Last season was a hard one for most Knicks fans to deal with. The New York Knicks had some of their best success in the past fifteen years and yet it was done by playing small-ball, something Knicks fans weren't accustomed to. Some were happy to have Carmelo Anthony playing power forward because he was having the best season of his career. Others felt the Knicks could never win with Anthony playing out of his natural position. Going into next season the Knicks had said over and over again that they intended on playing Anthony at the power forward position again. However, could the changes to the roster in the off-season allow Anthony to move back to his natural position?
It was ironic and puzzling watching Carmelo Anthony line up as the New York Knicks power forward last season. First of all, New York pays Amare Stoudemire a lot of money to play power forward. Secondly, Anthony is one of the best small forwards in the NBA and yet he had a career year filling in for Stoudemire down low. However, the roster has changed and now Mike Woodson has other options available to him.
As long as the Knicks make sure they sign another guard such as Toure Murry or Nate Robinson they could use the same two-guard system they did for much of last season and start Pablo Prigioni next to Raymond Felton. However, that would keep Iman Shumpert and Anthony out of position.
Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork reports Woodson has even more option beyond the two-guard scheme to consider for this upcoming season.
Here's the bottom line: If World Peace signs with the Knicks, Mike Woodson will have lineup options, and one he would consider is Anthony and Bargnani starting together.
"They could and we'll evaluate this," he said on Sunday. "This will really be a little bit different this year. I know we've been great with Melo at the 4, but Bargnani brings a different dimension to our team I think because he can do a little bit of everything. I've got to get him up to speed defensively, but just like Melo's a nightmare for people at the 4, he's a nightmare for players at the 4 and 5.
"So I've just got to get him in and get him acclimated to what we're doing, and get him comfortable. That's the key with him. I've got to get him back to feeling good about himself, because I think he's an excellent ballplayer, I do."
So, will we see the Knicks go with a starting lineup of Felton, Shumpert, Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler? Of course, Woodson could also start Felton, Shumpert, Metta World Peace, Anthony and Chandler. That would give the Knicks excellent defense with Shumpert, World Peace and Chandler out there together and allow Anthony to remain the teams power forward where he thrived last season.
Probably the biggest dilemma is if Bargnani and Stoudemire can play together. Normally they are both power forwards. Then again, both of them have thrived in their time as centers in the NBA so theoretically they could both switch between the two big men positions. The problem there would be their lack of defensive and rebounding prowess.
That's something Woodson is going to have to think about. Then again, neither has had much luck staying healthy for the last two seasons so there's no telling if they'll both be available at the same time or not. Only time will tell if Woodson will actually have to deal with playing Bargnani and Stoudemire at the same time.
What Glen Grunwald has done this off-season has been pretty remarkable. There are question marks about both big additions, Bargnani and World Peace. Bargnani has physical health issues and World Peace has mental health issues. There's no getting around that.
However, Grunwald had only the mini mid-level exception to work with this off-season. He was able to use the teams bird rights to re-sign the reigning sixth man of the year J.R. Smith. He was able to re-sign Prigioni who is a stable force at the point guard position who understands the right way to run an offense and is deadly on the defensive end. Then he was able to use the rest of the mid-level exception left over from signing Prigioni to bring World Peace to Madison Square Garden.
When you combine those moves with drafting a talented scorer in Tim Hardaway Jr. and signing C.J. Leslie, who most believe should have never gone undrafted, Grunwald has done a pretty good job making roster additions without much financial flexibility. What's interesting is, the off-season isn't over yet and there's still a few roster spots to fill.
The Knicks are in negotiations with Kenyon Martin. Obviously they only have the veteran's minimum left so it's really just a matter of if he wants to return or if he can find more money elsewhere. The Knicks have also shown interest in recently amnestied Tyrus Thomas, as well as Aaron Brooks, Nate Robinson, Samuel Dalembert and others. If Grunwald is able to get any of them under contract for the minimum he'll be doing well for himself.
Right now the Knicks have Felton, Prigioni, Shumpert, Smith, Hardaway Jr., Anthony, World Peace, Leslie, Bargnani, Stoudemire and Chandler under contract. That's eleven of the fifteen roster spots filled. That being said, only twelve spots are active at any one time so it will be interesting to see what veterans agree to come to New York knowing they'll be wearing suits on the sidelines on some nights.
Then again, injuries almost always take care of that. Teams often go from looking like they have too much to having too little in the blink of an eye. That's why it's important to find not only skilled players but players who can do more than one thing and fill more than one role. Next seasons Knicks are filled with guys who can play in different schemes and fill in different positions. That will allow them to play well when one player or another is dealing with the bumps and bruises of a long NBA season. Well done Mister Grunwald.
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