What's next for the Knicks?

Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks don't have a lot of wiggle room to improve the team. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

In the end, the New York Knicks went about as far as we thought they would.

During a season in which rivals Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers were beset with key injuries, the Knicks projected to finish near or at the top of their non-Miami Heat division of the Eastern Conference. That was after a summer in which the club went after most of the free-agent market's oldest players. Some of them worked out, like Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. Some of them didn't because of the kind of injuries that undermine old players.

We were fairly critical of the Knicks' blueprint. If a championship is the end goal, then what do you do with an ancient, cap-clogged roster with second-round upside? New York fans responded by asking a fair question: What is so bad about that?

Well, here we are. The Knicks won 54 games, the franchise's most in 16 years, and survived a playoff series for the first time since 2000. The most disappointing aspect of the season was getting knocked out in the second round by the lower-seeded Pacers. All in all, though, it was an upbeat campaign at Madison Square Garden.

Nevertheless, the gap between the Knicks and the Heat is considerable. The Pacers proved to be a better team even without Danny Granger, and the Bulls will be back at full strength in 2013-14. Where do the Knicks go from here?

The Good

They won a playoff series: The first-round win over the Celtics ended a four-series playoff drought for New York that dragged on for a dozen years even though the Knicks typically dwarfed the rest of the league in payroll. This season, the Knicks had a roster that would have been frighteningly good about eight years ago, but still had enough in the tank to get New York out of the first round. That could not possibly be viewed as a bad thing.