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Playoffs? Not for these Knicks

4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.

Jaime C. Harris

Less than 10 games into their season, the Knicks' players are trapped between the urgency of now and the organizational honchos primary goal of setting of the foundation for the future, which begins in earnest next July when a bumper crop of free agents are expected to be on the market.

While team president Donnie Walsh says all the right things about the franchise being committed to winning this season, it flows like rhetoric in many circles, perhaps no more profoundly than in the Knicks own locker room, as all signs point to the team being in a holding pattern for the next eight months.They started the week by losing to the Utah Jazz by 95-93 on Monday at the Garden, their seventh loss in eight games to open what has already been a frustrating season. There were glimpses of optimism extracted from the defeat, most notably a rare passionate defensive effort and the emergence of rookie guard Toney Douglas as a potential regular contributor. Douglas finished with 21 points in slightly over 23 minutes and displayed an appetite for defense.Yet the positives don't outweigh the Knicks' evident shortcomings, the most obvious being that they lack a game-changing star and carry a heavy mental strain from enduring constant losing. "For whatever reason, psychologically, we're just having a hard time getting going," maintained coach Mike D'Antoni after Utah added to the Knicks' need for a session with Dr. Phil. A few days earlier, Wilson Chandler sensed waning confidence taking hold of the team's psyche. "When you lose too many games, you start questioning yourself," he observed following a defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers. "No one's giving up, but sometime it's not so easy to stay positive." "Everybody's alright," said guard Chris Duhon, subsequent to scoring only eight points against the Jazz. "We continue to see glimpses of how good we can be. We just gotta keep piecing them together and hopefully it will come."But first, the players must overcome the collective complex they seemingly harbor that comes with being viewed as dispensable temporary employees.