By Simon Andras
By all accounts, this has been a dreadful season for the New York Knicks - but what happened? This is a team that won more than 50 games, leading the Atlantic division just one year ago. Up and down all year, this year's Knicks just can't find their form. Can we blame Carmelo Anthony? Is coaching at fault? Not even long time fan Spike Lee knows what is wrong with this team. The Knicks are currently sitting just a handful of games outside of 8th place in the embarrassingly awful Eastern Conference, with only three-ish weeks left on the schedule. The East isn't just bad - it's flat out terrible, outside of the top couple teams, and missing the playoffs altogether in is something no one wants on their resume.
This isn't a bad team on paper but it's not that good either. Even if these Knicks squeak into the playoffs, does anyone outside of the hardcore Bronx loyalists think they have a shot against mighty Indiana or Miami? Absolutely not. I'm never one to advocate tanking, but NY is better off in the long run with a higher draft pick than getting swept by one of the East's powerhouse clubs.
The media has been quick to put blame on Carmelo Anthony, the league's second leading scorer, for this season's lackluster performance, but honestly, has anyone been a more consistent contributor to the Knicks this year? If anyone has a right to be upset, it's Carmelo. His teammates look like they belong in the developmental league far too often.
As good as Melo can be, he needs help. Even Michael Jordan had help on his championship teams. This is a team that just looks lost, they don't have an identity. It's a problem that goes far beyond one man. Perhaps they just can't handle the pressure of playing on one of the biggest stages in the basketball world.
I don't want to dump all of the blame on head coach Mike Woodson either - he's a good guy and probably has a future in this league but it seems highly unlikely that he sits on the sidelines next season.
With Phil Jackson in town, Knicks fans should expect the Zen Master to slowly right the ship. One of Jackson's first significant ordeals is Carmelo Anthony's upcoming decision to play out the remainder of his contract in NY or move on elsewhere. If Anthony can be convinced to stay in New York - can they bring in someone to be the side kick that Amare Stoudemire never was able to be?
Jackson has only been with the team a matter of weeks, but he already sounds disgusted - but what fan in New York doesn't? I fully expect him to clean house in the offseason and look into building a contender. NY should have the cap space to bring in another big name player, if they so chose. The upcoming crop of free agents could be one of the best in recent memory - if there is a time for a new superstar pairing to happen, this is it. Who could see Lebron joining forces with Melo in the Madison Square Garden? I can only imagine the media frenzy that would undoubtedly occur.
There are many questions yet to be answered, but one thing that is certain is next year's Knicks team will be a lot different. Is Phil Jackson setting himself up for another coaching run once he gets the team he wants? Only time will tell, but I doubt many would mind see him roaming the sidelines again.
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