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During the end-of-season press interviews last week, Amar'e Stoudemire said that earlier in the season the team didn't buy in to the coaches' game strategies and that next season they need to buy in right away, no matter what the next strategy is.
This reluctance to buy in was in evidence of this earlier in the season, most notably when recent defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler said he didn't like using the switching defense that Mike Woodson was pushing.
So they didn't trust their leadership. They also didn't seem to trust each other. Ball movement was sporadic. If the Knicks fell behind by 10 points, the common response wasn't more teamwork, but rather more dribbling and isolation plays. While last season's team was a scrappy bunch that could grind out a startling fourth-quarter comeback, this season's Knicks spent a lot of time playing scared. It seemed that they didn't trust themselves either, and that low confidence led to poor focus and lower field-goal percentages (for everyone but Melo).
The question is: why? Why did this team of guys who had success last year and who seem to have genuine affection for each other still have trouble trusting their leadership, each other and themselves?
No matter what happens next—if Mike Woodson is replaced, if Melo heads to another team, if the triangle offense is instituted, if other key players are traded—the entire team needs to rebuild trust.
Maybe the solution is a new coach. Maybe it's a new veteran player who can help the players stay calm through adversity, like Jason Kidd did last season. Maybe it's a sports psychologist, like the mysterious "Dr. Sweets" who showed the team Muhammad Ali videos right before Melo's 62-point game. Daily trust falls? Cuddle parties? Sexual healing?
I don't know what the answer is, but they must find one.