The future of the NBA was on display last week in Chicago when the Champions Classic featured a banner crop of pro prospects, one that is expected to alter the long-term landscape of the league. Any New York Knicks fans who tuned into the event had to feel a little wistful while watching the amazing collection of talent, because none of those players are going to be donning a Knicks uniform anytime soon.
That doesn't matter, right? The Knicks are a contender, or so says the man who signs the paychecks. Leave the prospect-watching to the also-rans.
Of course, the math didn't add up for New York even before its disastrous start to the 2013-14 season. As it turns out, SCHOENE might have been too optimistic. With a 3-7 start and the well-rested Indiana Pacers visiting Wednesday, the Knicks are staring into the abyss. The denizens of Madison Square Garden are calling for the head of coach Mike Woodson, who has in turn questioned the effort of his listless team. The team's most promising cost-controlled player is rumored to be on the market, only there might not be anywhere to send him.
The Knicks' woes are nothing that a long winning streak wouldn't fix, but title contention is looking very unlikely. Beyond that, the Knicks are old, hamstrung by the salary cap and devoid of the kind of assets that lead to flexibility. This has been our concern about the Knicks all along. As fun as last season was, New York boxed itself into a corner with the moves that built a roster unlikely to win a championship in the short term, and because of age would decline with each passing season.
Injuries have played a part in New York's slow start, no surprise given the old players at the Knicks' core. No one can write off the Knicks after 10 games, but with a scoring margin that supports every bit of that 3-7 start, it's hard to be optimistic. If Tyson Chandler misses the rest of the calendar year, that would constitute the next 20 games. By then, the Knicks could be in a hole that would excite the Denver Nuggets -- owners of New York's first pick in the next draft, a residual from the Carmelo Anthony trade.