NEW YORK — After Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin fouled out of Game 6 against the Indiana Pacers, a third-string center was needed to match up against Roy Hibbert.
Mike Woodson had two at his disposal, Marcus Camby and Amar’e Stoudemire, — or three if you count Earl Barron, who was signed as an insurance policy in case the Knicks needed a center at a moment of desperation.
But the call went to rookie Chris Copeland, who turned out to be a fine 29-year-old rookie who gave the Knicks a boost with his shooting and his confidence.
But he is not a center.
Stoudemire is a power forward but has the capacity to be an emergency center. The Knicks paid him $19.6 million this season, and he is under contract for two more years at $21.7 million and $23.4 million. He was a DNP-CD for the entire third and fourth quarters.
Woodson also had Camby available. He was supposed to be one of the missing links that would help the Knicks get past the Miami Heat in the conference finals, taking advantage of the Heat’s lack of size. He had logged a total of 3 minutes of playing time in the final two first-round games against the Celtics, yet he never took his warmups off against the Pacers.
Camby, too, is under contract for two more years, making $3.2 million and $4.2 million. The Knicks had traded three players – Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan, along with a pair of second-round draft picks and cash – to acquire him.
What did they get for that price? A total of 24 games, 80 rebounds, 17 buckets (on 53 attempts). Camby’s total number of games with more than one basket: 4 – and none since March 14.
Also sitting out the entire second half was Jason Kidd, who was brought in to be a shooter as much as he was added to be a spot-up 3-point shooter. He, too, is under contract for two more seasons.
What did the Knicks get out of Rasheed Wallace? Bupkus.
What did they get out of Kurt Thomas? More bupkus.
The best players on the floor for the Knicks in their final playoff game of the 2013 postseason were Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Copeland and J.R. Smith. Chandler and Martin were manhandled by Hibbert. Raymond Felton was 0-for-7 from the field, yet was subbed in for Pablo Prigioni with 3:33 remaining and the Knicks trailing by three.
From there, it all went downhill – and Woodson was to blame as much for his personnel decisions as well as his clock management.
It was 101-97 after Smith completed a three-point play with 1:15 remaining.
The smart thing to do at that point was play the foul game, hoping the Pacers continued to miss free throws (they bricked 12 on the night) while creating extra offensive possessions. Paul George (3-for-9 on the night) could have been fouled. Roy Hibbert (9-for-12) could have been fouled.
Instead, the Knicks let the Pacers take 20 seconds off the shot clock before George Hill, who did not miss a free throw all night, was fouled. He made both for a six-point lead. A dunk by Anthony made it a four-point game again, and the Knicks then let an additional 10 seconds come off the clock before they again fouled Hill, who again made both free throws.
That added up to 30 irretrievable seconds in which the Knicks ended up fouling the Pacers’ best foul shooter.
Such a waste.
And to cap it off, after Copeland missed a 3 with 27 seconds left, the Knicks let the clock tick down to 9 seconds before fouling George, who promptly missed both free throws.
But it was too late by then, and let’s just say Woodson will not be lauded for his end-of-game time management (the Knicks were out of timeouts with more than a minute remaining) or his personnel choices.
It will be interesting to get GM Glen Grunwald’s take on the situation Tuesday, when he will speak to the media after being muzzled all season. Grunwald was the one who sacrificed all of the Knicks’ trade money (teams are now limited to including $3 million annually in trades) in order to acquire Felton and Camby, and in the Felton deal he surrendered the rights to Greek phenom Kostas Papanikolaou, who just helped lead Olympiacos to a second consecutive Euroleague title.
In the end, the Knicks’ geriatrics – or, if you prefer, the GeriatKnicks – contributed nothing, zip, nada to the final series.
New York will have a first-round pick this summer along with Oklahoma City’s second-round pick (No. 59), but its 2014 and 2016 first-rounders were dealt to Denver in the Anthony trade, and their own second-round picks in the next four drafts already have been traded away.
In the end, Grunwald’s deals yielded nothing, and Woodson’s use of Grunwald’s acquired assets was non-existent.
The Knicks were built to win now, and at times it looked possible.
But now that their season is over, the future is starting to look as bleak as it did on the day LeBron James spurned them and they trumpeted Stoudemire as a prime pickup. How does that move – and the subsequent moves – look now? Like a blueprint for how not to rebuild a team.
Good luck to Grunwald this summer should he choose to stick around. He will likely lose Smith as a free agent if market forces have their say, and Prigioni can walk, too, as a restricted free agent.
Which leads us to surmise that next season’s starting five on opening night will be Chandler, Anthony, Shumpert, Felton and fill in the blank.
Good luck with that … unless Grunwald can pull off some magic. But shopping Stoudemire, Kidd, Felton and Camby will not yield any tangible dividends. What you saw this season, Knicks fans, is what you will see next season.
Chris Sheridan, a 20-year veteran basketball writer, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.