After the Knicks lost to the Mavericks on a Dirk Nowitzki buzzer-beater Monday night, Carmelo Anthony stands at the free throw line at Madison Square with his hands on his knees in disbelief. In that moment you can feel all of the air leave the arena. Anthony had put out his best effort, scoring 44 points and has been carrying this team the whole year. Hours later, around 2:00 a.m., there is a report that Raymond Felton has been arrested on gun charges. This is what the season has been like for the New York Knicks. A season of lost hope for fans, a collective of players that have not shown what it takes to be successful and an owner with too much pride. After getting blown out by Miami last night, the Knicks are currently 21-37 in a beyond-weak Eastern Conference. All I can say is enough is enough.
Last season, the team came out and played their best basketball in years, winning the Atlantic Division for the first time since the 1993-94 season. We are talking about the Patrick Ewing and John Starks days. The excitement was finally back; the Mecca was lively again; the celebrities were showing up again at the Garden; there was new bandwagon fans.
Then there were the people I was the most worried about: the die-hard Knick fans. Every single Knicks personnel, from the players to the coaches, bamboozled every single one of us. They made us believe they actually were back to prominence. There was a new sense of hope for the city.
One of my closest friends is a Knick fan that fits right in the Spike Lee mold, wears the Knicks jersey and a Knick hat as a ritual during the games as he watches on television. (For what reason, I don’t know. They don’t win.) But before the season he told me the Knicks were going to win the championship. I laughed and thought they could at least compete for the third spot… but even I was wrong about that.
What they are doing this year is sad. The franchise has not won an NBA championship since 1973 and their last appearance in the Finals was in 1999 during the lockout-shortened NBA season. I am tired of seeing my hometown team in despair. It’s not fair I haven’t witnessed a parade down Broadway with a Knick player hosting up a trophy. And for that reason, I have provided a six-step guide to fixing the Knicks. If you are a die-hard Knicks fan, please use this as a therapy session.
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1. Bring in guys that fit the Knicks ’90s “I don’t give a f**k attitude”
Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley may have lost their share of battles in the ’90s but one thing is for sure: they always came to play on the biggest stage. The ’90s Knicks were badass and showed a lot of toughness despite being toe-to-toe with some of their Eastern Conference rivals such as the Bulls and Pacers.
Looking at the Knicks now, I do not see any heart. I see a team that looks more confused than anything. This team needs an identity, and to be gritty and feared. One player I would love to see as a Knick and I think that would be a great player that would change this around is Kevin Love. Love is probably the grittiest NBA player in the league right now and you can sense he was made for a big market team. Whether it is the Lakers or Knicks, I cannot see Kevin Love staying in Minnesota past his contract. The Knicks are going to have an incredibly large amount of cap space in 2015 with an expected five players under contract. The Knicks need to make a huge splash during that free agent period. It is perhaps their only opportunity to become great.
Other players that would fit: Klay Thompson (the efficient shooter the Knicks need), Rajon Rondo (would feel weird but hey, why not?) Arron Afflalo, Kenneth Faried and Taj Gibson
2. Build a team together
Some of the most dominant teams in the NBA, such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers, have rosters filled with homegrown talent. These organizations have held onto their cores and let their players actually grow together. It is now time for the Knicks to start learning from these contenders, studying their blueprint and building on their own core and developing players the right way.
Surprise! The Knicks have a first-round draft pick in the year 2015. Depending on the season they have next year, the Knicks could be in play for a really great player in next year’s draft; let’s just hope they do not trade it away for a mediocre player. They did a great job of selecting Tim Hardaway Jr. toward the end of the first round last year and he has been a great addition for them. The 2015 Draft has incredible potential and it is now time for them to pick another young prospect that can help this team in the near future.
3. Bring in a facilitator
When is the last time the Knicks had an All-Star point guard for their team? I will wait. This team is full of notorious ball stoppers (‘Melo, Amar’e, J.R. Smith) and needs a player that will make this offense more fluid and stable… sort of like when the Kings traded Jason Williams for his erratic play and got Mike Bibby, who made them contenders immediately.
The Knicks need a game-changer and a hard-nosed floor general. The NBA is full of elite point guards and it is sad the Knicks have not had the opportunity to get their hands on one in recent memory. There is no way Jeremy Lin should have been the most exciting point guard for the Knicks the last few years. Raymond Felton is simply not getting the job done and looks out of shape on the court. Getting doesn’t help his cause, either.
Where should the Knicks go to find this floor general? Any pass-first point guard other than Raymond Felton, to be honest. While he is not an All-Star, Isaiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings would be a great inexpensive option. Thomas is having arguably a better season then Kyrie Irving, if you look at their stats. Whether it is Rondo or a prospect that is still in college, the Knicks need to find an answer at the point guard position immediately.
4. Find a new coach
This hurts to say because I definitely think Mike Woodson is a terrific coach. But it is time for a new face. The Knicks should either try to lure Scott Brooks out of Oklahoma City and offer him a contract he cannot turn down, or head for Option B: follow in the footsteps of the Boston Celtics and build a team with a college coach that is known as a player’s coach. VCU head coach Shaka Smart is a candidate that comes to mind. Smart has proven he can lead a team of underdogs to the biggest stage in basketball. Smart is a coach that prides his teams on tenacity and defense, which would change the culture of the Knicks. He would be a great NBA coach because the players would respect him from day one. It is time for Knicks management to open up their wallets and get recruiting.
5. Wait it out
It is time to rebuild for the Knicks and it is clear this current roster is not winning any championships when Miami and Indiana are still playing. I understand the Knicks organization wants to keep fans going to the games to see exciting players, and it is typically the “New York” way in any sport to not rebuild, but sometimes you just have to take your losses and build on something new. As I mentioned before, the Knicks will have five players under contract in the summer going into 2015: Carmelo Anthony (depending if he re-signs), J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks just need to be patient and see what comes to them, and stay away from giving heavy contracts and learn from past contract mistakes like Jerome James, Eddy Curry and a plethora of others.
6. James Dolan needs to step down
James Dolan arrived as the Knicks owner in 1999 as a big-time media mogul. He has nothing to do with the game of basketball and has been a black hole for this organization. He has giving up an absurd amount of money to players that definitely were not right for this organization. Each year the Knicks are digging a deeper hole in the bottom of the NBA’s caste system.
In his tenure, the Knicks have only reached the playoffs six times and did not win a playoff series until the 2012-13 season, which is just abysmal and disrespectful. He has let go some of the names that have made the Knicks relevant over the seasons due to his selfish ambitions. He dropped Donnie Walsh, who is now an consultant for the Indiana Pacers, and fired Glen Grunwald prior to this season, a man who helped make the Knicks relevant again during their best season in years.
There needs to be some changes at the top in order for the Knicks to be prominent again and if James Dolan is calling the shots, the Knicks may never make it to the top.
How would you fix the Knicks?
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