In recent times the New York Knicks have shown some signs of life, winning five out of their last seven games. The team as a whole, both players, coaches and font office staff, have a tough decision to make with two different paths approaching them. Do they tank, or do they win? Do they give up or do they show fight? Do they back down or do they attempt to restore whatever little pride can be restored?
The Knicks currently sit with a record of 10 wins and 38 losses. As of right now they are 10.5 games back of the Charlotte Hornets who are holding the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. To put it into perspective, last season New York trailed the 8th seeded Atlanta Hawks by 11 games with 21 games remaining. The Knicks eventually fell short, missing the post season by 0.5 games.
Entering the 2014-15 campaign the Knicks had reasonably high expectations for themselves. They were aspiring to make the playoffs and aiming to give the Toronto Raptors a ‘run for their money’ as the Atlantic Division champs. Sadly, New York has failed miserably, but as of this moment, there seems to be a pulse.
Two weeks ago a majority of the fan base was disgruntled and disappointed with New York’s performance. The Knicks were 30th in the NBA with a 5-36 record, it was a reasonable reason to ‘tank’ with the season down the the drain, but in the past week things seem to have improved.
The Knicks have reached a crossroads, which path should they take. The path that might dictate their future or the path that would restore pride to some extent?
Path 1 – Go Low, Aim High
New York has a large sum of money to hand out during the 2015 free agency period which is stacked with talent. Adding a lottery pick to the roster prior to that time could be something that draws the attention of bigger names. Carmelo Anthony has been battling a knee injury for a majority of the season and he recently admitted that surgery is inevitable. Shutting Anthony down for the final 35 games would, most certainly, make New York a high lottery-bound team.
As bad as it sounds, New York should consider ‘tanking’ but not in the usual sense. If New York was to sideline the 8x All-Star it would result in a very talented lottery pick. With the Knicks currently sitting with the 2nd worst record in the NBA they are bound for, possibly, a top five pick. New York May have the ability to draft a collegiate star and that could be used as a calling card when recruiting a free agent.
If the Knicks were to lose with a purpose by the method given above he grass could be much greener on the other side. New York could enter training camp with a fully healthy Carmelo Anthony, a new possible ‘face of the franchise’, and free agents who fit into what Derek Fisher and the Knicks are aiming to do.
Path 2 – Fight Until the End
The cons of trying to land a top-five pick are that it may scare off free agents. Is a team that wins 20 games really that attractive? Especially if they win 20 games with Carmelo Anthony in the lineup. As what was mentioned above, New York trail the 8th seeded Hornets by 10.5 games. I’m not saying that the Knicks will make the playoffs but striving or aiming to could be beneficial for the future.
New York sits 15th in the Eastern Conference with a woeful record of 10 wins and 38 losses with 34 games remaining in the season. If Carmelo Anthony was to play out the season and there is some improvement in the team as whole, it could be more attractive than a high lottery bound team. New York can either concede or continue to fight until the final buzzer of the 82nd game.
Currently, the Knicks are on pace to secure a top-five pick. Even if the Knicks played with some heart it seems that the lottery is the inevitably place where the Knicks will end up.
Free agents could see a strong finish to the season attractive. The season is supposed to be lost but New York could steady the ship. A team that does not give up and a team that plays with an unmatched amount of heart, desire and passion could and can cause the system players the Knicks are after to ink the dotted line in the presence of Phil Jackson.
Which path should the Knicks take?
Fans should not be stressed if the Knicks improve and finish the year with, let’s say, 29 wins. In the past 7 years there have been two teams (Chicago in 2008 and Cleveland in 2013) who had just missed out on the post season that have, somehow, landed the 1st overall pick.