Tomorrow (Friday) in Philadelphia the Knicks will play the 76ers. Their last home game Sunday is against the Toronto Raptors, and for the finale next Tuesday in Indianapolis, they will play the Pacers.
It is all that remains of the Knicks’ 2015-16 regular season, a season that began to move south in late January after they reached the promising mark of 22-22 on Jan. 20. The Knicks never saw .500 again, losing 11 of their next 12 games. The slide led to the firing of Derek Fisher, who is now serving as an analyst for TNT and NBA TV.
In some respects, this season hasn’t been a complete catastrophe as was last season, when the Knicks won only 17 games, including two out of their last three, which moved them one game ahead of the 16-66 Minnesota Timberwolves in the final standings for the NBA’s worst record and reduced their chances of winning the draft lottery.
The luck and percentages of the draw ultimately favored the Timberwolves, which received the No.1 overall pick and selected budding superstar and guaranteed rookie of the year Karl-Anthony Towns, as the Knicks would have.
The circumstances for the seemingly cursed franchise, which hasn’t won an NBA title since 1973, didn’t turn out to be the disaster many dejected Knick fans perceived when their team fell to the No. 4 spot. The consolation was Kristaps Porzingis, who has unexpectedly inspired hope that the Knicks have a future franchise player in the vein of Towns.
They also were up to 31 wins heading into last night’s (Wednesday’s) game at home against the Charlotte Hornets. That’s an improvement of 14 wins from a season ago, a significant jump even if the Knicks were still 10 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot before facing the Hornets.
Soon it will be time for team president Phil Jackson to decide on a coach and for the second consecutive summer reshape of the roster. As previously stated on these pages, Kurt Rambis should get the head coaching position. The Knicks are married to the triangle offense under Jackson and Rambis possesses the knowledge and temperament to be a successful coach if he’s provided ample talent.
While the Knicks have given the impression that they will not look to resign Arron Afflalo, who is likely to opt out of his eight million dollar contract, one player who looks to be in the plans is forward Lance Thomas. The 27-year-old forward emerged this season as an instrumental two-way player for the Knicks despite being sidelined for the better part of the last month because of injuries.
“He’s a huge asset for us,” said interim head coach Rambis Sunday. “We miss him. We miss him a lot.”
What the Knicks really miss is not having enough star-level players to be a winning team in a league driven by stars. That’s what is required for them to be a playoff team next season.