Thankfully there are only six games left in this NBA season for the New York Knicks. At 27-49, the Knicks will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year, while this will mark the fourth consecutive season that they’ll lose at least 50 games barring some unforeseen miracle over the final games. And although that hope springs eternal as the Knicks could get their act together in the off-season in order to become a contender, should this notion really be applied to a team that the folks in the Big Apple have grown to love and get sick from watching?
The Knicks began this season with some promise as they looked to put an end to their playoff drought. At the end of 2017, the Knickerbockers were 18-18 and right in the mix for a playoff berth. But since the calendar shifted to 2018, things have not gone according to plan for New York. The Knicks lost six of their first seven games in January, and the wheels would officially fall off for them on February 6 when All-Star power forward Kristaps Porzingis was lost for the remainder of the season after he suffered a torn ACL. The Knicks have not won more than two games in a row since December 16, and as I mentioned in previous posts, nobody within the organization appears to be on the same page.
Jeff Hornacek is in his second season as the head coach of the Knicks and the writing is on the wall that his days at 33rd Street and 8th Avenue could be numbered. Hornacek led the Knicks to a 31-51 record last season as his uptempo offense didn’t fit the style of star small forward Carmelo Anthony, nor was it high on the list team president Phil Jackson who preferred to operate a triangle offense. Since then Jackson was let go, while Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder which appeared to give Hornacek more of a chance to run his offense. The Knicks did have some cohesion in Hornacek’s system early on, but since the Porzingis injury this team has lacked an identity.
Things became more perplexing for the Knicks just prior to the trade deadline when they acquired point guard Emanuel Mudiay from the Denver Nuggets. Mudiay is in his third NBA season and he is only 21-years of age, but the Knicks trading for him was a head scratcher since they used a first-round pick last June on point guard Frank Nitilikina. Most draft experts expected Ntilikina to be a project which is what he has been a rookie as he’s averaging 5.7 points and 3.1 assists, but it almost appears that the Knicks have given up on him before his career even had a chance to start. And to add to the equation, the Knicks have added point guard Trey Burke to the mix who in 30 games with New York is averaging 12.4 points and 4.1 assists. All three point guards are not going to play which would be extremely foolish on multiple levels if it were to happen, but stupid decisions and the Knicks go together.
Center Joakim Noah has become the new poster boy for the Knicks futility as after signing a four-year, $72 million deal to join New York in the summer of 2016, has only appeared in 53 games with the club which includes just seven appearances this season. Injuries have gotten the best of Noah as he is no longer the player that he once was when he was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. And for the longest time Noah and Hornacek haven’t been on the same page. Noah hasn’t been with the Knicks since he got into an argument with Hornacek at a practice in January. But instead of the Knicks and Noah coming to an agreement on a buyout of his contract, the former All-Star is stuck in basketball purgatory.
The surgeon general should put a warning on at the beginning of each Knicks game as watching them could be hazardous to your health, while this team has no identity whatsoever. The Knicks have struggled on defense as they are surrendering 107.9 points per game which is 20th in the NBA, while Hornacek appears to be a defeated man. If the Knicks are ready to move on from Hornacek, he will join a long line of men who have entered Madison Square Garden hoping to turn things around in the Big Apple only to leave thoroughly defeated. There are rumors that former Knicks player Mark Jackson could be in line to replace Hornacek, but if the Brooklyn native was smart, he would avoid MSG like the plague.
The one good thing going for the Knicks is that they actually have their first-round pick this year, but the bad news it that the Knicks will be picking as this franchise tends to miss big time at the NBA Draft. You can be as optimistic as possible for the Knicks head into the summer, but this franchise is no closer to winning a title now than they were 20 years ago as the headache that is Knickerbockers has only increased.