Maybe this Is Not Knicks’ Year


(Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Knicks completed their 46th game of the 2021-2022 season after a 102-91 loss to the lottery-bound New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

After 41 games, a basketball fan has a good understanding of what their favorite team is for this season. From watching the Knicks this season, it’s obvious this season is a far cry from last season.

Unlike last season, this is not a team that is enjoyable to watch. The Knicks are hard to root for. More often than not, they fail to show up. They lose to teams they have no business losing to such as Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Thursday night (Pelicans). They don’t play defense. Their offense features guys who just shoot for themselves rather than pass the ball. This is a team that just does not play smart.

It’s hard to waste a cold winter night to watch these guys play. There are better things to do. It’s sad in a sense we use these nights to watch the Knicks survive the treacherous winters in the tri-state area.

You, the Knicks fan, keep waiting for things to turn around. Certainly, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has. But this could be what you see is what you get from this Knicks team. This is not a playoff team as it is presently constituted.

It’s hard to take them seriously as a playoff team when they are 11-14 at home. In the four-game homestand after winning eight of 11 that had them over .500 at 22-21 for the first time since Dec. 2, the Knicks are still searching for their first win.

It’s troubling when the Knicks are struggling at home. This is where their players should be feeding off the energy from the fans, but it has had an opposite effect on them, especially Julius Randle, who constantly gets booed because he rarely brings it every night such as when he scored four points Thursday night against the Pelicans. 

Randle symbolizes everything that’s wrong about the Knicks. He can’t shoot, and he plays a lick of no defense. He is overpaid, and most times, he appears disinterested. To think he is the Knicks’ best player. 

He recently pulled a Javier Baez by doing thumbs down when fans cheered him after he scored the Knicks’ 92nd point of their 108-105 win against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 6. It became such a story that it made RJ Barrett’s game-winning buzzer-beater a side note. He showed his lack of appreciation about being cheered when he scored after being booed most of the game. This came a day after he said he didn’t give a damn about the fans that boo him.

Since then, Randle has been in a funk. He has been passive by deferring too much when he has the basketball. He often is scared to shoot knowing he is going to miss. He struggles to shoot in the free-throw line. He tends to get distracted when calls don’t go his way, which makes him argue with the refs. He never adapts to how players defend him or lets the game come to him. And here’s the kicker: He hasn’t spoken to the media.

He joins a long list of athletes that can’t play in New York. It’s hard for him to win fans back after what he did. It has gotten mental for him where he plays awful at Knicks home games. The Knicks have done all they could to get him fixed. It just isn’t working, and it isn’t going to work no matter how much he tries to get it fixed. He doesn’t seem to care much about playing in New York, either.

Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose should do his best to get Randle out of town. It’s become toxic for him to perform at home under these conditions. He needs a fresh start. Playing in a town that doesn’t care about the NBA could jumpstart him. 

Randle’s psyche is so bad to rely on him to get himself and the Knicks back on track.

Let’s not let Randle’s teammates off the hook, either. They have stunk. Kemba Walker has been decent, but that hasn’t been enough to elevate the Knicks. Evan Fournier has been a bust outside of the games he played against the Boston Celtics.

Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Mitchell Robinson and Quentin Grimes are nothing more than nice reserves at best. Give them starting minutes, and their deficiencies get exposed.

Barrett is a nice complementary player, but he is also another player that won’t elevate the Knicks.

Derrick Rose has been out for weeks after his ankle surgery, and who knows when he will come back? By the time he comes back, the Knicks’ playoff hopes could be out of reach.

As for Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, he certainly shouldn’t be blameless. If he receives credit for this team overachieving last season, he can receive the blame for the team stinking since it comes with the territory of being an NBA head coach. He hasn’t done well in developing the Knicks young players, and he has done a terrible job of getting the most out of Randle and Walker, especially in having them play together. 

If anyone thinks there is going to be a cavalry that will save the Knicks, just stop. It’s not happening. No one wants anyone on the Knicks roster. Trading Randle will be hard enough as it is, and if he is traded, don’t expect much in return. Stop making me laugh about Jalen Brunson or Malcolm Brogdon saving the Knicks. If they were that good, why are they available in the trade market?

Cam Reddish won’t offer much once the Knicks start playing him. There was a reason the Atlanta Hawks were happy to trade him for basically nothing in Kevin Knox. The Knicks hope Reddish can somehow unlock his potential, but I doubt that.

At 22-24, it’s hard to see anything that strikes anyone about the Knicks being a playoff team. The roster is not meshing. The play speaks for itself.  They can’t get themselves out of this wilderness that plagued them for most of the season.

This season serves as a reminder last season is over.

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