- Stephen A. Smith, ESPNNewYork.com columnist
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Now that their season is over and
speculation has been supplanted by real, undeniable results, it's safe to express the obvious about these New York Knicks:
They simply are not elite.
They are a one-man team on offense (Carmelo Anthony). They were a one-man team on defense (Tyson Chandler) the minute rookie Iman Shumpert went down with a knee injury. Amare Stoudemire is often injured and many have lost patience with him. Jeremy Lin was too busy making fashion statements to play a playoff game at "85 percent." And the coaches can't tell if they are lame ducks (due to Phil Jackson) or about to be rewarded with multiyear deals.
"I'm personally very disappointed," Chandler said after a Game 5 in Miami that sent the Knicks home for the summer. "It's unacceptable to me. I didn't come here to lose in the first round and I don't plan on doing this in the future."
So where do the Knicks go from here?
We all know some folks need to go.
Only the stupid among Knicks fans believes it should be Melo. A career 24-points-per-game scorer capable of dribbling, shooting and creating his own shot from anywhere doesn't deserve to be shipped out of town for losing to the reigning conference champions.
"You got someone else you think is on Melo's level as a talent in this league?" one Eastern Conference executive asked rhetorically. "We all know better."
What we don't know is who will be available to assist Melo in taking the Knicks to heights unknown for the past decade, not to mention a championship that has alluded the franchise since 1973. And this postseason did little to help us out.
Despite Chandler's greatness as a defender and emotional leader, he's sorely lacking offensively. "I definitely have to work on that this offseason," he said.
Then there's the issue of point guard. Lin will look to capitalize on being a restricted free agent; how much will the Knicks have to pay to keep him? Will it be as a starter? And will it happen at the expense of getting their hands on a Steve Nash or a Goran Dragic?
It's clear some thought needs to be put into Landry Fields, who continues to be a no-show every time the month of April rolls around. J.R. Smith has already tweeted he may not come back because New Yorkers had the temerity to be upset with consecutive 3-for-15 shooting performances along with 31 percent shooting from the field in the playoffs.
The marksman, Steve Novak, refused to shoot in the playoffs if a fingernail was in his face. Mike Bibby just looks as if he's aged. No one knows if Shumpert will ever fully recover. Baron Davis' career might be over after his Game 4 knee injury. And, unavoidably, the Knicks must do something about Stoudemire.
"It was a difficult season for a lot of reasons," said Stoudemire, who finished with more fouls (six) and turnovers (five) than rebounds (four) in Game 5 against the Heat. "I've got to do better. I know that."
Actually, he's got to get better health-wise. No one knows if he will. All anyone knows is that he is owed $64 million over the next three years and that the Knicks will probably be unsuccessful if they try to trade him.
"We'll figure it out," Chandler said. "We have to. It's not like we really have a choice."
Evidently, he doesn't know the Knicks.
17hMatt Walks, ESPN.com