NEW YORK -- They went from being Team Turmoil to a Team of Destiny to a team that finished second in the NBA Finals.
Now that it's over, the New York Knicks' season can be considered a success, even if it didn't end with the ultimate prize."Every time there was an obstacle in front of us, we knocked it down," forward Kurt Thomas said. "We made it to this point, we had a chance to win the championship, it didn't happen.
"We have a great team here, we just have to regroup, have a great offseason and come back next year and try again."
Now that it seems certain that Jeff Van Gundy will return as coach, the biggest offseason question for the Knicks will be what they will do about their point guard situation.
The playmaker spot has been a problem for three years, with Chris Childs too erratic and Charlie Ward too prone to making bad decisions offensively. New York picks 15th in Wednesday's draft, and one of the top five available point guards should still be available.
The offseason also will allow enough time for Patrick Ewing's torn Achilles' tendon to heal, along with various other injuries -- Larry Johnson's sprained knee, Chris Dudley's hyperextended elbow, Childs' sprained knee -- that hurt the Knicks in the final round against San Antonio.
Although nobody gave the Knicks much of a chance in the finals, the players believed in themselves and expected to win.
"Our team has been fighting all year, the ups and downs, and it was right there for us to win the championship," Ward said. "So we have to look at it as an experience and look forward to next year and understand what we need to do in order to be a championship team."
It was a topsy-turvy season of change and distraction for the Knicks.
Before the season even began, two of the team's most popular players, Charles Oakley and John Starks, were dealt away in trades meant to make the team younger and more athletic.
Oakley was traded for Marcus Camby, a move that remained widely unpopular in New York until Camby began asserting himself in the playoffs against Atlanta and Indiana.