How Bright Is The Knicks Future?

Carmelo Anthony(notes) #7 of the New York Knicks looks on against Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Getty Images photo)Amidst the embers which remain from the Boston Celtics four-game thrashing of the New York Knicks remains this one glimmer of hope for the future in Gotham.  And maybe, on the surface, some people might want to believe that the future truly is bright. 

Carmelo Anthony sure does.

“We (were) 42-40 this year and I could say that we could have easily been a 50-plus win team with some of the games that we lost,” he said. “So our goal is to always be (in the) 50-plus win range.”

Anthony added: “We might get some players in here, we might not, but we still have a chance to do some things. On my radar, I want to be the top team in the East.”

It’s a nice thought.  And I’m sure Knicks fans appreciate that confidence by their new star.  But how bright is their future, really? 

The Knicks do have Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo locked up for a while.  They are two fantastic offensive players.  They have each shown the ability to take a game over and will their team to wins (well, almost wins in this past series, but you get the point).  But both are defensive liabilities that cannot be counted on.  

Just look at this video of the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett polishing off the Knicks.  Keep a close eye on Amar’e.  Keep in mind here, this is an eight point game and the Knicks have made a huge run.  Yet, there is so little defensive effort from Stoudemire that Kevin Garnett is left wide open at at sweet spot on which he’s lived his entire career.  

Splash.  Splash.  The comeback is over.  The Knicks are history. 

Melo fared no better on the defensive end.  Paul Pierce was a +12.6 per 36 minutes with Anthony on the floor.  Those aren’t stats that make a Knicks fan’s heart flutter with the promise of future titles.  As sublime as STAT’s Game One and Melo’s Game Two performances were on offense, they still couldn’t manage to whittle a single win out of a Boston team that struggled in the home half of the series.  

Meanwhile, the rest of the roster is in complete flux.  The only players currently guaranteed to be under contract next year are Landry Fields, Andy Rautins, Toney Douglas, and Ronaldo Balkman. The Knicks hold options on Bill Walker and Chauncey Billups.  And Ronny Turiaf holds a player option for next season.  With a lockout looming, will the Knicks be willing to bring Chauncey, who’ll be 35 whenever next season begins, back for another run?  

And then there’s the team management.  Mike D’Antoni has had three years with the Knicks but he’s also had 63 different players in that time (and he’s about to have a lot more).  Will the Knicks decide to bring him back as the rebuilding continues?  And what about the guy making that call? Donnie Walsh has done a great job in cleaning up Isiah Thomas’ mess in New York.  But then Zeke reared his ugly head to pull the strings behind the Carmelo Anthony trade that gutted the Knicks bench of key role players.  There are reports of a two-year extension offer coming soon, but will Walsh even want to be around the team when James Dolan will be taking outside advice from the guy who ran the franchise into the ground in the first place?

To recap:  The Knicks are building around two stars who will provide almost no defense for the team.  The supporting roster will be made over… again.  There are rumblings about whether the coach should stay and whether the General Manager will come back to finish what he started.  And the owner is still listening to the guy who decimated the franchise for a decade. 

So tell me… why is it that Knicks fans are so optimistic?