Sports, man. They can be predictable at times, but more than likely, you have no idea what is going to happen. The Knicks fall into the first bucket. It is evident that you are in trouble when the brakes on your car stop working, right? Well the same can be said for this team. The wheels have not quite fallen off yet, but a few bolts have definitely loosened on the tires.
The writing has been on the wall for years now. This Knicks team was not built to win. It was built to be talented and compete with some of the best teams in the NBA, but it was not built to win championships. How could it? Just because you have a smorgasbord of talent, it doesn’t mean that it will gel. Players have to be assessed and talent has to be evaluated before teams can trot out there to compete.
What’s done is done. There’s no erasing Amar’e’s injury history, Carmelo’s ball stopping, JR’s shot selection or Bargnani’s contract. The team has to live with it and make lemonade out of this tattered and irritated group of lemons. I recognize that the season is young, but these are problems that are going to persist. Guys, let’s fix the Knicks:
1) Release Chris Smith
How JR Smith’s younger brother made the team aside from being JR’s Smith’s younger brother is beyond me. This becomes even more outrageous now that Tyson has been sidelined and this team needs help across the board. You cannot tell me that Chris Smith is better than Kendall Marshall.
2) Get to the Free Throw line
The Knicks shoot the second-fewest free throws per game at 17.5. You know who shoot the least? The Spurs at 16.5, but they are the Spurs and own the second best record in the NBA. Bad teams cannot afford to leave points on the table. The offense needs to stray away from the outside-in strategy, flip it around and start plays on the inside.
3) Don’t force the Pick and Roll offense
Andrea Bargnani is a limited NBA player. He can shoot and he can create for himself at a decent rate, but that’s about it. He is not a pick and roll player. He doesn’t have the requisite timing and deft to get himself great looks after execution and reveals his hand too much when he decides to pop back for a three. Use him in different roles. Take advantage of the match-up problems that he presents. Or just have him sit behind the three point line in the corner on offense. Anything is better than forcing a square peg in a round hole.
4) Stop speaking to the media about the future
If Carmelo keeps all FA discussion to himself and those closest to him, that allows this team to focus on the next game in front of them. He has been through this before and hopefully learned from the previous experience. This doesn’t fall on Carmelo only, though. James Dolan needs to keep his mouth shut and try to stay off the back page of the Daily News every day. I barely know what I’m going to make for dinner tonight and this team somehow has a crystal ball in their office. With that said….
5) Defuse the “Woj-Bomb”
Yahoo writer and NBA news-breaker Adrian Wojnarowski broke news that the Knicks plan on pitching Carmelo that they will be able to bring in Kevin Love for the 2015 season. This is not the correct move for a number of reasons. Have that chat with Carmelo when you need to, not after the team starts 2-4. Don’t make promises that you (or Carmelo) aren’t sure that you can keep. Plus it admits that you are basically calling the 2014-2015 a mulligan because of your atrocious cap situation. That’s like promising your girlfriend that you’re going to be rich in two years if she promises to stay with you. Not healthy for either side. Knicks management needs to be locked in a room for a few months.
6) Develop an Identity
This team lives off of the “We play in MSG” and “We all live and Manhattan and party like rock stars” mentality. When that becomes the primary identity of playing professional basketball in New York, something is wrong. The appeal needs to be centered on playing for a productive ball club in one of the best cities in the world as opposed to just being in New York City.
7) Try to get out of Contract Hell
I understand that the Knicks are putting themselves in contention for “Love Watch 2015”, but that doesn’t mean that the team needs to meander for two seasons. If the Knicks aren’t on the phones or filling up the inboxes of teams throughout the league with potential deals and shady sales tactics, I truly do not know what they are doing.
This team looks defeated out there. Granted, the celebs and rich people in the crowd don’t care, but the true fans do. Just try, that’s all we ask. We see the dejected looks on the faces of the team when things aren’t going well. We see the indifferent post-game interviews. Hell, even Mike Woodson‘s head isn’t quite as shiny. Perk up, ‘bockers.
I am fully aware that only six games have been played and this can most certainly be classified as panicking, but these are not new issues with this team. Ever heard the term, “Same shit, different day”? That can be the story of the New York Knicks from 2010-2013.