The Knicks lost to the Bulls 110-103 in Chicago last night, but unless the difference between 49 and 50 losses starches your trousers results don't much matter at this point. The Knicks are lottery-bound once again, which means looking to the future has already started. Somewhat ironically, that means looking back for the Knicks.
More specifically, it means looking at Danilo Gallinari's back. The rookie had his back surgery in Manhattan on Tuesday, and it has been deemed a success. According to a variety of doctors, success means that he'll have no chronic back problems going forward and should be good as new in six to eight weeks. That's all very positive, especially after the doom and gloom that surrounded the decision to pursue a surgical route for the injury.
Gallinari didn't play much this season, but when he did he flashed enough ability to make next year a little brighter. He's already the best shooter on the team, has enough other offensive ability to keep defenses guessing and he even flashed some defensive abilities that seem like a bonus at this point in his development. He also showed a lot of room and willingness to improve, things that are in short supply on the rest of the roster.
David Lee and Nate Robinson, who both had strong seasons, are what they are and aren't likely to suddenly develop new facets to their games. Wilson Chandler has his moments and could get better, but his upside seems lower than Gallinari's. No one else really has a future with the team beyond next season, so they really aren't worth discussing. That's why Gallinari's return to full health is vital to the future return of the Knicks to the playoffs.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.