For the first time in nearly a decade, the New York Knicks were relevant in the basketball capital of the world. They were the toast of the town early in the 2010-11 season, sailing to a 28-26 record through 56 games. But then came the “Melo Experiment” and all the good vibes, positive feelings and celebrations flew out the window within a matter of weeks. Including the postseason, the New York Knicks rattled off a disappointing 14-18 record after acquiring Carmelo Anthony in a blockbuster trade in February that sent Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and a 2014 first-round draft pick to the Denver Nuggets. While this is too small of a sample to come to the conclusion that the deal was a complete failure, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the future. Here are the top five reasons why the New York Knicks will take a step back this year .
Bye, Bye Donnie
Donnie Walsh righted the sinking Knicks ship and brought the franchise back to respectability after taking the helm as the team’s President of Basketball Operations in 2008. Walsh was responsible for ridding the Knicks of some expensive long-term contracts held by the likes of Al Harrington and Jamal Crawford. In addition, he was behind the deals that brought Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to New York, which helped change the culture of the franchise. Glen Grunwald, the basketball executive who replaced Walsh, will be hard-pressed to keep the Knicks moving forward in a positive direction due to his lack of experience. Grunwald was formerly the general manager of the Toronto Raptors franchise, but he doesn’t have the basketball expertise possessed by Walsh.
Stoudemire Won’t Stay Healthy
Amare Stoudemire managed to avoid injuries and notch plenty of playing time during the 2010-11 regular season, but he hurt his back during warm-ups prior to Game Two of the playoff series with the Boston Celtics. Due to Stoudemire’s long history of eye, knee and back ailments, it seems unlikely that he will be able to avoid the injury bug through another grinding regular season.
Lack of Defense
Mike D’Antoni’s run-and-gun style of basketball has yet to yield a championship title in all of his years of coaching. The system features very little emphasis on defense, and you’re not going to win many games in the postseason without a lockdown presence in the paint to stifle opposing offenses.
Questions Surround Fields
Landry Fields surprised everyone in the organization by piecing together a stellar first season in the league, which earned him a place on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Selected in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft with the 39th overall pick, Fields wasn’t projected to be a starter or key contributor to the team last season. Now that the rest of the league has adjusted to his up-tempo style of play, Fields may not be able to take teams by surprise to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
Beasts of the East
While the Knicks may have gained some ground on divisional foes like the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, making a deep run into the playoffs will be near impossible with the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat standing in their way. Those two squads stand head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference, so the Knicks will have to maximize their possessions on offense to outscore opposing teams.
I grew up idolizing former New York Knick greats like Patrick Ewing, John Starks and Charles Oakley. I continue my fandom to this day because of the long and rich tradition of the franchise and the fact that they play in New York, which is the basketball capital of the world.