I’d like to think that we can all agree on what the two biggest problems with this team are, as the season sputters like a 2 year-old hampster towards its eventual and merciful end. The talent at guard is nearly nonexistent, and the coaching has been about as effective as Don Draper is at being monogamous. The kids could use more run and a better coach, but still, I just don’t see Gallo or Grant as a viable NBA starter even with good coaching. The other players around the league at those positions are too damn good, specifically at point guard, where the Knicks get Dextered every game.
Good coaching would do wonders, though. Fisher wasn’t doing a terrible job. He wasn’t doing a particularly good job, but he wasn’t a complete disaster, especially considering the roster he was given, and he was fired at the end of a stretch of extremely difficult games against some of the league’s best teams. The entire coaching thing still perplexes me, and I wish I knew the real story. I admire the players for being so professional about the coaching change. It makes me think there was some rather large issues between the players and coach, because nobody seems to have taken it all that hard. Nobody has said anything particularly meaningful to the media one way or the other about that decision, and that decision was basically a public admittance that the season was over and they would blow this thing up and rebuild with free agency in the summer, in both coaching positions and roster.
Phil seems to go after people he’s comfortable with, and Fish and Rambis are old pals of his and part of “the team.” It’s why Vujacic was put on the bench instead of a more viable, younger guard with upside—he’s part of the Lakers club. I hope Phil will either come downstairs himself and coach, which I still think is a distinct possibility for next year, or that he will hire someone outside of his comfort zone like a Tom Thibodeau or *gasp* David Blatt. There are quite a few viable options out there for the next coach of the Knicks, but the Phil Jackson Circle of Assistants need not apply for the job.
I would talk more about the game, but come on. This team deserved to lose, they played with about a third of the intensity of an international friendly in soccer. They mailed in the game, so I’m mailing in writing about it, because I’ve churned out thousands of words over the last couple of weeks talking about inept and unenthusiastic Knicks performances that left us all with a bad taste in our mouths. It would be one thing if they were giving max effort, or if they were giving the young guys all a good chunk of minutes together for the sake of development, or if we were seeing improvement in some of the concepts (whatever those are right now, if they exist at all) of the defense and offense. But none of those things are happening. Melo is being played 40+ minutes a night in losing efforts, Afflalo is chucking fadeaways like a kid imitating MJ in 1996, and Zingis Khan is being put in and pulled out more erratically than…well, I’ll let you choose how to finish that joke.
The effort tonight was embarrassing for most stretches of the game. Denver was guilty of it as well, even though they won by 16. Both teams seemed to have agreed to turn the game into a scrimmage where only light jogging was allowed. It was like watching an over-50 league game at the Y, except people were being paid tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to yawn their way through a professional basketball game in front of a half-empty arena full of people staring at their phones.
I’m a night owl, and this West Coast trip suits me perfectly. One of the things I’ve always loved about basketball is how it’s usually on until 1 or 130 in the morning, sometimes later. I’m gonna be awake anyways, there might as well be basketball to watch. Or so my logic goes. But I have a feeling watching this next set of games isn’t going to be any less painful than watching tonight’s game was.
Here’s to hoping I’m wrong and it’s worth staying up late to see what happens out West.