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As the Knicks season slowly and painfully winds down, it's time to start thinking about what this team needs to do in the offseason.
The first decision is simple for them -- fire Jeff Hornacek.
The next move will be to replace Hornacek with someone who hopefully won't be getting replaced anytime soon. I recently broke down possible options for the Knicks at head coach.
After replacing Hornacek, it's time for the Knicks to figure out what they are doing with the current roster before they plan on who they are going to select with their top 10 pick in the NBA Draft in June. Many of those decisions begin with what they are going to do with their overcrowded backcourt situation. Here's where the Knicks should start...
First off, the Knicks should see if they can trade Courtney Lee
The 32-year-old guard/forward is used to being traded every year or two, and it might just happen again. The Knicks are clearly in the middle of a rebuild and Lee should be a contributor on a winning team, not on one where the youth should be getting his minutes.
Lee is a solid veteran, but needs to get minutes somewhere else. He has two years, $25 million remaining on his contract, meaning the Knicks aren't going to get much back for him. If they can get rid of that contract and get an asset in return, that would be another step in the right direction.
A move that could be a little harder to make would be trading Emmanuel Mudiay
The Knicks traded for him before the deadline, and while it's still somewhat early, Mudiay has been wildly inconsistent. And It's really hard to put any trust into him having an important role next season.
Mudiay is just 22 years old and has shown promising signs at points in his NBA career thus far, but it's been more bad than good. Mudiay isn't a huge burden of a contract financially at just over $4 million next season and a qualifying offer for 2019-2020 of just under $6 million. The question, though, is whether the Knicks would get any value back in trading him. That is certainly something Scott Perry and the front office will need to explore, because Mudiay can give you headaches at the rate he misses shots, turns the ball over, and with his lack of effort defensively.
Trey Burke needs to be in the starting lineup or have a sixth man role for this team next season
When given minutes and in the starting lineup, Burke has been phenomenal, not only scoring, but averaging nine assists per game in the starting five. I've been a huge believer in Burke and thought the Knicks waited way too long to give him a chance.
The former Michigan star has certainly earned a spot on this team next season, and should play a big role. Burke can be explosive when he knocks down shots, and he has shown to be a heck of a distributor. He should be out there opening night next season as the starting point guard.
Frank Ntilikina is the big question mark
It's very unlikely the Knicks will trade him and he also doesn't have a ton of value. Outside of good defense off the pick-and-roll, Ntilikina hasn't shown much at all to me. He's been a wildly inconsistent shooter with not much confidence in his shot. Defense is certainly important, but the Knicks need to get production from the backcourt on both ends. And Ntilikina's career high is 15 points. It's a little too early to tell, but this team should not be sold on him being the everyday starter next year.
The Knicks' backcourt next season should really look like the Michigan backourt.
Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. should be the one-two punch. That means the Knicks should be picking a small forward in the lottery who can potentially jump right in to start or back up whoever they may sign or trade for in the offseason.
Perry and company should be focused on trying to move Lee and Mudiay, while getting a veteran guard who can score to come off the bench -- whether it's through the draft or free agency. This is going to be a Knicks project that takes a few years, but this team isn't tremendously far from being competitive as long as they acquire the right players and hire the right head coach.