Keith Schlosser, Lead WriterComing off a franchise-low seventeen wins last season, one ESPN projection suggested that the Knicks will win 25 games this coming season, good for fourteenth place in the Eastern Conference. Another ESPN report asserted that this number isn’t unreasonable. Since the 1979-80 season, 37 teams have followed up a campaign with less than twenty wins with an average of 10.7 more victories the next year.
Rounding up to eleven, this would net the Knicks 28 wins this coming season.
If that’s the expectation, then New York will surely need to exceed it. If the team was on a natural progression, eleven more wins would be fantastic. But the pressure is on to exceed this noted expectations with flying colors, simply because the Knicks fell well short of the mark of meeting the ones set last season.
Last season was an absolute train-wreck. Of course, the team knew this past summer would provide ample opportunity to make vast improvements. That said, Derek Fisher and Co. were expected to get more out of the likes of J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Samuel Dalembert, etc. Such players struggled mightily as the Knicks aimed to adjust to the triangle offense. If they hadn’t, perhaps they’d still have been in town.
After all, Phil Jackson has said previously that continuity is important. Even following a seventeen win season, it was important to bring back some of the Knicks’ free agents (see Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson), because such returning players would give the team a chance to develop a bit of rhythm with one another from one season to the next.
If some of the players New York has traded and/or gotten rid of in the last few months had shown more progress, there’s little doubt they too would have returned.
Instead, the team will more or less start with a clean slate, following a solid (but not eye-popping) offseason in which Jackson hauled in the likes of Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Kyle O’Quinn, Derrick Williams, Sasha Vujacic, and Kevin Seraphin.
Following an injury-plagued year, there’s clearly pressure on Carmelo Anthony to step up and be the leader many desire him to be. What’s more, Jose Calderon will be expected to prove he’s capable of still starting and running an offense. After all, the rebuilding Knicks took a gamble on him and his contract, which spans for two more seasons.
But most of all, the pressure is on Derek Fisher. Rookie coach or not, seventeen wins is not acceptable. In previous seasons, the Knicks have seemingly had worse rosters on paper than the one they started off with last season. But somehow, someway, Fisher’s squad only amassed seventeen wins — a franchise low. Tanking like that wasn’t exactly the initial plan, but much more so simply a plan of action after things began to go steadily downhill.
Luckily for him, the Knicks have actually made vast improvements. This is a roster most coaches would be able to keep competitive. Following last season, however, instilling a winning mentality may take a bit of time. How much time Coach Fisher has to do so remains to be seen.
Watching the Knicks play .500 would obviously be ideal, but perhaps looking at the past history of similar teams, not as realistic as one would hope. That said, the Brooklyn Nets secured the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference last season with 38 wins. The Pacers also went 38-44, and the Heat went 37-45.
For the Knicks to prove they’re making progress and that Fisher is in fact the man for the job, they should at least be within striking distance of a playoff spot by early to mid February.
Jackson can improve the Knicks’ roster all he wants. The fact of the matter is that, if the team struggles yet again, the blame may simply be on Fisher after all. Fighting for the playoffs would suggest New York would need to improve its record from last season by about 20 games.
This would exceed the aforementioned expectation, but it would go a long way towards proving Fisher and Co. are actually headed in the right direction.
Carmelo Anthony spent the past few days in Puerto Rico, hosting his annual “A Very Melo Weekend” festivities. The Knicks star returns each and every summer to give back to the area, interacting with and raising money for the local youth, donating basketball courts, and more.
Keith Schlosser, Lead WriterThis time around, it appears as though an all-time high of Knicks teammates joined Anthony on the trip, including Kristaps Porzingis, Langston Galloway, Jerian Grant, Kevin Seraphin, Kyle O’Quinn, Cleanthony Early, Lance Thomas, and Lou Amundson. Knicks legend and current Assistant General Manager Allan Houston participated as well, as did other team staffers.
Given the fact that this season will feature a brand new group of guys — and when you consider that Anthony was sidelined for much of last season — it’s really positive to see so many of them get together this early on. Such a trip could lead to great synergy and chemistry off the court. One would have to hope that this is soon reflected on the court as well, once training camp begins and games are being played.
Anthony has previously been criticized for not embracing much of a leadership role, but in this case, he’s clearly taking the initiative to interact and get involved with his returning and/or new teammates.
Knicks incoming rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant failed to make headlines on this year’s annual NBA rookie survey (NBA.com, Aug.19).
Keith Schlosser, Lead WriterPorzingis and Grant failed to break into the top five for any question category as voted on by their peers during the NBA’s annual rookie photo shoot at the Knicks’ training facility. The youngsters were asked to rank the most athletic players, most likely Rookie of the Year candidates, biggest draft steals, greatest career potential, etc.
While New York’s trade/selection of Grant has been praised, it’s been that of Porzingis that has gotten the team more attention. There’s plenty of upside to his game, but perhaps the fact that he isn’t likely to make a major impact this coming season played out of his favor when it came to the survey. Still, plenty of NBA analysts, executives, and scouts alike have noted the big man could turn out to have the greatest career in his rookie class. His peers don’t seem to necessarily agree.
Though he was a second-round selection, Cleanthony Early‘s respective prowess was more recognized among his own peers in last year’s survey. He ranked among the top-five vote-getters for most athletic and funniest rookie.
Carmelo Anthony also came in fourth place on last year’s survey when ranked among the rookies’ favorite players in the NBA. Following his injury-plagued season in which the Knicks suffered a franchise-worst record, he was left off that same list completely this summer.
The New York Knicks may be looking to bring back a familiar face.
According to the Daily News, the Knicks have expressed interest in acquiring Jamal Crawford.
Per the report, Knicks owner James Dolan as well as general manager Steve Mills and front-office execs Allan Houston are all fans of Crawford.
Crawford’s name has been on the trading block for much of the offseason. At one point, it appeared as if the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to trade for the shooting guard from the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Miami Heat also expressed some interest in Crawford this summer.
Sam SpiegelmanWhat a reunion this would be.
Crawford was one of the marquee signings during the Isiah Thomas era, as the then-head coach/GM do-it-all wonder thought he had superstar potential.
As it turned out, Crawford was an sharp-shooter, but that’s his best attribute.
Crawford would add more perimeter shooting to the Knicks, an area the team addressed with the signing of Darren Collison in free agency.
Crawford is entering the final year of his deal with the Clippers, so shedding his salary after the 2015-16 season is a lucrative possibility.