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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Tease? Please! Knicks gave N.Y. nada

By Stephen A. Smith
ESPNNewYork.com

Despite getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs by a team that was simply bigger, stronger and better, New Yorkers still spent the past couple of days acknowledging the Knicks' 54 wins, their first division title in 19 years and a trip past the opening round for the first time in the new millennium. All told, there were reasons for a celebration in Gotham City. A reason to reflect with a smile …

Right up until several members of the New York Knicks opened their mouths. Eradicating our euphoria. Sullying our outlook. And contaminating our enthusiasm -- solely due to this team's irrational thoughts about what actually happened this season.

Attention Carmelo Anthony: You did not "tease" New Yorkers about anything. Not only is there not a trip to the NBA Finals, there isn't even a trip to South Beach for a confrontation in the Eastern Conference finals with the Miami Heat.

Memo to Tyson Chandler: No one should be offended by your correct assessment that the Knicks need to "develop some consistency with the offensive game plan. Right now we're just a jump-shooting team. I'd like us to have a free-flowing offense." What should be deemed offensive, however, is your apparent obliviousness to the fact that you, yourself, had a lot to do with New York's offensive inconsistencies -- because you're a 7-foot center devoid of offensive skills.

In the end, what we have is another washout season mired in the kind of mediocrity that limits expectations. Because now that this 2012-2013 season is over -- devoid of a parade yet again, since 1973 -- the only thing left for Knicks lovers everywhere is to be thankful their team made the playoffs. Even if there is little beyond that.

Coach Mike Woodson feels otherwise, "because I believe in this team and what we accomplished this year. Sure, I feel it's a failure, but that's only because my expectations involved a championship and nothing less." But forgive those of us who couldn't care less about this team's accomplishments, considering what we just saw -- and what there is to look forward to.

Melo might have averaged 28 points against the Indiana Pacers, but he shot 40 percent from the field. Iman Shumpert, despite his 19-point performance in Game 6, still shot 41 percent from the field. It's obligatory to mention that Pablo Prigioni shot 39.5 percent from the field in the playoffs, that Chris Copeland shot 40 percent, that J.R. Smith's 33 percent shooting in 11 playoff games actually qualifies as a generous figure compared to how awful he was against the Pacers in the semifinals. But there's a bigger point to be made.

The Knicks are old, and not just because Prigioni (35 years old), Jason Kidd (39), Marcus Camby (38) or Kenyon Martin (35) are old. It's also because most of them are under contract, with the Knicks being committed to $78.6 million next season, not to mention neither Kidd nor Amar'e Stoudemire (30) -- whose knees are so questionable he might as well be 50 years old -- has expressed any interest in retiring.

"We've got our work cut out for us," Knicks GM Glen Grunwald said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM on Monday afternoon. "We took a risk, a gamble, and it didn't pay off. There are no regrets, because the contributions made by our veterans on the court and in the locker room this past season was huge. But we know we need to re-evaluate things now."

What? Don't look for answers from Grunwald.

Grunwald, as is the case with most members of the Knicks following chairman James Dolan's orders, wasn't rife with specifics regarding this offseason and the team's future. The good news is he didn't need to be.

Melo is 28 and due $46.7 million over the next two seasons, and the Knicks clearly need to get him some help.

Grunwald says, "we'll figure out something," and one would surmise it's getting Melo paired with a younger roster. Someone to bang down low on the front line so the sleek and slender Chandler won't have to. Someone with some semblance of a jump shot or a move in the post playing the same position.

Another young, more creative point guard would help, as well. So would more playing time for the restricted free agent-to-be in Copeland, assuming he sticks around.

More than anything, what the Knicks need is an attitude readjustment. Something that tells New Yorkers they have no reason to be spoiled because the Knicks haven't given them a reason yet.

Had that happened initially, in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's loss in Indianapolis, folks probably would be feeling a lot better. Even today.

Too bad the Knicks, seemingly collectively, didn't know any better.

Then again, what else is new?