Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - This week, in almost every facet imaginable, has been a disaster for the New York Knickerbockers.
On the court, the team is mired in a 10-game losing streak, which is two off the longest rut in team history. Their 4-20 start is the worst in team history and their 20 losses are the most in the NBA this season.
Thank God for math, (which is a contradictory statement, I get it,) because math is the only thing saving the Knicks from the worst record in the league. The Philadelphia 76ers still own that dubious honor fractionally.
The NBA tried to change the rules of drafting to combat the Sixers' awfulness. What will the association do if the Knicks earn that distinction? Ban Michael Rapaport?
On Monday, team president Phil Jackson said the Knicks possess a "loser's mentality." He said the team has combated the change in culture. Basically, Phil is disappointed, but those are harsh words from the president, who put together part of this roster embedded with a loser's mentality.
"When it comes to having a loser's mentality, what I can take from that, I think when you lose games consistently the same way that we're losing games I think it's easy to get accustomed to kind of trying not to lose rather than trying to win games," explained superstar Carmelo Anthony.
On Tuesday, the Knicks lost to the New Orleans Pelicans.
On Wednesday, several reports came out that Anthony and second-year man Tim Hardaway, Jr. butted heads about Anthony's shot selection, his defense, his leadership, his rebounding, you name it.
We also learned the Knicks employed the tried-and-true players-only meeting earlier in the week.
"It was a very productive meeting," Anthony said on Thursday. "Everybody had the platform to kind of speak their peace on what they felt about what's going on and how they can better the situation."
Then, overnight Thursday into Friday, the New York Post reported that Anthony would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for a better situation.
Oof. What a week.
If you look at each individual instance, it's bad. But I'll tell you all of this is much ado about nothing.
It's never a good thing for the team president to introduce the "L-word" into the equation when speaking about his team. Anthony could be correct in his assessment of the situation, but it could mean a few different things.
One, maybe Jackson is trying to motivate his troops in a way head coach Derek Fisher can't. I've been around flagpoles more animated than Fisher, so perhaps Jackson is stoking the flames for his coach.
No matter what, you can't call Jackson wrong in what he said. Brutal honesty is his game. It can sometimes be confused with arrogance, but he's consistent. He and Fisher also both spoke of this resistance to change within the Knicks. That's 100 percent their problem to fix with these players, or, to find players who can adapt.
The philosophical dilemma facing the Knicks is: should we try to mold the players to fit what we want to do, or should we play more to the strength of our roster, but at the expense of what we want to do?
It's a toughie.
And you've heard by now how awful the triangle offense is in New York, how ineffective the Knicks are at running it and how the players have been wedged into running it like square pegs in round holes.
This personnel may not be the best equipped for running this offense, fine. However, it's still just an offensive system. It's not radical. It's passing and cutting. Melo is an elite scorer who should thrive in any offensive structure so long as a hoop and a ball are involved.
Offense is clearly an issue considering the Knicks rank 27th in scoring, but it's hardly the only problem.
The Knicks are in middle of the pack defensively in terms of scoring and field-goal percentage. They are 27th in defensive efficiency, which is number of points allowed per possession.
New York gets outrebounded by almost three boards per game, which is tied for 26th. They are 29th in rebounding on their own.
Basically, there are issues running deeper than the triangle and who Jackson and Fisher are trying to shoe-horn into it.
The fighting between players doesn't bother me in the least. It shows some passion, which, frankly, seems to lack on the court. If a team loses 10 in a row, it should be mad. Every member of that squad should be chapped and so be it if it's at one of your own.
Anytime a superstar gets called out for things, is also a positive in my mind. It means they aren't bigger than the establishment.
Where I do have a problem is the fact that a second-year, backup shooting guard is the one calling out Anthony. My issue isn't his stature on the team, but this group is so devoid of leadership that Hardaway is the one having to call out Melo?
Oh yeah, their leader is a Dallas Maverick, or the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
There's no one in the locker room who can defuse this situation. Fisher appears incapable of controlling the team and calling people out for their problems. That's a concern, especially on Fisher's end. It's probably time for a few non-church words from Fisher.
Thankfully, but for the grace of God, there's no lingering issue between Melo and Tim.
"Me and Tim have no problems. He'll tell you the same thing. That's pretty much all I can say," Anthony said. "Tim is a guy who I always wrapped my arm around and put under my wing from day one, helped him through times when he's been down, and I will continue doing that."
This really could be a heat of the moment situation. Neither denied the altercation took place. And, even if they believe their own opinions, and disagree with the other's, it's time to show some pride.
Fights happen when situations stink and emotions are in play. This whole thing shows me at least a few guys care enough to have to be separated.
While not believing another's sources is generally a frowned upon concept, I have serious doubt about Anthony being traded, certainly anytime soon.
First, he's 24 games into a five-year, $124 million contract and it seems a tad early for either side to push the panic button. Within the story, writer Marc Berman says Anthony isn't quite there yet on asking for the trade, but might consider.
Secondly, how tradable is Anthony at the moment? He's owed all that money on the current deal and Berman reported he has a trade kicker which is worth 15 percent of the current contract. So, as the Post states, if Anthony was traded on Monday, the Mavs, or Houston Rockets, or Los Angeles Lakers would owe him a lump-sum of $17 million, plus the remainder of the five-year deal. That's mighty prohibitive.
And, finally, who wants Melo at the moment? He missed Wednesday's game with the San Antonio Spurs because of a knee injury, which he said, "won't get any worse, but it won't get any better, so it's just a matter of how much pain I can take."
General managers must be lining up for that kind of financially-crippling, damaged-goods swap.
Bad things happen to bad teams throughout the course of the season. The Knicks were bad last season, but not like this. They're new to handling embarrassment. That's what leads to fights and public bickering.
It appears to be nothing more than that. Guys are spouting off.
The Knicks need to improve in a lot of areas, including making decisions on the triangle. But Fisher needs to be more assertive, even if it contradicts his personality to an extent.
Melo isn't going anywhere.
Neither are the Knicks this season. What were the expectations? Among pundits I thought I was pretty generous thinking they could contend with the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth seed.
No one believed this team was a contender. They are going through the growing pains, or shrinking pains, of a team new to being really bad. Call it the infancy of the rebuild.
Maybe this week of nonsense creates a spark. It all looks bad, but these things happen to teams without hope.
Just wait until next summer when those Andrea Bargnani and Amare Stoudemire contracts come off the books. There won't be fights then.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder are already just 2 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Kevin Durant has been in uniform a little over a week and they made up half their deficit already. There are four teams between them for that final spot, but Denver, Sacramento, New Orleans and Phoenix are no match for OKC. In fact, Durant hasn't really played well yet, so this group might end up cruising into the playoffs.
- The MVP at the quarter pole, to a lot of people, will be Anthony Davis. He's a freak. However, my vote would go to James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Dwight Howard was playing well and the two led them to wins. Howard has been down for weeks, and the Rockets keep winning. Houston is a top-three team now in opponents' scoring, and while Harden isn't All-Defensive material, he's improved. Plus, the Rockets missed point guard Patrick Beverley for a stretch so all play-making fell on Harden's beard.
- Three teams have winning streaks of eight games or longer.
- Kobe Bryant profanity-laced tirades make me smile.
- Movie moment - "Christmas Vacation" time of year and I'm not one to give financial advice, but Clark may want to cancel the pool. There's an obscene amount of property damage after that holiday, plus, who knows if he gets hit for the storm sewer explosion, which didn't kill a frail 80-year-old man who flew 20 feet in the air. The police won't cover the expenses when SWAT came in through every window in the building. Insurance, probably not either. Clark just needs to be a little safer with that bonus.
- TV moment - I'm going to miss the Stephen Colbert character if he doesn't bring that with him to CBS. I understand why he wouldn't, but I don't think he'll abandon it totally.