Halfway through the the 2014-15 campaign the New York Knicks have an abysmal record of 6 wins and 36 losses. In those 36 defeats there has been a 10-game losing streak and a 16-game slide which ended tonight.. Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, in conjunction with his players, had aspirations of making the 2015 playoffs and winning the horrific Atlantic Division, that is all just a pipe-dream now.
Is it even possible to salvage or gain anything from what is already a lost season? There is, but it isn’t much in the short term. The Knicks can gain something in the long term.
The first aspect that the Knicks can salvage is Carmelo Anthony’s health. There has been chatter for the past three weeks in regard to Anthony shutting it down for the remainder of the season. The 7x All-Star acknowledged that he does need surgery to repair his knee. There is really no reason why Anthony should continue playing; he could do further damage to his knee, making it worse than it already is. Staying on the sideline would allow Anthony to have surgery and fully complete the rehabilitation process, making him fully healthy and ready to go, with no setbacks, from the first day of training camp.
The most important thing the men in orange and blue can gain is experience. The Knicks have, at the moment, a full 15-man roster which includes eight players who are aged 26 or under. Although Phil Jackson aims to reinvent the roster via free agency, the youth of the Knicks have put on a good show throughout the course of the season. Derek Fisher has given big minutes to many of the younger guys and he’s not afraid to throw them out on the court when the more experienced players are under performing.
Travis Wear, who was an outside shot to make the team, has gradually improved and the more minutes he receives the greater his confidence gets. Shane Larkin was put under the bright lights of New York City from the first game of the season, he held his own and Larkin has continued to grow – both his skill set and confidence. Cleanthony Early made had just cracked the rotation before his knee injury and since returning he has become comfortable out on the court, not looking as hesitant as he was to begin the season.
After showing out for the Knicks late last season Cole Aldrich has continued his good play. Aldrich still has lapses on both ends but he’s a glass-eater and his low post offense has been a surprise to all. After being a garbage time player for the first year and a half of his career Quincy Acy has arguably been the biggest bright spot this season. His rebounding and rim protection has been, so far, first class and his jump shot has been a pleasant surprise. Langston Galloway has only been with the team for 12 days but has already own over the hearts of many Knicks fans.
New York only have four players under contract for next season (Anthony, Early, Tim Hardaway Jr., Jose Calderon) but for long term success you need to have youth on your roster. Both Acy and Wear have team-options for next season and would be the right idea for Jackson to pick up both.
You have to remember that there’s still another 40 games to be played, so much could be gained from this! With the roster completely wide open for next season the back half of the year could turn young and inexperienced to young and experienced. New York is said to be aiming for 2nd and 3rd tier free agents, saving money for the 2016 free agency period. This again would allow for the Knicks to continue to persist with youth. Early, Acy, Galloway, Wear and Aldrich could all become fully fledged rotation players with another season and a half of consistent minutes.
It would mean that Phil Jackson could build a roster that still leaves plenty of ‘wiggle room’ in 2016. New York could use Toronto as a blueprint, they are a team that has persisted with youth and they now sit in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Even for players that Phil Jackson doesn’t plan on bringing back, it allows for them to showcase their talents leading a long-term contract with another team.
Persisting with youth for the remainder of the season would result in long-term gain for the orange and blue. A healthy Carmelo Anthony would be a huge gain for New York.