The New York Knicks have come on the last two weeks, about sixty games later than the team and their fans hoped. This season has grossly failed to meet expectations and its more than likely going to cost Mike Woodson his job. It quite possibly could cost the organization Carmelo Anthony, too. The saving grace in that department is the new president of basketball operations for New York, Phil Jackson.
The ‘Melo’ drama is something that will play out on its own after the season ends and he opts out of his contract and into free agency. The here and now focuses on the 27-40 Knicks, who have won six consecutive ballgames and have 15 left to attempt sneaking into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
I know what you’re thinking: why does it matter? A playoff berth would mean nothing more than a swift beating from the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat and would just prolong the agony of this season’s existence.
It’s true, even if the Knicks managed the No. 8 spot in this weak conference, it seems like a lock that New York’s elimination will come quick, unceremoniously and as no surprise to anyone. While that thinking is fair, there are still reasons why fans should hope the Knickerbockers manage to squeak their way in.
One reason is that with Jackson at the helm, the Knicks are gaining credibility and garnering more respect than they’ve had or deserved in recent years. Why not try to use it as a boost like it appears the team has so far? It’s always better to end the season on a good note rather than a bad one and try to take positive feelings away from something that was so negative for most of the year. Especially with the new regime beginning on Tuesday and not at the end of the season, let’s get the turnaround started now.
Another reason we should want New York to find their way into the postseason because they don’t have a first round pick. It’s true that it doesn’t really matter for the Knicks what number pick they end up giving the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo deal, but missing the playoffs means the Knicks are giving up a lottery pick. Barely missing the playoffs means the percentage of that pick being extremely high are slim, but that isn’t really the point. The worse the Knicks finish, the worse it looks for an organization that is trying to turn the tide on such embarrassing things.
Clearly the Knicks didn’t foresee missing the playoffs when they shipped off their 2014 first rounder as part of the package. The feeling should be that nobody should be getting a lottery pick that New York could have but doesn’t. The fact that this coming draft is thought to be a deep one just adds fuel to that fire.
And finally, the 2011-12 Chicago Bulls were 50-16 during the lockout-shortened season and were the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. We remember that Derrick Rose tore his ACL in a Game 1 victory and the No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers won four out of the next five games to become the fifth team to pull off the upset as the lowest seed in the conference playoffs (and one of those previous four was NYK).
This likely won’t happen to a guy like LeBron James or Paul George and I am in no way hoping it does, because I for one don’t think that rooting for players to get injured isn’t the way to go about watching sports. The point is unforeseen things like injuries to key pieces could happen, opening the door for something we never thought possible previously.
What I’m trying to say is that anything can happen.
It may not matter to some of the fan base and that’s understandable but the afore-mentioned rationale does make at least some sense. Just barely making the playoffs won’t make the season a success because it’s been a failure from jump street but there are reasons to hope New York still manages to do so.