The Knicks are off to a historic start – unfortunately, it’s for franchise futility.
The plight of the Knicks (5-30) includes a rookie head coach who is having a difficult time getting his team to buy into his "triangle offense." A starting lineup that’s seen 20 different versions. An eclectic rotation that’s never set. And just an overall lack of talent that would have a hard time fitting any offense, let alone the triangle.
But paramount to it all is a team that lacks able bodies, led by Carmelo Anthony’s absence. Fisher noted that while rumors swirl of a complete shutdown of Anthony, nothing is set in stone, and the star forward will be taking it day-to-day.
“Every guy, really, is a game-by-game decision," said Fisher. "You don’t know how guys are going to respond to what happened the night before or how they feel when they wake in the morning. I don’t think shutting down is the conversation we’re having. Carmelo is involved in all of the discussions because it’s his body and his career. We’re all talking about what’s best for him, what’s best for the team. And right now it’s talking about him having rest and recovery for the foreseeable future, like as far as next week.”
Fisher then added that the time will come to have more serious talks about Anthony’s future, most likely after this current stretch of games.
“There’s nothing set for the long term as far as [shutting down] the season,” said Fisher. “I still feel strongly that if there’s a need to do that, we’ll get to a point to make that decision, but we feel as a group that we’re nowhere near that type of decision yet.”
Anthony isn’t the only one to be dealing with maladies, as Andrea Bargnani (calf/ankle), Sam Dalembert (ankle), Tim Hardaway Jr. (concussion), Iman Shumpert (dislocated shoulder), and Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) have all been dealing with physical breakdowns.
It’s been a who’s who at practice, let alone games for the Knicks, said J.R. Smith, who just returned from his own injury.
“We’re shorthanded, but we gotta keep playing. We’re in a tough spot. Overall, morale is good. It could be worse. Guys could’ve already shut it down, but I don’t think anyone’s done that. It’s difficult, but it’s something we have to get accustomed to,” Smith reasoned. “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough practice time, so you have to get used to guys’ tendencies on the fly. We just gotta keep playing, even though we don’t have our core guys.”
The Knicks are currently in the midst of a five games in seven days stretch, with road trips to Washington and Memphis, followed by a Thursday date with the Houston Rockets, which won’t make things any easier.
And for Fisher, he agrees with Smith that valuable practice – and recovery time – is being lost.
“We’ve dealt with that quite some time this season, as we’ve had limited days to practice due to our game schedule – and the NBA really showed us a lot of love with the schedule,” Fisher noted. “But the injuries have also made it even more difficult to get in the work we need on non-game days to get better. So when you can’t practice, you see some of the slippage and some of the things guys can’t sustain in the game that you can’t correct with practice. So, as much as pro guys don’t like to practice, it’s still a very important thing you need to do to be a better team.”
The Knicks are on pace to barely crack double-digit wins for the season, are in the midst of a franchise-worst nine-game home losing streak, and have already endured two different 10-game losing streaks – including this current stretch – so it seems that some cohesion would be a nice start in righting the ship.