The Knicks have been in a bit of a rut lately, seemingly alternating wins and losses. And as they’re about to embark on a road trip that’ll test their resolve, it may be time to seek affordable outside help to get back on track.
New York (16-19) will face three playoff-bound squads, beginning with the Atlanta Hawks, tonight, and including trips to Miami and San Antonio. And with the up-and-down offense, the players are starting to feel the frustrations of being so inconsistent.
“We can’t keep winning one, losing one, winning one, losing two,” Carmelo Anthony said after the team’s final practice before leaving for their road trip. “We can’t play that game. We’ve got to find a way to put some games together.”
Anthony nailed it, as the Knicks have been an unpredictable group lately. They’ve had two four-game winning streaks this season, but each time they then followed that up with a four-game losing streak.
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Something has to change. And perhaps it could be minor tweaks to the roster to better balance out the scoring. Arron Afflalo exploded for 38 points in Sunday’s home win over the Hawks, but nobody is inclined to think he’ll be a consistent scorer like that for the rest of the campaign, especially since his season average is just 13.7 points per game.
During his final appearance at the Garden, Kobe Bryant made some waves when he said the Knicks don’t run a Triangle offense (“that’s a square,” he quipped) – and maybe he’s right. If head coach Derek Fisher is loosening the reigns a bit on the structured offense, then maybe it’s time to make some moves to try and help a sagging offense – even if that means bringing in some fresh faces who aren’t known for their ball-sharing and disciplined play.
Brandon Jennings of the Detroit Pistons and Tony Wroten, most recently of the Philadelphia 76ers, have been names bandied about as possible new additions for the Knicks – Jennings in particular. Both are very good one-on-one players, but also not known for great ball distribution and conformity to a system. Wroten was waived on Christmas Eve, and is readily available if called. Jennings, who is slowly getting back into the flow after an arduous rehabilitation of his torn Achilles, had his best game of the seasonMonday nightwhen he notched a season-high 17 points in just 18 minutes, six assists, a steal, and three 3s. That’s the kind of instant offense the Knicks could use, particularly at the point guard position.
Jose Calderon is an exceptional leader, and a willing teacher for the younger guys, but on the floor, he’s not a top priority on opposing teams’ scouting reports. He has flourished some lately, averaging 16.5 points per game over his last two outings (7.6 per game on the season), and is shooting 48 percent from the field on the year, but he’s not going to strike fear in opponents. Fisher has actually asked his veteran floor leader to be more aggressive, but it’s not in his basketball DNA to be more selfish and look for his shot.
Rookie Jerian Grant has shown he’s not yet ready to be a nightly contributor, averaging just five points per game on 35-percent shooting, including 13-percent on 3s.
Langston Galloway, a fan favorite on last season’s 17-win team, hasn’t capitalized on that momentum, as he’s struggling from the floor (39 percent) and only averaging 7.7 points this season – down from last season when he tallied 12 points per game and shot 40 percent.
There’s room for improvement in the backcourt. And for a team that’s averaging just 97.9 points per game (23rd out of 30 teams), team president Phil Jackson should do his due diligence in boosting the scoring output at the lead guard position.
Reserve swingman Cleanthony Early, who was robbed at gun point and shot in the knee for good measure, last week, was a prime candidate to be included in a trade for a point guard. It could still happen, but he's reportedly out at the very minimum two to three months.
However Jackson decides to improve the backcourt, he’ll need to act quickly, as the recent inconsistent play has now put the Knicks in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.
-One year ago, today, the Knicks waived Samuel Dalembert and shipped J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers to free up more cap space. The Knicks at the time only had five wins, so it looks like Jackson’s plan is moving in the right direction.
-The Knicks were visited by Early at their Monday practice, and was reportedly in good spirits.