With the New York Knicks limping to the end of what is another lost season, they may actually be entering the Summer with more questions than answers.
Prior to the season I was skeptical and thought the roster was devoid of talent, and said the Knicks would double their win total from the previous year and reach 34 wins, which is still possible.
Still, entering the 2015-2016 campaign with a shiny new first-rounder named Kristaps Porzingis, and with no draft picks in the upcoming 2016 draft, the Knicks had to shoot for a playoff spot at all costs.
Now, in the final weeks of the season we are forced to watch an interim Head Coach in Kurt Rambis struggle to keep his locker room in order and manage his players’ minutes and roles.
Guard Arron Afflalo has been relegated to the bench in favor of now-starting SG Sasha Vujacic, and has since seen his production drop, all amidst rumors that Coach Rambis had not discussed such a move with Afflalo prior to the benching.
Porzingis seemed to have hit the preverbal “Rookie Wall” though he seems to be finishing strong; but it is worth noting that most of his struggles seemingly coincided with the departure of much-maligned HC Derek Fisher, and Rambis taking over at the helm.
The Knicks have mismanaged their roster all season, often opting to leave their remaining roster spot vacant rather than give serious minutes to someone such as G Jimmer Fredette, or F Thanasis “The Greek Streak” Antetokounmpo.
There has been the issue of player usage—such as the instance that saw F Carmelo Anthony play 35+ minutes in each of a back-to-back, after coming off a high-ankle sprain and knee surgery.
Veteran G Jose Calderon has been relied on far too often to provide starter’s minutes as well as mark up opposing point guards when it is apparent to everyone, including Calderon, that he is far too slow for this assignment.
What has been curious is the lack of minutes for G Jerian Grant, the 17th overall pick in this year’s 2016 draft.
Grant has seldom seen consistent minutes for a team seriously lacking a slashing, penetrating Point Guard who can keep pace with the opposition on both sides of the ball.
There is the whole “will he, wont he” saga with Carmelo about his no-trade clause, and if he will waive it if the Knicks can net a solid package or draft picks in return
Any way you slice it, the Knicks are a mess right now and one year after they set the franchise record for futility winning only 17 games, they just barely have gotten to 30, and are nowhere near the playoffs.
The cherry on top of this horrible situation is that the Knicks will likely end the season with a Top-10 draft pick, yet posses no picks of their own, having shipped off their first and second rounders in various deals over the past few years.
Once again, Phil Jackson will have his hands full, and we all hope he can bring this team back to respectability and formidability.