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The Knicks Are Selling Hope

The Knicks are selling hope for this season with a new head coach and a new point guard. They spent money building around Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis by signing Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee. If nothing else, the Knicks have a competent starting five, which they couldn’t say in recent years.

Yes, the Knicks have been so bad for so many years that we are now into selling hope and competence. That’s how low we have set the bar on our “Lovable Losers”. It wasn’t like that during the Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy years. It was championship or bust then. After a decade of bad basketball, it’s about hope. It’s a sad commentary on what used to be a proud franchise.

Guess the Knicks need to start somewhere to get back on track.

The Knicks should be a good team. They have a good frontcourt. They have toughness on defense. In a weak Eastern Conference, that’s good enough to be the second-best team in the conference. It’s the Cavaliers and everybody else. Everybody else as in mediocre teams. But there’s a caveat to that. Isn’t that always the case with the Knicks? The caveat is Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have to be healthy. Rose has been injury-prone, and so has Noah. There was a reason the Bulls were happy to let him go.

Maybe Noah stays healthy, but Rose is a question mark. He has been injured a lot in his career. There’s a good chance it could happen again this year. If Rose is out, the Knicks are screwed. Anthony needs a point guard to work well with for him to flourish. He hasn’t that since Jason Kidd left to be the Nets head coach few years ago. The Knicks haven’t had a good point guard in recent years, so as a result, Anthony and his team struggled.

For the Knicks to get Rose, it shows they are desperate to get a point guard. They know the risk of Rose’s health. They have to do it just to field a good team, and it’s a move no one should quibble. Still, the Knicks have to be cautious on Rose this entire season. They can’t assume he is going to be healthy all year. That would be a mistake.

Tuesday night’s Knicks’ 117-88 blowout loss to the Cavaliers should not be a harbinger of things to come. The NBA defending champions have better skilled players than the Knicks, and they played together for two years while the Knicks are learning how to play together with a new group.

This Knicks team needs to be in the level of being championship contenders every year. They need to be in the class of the Cavaliers, Spurs and Warriors. That’s how a team should be measured as a success. Making the playoffs should not be a goal. It shouldn’t be accepted as an achievement by the Knicks players, management and Knicks fans. Not when the team currently has a 43-year-old championship drought.

I used to call the Knicks as the Cubs of the NBA, but it sure appears the Cubs are going to snap their 108-year-old championship drought. If not this year, but real soon. No one can say the same for the Knicks. I would compare the Knicks to the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Both franchises seem content with being mediocre rather than trying to be great. Both teams pay lip service to talk about championship when in reality, it’s not that.

For the Knicks to have a successful year, they need to go to the Eastern Conference finals. That’s something to build around. There’s where hope exists. Getting to the playoffs should do nothing. It remains to be seen how good the Knicks are. It would be nice if they started playing defense. They haven’t played defense in a decade, which is why they have become a NBA laughingstock. Playing defense would be a step in the right direction.

The Knicks need to focus on doing the little things before they can achieve higher goals. That means playing defense and being watchable. No more mailing it in. Time to show some fight.

If the Knicks can do that, they have something.

Selling hope and making offseason moves are nice, but it’s about doing something on the court.

The Knicks need to have better goals than that.

Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals is a start.

Anything short of that mark, it’s the same old Knicks.

Leslie Monteiro
I'm the author of 10 books. If you're looking for autographed copies just go to my Twitter @Sportsology and DM me.

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