Are The Knicks Tanking?

Human beings have pondered a number of things about our world since our own awareness. Is there life on other planets? Is time travel possible? Will Leo survive his surgery in Chasing Life?

Unfortunately we often don’t have the evidence to come to a conclusion on life’s great mysteries. Hence we have to use other methods to gain a greater understanding on the topic. In searching for extra terrestrial life, we can come up with reasons for and against the possibility of life existing elsewhere. Reasons in favor would be the existence of other similar environments which could sustain life. On the con side, we have yet to hear from or be visited by any beings outside our own planet.

By listing the pros and cons we can better understand the question and perhaps come to a logical conclusion on the likelihood of each side. With regards to life in the universe, we can actually take our questions and form an equation. The probability of us learning that life exists outside our planet is equal to the percentage of planets that could hold life multiplied by the range of radio waves multiplied by the percentage of evolved life that could create radio waves. Some of the variables are a bit subjective without further evidence, and are left to the reader to estimate.

Hence I attempt to use the same process to answer the question: “Are the Knicks tanking?”

For: The Knicks are 27th in the league on defense.
Against: Have you seen the players on this roster?

For: Iman Shumpert can’t find his rhythym in the offense.
Against: Shump’s career ts% is .488. He’s had as much rhythm in an NBA game as this guy.

Against: Jason Smith is only 10th on the team in minutes played.
For: Jason Smith still has an NBA uniform.

For: Shane Larkin has more minutes than any other PG.
Against: Larkin’s ts% is higher than both Shumpert and J.R. Smith

For: The Knicks are playing Carmelo Anthony 35.7 minutes per game!
Against: The Knicks are only playing Carmelo Anthony 35.7 minutes per game.

For: The team appears to be in complete disarray on the court.
Against: Derek Fisher is a really bad NBA coach.

For: Tanking is the only logical long term solution for this team.
Against: Tanking is the only logical long term solution for this team.

So either the Knicks are a poorly constructed team with bad management and little thought to their future, or they’re brilliantly tanking with just enough of a smokescreen to keep respectability. An equation to calculate whether the Knicks are the former (not tanking and are just a bad team) is to take their probability their roster is one of the worst in the league multiplied by the frequency in which their ownership has considered the future in making decisions multiplied by how good the coaching staff is.

I’ll leave it to the reader to estimate those variables.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

75 thoughts to “Are The Knicks Tanking?”

  1. Personally, I don’t think they’re tanking. I think the more reasonable equation is: ( a rookie GM/President + a rookie head coach + a roster that might be good in the D-League) – a reasonable amount of time=poor record.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This season was never about making waves and making the playoffs (though winning is more fun to watch than losing, of course). This season was always about Phil and Fish getting comfortable in their new roles and figuring out which guys on the current roster are worth keeping. Plus, lottery. I believe Phil and Fish intended to try and win as many games as possible, and for the reasons stated in my equation above it’s failing miserably.

    I’m going to give them at least a full season before I’m willing to jump on the “burn it to the ground” bandwagon.

  2. Let’s wait December 15th. I am positive they are not tanking, but if they change their mind about it (and they should, let’s tank hard this season) December 15th is the time to unload Calderon to have more money next year and Timmy and Dalembert to get picks. I wish they could unload JR Smith somewhere, but I guess that’s nearly impossible (although I sense that Charlotte might be interested. If you bet on Lance, why not on JR?).

  3. Is there a difference between punting a season in which there is a draft pick and tanking? I think it is really just a passive tanking or “eh” as far as the record this season.

  4. a season in which there is a draft pick

    Isn’t it funny that we have to acknowledge the presence of a draft pick as a boon? :-(

  5. I think they are passively tanking, but there’s no way of knowing. Phil Jackson once tried to reform Kwame Brown, and that was not a tanking strategy.

  6. I commented probably a week ago that it appeared they were tanking and that tanking might very well be good because this team of misfits wasn’t likely to achieve much of anything worthy of our attention this year.
    Now, I’m really excited to read that Melo is considering waving his no trade clause for the right team because then we may get ourselves another first rounder for the next draft, on top of a few really decent potential FAs.

    Pick up two high value FAs and two first rounders, some later round gems and we might actually have a team worthy of watching.

    Meanwhile, expect these lunk heads to continue to lose a lot.

    Frankly, the critique of Melo by his teammates, allegedly, is fair. He still pounds the ball into the wood, holds it too long, plays one on five, and launches ill-advised jumpers, etc. An obvious sign that Melo holds the ball too long, he was drawing triple teams against Spurs whenever he held the ball too long.

    Please, please trade him…

  7. They are not tanking on purpose. You can see it on their faces when they lose. It’s not fun and for many of them this could be the end-of-the-line. More than half these players are going to be free agents by July. Some earlier. Hope for another great contract, or even a job, fades with each pathetic outing. For selfish reasons they won’t tank.

  8. I would trade Carmelo Anthony for one or all of the following:

    1. 1st round draft pick(s)
    2. 2nd round draft pick(s)
    3. Old players with shorter contracts
    4. Young players with shorter contracts

    Josh Smith only got 2 years left on his contract-think about it Stan.

  9. Isn’t it funny that we have to acknowledge the presence of a draft pick as a boon? :-(

    It reminds me of such gems as “It’s a 2014 pick. Do you really think we’re going to be bad in 2014! LOLOLOL

  10. Josh Smith only got 2 years left on his contract-think about it Stan.

    I wouldn’t mind a Josh Smith + Monroe (UFA) + 1st round pick for Melo trade. And that says much about how I feel about the usefulness of that Melo contract.

  11. I know I may be wrong but I think its going to be extremely difficult to trade Carmelo. Getting salaries to match will be tough and not many teams are going to want to carry Melo for the next 4+ years. Undoubtedly the Knicks will have to take back a terrible contract in the deal. Hopefully, they can get a 1st round pick but I just dont think that Melo with his contract and age is going to fetch all that much. Plus, the trade kicker…..and finally Melo would have to agree to play there. Thus, the teams that cannot lure a star FA and who may take a chance on Melo may be out of the running because Melo needs to protect his “brand”.

    What teams do you think would trade for Melo (irregardless of whether Melo would agree to play for them)?
    1) Detroit (Josh Smith +)
    2) Sacramento (Rudy Gay +)
    3) Brooklyn (Joe Johnson +)
    4) Charlotte (Marvin Williams + Gerald Henderson +)
    5) Houston (Ariza +)
    6) Lakers (Lin + Nash +)
    7) New Orleans (Gordon or Evans +)

    I doubt Chicago would trade for Melo now but who knows. I believe the teams listed above would potentially trade for Melo but if he wants to play in a large market that would exclude everyone but Brooklyn & Houston.

  12. I am recapping tonight’s game against Boston. Two awful teams, which one is worse? Tonight, on Friday Night Knicks.

    On a separate note, a friend is throwing this awesome bacon festival. It would be great to see people. I’m going May 17 (Sunday).

  13. So if they’re not tanking, why the hell are they playing Jason Smith?

    I get the impression they feel shooting 15-18 foot shots is a key component of the/an offense. Wasn’t that why early on they were bumming about Bargs being hurt.

  14. So if they’re not tanking, why the hell are they playing Jason Smith?

    This is the only real argument that goes in favor of the tanking theory. But then again, they should play him more at the beginning of games and then bury him on the bench after we’re down 20. Instead, they seem to think he is a valuable contributor to our team. That’s the thing the befuddles me the most about PJ and Fish.

    6) Lakers (Lin + Nash +)

    Wow! This would be a stroke of genius. I completely approve this trade.

  15. Ephus, that bacon thing is the shit. Love the “Early Bird” tickets. Just tell your friends be careful, for Morey will find a way to exploit a loophole in the website to steal a couple of tickets and Obama will not be happy with all that cholesterol flowing freely and single-handedly posing a threat to the Obamacare funds.

  16. –This is the only real argument that goes in favor of the tanking theory

    yea thats what i was saying the other day. Like im playing timmy over Smith because at least he shoots 3s.

  17. I’m with njnick– I think it is going to be difficult to trade Melo, and the more time passes, the more difficult it is going to get. You need so many conditions to be present for it to work– the other team would have to have bad but short contracts they’d like to move, they’d have to have some sort of assets that would be palatable to the Knicks and Melo would have to be willing to go there. That is a tough needle to thread.

    That MMM contract was a deal with the devil. Those never work out unless you’re really awesome at playing the violin. We’re 1/4 through the first season of this thing and we’re already working out trade scenarios and realizing how impossible it’s going to be to trade him.

  18. Does anyone know how that Melo trade kicker would work? Would the Knicks pay it, or does the team trading for Melo pay it? Does it have any salary cap implications?

  19. Around the time the contract was signed, I believe it was Woj who said something along the lines of Melo wanted to get paid the MMM, then would take a wait and see approach about the Knicks and if he was not happy about the team’s progress would demand/facilitate a trade to X. If this was Melo’s thinking, he completely overestimated his value especially with the amount of years and money on the deal.

  20. You know, I don’t care for Melo, never have, and think the contract was mostly bad. But the idea that it’s completely junk and that Jax blew it forever and that Melo is untradeable… I don’t buy it.

    You have to consider the cap going up dramatically over the next few years as all the basketball pundits have been predicting for a while now. Everyone will have more space, max contracts will go up, and Melo’s mega-max is going to appear ‘reasonable’ in a few years.

    The worst part of his deal is the no-trade clause, because it means that once again he’s able to hold our strangely beloved franchise hostage. But… I think he will agree to a trade if his level of impatience is even remotely close to that of this blog’s.

    But unless he has microfracture surgery or something, the dude is movable. Teams want him. He could be a great second or third banana in the right environment.

    The Knicks have institutional problems. Culture problems. Judging Jax on one offseason and 20 games is absurd. The best thing about his offseason moves is that he didn’t trade away picks and instead brought in picks and young talent. They didn’t work out, but you have to at least have the mentality of *building* towards something rather than constantly mortgaging the future.

    The best possible thing for this team is to accept a full rebuild and start from scratch. The first round pick next year is huge. I’m rooting against the Knicks from here out.

  21. @ Kevin

    I think the team who acquires him would pay it, and it would go against their cap. But I could be very wrong. Ephus to the rescue.


    I think he’s very tradeable, and that Lakers scenario could really work. Suddenly, the Lakers have two stars again (even if they don’t fit) without sacrificing anything. We have 3/4 of season with Lin again and we can start from scratch next year. Win-win.

  22. @ 23 – For contracts signed after the new CBA, a trade bonus is paid by the team trading away the player. When a team trades for a player with a trade bonus, it must count the portion of the bonus that applies to team salary in that season as incoming salary.

    The CBA allows the player to waive part of his trade bonus, if necessary to make a trade permissible.

  23. Just read Larry Coon’s explanation on the trade kicker and I’m still confused (sections 98 and 99)
    There is this:

    For contracts and extensions signed under the current CBA, a trade bonus is paid by the team trading away the player.

    So the Knicks would be on the hook for that $17.5 million, which would count against the cap, spread over the length of the contract?
    But then there is this:

    A trade bonus cannot cause a player’s salary to exceed the maximum salary, based on his years of service, during the year of the trade

    But Melo has a mega max contract, right? He is well above the maximum salary for a player with his years of service, so the trade kicker doesn’t apply?

  24. @ 26 – most of the teams that would trade for Melo are over the cap thus they would have to basically match their outgoing salaries with the incoming. Thus, for a team to trade for Melo they would have to 2-4 players (depending on salary) or have a high salaried player that they can move. For a winning team, a Melo trade may strip them of a lot of their rotation etc. I don’t think it will be easy.

    I don’t think the Lakers would trade for Melo. I think they have their sights set on something bigger, ie Durant.

  25. I don’t think the Lakers would trade for Melo. I think they have their sights set on something bigger, ie Durant.

    Yes, but you can’t underestimate the fact that Kobe (Lakers’ de-facto GM for the next two years) is a borderline psycho, and has already reduced to a pulp Lin’s confidence. Also, he doesn’t care a lick about Durant, since in 2016 he probably won’t be around. Trading for Melo would not be a sane thing to do for them, that’s for sure. But I’ve seen many saner teams around.

  26. Yeah, you’re probably correct and I underestimated the Kobe factor. Those two together would be fckng amazing and needs to happen. This could have been Phil’s plan all along to exact revenge for the Lakers choosing D’Antoni over him. It’s brilliant.

  27. This could have been Phil’s plan all along to exact revenge for the Lakers choosing D’Antoni over him. It’s brilliant.

    That would be amazing. I’m going to choose to believe this is true, no matter how much reality disagrees with it.

  28. Unfortunately, Anthony’s no-trade clause takes all the fun out of playing with the Trade Machine, but if he really suddenly cares about winning, what about:

    ATL for Millsap + Sefolosha + Carroll + filler + Brooklyn’s 2015 1st rounder

    WAS for Nene + Webster + Porter

    TOR for DeRozan + Hayes + Fields + our own 2016 1st rounder back.

  29. How about this as the least-likely-to-get-Dolan’s-approval but most reasonable trade:

    Melo and Larkin to the Lakers (total = 24.06MM)

    Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash, Jerome Randle, Ryan Kelly, and a #1 pick (whenever they are finally allowed to trade one) to the Knicks (22.7MM)

    Considering the Lakers actually seemed to want Melo in FA, this actually isn’t that bad for them. Lin isn’t playing much, Nash not at all. Randle’s hurt and the jury’s out on him anyway. Kelly’s a throw-in, could easily be anyone else with a similar salary.

    For us we get massive salary relief, a young prospect in Randle, and #1 pick. could be worse for both sides, except for Dolan’s ego which will never let Melo go, especially in a trade for Jeremy Lin.

  30. The Toronto trade described above is the real problem with trading Melo. The Knicks do not have their pick in ’16. If they trade Melo and cannot sign a big time FA, Phil and Fish are going to have egg on their face when they have to surrender a top 5 pick in ’16 (ultimately to Denver who can swap with NYK before the pick goes to Toronto). I honestly believe if the Knicks had their ’16 pick that Phil would not have resigned Melo.

  31. Whoever was hosting on the FAN yesterday said we traded Chandler because he and Melo didn’t get along. That’s interesting, I always thought Chandler was a whiner, although I would likely not say it to his face.

    Melo is surrounded by misfit pieces and low skilled players with seemingly low basketball IQs. But, a lot of this is about defense, which is about effort, and there seems to be very little of it.

    Melo should not be asked to carry a team alone, but I agree teams would trade for him and his contract, if they have the other pieces. The problem is, if we trade him, then we have absolutely nothing to build with, and at best we might get back a pick or two. It’s not enough.

  32. The Laker trade doesn’t really work though because the Lakers draft pick situation is not so good. They own Houston’s pick from this year, which will probably conveyed to them since it is only top 14 protected, but that pick is going to be in the mid-20’s. The Lakers’ 2015 pick is out the door to Phoenix and then the 2017 pick is owed to Orlando, so the only thing they can really give until 2019 is that 2015 Rockets pick. Plus there is the small problem that the Lakers stink just about as much as the Knicks.

  33. I must again reiterate how Knicksy it is to be talking about Carmelo Anthony trade situations 24 games into his MegaMax contract.

  34. –Whoever was hosting on the FAN yesterday said we traded Chandler because he and Melo didn’t get along.

    this is what pundits always say. Melo drove player x away……like clockwork.

  35. How about Melo to the clippers for Jordan and Redick plus fill. No draft choices involved. I think the Clippers would like him and might think it would help them compete with golden state

  36. –How about Melo to the clippers for Jordan and Redick plus fill. No draft choices involved. I think the Clippers would like him and might think it would help them compete with golden state


  37. KnickfaninNJ
    December 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm
    How about Melo to the clippers for Jordan and Redick plus fill. No draft choices involved. I think the Clippers would like him and might think it would help them compete with golden state

    Ok, but then who’s playing center for LAC?

  38. There is no possible way that the Clippers trade Jordan for Carmelo Anthony. Not even straight up. Never.

  39. Good question. I didn’t realize the Clippers don’t gave a back up center. If they have a big three of Paul, Griffin and Melo, they won’t necessarily have to have a well known. So maybe they would take Aldrich. I’d prefer not, but he’s not doing much for the Knicks. I think that would be a good clippers team.

  40. There is no possible way that the Clippers trade Jordan for Carmelo Anthony. Not even straight up. Never.

    –I would agree. But how does doc feel about maxing out deandre?

  41. You guys realize Melo will not waive his no-trade clause, right? He has terrible judgment. His ego is on the line and he wants to prove to the world he can bring a championship to NYC. That is very unlikely to happen, but that’s what he wants to be known for. He has a big ego, a small brain, and not much intuition.

    There is no way he is admitting failure in NYC, not now that he can rest on his laurels and get paid anyway.

  42. There is no way he is admitting failure in NYC, not now that he can rest on his laurels and get paid anyway.

    –wouldnt that be considered good judgement?

  43. –wouldnt that be considered good judgement?

    To us normal folk maybe. But don’t you know by now that athletes are judged on entirely different criteria? They’re not allowed to pursue what’s in their own best interests like you and I are.

  44. If there’s any time to bail, it’s now. It appears as though the Knicks are incompetent at putting a team around their “superstar” (which is true) and he can claim, “I’m all about winning.” Just not in NY, where it’s damn near impossible due to decades of incompetent management. And all he would have to say is, “Look at the last fifteen years. They can’t do anything right.” He’d be off the hook immediately because people think he’s a basketball god when he’s really more like Rudy Gay with a decent PR team, a C-list wife and a NCAA championship plaque in his trophy room.

    I am praying that it happens.

  45. “…he’s really more like Rudy Gay with a decent PR team…”

    Wow, how bad is Gay’s PR? Melo’s have probably the worst PR from the so called “stars”.

  46. Because of the media storm, even if Melo was willing to be traded, he feels he can’t now.
    It’s been reported that Melo gets a $17 Million dollar buyout in the event of a trade.
    Nice going PJ.

  47. Tanking was a phony alibi all along.
    But now, going forward, it makes more sense than ever, and they can make it look like it was their plan all along.
    The world is a very unfair place.

  48. As long as Melo’s team doesn’t beat the Knicks while winning a title I wouldn’t care. I’m sick of the Melodrama, and trading him is, in my opinion at least, the best way to rebuild the franchise.

  49. I’m worried about how the Knicks do, not how other teams do. If we get enough back from a Melo trade to improve the team, I’m for it; even if it makes some team like the Clippers NBA champions.

    And I think that the league, in general, values Melo more than this board does. Look at Chicago. If they could have given him the max, they would have.

  50. Ephus – Can’t believe you posted about Also close friends with one of the organizers. I can guarantee it will be a first class event and have already purchased 5 tickets. Can’t wait and will be there Saturday morning…

    On Knicks stuff, as far as I am concerned, Phil Jackson has failed simply because he signed Melo to that deal for that untradeable amount of money. The only upside to bringing in PJ was that he might have the prestige and the intelligence and the balls not to throw the max at Melo. And he did – which to be honest really surprised me.

    I don’t know why the hell anyone would trade for Melo. I never would.

  51. Plenty of intelligent basketball people still think Melo is a very valuable player (like Kevin Pelton, for example). I don’t get it, I’ve never understood it, but there it is. I was hoping we’d just let him walk. But if he wanted out, I still think we’d be able to trade him.

  52. Melo’s a fine player. You just shouldn’t be giving a 30-year-old a mega max contract when your plan (your plan – not “oops, unforseen shit happened,” but your actual plan) is to be good in Year 3 of his mega max deal. How insane is that? Dude’s 30 years old, you are giving him almost literally the most money you can possibly pay a player and your plan is that maybe in year three you’ll be good? That’s nuts. That’s just shitty planning.

  53. At no point in his NBA career has Carmelo been worth a max salary, but it was especially stupid to give him one given our roster and lack of assets. Let’s keep on losing and who knows-maybe he’ll demand a trade to an even crazier team (Lakers, I’m looking at you).

  54. By the way, look at how dumb Melo’s career has turned out to be, based almost entirely on his desire to get the most money he can possibly get at all times and not caring about what it did to his overall career.

    1. Took a max rookie extension unlike Wade, Lebron and Bosh and therefore was a free agent a year too late. Imagine if Melo was a free agent that year? San Francisco, Chicago and New York – three pretty damn fine places to live, all had room to make major moves and instead, they went with David Lee, Carlos Boozer and Amar’e Stoudemire.
    2. Obviously, we’ve rehashed how his desire to get the max extension locked in before the lockout led to him gutting the very team that he was going to go play for.
    3. Turned down playing in a much better situation in a good city because only two teams could offer close to the mega max and since they both sucked, he picked the one he was already playing for (who also, of course, could give him the most money period).

    I mean, if making the most money was his goal, fair enough. He’s certainly achieved that.

  55. I’m so glad I saw the link for the bacon picnic! Me and a bunch of freinds are now planning to go to the Saturday evening session in May. Hopefully see some of you guys there and put faces to “names”!

    Look at this “me, me, me” gem from Melo:

    “Come on, man. After all the work I did to get here and get back here? If I was to get up and want to leave now that would just make me weak, make me have a weak mind,” Anthony said on Friday morning. “I’ve never been a person to try to run from any adversity or anything like that so I’m not going to pick today to do that.”

    For years now, the language of all his answers to the media, to me, center around himself. All “me’s” and “I this” and “I that”. Don’t know if you guys see that too. It’s just been bothering me for the longest time that our best player cannot have at least some empathy for the team. PJ talks about culture change, I think it starts with Melo, as drastic as that may be.

  56. Houston could only offer 88 million to Melo.

    That’s the most money they could offer to Bosh for example.

    That’t way below Knicks Mega Max or Lakers 97 million

  57. sorry i misread what BC said. I thought he was saying that there were two bad teams besides the Knicks meaning LAL and someone else

  58. I wrote it above but I think giving Denver the right to swap ’16 1st round then eventually trading the pick to Toronto in the Bargnani deal has screwed with the NYK time frame. Tanking this year, though unintentional, is the prudent strategy but in 2016 they do not have a 1st and no team would want the PR hit of surrendering a top 5 pick. I think that is a huge deterrent in any potential Melo trade. Getting expiring contracts back (in a Melo deal) and potentially not signing any big name FAs in ’15 would be disastrous for the organization.

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