Before we get into this, let’s get this out of the way now: The Knicks still aren’t a good basketball team.
But they are playing an awful lot better since the firing of David Fizdale.
That doesn’t excuse the fact that the two-decade ownership of James Dolan has been nothing short of an utter failure or that Steve Mills’ constant presence within the organization remains mystifying.
But they might have stumbled upon something in interim head coach Mike Miller.
Still, that doesn’t excuse the fact that the Knicks are fundamentally broken and need a massive reboot to most of its personnel, both on and off the court.
But the veteran forward, Marcus Morris, might have helped light a fire under the bellies of the current roster just as Fizdale was shown the door.
Yes, Knicks fans are facing quite a conundrum right now.
Just hours before the Knicks decided to change head coaches on Dec. 6, Morris called a players-only meeting where he stressed accountability, calling out the likes of Julius Randle and rookie RJ Barrett.
The Knicks had just lost by 37 to the Denver Nuggets the night before and Morris — who is having a career year — had enough.
“I was on the fence but I had to stick my neck out there. I wasn’t really worried about guys’ emotions,” Morris said (h/t Stefan Bondy, NY Daily News). “The biggest thing I said is that we are all grown men, this is the league and we have a job to do. And we weren’t really doing our job at the time.”
Shortly after, Fizdale was shown the door and Miller, an assistant, was allowed to show just what he could do with an inexperienced and underachieving roster.
The 55-year-old has cut his teeth in college basketball before a four-year stint with the Knicks’ G-League affiliate in Westchester.
He knows how to develop young players and he knows how to stay even-keeled throughout the process.
That’s vital when the core of the roster is 22 years old or younger (Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr.).
The early returns have been fantastic, especially by the Knicks’ standards, as the team is 3-3 since Morris’s team talk and Miller’s takeover.
New York picked up its seventh win of the season on Tuesday in a 143-120 rout of the Atlanta Hawks.
It was the best performance of the season — albeit, against a lowly Atlanta side — as the triumph featured single-game career-bests for Barrett (27 points) and Robinson (22). Knox, 20, also added 17 of his own.
It was also the first true glimpse of a young trio that could be the foundation for competitive Knicks teams in the future.
Does that mean playoff contention is coming this year?
No, but with the right coaching and a little bit of help from competent management (whoever that might be), there is hope for the Knicks yet.