Knicks and Pacers Relevant Again

The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers are the first two playoff teams to be sent fishin’ this Spring.

Despite their quick exits from the postseason, both the Knicks and Pacers are in a better place than they were a year ago, when they were saddled with the two longest playoff droughts in the Eastern Conference. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end, because these two franchises have taken different paths back to relevance.

New York is building around two of the best scorers in the league. They’re in the market for some role players, but in acquiring Carmelo Anthony, they’ve lost a lot of their roster flexibility. Howard Beck of The New York Times writes

The Knicks desperately need a 7-footer to rebound and defend, an established shooting guard to replace Fields (who should be a reserve), a backup power forward to spell Stoudemire, and more size and shooting off the bench. Billups and Stoudemire listed big men as a top priority.

Scouts and executives often say that it is much harder to acquire a star like Anthony than it is to acquire top role players. But the Knicks will not have an easy time replacing the ones they traded.

Gallinari and Felton were high lottery picks. Chandler, drafted 23rd, would be a top-10 pick if the 2007 draft were held again.

The Knicks are drafting 17th this June and will probably not be back in the lottery for many years. They have just one first-round pick in the next three drafts. When they do pick, they will have to be nearly perfect.

The Pacers have the role players, but not the star or the market to attract one in free agency. They finished eight games under .500, but clearly put up more of a fight against the No. 1 seed Bulls than the Knicks did against the Celtics. Now, it’s about developing their young core.

Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star likes what he’s seen

Still, this was the best thing that’s happened to this franchise in many years. It was only five playoff games, but it was an experience these young players and this young coach desperately needed. For the first time since before The Brawl, the Pacers gave the region a reason to look forward and not look back at the glory days of Reggie Miller and Company.

“We’ve put Pacers basketball back on the map, and it’s here to stay,” said interim coach Frank Vogel. “Fans should be very, very proud of this team. It’s a team they can fall back in love with.”

This is going to be a process, a long process for a team that doesn’t have a franchise-altering superstar like Rose. But look at this group: Darren Collison was in his first year as a starter. Paul George is a rookie. Tyler Hansbrough is essentially a rookie, having missed most of his first year. Roy Hibbert just finished his third year.

These players got a taste, and if they go back home this summer, do the things they need to do to get better individually, it should be the first of several playoff appearances in the coming years.

Two teams, two entirely different paths back to the postseason, and two types of roster challenges going forward.

Both the Knicks and Pacers believe the future is bright, and that they’re done with playoff droughts. But a lot can happen between now and next April.

***

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

36 Comments

  1. Johnathan says:

    All the Knicks have to do know is sign a 3pt shooter. Since Peja Stojakovic is a FA and a wonderful 3pt shooter, the Knicks should sign him to at least a 2-3 year deal worth 6 million.

    C Tyson Chandler (back up Josh Harrellson)
    PF Amare Stoudemire (Back up Sheldon Williams, Jared Jeffries)
    SF Carmelo Anthony (back up Peja Stojakovic (if signed) and Bill Walker and Shawne Williams)
    SG Iman Shumpert (back up Landry Fields)
    PG Mike Bibby (back up Toney Douglas and Anthony Carter)

  2. Anthony Arroyo says:

    Yea, Knicks and Pacers are Relevant again, out of their 9 Playoff games, 1 Win. THEY ARE SO BACK!!

  3. Kenal says:

    The knicks are relevant again. Just need more time together they didnt start together with their roster as Miami did, so looking forward to see what they do on the offseason and next season.

  4. Jerron says:

    I like the Pacers and the Knicks future… being from Indy… I’d like to see them get a backup center and a power forward upgrade over McRoberts. Also a SG like Mayo would be a great addition. Package Rush, and Ford or McRoberts to get a stud.

  5. bunbury says:

    UNBELIEVABLE! Memphis had practically won the game, but their coach was not smart enough. with 2.2 seconds to go all you need to do is THROW THE BALL UP IN THE AIR. by the time the ball comes down, time has EXPIRED. but not, the genius coach decided to: let them foul us, use only .5 seconds and give them another chance, and LET’S HOPE THEY WILL MISS IT. and they get paid millions. AGAIN, UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

  6. pacers were good during the post-season… so good that they gave the Bulls a hell of a headache… first four games were a struggle for both clubs…. nail biters….. nice run, pacers…

  7. moneyball says:

    They only reason Boston swept them was because Billips was injured. with the pistons he could hit big shots, and he still can.

    GO HEAT!

  8. rhainner says:

    it’s so bad that billups is injured. he knows how to win playoff games.

  9. George says:

    I am a NBA addictive watcher since the Jordan era

    I have watched so many teams fail while others did the job from nowhere. Believe me, the knicks will give the city nothing but some good games to watch, their flexibility now is too limited thus they wont be able to add the necessary pieces. Keeping Billups with his 15 mils next year was a mistake i believe. I know he is a veteran with huge playoff experience but he wont give them the championship he gave to the pistons. The knicks games next season will be great to watch but at the end there will be no championship. One more thing, Landry fields should get all the help, motivation he needs to blossom, this is a turning point issue for the knicks i believe

    As for the pacers, all is about evolving, you will never know what will become of them till you see what upside each one of their young guys fulfill. Such team needs a PF star (no superstar) i just would LOVE seeing “LOVE” on that rooster :)

    Just my opinion guys.

  10. dave says:

    chicago isn’t capible of dominating any series. the pacers kept the games close because the bulls have a week offence. derick rose is the only guy who you can count on for 20+ points with boozer and deng being inconsistant. their superior d is what won them the series and it is what will win them the championship.

    • statman says:

      Not only will this Bulls team not win champioship this year….they will never win as currently constructed. Noah is not a starting nba center that will be on championship team without a skilled low post option. Boozer undersized and inconsistent as well as injury prone.

  11. Teriac says:

    I think the pacers and knicks can build on this experience and use them for the next years. The knicks have a bunch of players who can really play well but not under the tough playoff defense. Same goes with the pacers. Another thing the pacers should work at is closing out games. They have had big leads on like 3 games of their series, they just need to close out well and finish the game strong. These two teams look great in the future. Can’t wait for them again next year

  12. Kevin says:

    i don’t get why everyone brings up the western conference when measuring how good the pacers are… fact is, theyre not in that conference, so theres no point in bringing it up. pacers did what they needed to do to get in the playoffs.. and gave the bulls a whole lotta trouble for an 8 seed, for sure.

    • Rob says:

      Exactly, Indiana will be good after they get some help at the shooting guard position. If the trade for Mayo goes down they beat the Bulls at least 2 more times. Paul George will be the real deal in a yr or two. Dude can score they just don’t call many plays for him, and rightfully so….he’s a rookie. If Paul plays for a team with no star or going nowhere he could easily have posted 15ppg, while being a lockdown defender.

      • Sam says:

        Good points. I think Larry Bird knows what he’s doing. He’s been orchestrating this whole thing for a few years now, and Pacers fans have been questioning his wisdom at times. But things are finally starting to look up for this franchise. It turns out that Larry’s just a whole lot more patient than most Pacers fans. Remember that deal that fell through like 2 minutes before the trade deadline? We’d have had OJ Mayo in the backcourt here in Indiana. Larry really wanted that deal to happen, but I believe it was New Orleans that pulled out at the last moment. Anyway, the point is that Larry knows how to build a winner. Maybe we’ll get another shot at Mayo somehow.

  13. AllStarPride says:

    Although the Knicks did lose every game in the series i am still on thier side. im certain if they had billups play they wouldve had atleast 3 of these wins right now. and with Stoudemire getting hurt the Celtics got lucky in the round. Sure celtics are a good team but they had a hard enough time putting a stop to 2 stars melo and stoudemire. im more than sure they will be leaving this series against the heat who have a much better defence than knicks and 3 stars that the knicks have to worry about. Good job Knicks Youll get them next year. rest up

  14. Duke says:

    He failed to mention the most interesting difference between the two…how they have built their teams. Pacers consistently through the draft and Knicks through free agency and trades. Both are moving in the right direction. Knicks may be more relevant in the short term and Pacers long term. Within two years Stoudamire will be on the decline so the Knicks window is shorter. By the way, Pacers have a huge amount of cap space available this year. Don’t know if there is anyone worth it.

  15. Skeep says:

    Funny how the East gets the easy trip to the playoffs, and suddenly they’re relevant again (roll eyes). Teams in the west have better records and are tougher, therefore the trip to the playoffs becomes more difficult. Bottom 3 teams in East that made it to the playoffs had worse records than top 3 of West that didn’t make it.

  16. blazerfan says:

    why do people say the pacers have no star player who was an allstar last year? danny granger is a star player

  17. ddddd says:

    I see the current Pacer team as kind of a late-ish 90s knicks team minus Ewing/Camby. Tyler Hansborough is kind of like Oakley in the toughness and aggressiveness dept. Granger is the current star, but just like Allan Houston back in the day…… great player and all.star (when healthy and whatnot) but clearly best suited as a 2nd option. Adequate pg Darren Collison—-who at this point is better than Charlie Ward was, but not quite Mark Jackson yet. I think the Pacers need to continue to develop Hibbert. Tell Hibbert to get his growl on and try for a DHoward impression…. They need to sign a star to take the pressure off of Granger….. preferably a sg, but a post player to rotate with Hibbert and Hansbourough with some growl would also work. Then fill out the roster from there between bench scoring and specialty players. Focus on getting a veteran pg to play behind Collison…. Such names such as Anthony Johnson, Anthony Carter come to mind as 3rd option pgs….. Or otherwise younger backups could work too.
    For the knicks, Billups is a must. The rest should be obvious. Get some Defensive centers that Mike D will play. Now I know D is not in Mike D’s vocabulary much but seriously!!! The sg position I think will be fine in spite of what the naysayers say about the playoffs. I mean seriously…. hes a ROOKIE!!! He will learn! Beyond that the biggest holes are backup pg and bench. The bench play lacked flow. The trade screwed with the flow of the whole team. The starting line got some flow back for the playoffs, but Mike D was just substituting his bench like he had no clue how to even compete with the Celtics. As if the celtics can’t run…. HA! Anyone meet the dude with the number 9 on his jersey??? Probably not due to the fact that Rondo ran circles around the whole knicks team before they could even turn their heads.
    The Landry Fields situation reminds me of the missed layups by Cortney Lee back in 2009. I don’t think the knicks should give up that fast on a great role player, even if a flashy name comes up. Vince Carter never panned out in that deal. Ryan Anderson was the best thing to come out of that deal in spite of what the salary numbers say. Point being, I hope the knicks don’t make the same mistake that Orlando did after that finals run. Give Fields a chance. There are not enough basketballs on the court to support another diva in the starting lineup, even with Billups as a calming influence. Give Fields a chance!

  18. tata says:

    My definition of relevant must be different then yours. To me relevant means actually having a chance to win a championship not making the playoffs with a sub .500 record and getting knocked out in the first round. D’Antoni will never win or even compete for a ring unless he gets a defense and after so many years I don’t think he can change his mentality. The only reason Indiana did so good is because Chicago is so over-hyped. They still haven’t proven themselve a worthy playoff team. All they did was BARELY beat a sub .500 team and had to pull a couple of those wins out in the last few minutes when the Pacers SELF-DESTRUCTED. At this point I’m not even sure the Bulls are relevant again. We will see what they do in the next round.

    • Sam says:

      How in the world is Chicago over-hyped? I mean, they only had the best record in the whole NBA this season! They only have the league MVP! If you’re questioning whether the Bulls are relevant (even according to your definition), then I think everyone reading these comments are questioning whether you know what you’re talking about. They’re good enough to win it all, and my Pacers were good enough to make the series competitive. Indiana will be back next season, and we’ll be better than we were this year. Keep an eye out for us!

  19. SpursDaBest!! says:

    not much of a new york fan but Love tha Melo, i would have like to see billups play that series at least to win couple games. Shout out Carmelo! Keep Raining Jumpers on em!!!!!!!!!!1

  20. BlackMamba24 says:

    Yeah 2 bad Knicks management too put a complete team together Don Welsh should get fired dude’s an idiot no offense. Mike D’Antoni is not a good coach for Knicks hes more of an offensive coach and dont think it will well for Knicks, good luck

    GO LAKERS

  21. Kevin says:

    @tom: yes, the pacers are back.
    You obviously did not see the series. In games 1 and 3, just maybe one or two shots that may have gone the pacers’ way would have EASILY made pacers winning the series 3-1 going into game 5. all games except game 5 were MUCH closer than what even the final score might indicate. its just that the bulls – i admit, the better team – were able to come through in the clutch. pacers gave the bulls wayyy too much trouble for an 8 seed. the pacers squad is very young, and i see them maturing and likely being a very formidable force next year. anyway, GO PACERS!!!!!!!!

  22. Sean says:

    Go Knicks!
    get a good center and then comeback and own the league
    woo

    • Diddy says:

      It’s going to be exciting to see what happens in the future for both these teams. For me, Danny Granger is not a franchise player and that is my opinion. They need to find something else to add to this mix to make it work. Maybe a strong 2-guard through free agency or the draft. Now for the Knicks. I am a huge Carmelo Anthony fan but not a fan of the frenetic pace that Mr. D’Antoni runs and that is one of the biggest reasons for the defensive shortcomings. Amar’E Stoudemire is one of the worst on the defensive end in the league and all those who think I am wrong, go look it up yourself because I study the game like that. Him being a cornerstone means they need to find defensive help at the center position a la Marcus Camby, etc. Landry Fields will be okay. He needs to find himself again and then he will be the productive player he was pre-Carmelo Anthony. I think he lost himself in trying to defer to him too much. He’s a diamond in the rough nonetheless. These 2 teams are on the rise and it will be fun to see.

      P.S. I am no Miami Heat fan but all you people who think the Heat should have took Amar’e over Chris Bosh because he is more of a pick-and-roll as opposed to Bosh’s pick-and-pop, note that his defense is the biggest reason why. Bosh may not be a stopper( he is my favorite PF in the league but I do acknowledge that Gasol is the best) but he was among the top half of the league’s forwards in defensive FG & against. Again look it up and you shall see. Amar’e is one of the worst so leave my boy alone lol.

      LET’S GO LAKERS!!!

  23. tom says:

    idk about the pacers yet. i saw the series against the bulls, that was only 5 games. they won 37 games last year AND made the playoffs. that says something about the competition in the east. i feel if the pacers were in the west and had to play the lakers, spurs, thunder, mavs, portland, memphis…ect. 3 or 4 times, they would have struggled winning 25 games, if even that. the knicks now have two superstars and do have a legit shot at having a decent team next year depending on what they do this offseason and what pieces of the puzzle they put together a big man should be their number 1 priority and not timothy mozgof or however you spell it, or darko mil-whatever. they need a real defensive minded big man and another coming of the bench…

    • leggomymelo says:

      @tom. but they arent in the west so theres no point in arguing that. the pacers are getting better. will they end up being a champiuonship caliber team within 2 years? no probably not. but theyll be a 5-8 seed for the next few years. if they are able to get one star player they will win about 50-55 games a year. they will be the eastern conferences denver nuggets from a few years back.

      the knicks need three more veteran players, preferably players that have played on championship caliber teams. they need a veteran post man, someone like marcus camby. a defender that will grab boards and do the little stuff but not get in the way of the offense. they need two legit veterans coming off the bench because the guys they have now are just to young. in three years their bench would be amazing witht the players they have. but its to early for that

      • Rob says:

        If Indy can get Mayo and another bench scorer they easily take Orlando’s spot in the playoffs. They are a young team and have a starting lineup in which every starter can drop at least 20 on any night. IMHO those are the teams to worry about. Ppl are shortchanging Granger as if he isn’t a a yr removed from dropping 24 ppg and making the allstar team, he’s a star but not a superstar, if you understand me. He’s a Pierce type of player, in which he either needs a equal running buddy (Toine’ Walker) or some vet help (KG, Ray) to win.

        The Pacers are in their first year playing together and like 3 months into playing for Vogel. They need another year, they remind me of the Hawks a few years back. Everyone dogged ATL when they made the playoffs with a bad record but STHU when they played their hearts out vs Boston and now they are a threat in the East.

    • clutch says:

      yes but the east have the three of the 5 best teams in the league, ( in order) C’s, bulls, OKc, lakers, heat

      • Bullsfan1136 says:

        I agree on the teams but not in that order.

      • ? says:

        Your order should look more like this. Lakers, bulls, OKC, Celtics, Orlando and the heat come in last or second to last. I just cant give the heat any credit right now. Its funny to me how people keep talking about how great the heat are playing in the playoffs. LOL, they are playing the Sixers. Its not like they are playing the bulls or the celtics and smashing through them.

  24. Imad Akel says:

    yes
    i must admit looking at the pacers’ record before they started the series, i really thought they would be a no-show
    but i watched the games. And god damn it i was impressed.
    I think if you run some statistic you will find that they led the bulls for more minutes out of those 5 games than they had trailed. They only failed to close in the end, but that’s understandable since no one knew how to stand up to rose (who is a veteran compared to almost all of the pacers)
    If they become better defensively and more consistent offensively, they might do alot more dammage next year.

    And the knicks. What a tricky series to judge. I thought contrary to most people that the knicks and the celtics will not be an impressive series (and foresaw the celtics owning them easily). And if i hadn’t watched the games i might have stuck to my grounds that the knicks suck (i mean they exited before the pacers and the sixers). But since I did watched the games, i must say that team had its moments. Game 1 against the celtics was epic. And while watching game 2 i felt sure they would take that game because they are so riled up from game 1. Sadly, when they got back to new york, they did really poorly not even putting up a challenge…I don’t know what happened there they just failed to defend especially from the perimeter against ray allen.
    Still, those first 2 games really gave the celtics a scare and a very strong wake up call saying “the knicks can play real playoff basketball”

    • paliachoto says:

      It’s not about Pacers being that good, it’s about Bulls always looking medicore team until cluch time when Rose gets over! Pacers won’t be any great with this roster. 5-8 next season at best.

      Knicks picture looks clear: get a defending big man, get a good defedning role players. But nobody says the obvious: there is no any defense with this coach! I say get a new coach. I mean with Melo and STAT you don’t neeed D’antani to direct your offense…

      • Rob says:

        That makes no sense, I understand that Chicago isn’t a Boston or Miami, but I honestly think that if Indiana plays any other seed in the East they push them as well. Indy was a completely different team after Vogel took over and they started to play D and feed their bigs. Chicago is as good as their record says but they were just tested by a team that had nothing to lose. The Pacers are really young and have nothing left to do but grow, I see them being in the top seeds in the east for a while with Vogel at coach and Paul George developing his offensive game.