The fact that Derrick Rose vanished from the team this week and declined their calls because he “needed space” is obviously troubling. Carmelo Anthony leads the NBA in ejections (yes, more than DeMarcus Cousins). The fact that the Knicks have lost eight of 11 games and fallen out of the Top 8 in the East? That’s also a problem.
This video probably sums up coach Jeff Hornacek’s thoughts right now:
But, after 38 games, if this funk is rock bottom, that’s not bad! Here’s why:
1) They’ve got 44 games to figure things out before the playoffs. Scoff at “playoffs” if you want, but this is a team that started 14-10, and went as high as tied for 3rd in the East. Even now, at 17-21, they’re just three games back of the 5th seed because of parity in the East.
2) And yes, it’s all about the playoffs, and it’s probably just me, but I firmly believe New York’s still got a (slim) chance to get to the Eastern Conference Finals if they can land the 6th or 7th seed. Toronto needed seven games to get by Indiana last year, then seven more to get by Miami. Boston, which looks like the 3rd seed, still doesn’t have a playoff series win under Brad Stevens. Either of those teams scare you if you’re a healthy Knicks team? (New York is 0-3 against them so far this season.)
3) Even if the Knicks miss the playoffs, it actually wouldn’t be a terrible thing. They won’t bring back Rose. Perhaps Phil Jackson is dumped. Maybe they find a taker for Carmelo (highly unlikely), but above all, they have a 1st round draft pick! And it’s a great draft! A few names for the Knicks if they’re in the lottery (and remember, they’re rebuilding around Porzingis, who is only 21)
– De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky. Probably gone in the Top 10. Pure point guard averaging 16.7 ppg and 6.4 apg but his weakness is the 3-point shot. Can get to the rim with the best of them at 6-foot-4.
– Dwayne Bacon, SG/SF, Florida State. Looking for a shooter? Here’s your guy. Leads FSU at 17.8 ppg and is hitting 37% on 3’s. Fringe lottery pick.
– Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State. Has been hurt and missed a month, but had an awesome start to the season, and can play inside and out. Lottery pick, and if you can get rid of Melo, he’d be a fine replacement.
– Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky. Probably won’t be a better, more athletic shooter in the draft than Monk, who lit up UNC for 47. Could be a Top 5 pick, certainly in the lottery. I see Michael Beasley’s talent, without the entitlement and knuckle headed junk.
While a mess over the last three weeks, I don’t think this Derrick Rose news is the end of the world for New York. It’s more hurtful for Rose than anyone. He’s trying to get a contract. He’s making the Knicks decision easy.