Woodson goes with a traditional lineup, that means Anthony may play small forward alongside Metta World Peace or Andrea Bargnani. That could limit Anthony's chances of taking advantage of mismatches at power forward, but the guess here is that Woodson finds a way around that.
WHAT ABOUT AMAR'E?Amar'e Stoudemire said recently that his top goal for this season is to stay healthy. That hasn't been easy for Stoudemire in recent seasons.
The six-time All-Star played in just 29 regular-season games in a reserve role last season due to recurring knee issues. He underwent two separate surgeries to remove debris in both knees.
The Knicks are expected to limit Stoudemire to 20 minutes per game this season in an effort to keep him healthy.
CAN BARGNANI FIT THE BILL? Andrea Bargnani was the biggest haul for the Knicks in the offseason. The trade was panned by analysts who see Bargnani as a player who is inefficient on offense and severely challenged on defense -- not the kind of guy the Knicks needed.
But if Bargnani can find openings on the perimeter and knock down shots, he could be a valuable piece for the Knicks. It would behoove Bargnani to get off to a fast start, though. Knicks fans will be tough on the former No. 1 pick if he struggles early on.
Question: What do you think are realistic expectations for the team heading into the preseason?