After a 31-51 campaign in the 2016-17 NBA season, the New York Knicks have now posted four consecutive and very different losing seasons.
Despite ending the year on the right foot with a win versus the Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks have yet again recorded a losing season. Finishing the year with a 31-51 record, the Knickerbockers have posted their fourth straight losing season — a sad and embarrassing feat.
Over the course of the last four years, the Knicks have been a complete mess. Even worse, despite the fact that losing has been included in each one of those losing seasons, all four years were completely different stories and scenarios.
2013-14 Season (37-45)
Coming off a 54-28 win season and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Knicks fell off the face of the Earth in the 2013-14 season.
Despite the additions of Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani and Lakers forward Metta World Peace, the Knicks were unable to compete at high level in the 2013-14 season. Distractions played a major part in that.
Throughout the course of the year, the lingering question as to whether Carmelo Anthony would leave in free agency played a negative role in the Knicks’ play.
Being that the Knicks were struggling to compete in the Eastern Conference, rumors and speculation swirled as to whether Anthony would bolt the big apple in free agency. Anthony though continued to do his thing on the offensive end, but the Knicks’ as a whole did not – which doomed them.
While Anthony did produce at a high level, averaging 27.4 points a game, the rest of the team struggled to match that level of output.
Shooting guards J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert both had rough years, as neither guard broke out or resembled their play in the 2012-13 season at all. Point guard Raymond Felton also played at an underwhelming level, failing to produce at the near All-Star like level he did the year before. Despite Anthony’s free agency and the lack of production they received from their guards, there was no bigger distraction in the 2013-14 season than the hiring of former head coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson was hired to be the president of basketball operations — a position which allowed him to oversee any transactions made. Hiring Jackson, albeit the 60 million dollar price tag, was viewed as a positive step for the Knicks in the long haul, despite having zero experience in the role. His presence though couldn’t save the Knicks 2013-14 woes.
The Knicks finished the 2013-14 season with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs for the first time in four years. It would only get worse for the blue and orange though the following season.
2014-15 Season (17-65)
After drama surrounded his play the year before, Carmelo Anthony ultimately resigned with the Knicks on a five-year, $124 million deal in free agency. Anthony leaving was essential for Phil Jackson, as any plan for future success revolved around him staying with the Knicks. Short term success though remained a struggle.
In addition to resigning Anthony, the Knicks made another big move, but on the trade market.
Just days before the 2014 NBA Draft, the Knicks traded center Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for a package of Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington (later dealt away), Samuel Dalembert and a pick eventually used on Cleanthony Early. Calderon was supposed to help with learning and running the triangle offense.
With rookie head coach Derek Fisher and a coaching staff who Jackson had relationships with, headlined by assistant Kurt Rambis, Phil Jackson felt that he could begin implementing his beloved triangle offense — a feeling which hurt the Knicks and haunts them to this day.
While not the head coach of the team, Phil Jackson decided to force the Knicks to begin running the triangle offense. With a lethal scorer like Anthony and a triangle specialty point guard in Calderon, Jackson felt that he had the weapons to run the system. In hind’s sight though he was poorly mistaken.
Despite the new faces and the potential for hope, the Knicks had by far the worst season in franchise history.
Failing to reach double-digit wins until the month of February, the Knicks became the laughing stock of the league. Their struggles though were puzzling given the talent they possessed.
With Anthony, veteran big man Amare Stoudemire, Calderon, Smith, Shumpert and guard Tim Hardaway Jr., it was hard to pinpoint exactly why the Knicks were historically bad. Trading away some of these players though just made it even worse.
Just days into the month of January, the Knicks ultimately conceded the season. Dealing away both Smith and Shumpert in a three-team deal which sent both guards to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Knicks essentially threw the white flag. Then, two more key events transpired.
After dealing with knee pain throughout the year, Anthony decided to shut it down for the year in late February, to help heal his ailing knee. The Knicks also bought out Stoudemire’s contract making him free to sign elsewhere.
Overall, the 2014-15 season was an embarrassment for the Knicks. Finishing the year with a franchise worst 17-65 record, the Knicks made themselves a laughing stock. Jackson and the Knicks though attempted to change their fortunes in the offseason.
2015-16 Season (32-50)
After a forgettable 2014-15 season, the Knicks went into the offseason with optimism, given that they possessed a top-five pick in the NBA draft as well as $27 million in cap space.
In the draft, the Knicks took a gamble and drafted Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis. The 7-foot-3 Latvian, though, was a big unknown and no one had any idea what to expect from him. Porzingis though made a name for himself in his rookie year.
From the get-go, Porzingis was a two-way threat and a must-watch player. Ranging from his ability to play out on the perimeter, above the rim, and also serve as a shot blocking presence, Porzingis showed an ability to be a threat night in and night out for the Knicks. His play resembled hope for the playoff-deprived Knicks. The Knicks’ free agent acquisitions though also brought about optimism.
At first, the Knicks had their sights set on landing a top-tier big man in free agency such as the Clippers DeAndre Jordan or the Pistons’ Greg Monroe. The Knicks failed to make such an acquisition though. Alternatively, they brought in Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez on a four-year, $54 million deal and shooting guard Arron Afflalo on a two-year, $16 million deal. In addition to bringing in two starters, the Knicks inked Kings’ forward Derrick Williams on a two-year contract, as well as Magic big man Kyle O’Quinn to a four-year deal. These four players, while not great, made the Knicks respectable.
Throughout the first half of the season, the Knicks were a competitive .500 team. They were playing hard every night and beginning to gel on the offensive end. They collapsed mid-season though.
Enduring nine losses in their last ten games, the Knicks fell to 23-31 on the season. That led Jackson to remove Fisher of his coaching duties. The Knicks firing Fisher though meant they’d have to eat the remaining three and a half years on his deal – something with which they were at peace. As a result of Fisher’s firing, the Knicks made lead assistant Kurt Rambis the interim head coach. The Knicks’ struggles continued regardless though.
In his 28 games as head coach, the Knicks won just nine games under Rambis, furthering the frustration. The difference in their struggles in the 2015-16 season, as opposed to their efforts the year before though was that they didn’t own a first-round draft pick. That meant that missing the playoffs wouldn’t come with any reward or benefit.
At the end of the day, while drafting Porzingis and bringing in some veteran guys helped produce some more wins, the Knicks failed to record a winning season. Finishing with a 32-50 record, they missed the playoffs for the third straight year. However, despite all of that, the Knicks felt that they could make a postseason run this year, due to their busy offseason of change.
2016-17 Season (31-51)
After another underwhelming season, the Knicks went into the offseason with endeavors of becoming a playoff team yet again. They began their attempt to do so by hiring yet another head coach.
Despite having a plethora of options at their disposal, Jackson and the Knicks opted to demote Rambis back to lead assistant and hire Jeff Hornacek to be the teams’ head coach. Hornacek coached three seasons in Phoenix before getting the coaching gig in New York.
As a coach, Hornacek has been known for having an uptempo, run and gun offensive philosophy. That philosophy has produced some success in the past.
In the 2013-14 season, Hornacek and the Suns won 48 games. With guards such as Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe at his disposal, Hornacek was able to run his uptempo offense successfully. Given Hornacek’s success with scoring guards in the past, the Knicks felt that their biggest offseason acquisition would fit in perfectly with him.
The most significant move the Knicks made over the summer was trading center Robin Lopez, as well as point guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant for former MVP point guard Derrick Rose. Rose though has dealt with some injuries in the past, and many questioned just how much Rose had left in the tank. Rose though played well for the Knicks this year.
Posting 18.0 points a game, Rose accumulated the most points per game in his career since the 2011-12 year. Despite his offensive output though, the Knicks couldn’t find any success.
While Rose found success on the offensive end, many could argue that his production was just empty numbers. Being that the Knicks were little to no threat to any team in the Eastern Conference, and posted a losing season, Rose’s production only did so much for them. Rose though was also at the center of attention in mid-January, when he mysteriously went AWOL and didn’t attend a home game versus the New Orleans Pelicans.
In addition to acquiring Rose, the Knicks made another headline move by signing Bulls’ center Joakim Noah. By inking the veteran center to a four-year 72 million dollar deal, the Knicks were banking on Noah rekindling some of his All-Star like play. He didn’t though.
Dealing with injuries all year, Noah appeared in just 46 games, and when he did appear, Noah made little to no impact. Averaging a career low in points (5.0) and blocks (0.8), Noah produced well below expectations. He was also suspended 20 games for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy, and now needs surgery on a torn rotator cuff, which will require a four to six-month rehab.
Carmelo Anthony though was also part of the Knicks drama filled 2016-17 season.
While he remained a productive offense force, Anthony was at the center of attention, thanks to Jackson making behind the scenes remarks about him. Whether it was calling him out on Twitter, or saying he needs to share the rock more, Anthony was called out several times by Jackson — a loser move on Jackson’s part. If Jackson felt this way about Anthony’s play, then should’ve said it to his face, instead of going onto social media to wine about him. In addition to commenting about him, Jackson tried to move Anthony at the trade deadline.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks looked to move Anthony at the NBA trading deadline. He was unsuccessful in his attempts to deal him though. It will be interesting to see how that situation plays itself out this offseason, as Anthony’s future is a mystery. It will also be interesting to see how the Knicks are powered on the offensive end going forward. The reasoning for that is due to mid-season rage by Jackson, in which he attempted to revive his precious triangle offense.
While hiring Hornacek was an attempt to become flexible with his system of play, Jackson decided enough was enough midseason. After they had failed to run an uptempo offense with any success, Jackson decided to partake in the Knicks’ practices. In those practices, he attempted to implement the triangle offense. Doing so made Jackson look bad, given that he brought in Hornacek to begin changing the Knicks style of play.
Overall, the 2016-17 season was a shameful and embarrassing year for the Knicks, as they finished the season with just 31 wins. It also marks a fourth consecutive losing season.