With today’s 102-93 loss to the Orlando Magic, the New York Knicks fell below .500, dropping to 6-7 thirteen games in to a shortened season. Whether you like it or not, we are twenty percent done with the season, and the team has underperformed. I think the Chauncey Billups amnesty in order to free money up to get Tyson Chandler was not a mistake, but they were woefully unprepared with a replacement. Now we are hearing that they may be fast tracking Baron Davis back from injury. Unless they turn it around in a hurry, D’Antoni may find his way from the hot seat to the exit door.
The front office may deserve some of the blame in talent assessment, because the entire back court sucks. Let’s face it, Landry Fields was a nice story last year, as he provided energy, was a model of unselfish play and generally avoided a lot of rookie mistakes in starting 81 games. But this year? Fields really looks like a back up player, but there was no real serious thought given to upgrading. Bill Douglas and Iman Shumpert are also green, and they are getting way too many minutes due to a lack of talent. Mike Bibby looked done last year in Miami, and nothing has changed there.
But it has been the combination of Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and A’mare Stoudamire, the Knick’s so called ‘Big Three’ that have been underwhelming. Chandler is averaging just about the identical numbers that he did last year for Dallas, but he is doing it in 6 more minutes per game. Stoudamire has looked lost at times, and he is averaging under 20 points a game for the first time in a full season since his rookie campaign, so his scoring is way down. Anthony is shooting the lowest field goal percentage in 7 or 8 years, and the ‘point forward’ idea has seen his assist total go up to a little over 4 per game, which isn’t good enough.
The team still does not play defense, which has been harped on as D’Antoni’s weak point for years. And man, do the players spend a lot of time on the court with that look of ‘who knows what we are doing here’.
D’Antoni is going to increasingly feel the heat, but the situation in NY is not going to change until D’Antoni is gone. The sad part is that because of the short season, if they pull the trigger now, it will be very difficult for any new coach to get things to gel this season. That would still be better than allowing D’Antoni to finish the season, but this is looking increasingly like a lost season for the Knicks and it looks more and more like the powers that be may leave D’Antoni in place until the end of the season. This would be a mistake, the culture needs to start changing now, so that next year can start with some roots in a new system planted.