Winning only as many games as you have to, doing the bare minimum. Some call it tanking, others call it the game plan for the New York Knicks. Another year into Carmelo’s tenure in New York, and they haven’t seen the playoffs since 2013. This year however, tanking may very well be the move.
It was a good offseason for New York, fans firmly believed. Now, we are realizing Phil likely did what he had to at the minimum to keep his job. Signing Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, and Courtney Lee put fans in a place of optimisim. The Knicks weren’t going to be a “super team,” per sort, but they could likely reach .500 with the right coaching. Now, halfway through the month 0f March, playoff contention is out of the question. The 12th seed in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks are 27-42, and will likely land in the same place as last season (32-50). With tanking the only viable option, what does that mean for New York?
Carmelo or Phil’s Departure
Carmelo has expressed a strong desire to play, and win, in New York with the Knicks. I’m not saying it would speed up his departure, but just ensure it. In 2019, Anthony will be a free agent, and if the Knicks delay any in between success due to tanking, he will assuredly find a new home. As Kevin Durant, Anthony has told fans he wants nothing more than to win, but when that’s taken away as a liable outcome, who knows.
When annointed president of the Knicks, Phil Jackson promised to deliver a winning team to the fans of New York. He has been unable to do so, insisting year after year, that they stick to his triangle offense. One of the, if not the, greatest coaches in NBA history, Jackson has not delivered on his promise. Knicks fans and Carmelo alike are growing tired of the man of few words. It is rare that you see Phil taking the stand for questions, and that in its own is a sign of concern.
Whether it’s Carmelo or Phil, one of them will leave New York in the coming season (or two), and it might just be for the better.
A Two Headed Unicorn
Kristaps Nowitzki, as I like to call him, has shown much promise as a rising star. If not for injury, we may have seen even more static performances from the much called “Unicorn.” Willy Hernangomez, 22, has been fantastic. Placing him at the center long term next to Porzingis, would make for a nasty lineup with one addition. Should the Knicks find a high draft pick this year, it would benefit the Knicks to draft a 1 or 3. There are plenty of great point guards and small forwards in this years draft, on the wing players that would certainly compliment Porzinigis’ play style.
“This year is disappointing due to the talent we have in this locker room and team. For some reason, we couldn’t get it together and get it going. It’s more difficult this season than in the past.”
–Carmelo Anthony on losing after preseason expectation.
A Longer Playoff Drought
The New York Knicks are getting prepared to miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. In Carmelo’s three postseasons with New York, the Knicks only made it to the Conference Semi Finals at best, and that was one season. Unless they land a big free agent name who is the missing third corner to Phil’s triangle, I don’t see playoffs in the near future. It’s a shame, because the way it works in today’s NBA is playoff experience ensures playoff wins. The Knicks, when they reach the playoffs, will likely have three starters who don’t have any postseason experience.
Someone’s Getting Traded
If the New York front office is truely ready to embrace the tank, trades will have to be made. We saw around the time of the trade deadline, that the market value for a 1st rounder is something the Knicks could surely afford. Keeping Jennings on roster would have helped, but they’ll make due without. Joakim Noah has proven himself just as useless as he was on the Bulls. I’m a big fan of the guy, but have you seen his free throw shot? If there is a team with plenty of picks, and in need of a center who (BIG maybe) still has time to learn how to produce (hey Lakers), they could certainly offer a 1st-round pick for the 9-year veteran. Derrick Rose, who has said he wants to stay in New York, is another viable trade option. Any doubts or questions about his ability to play and recovery, have likely been answered this season. Averaging nearly 18 points and 4 assists a game, he’s a point guard that could certainly attract some value. All this to say, the tanking operation doesn’t run properly without multiple picks. Expect to see this in New York.
As a Knicks fan mysef, I hate to say it but, it’s time to welcome the idea of tanking. After losing so much this season following the additions in the off season, we’ve proven that it’s not gonna happen right now. Carmelo’s frustrated, Phil is silent, and Derrick wants to get paid. Next year will be interesting, but for now, tank on Knicks. May the draw of the lottery be with us all.
All information and stats provided by Daily Knicks, New York Post, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN. Featured image provided by CBS Sports.