The New York Knicks’ 2013-14 campaign has snowballed from concerning to disturbing to downright alarming in a matter of months. And as if being 5.5 games back of the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks isn’t bad enough, the ill-fated Knickerbockers’ season has somehow fallen deeper into the abyss.
I'm sick. I'm nauseated! I'm embarrassed. I'm furious, depressed, miserable, exhausted and totally DONE with the Knicks right now. Damn!— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) February 25, 2014
Did ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith somehow manage to encapsulate the collective feel of the Knicks fanbase in just 140 characters? I’m sure some other synonyms have been used by the New York faithful (including some I can’t print), but Smith definitely covered his bases.
The Knicks finished the 2012-13 season with a 54-28 record, which truly feels like a lifetime ago. At 21-36, New York would only be able to reach 46 wins if it came away victorious in every game moving forward. To put that in perspective, the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder have already reached 43 wins each through Feb. 25.
Head coach Mike Woodson is searching for answers to keep his job, while Carmelo Anthony continues to put up ridiculous numbers in Knicks losses.
Numerous negatives continue to push the Knicks’ season from bad to worse, and Game 82 appears to be the only end in sight.
Losses Piling Up/‘Melo Dismayed
Carmelo Anthony is averaging 28.2 points on a career-high 42.6 percent clip from three-point land to go with a career-high 8.6 rebounds, three assists and 1.1 steals per game.
His MVP-caliber season has been all but negated by a subpar supporting cast and a collection of bad losses.
Carmelo Anthony scored 44 points (16-28 FG, 6-10 3PT, 6-7 FT), grabbed 11 rebounds & had 4 assists. Yet, the Knicks still lost to the Magic.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) February 22, 2014
In addition to scoring 44 points in a Feb. 21 loss against the lowly Orlando Magic, Anthony experienced another loss the following day against the Atlanta Hawks as the Knicks blew a 17-point lead.
“It’s same things, different days,” ‘Melo said after the loss, per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “It’s starting to get tough to handle. It’s definitely tested me. The frustration has definitely sunk in.”
That bounce off the rim has essentially summed up New York’s season. It’s almost as if fate has intervened to ensure that Carmelo and Co. continue losing games. (Anthony had 44 in the loss to the Mavs, by the way.)
Anthony is set to become a free agent at season’s end, and as USA Today’s Sam Amick writes, this nightmarish campaign doesn’t help New York’s recruiting process:
With less than two months left in the regular season, the Knicks’ ongoing pitch to keep Anthony couldn’t be going much worse. After failing to upgrade their roster in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 20 trade deadline, they have lost nine of their last 11 games and entered Tuesday a whopping six games out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
The six-game margin was dipped to 5.5 when the Hawks lost to the Chicago Bulls, but there’s still a good chance the Knicks will miss the playoffs for the first time during the ‘Melo era.
It would also be the first time Anthony didn’t reach postseason play in his entire pro career.
The star out of Syracuse may ultimately decide to stay in New York as he looks toward 2015 free agency (when the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler come off the books).
Does that entail signing in a different situation for less money like Howard did? At this point, nobody knows.
Felton’s Legal Issues/Buyouts
Raymond Felton has taken plenty of potshots throughout 2013-14 regarding his weight.
According to Newsday’s Al Iannazzone, the point guard said, “Right now, nobody can’t criticize anything about my fitness. My weight is down even lower than it was early in the season. And I feel great.”
Defending his level of conditioning now appears to be the least of his worries.
Felton was in court for two gun-related charges Tuesday, and according to Scott Cacciola and J. David Goodman of The New York Times, “the top charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.”
Cacciola and Goodman added, “Felton walked out of court after posting a $25,000 bond.”
On top of this very serious charge, the Knicks decided to release backup point guard Beno Udrih via buyout—along with veteran forward Metta World Peace. Without Felton and Udrih, that leaves Pablo Prigioni as New York’s only point guard.
After an NBA trade deadline that included reports of a proposed swap sending guard Iman Shumpert to the Los Angeles Clippers for a package including Darren Collison, per Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, nothing should surprise Knicks fans at this point.
New York ultimately decided not to make any deadline deals, but it’s been extremely active in free agency.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Knicks have agreed to sign shooting guard Shannon Brown and forward Earl Clark to 10-day contracts.
Knicks to sign Shannon Brown and Earl Clark to 10-day contracts on Thursday. That way, they maximize their 10 days and get them for 7 games— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 26, 2014
The 28-year-old Brown shot 28.6 percent from the field in 10 games played for the San Antonio Spurs in February.
Clark, meanwhile, shot 37.5 percent in 45 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to his release.
Are those two guys really poised to make an impact for a team on the outside looking in at a playoff spot? Color me skeptical.
The Knicks organization continues to solidify its standing as an NBA laughingstock not even a year after a dominant regular-season showing in 2012-13.
Anthony’s basketball future is up in the air, Felton is facing legal troubles and Woodson continues to draw ire from fans—including B/R’s Dan Favale:
Blaming #Knicks' struggles on one man is impossible, but fact is, they would've beat the Mavs tonight with a different coach.— Dan Favale (@danfavale) February 25, 2014
On the bright side, the future can only hold brighter moments for Knicks fans. With no first-round draft picks in the 2014 draft, though, rebuilding the roster with youth doesn’t appear to be a viable option.
Knicks fans have every right to be.