NBA teams can be rebuilt quickly. Two-plus years ago in Portland, Kevin Pritchard took over a Trail Blazer squad with a cap situation nearly as bad as the Knicks and a roster of players as well known for their police records as their hoops stats (they were often called the Jail Blazers). After a furious series of trades, shrewd drafting and a little bit of luck, the Trail Blazers stand ready to give the Lakers, Rockets, Spurs, Jazz and Hornets a strong run for Western Conference supremacy.
Meanwhile, the new regime at the Garden simply wants to prove that the current roster can actually still play basketball. A good general manager never trades a player when his value is lowest, and everyone in a Knicks uniform except forward David Lee, swingman Wilson Chandler and guard Nate Robinson is at the nadir of the value. This season will be about restoring market value to the players on the roster.
Since they play in Madison Square Garden, which probably is—as it claims—the world’s most famous arena, and since New York City is the league’s biggest market, Commissioner David Stern would love to have a winning Knicks team as part of the NBA’s showcase, but it won’t happen soon.
“Crawling from the wreckage” isn’t much of an ad campaign, but it will be an apt description for the Knicks this season and maybe next year, too.
Martin Johnson is a regular contributor to The Root.