Though the Knicks made progress this season, after reeling in two superstars like Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, perhaps more than a first-round sweep in the playoffs was to be expected.
Granted, the team was without Chauncey Billups, and STAT was undoubtedly not himself due to injuries. The team that competed (or failed to) in the playoffs was not the same team that got the Knicks there in the first place.
Nevertheless, while a full-season together would certainly help the current Knicks squad, improvements can be made to better ready themselves for the season.
A pass-first point guard has always been desired by the Knicks, especially under the reigns of Mike D'Antoni. Although Billups is in tow for another season at a hefty salary, he's more of a shooter than a playmaker (as is Toney Douglas) and an efficient passer wouldn't hurt. Reasonable free agent options who may be open to sharing time with Billups and Douglas (should the Knicks opt not to bring back Anthony Carter) include T.J. Ford, Sebastian Telfair, and to a lesser extent, Jannero Pargo.
Other members of the media have also cited the Mavericks' J.J. Barea as an ideal fit for the Knicks due to his passing and long-range shooting, but he may be pricing himself out of the Knicks' range with a string of strong playoff performances following a just as impressive regular season.
Looking at the center position, it's clear the Knicks have lacked a dominating defensive anchor down low for years. Though another Mavericks' player, Tyson Chandler, will likely be the best big man available this summer, it's also likely that Mark Cuban does not allow him to get away after what he's done for his team. A more reasonable option for the Knicks is Samuel Dalembert, whose defense, rebounding, and consistent health may make him the answer at the five for the orange and blue. After only starting 46 games for the Kings this past season, a full-time starting spot in New York is sure to be appealing for Dalembert, who played college ball at Seton Hall. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for the Kings this season.
As good as Dalembert could be for the Knicks, Marcus Camby would be another nice addition. Camby, who will be playing out his expiring contract next season for the Blazers, could be had via trade and if not, I wouldn't mind seeing him return the Knicks the following season as a free agent at a discounted price.
Also holding an outside chance of returning to the big city is Wilson Chandler, who is a restricted free agent this summer. Donnie Walsh always expressed an interest in holding on to Chandler long term prior to the trade, and his game was definitely elevated by playing under D'Antoni. If the Knicks decide to build upon their strengths rather than improve their weaknesses, Chandler's versatility on both ends on the floor could again make him a perfect fit. If he had stayed with the Knicks, he may have priced himself out of the team's desired range. That being said, Chandler's price may have dropped after getting traded to Denver. Chandler may be able to be had for a Midlevel-exception type contract if the Knicks are interested.
The city and its fans would certainly welcome Chandler back, but that happening will depend on what exactly are Mr. Walsh's priorities moving forward. We'll keep an eye on things for sure.