Mike Woodson describes the 2013-14 New York Knicks' season perfectly: "Kind of a disaster." The Knicks have been wallowing around the .400 mark all season and their playoff chances, much less playoff success, look more and more grim.
As Brooklyn Dodgers fans are famous for lamenting: "Wait 'til next year!"
Well... the Knicks have been waiting for next year for too long...
It's been 40 years since the Knicks won the NBA championship! 40 years without a Knicks ticker tape parade! 40 years of "Wait 'til next year!"
As much as Knicks owner James Dolan does not want to hear this, the Knickerbockers really need to start thinking about the future.
As all New York fans know, former General Manager Isiah Thomas trapped the Knicks in several painful years of high salary and low production. Even in the post-Isiah years, the Knicks have been stubborn and frivolous with free agents and draft picks. From thrusting $100 million of uninsured money at a brittle Amar'e Stoudemire to throwing away three draft picks for a washed up Andrea Bargnani to giving up a copious amount of talent for Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks' past four seasons have been a NBA analyst's nightmare.
Even with a payroll more than $15 million over the luxury tax threshold, the Knicks look pathetic.
So what now?
There is no doubt that Melo is the Knicks best player, and I have been a huge proponent of his throughout his reign in the Big Apple. Yet, this is not a time for me and other Knicks fans to be sentimental... It's time to say goodbye. He is under the final year of his contract (he will reportedly decline his player option). It's time for the Knicks to go into full-on rebuild mode. It's time for Knicks fans to end their delusions of winning now.
I'm not saying Melo will get traded, seeing as there are very few compatible trade partners, in fact I do not think he will be. And even if he were, Knicks fans should not expect much immediate value for the 2012-13 scoring champions. (And just in case you were thinking, the answer is no, the Los Angeles Clippers are not vain or ignorant enough to deal their 24 year old superstar Blake Griffin.)
So, for the love of humanity! Take the picks!
It seems to Dolan, that draft picks, to quote former Vice President John Nance Garner, are "not worth a bucket of warm spit." But, much to his and my chagrin, the Knicks are probably not going to attract LeBron James or any other extremely talented free agents in the next few years.
Let's look at a couple of future scenarios for the Knickerbockers:
Best case/realistic scenario: Knicks trade away Melo and their other veterans for draft picks, retain picks that they still hold, and hope that a few seasons of rebuilding can warrant a few high lottery picks.
Sorry to say it to all you New York sports fans out there, but the latter not the former, will more likely be the Knicks' path to perennial success.
And yes, the Knicks have already moved many of their valuable first round picks to other teams, but now is the time to draft for the future and not bemoan the past.
If the Knicks can find a taker for Anthony, they will likely receiving a plethora of picks. And while the Knicks have been known to be terrible drafters over the past fifteen years, the past three drafts have produced bright young stars in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert.
Let's take the Orlando Magic as an example. They traded their superstar Dwight Howard for five picks. Last year, without their Superman, they sat near the bottom of the league and earned themselves the second overall draft pick which morphed into Victor Oladipo. While Orlando is near the bottom of the league today, they will receive more top ten draft picks and their talent will continue to flourish over the next few years. And, if they stay conservative and hold onto and develop their picks, in four or five years, they could be a serious championship contender.
So, to wrap things up ...
While we all know that the draft is unpredictable, production is much more certain from the draft than it is from a Knicks team where only Anthony has his hands on the ball. Even if you want him to lead New York, there's no guarantee that Anthony will be staying after season's end. Cut your losses.
Even though he was great, it's time break up with Melo, for some younger more attractive draft picks.