Are the Knicks the most screwed team in the entire NBA?
Last night, while watching the Knicks blow an 11-point, 4th quarter lead to a Celtics team that was expected to finish 20 games behind them (via Vegas' win projections), I asked myself the following question:
Are the New York Knicks the most screwed team in the NBA?
I think they might be for the following reasons.
1. They're terrible at the moment, despite being picked as a sure fire playoff team - Vegas had the Knicks pegged for 47 wins. They won 54 last year. And yet, here they are at 6-16 and on pace to finish 22-60. The Knicks are equally terrible on the road and at home (3-8 in both situations), and have a grand total of one "winning streak" this season, a whopping two-gamer last week. While the Knicks have been without Tyson Chandler, they've had the majority of their roster healthy, and yet currently check in with the 3rd worst record in the NBA.
2. They're in total chaos - Mike Woodson is on the verge of being fired, their owner is a maniac who is seemingly always trying to hire Isiah Thomas back, and last night J.R. Smith decided to shoot only one time..prompting some to question if it was some sort of protest. It's one thing to lose, it's another to unravel as a franchise from the top down. In the Knicks case it's the latter.
3. Carmelo is about to hit free agency - Ok, so the Knicks suck at the moment. At least the future is bright..amiright?? Eh..no. Their future is cloudier than their present, and it all revolves around Carmelo Anthony. Melo is about to hit free agency, and he absolutely needs to be questioning whether or not he wants to stick around. The Knicks are currently nearing $70 million in 2014-15 salaries without Carmelo's deal included. That means that if he does decide to stay, he'll need to suck it up through yet another lost season next year before any potential hope arrives in 2015. Considering Melo turns 30 in May, he may not want to waste another year. Especially when the Lakers come calling in July.
4. The rest of their roster is horrific -Take a look at the Knicks salary page and find me one guy you'd want to build around outside of Melo. Two years ago you would have said Iman Shumpert, but now he's had major knee surgery and is in the midst of a horrific season. The rest of the team? Yikes. Amar'e has two years left on the worst contract in basketball, Chandler is overpaid, Smith has reverted to "crazy, inefficient J.R. Smith", Felton is blah, Bargnani thinks this is defense, and the rest of the roster is just filler. If Melo bounces, the Knicks may go 6-76 next year with a team salary over the luxury tax.
5. They don't even own their 2014 draft pick - Remember the Melo trade? The one that sent Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Timofey Mozgov to the Nuggets in exchange for Anthony? Well, the Knicks also threw in their unprotected 1st round pick in the upcoming 2014 draft. A pick that currently projects to be in the top-3. So it's entirely possible that the Knicks win the draft lottery and watch the Nuggets select a future star while they watch Melo leave them this summer. Unreal.
While there are a lot of bad teams in the NBA this season, most of those teams knew they would be bad coming in. It was part of a plan. Teams like the Jazz and Sixers, just to name a few, were beginning a rebuild and knew that losing games in 2013-14 was a necessary evil. These teams have young talent and will eventually cash in on being bad this season during next years' draft.
The Knicks on the other hand were supposed to be good. They have a win-now roster with very few young building blocks, and to make things even worse, their losses are only moving the Nuggets further up the draft board.
The only other team that really comes close to the Knicks overall horrific outlook are the Nets. Brooklyn is only slightly ahead of the Knicks in the standings, and they've already traded their 2014, 2016 and 2018 1st round draft picks to the Celtics. However, Brooklyn has two mega-talents in Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, signed through at least 2015 (with Williams locked up through 2016). So while the future is bleak in Brooklyn, it's a little bleaker in the next borough over.