The New York Knicks are currently 4-19, which is the worst record in the NBA. This awful start is not only due to their current incompetence, but also incompetence throughout history. It has been forty-six years since the New York Knicks have won a championship in 1973. That’s longer than the existence of many other NBA teams. It is clear that the previous struggles of the Knicks still haunt them to this day.
Lack of a Star: When the Knicks don’t have their star, the team has never been able to mesh together. For example, when Carmelo Anthony went down with a season-ending knee surgery in the 2014-2015 season, the Knicks looked like a team missing a scheme to play through. They looked absolutely lost. Even when Kristaps Porzingis went down, all the momentum they had was completely lost.
Currently the Knicks are a conglomeration of career role players and young guys who all have different styles of play; but without a true star and closer to bring together the team and finish games. Over the offseason, the Knicks signed PF/C Julius Randle to be their “star”, who had just come off of a great year with the Pelicans. It has become obvious that Randle is not the man they were looking for as the replacement for Kristaps Porzingis. That spotlight has shifted to thirty year old Marcus Morris Sr., who provides consistent scoring, but not much else.
Competition: Since the last championship in the 1972-1973 season, each good Knicks team has been wildly inferior to the other contenders across the league. No matter what team it was, the Knicks have had issues, whether it be the Showtime Lakers and Celtics, the Michael Jordan led Bulls, or the Big Three Heat.
Right now, the Eastern Conference is the toughest it has been in a while. The Eastern Conference features five serious contenders, Milwaukee, Boston, Miami, Toronto, and Philadelphia. With the return of Victor Oladipo to Indiana later this year and the return of Kevin Durant to Brooklyn next season, the conference will undoubtedly get much tougher. The New York management just hasn’t been able to put together a good enough team to compete in the regular season or the playoffs.
Management Struggles: Talking about New York Knicks management, it has been absolutely horrible for the past twenty years from top to bottom. James Dolan is an extremely incompetent owner. He has shown that he has no idea what he is doing, and his changing front office under his ownership is proof of that. Included in this, are the executives he has hired; from Isiah Thomas, to Phil Jackson, and now Mills and Perry. These executives have proved themselves as unable to make moves beneficial to the New York Knicks.
For example, Phil Jackson signed thirty-one year old Joakim Noah to a four year, seventy-two million dollar deal. In his fifty-three games as a Knick, Noah averaged 4.6 points per game. Another awful move was the rushed trade of Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. In the trade, the Knicks lost a ton of value for Porzingis, and two of the pieces they received, Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan, no longer play for the Knicks. The Knicks are now left with Dennis Smith Jr. and two first round picks that will most likely be late in the round.
Coaching: The Knicks are known for their coaching difficulties. Since the year 2000, only one coach lasted longer than 2 seasons, that being Mike D’Antoni. He was the coach of the Knicks for three and a half seasons, during a time where the Knicks were still under average.
The Knicks are now coming off of a failed experiment with David Fizdale, who could not take the roster from either last year or this year and make any improvements. Coach Fizdale went 21-83 (.202) is his tenure with the Knicks, the worst winning percentage in Knicks history. We will have to see what interim coach Mike Miller does with this Knicks roster.
What the Knicks Should Do: First, the Knicks have to decide what their core will be in the future. Players who should be considered should include Frank Ntilikina, RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox II, Mitchell Robinson, and possibly Dennis Smith Jr. The Knicks should also trade their assets. These include players on expiring contracts, Marcus Morris Sr., Wayne Ellington, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, and Allonzo Trier. These are all players who could provide meaningful minutes on contending teams. Julius Randle could also be a trade piece for the Knicks. In return, the Knicks should target future picks and younger players.
Rumored to make a run for Masai Ujiri, the Knicks should look for a head coach who shares the same views as Ujiri. A problem for the Knicks is that they never have their general manager and head coach on the same line, which must change. During this time, the Knicks should not sign B-tier free agents, they should sign players to shorter term deals (except for their core) who fit the timeline. Then the Knicks can use the assets they have piled up and pull off some sort of trade for a star. This would put New York in a good position to make a playoff run.
The New York Knicks have been stuck in the same cycle for twenty years now; losing a lot, getting their hopes up, and losing some more. Right now, it doesn’t look like anything is changing.
(Photo Credit: Business Insider)