Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks need to drop everything, stop teasing the fans and finally blow it up to completion.It’s almost as if the circus never left the Garden.
During his introductory press conference last summer, Derrick Rose referred to the New York Knicks as a “super team” that could compete with the likes of the Golden State Warriors. Competing with the Warriors? Sounds like comedic material for a team that may miss the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference.
Even after the Knickerbockers thrilling win at the Garden on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets, the squad remains two games behind the eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls. The Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons also stand between the Knicks and the last slot on the Eastern side of the tournament.
The Knicks most recent slide, which began with a home loss on Christmas Day to the Boston Celtics, has now extended for over a month. During this funk, they have lost 14 of their last 19 games, and it includes defeats to some of the league’s worst teams like the Orlando Magic (who were missing their best player, Evan Fournier), Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks.
Not only has New York lost several games that should have been easy wins, but they have also managed to make the bottom-feeders of the NBA look like the Warriors offensively, giving up 100 or more points during these losses.
Wednesday’s loss in Dallas should be icing on the cake that it’s time for the Knicks to blow their roster up and rebuild.
As good as it looks on paper, this team will never be a title contender if they keep putting their current starting five on the floor. Not only is their starting lineup injury-prone, but it consists of players like Carmelo Anthony and Rose who are incapable of playing defense and can’t be trusted with the ball in their hands during a game’s clutch moments.
There is a reason the Knicks can lose games in almost identical fashion to the Washington Wizards (a playoff team) and the Suns (a team fighting to stay out of the cellar in the west). Because at the end of the day, it’s almost always going to be the same result with this team, regardless of who they play.
They’ll have the offensive weapons to stay alive for most of a contest, but they will fail to get that big defensive stand in the final minute followed by their offensive being inept when it matters most. You know the drill; either Melo will be unsure about attempting that game-tying 3-pointer or Rose will mishandle the ball driving to the rim or Courtney Lee will let an opposing assistant coach distract him from taking a shot.
The point is, with a roster headlined by guys like Melo, Rose, and Lee, this club has been set up for failure and will continue to be as long as they stick with it. The Knicks have no shot at winning a championship this decade. There is no way they can hang with any of the teams that will be the toast of league over the next few seasons: the Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, and Celtics.
As crazy as it may sound, even the 76ers are probably closer to a title than the Knicks currently. This is exactly why it’s time for the Knickerbockers to start thinking about their future and build around Kristaps Porzingis.
Whether or not this rebuild starts during the upcoming trading deadline or this offseason, the time has come for the Knicks to trade Anthony.
The ship of Melo leading them to a title sailed after the 2013 season. Forget trading him to the Cavs for Kevin Love. They should try to get draft picks in exchange, preferably those picks the Celtics got from the Brooklyn Nets a few years ago (that have a great chance of being top-five picks).
They should also look to ship Rose and Lee before this season’s trade deadline, even if all they get are low-end second round draft picks. It makes zero sense for New York to give Rose the max contract that he will be looking for this coming summer so they should try and get something in exchange for him like he can.
With Lee, despite his recent defensive struggles, he does have a great outside shot, and the Knicks should be able to find a trade partner in a contending team that could use him down the stretch. If possible, they should even see if somebody out there will trade for Joakim Noah, but that’s not something to bank on.
The Knicks and their fans need to realize “rebuilding” is no longer a dirty word in New York sports. You can ask both local baseball teams about that.
At their best, this is an eighth-seeded team in the East that would get swept by the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs. With this low a ceiling, it would be foolish for the Knicks to blow up this roster and aim to win in a few years when the window has closed on some the league’s current elite teams.
As this season continues to progress, Rose’s “super team” comment is sounding like a crueler joke than Rex Ryan’s Super Bowl guarantees when he was the coach of the New York Jets.
It’s time for the Knicks to count their losses and begin their rebuild before this circus gets even more out of hand.