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With another non-playoff season apparently in the works, the New York Knicks should focus primarily on five aspects to finish the season, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
According to Isola, the Knicks should place their emphasis on playing the young guys, playing small, sticking with the rebuild, reintroducing Joakim Noah to the lineup and making sure Michael Beasley and Courtney Lee remain a part of the rotation.
On youth, Isola writes: “The Knicks have three point guards who are 19, 21 and 25 years old. Play all of them.”
He is referring to rookie Frank Ntilikina, recent trade acquisition Emmanuel Mudiay and G League call-up Trey Burke, respectively.
On this point, Isola speaks the truth. The Knicks need to figure out who is going to run the show, and who will be the backup, moving forward. This is a good chance to put their young point men through sort of an in-season training camp, enabling the team to make some key offseason additions.
On playing small, Isola writes: “Ntlikina and Mudiay should play together — a lot. Start that way sometimes.”
Yet another good point from the veteran writer. This is the age of small-ball, an era when wings and guards can make life miserable with quickness, versatility and outside shooting.
And when it comes to the Knicks, or basically any team, Patrick Ewing ain’t walking through that door.
On sticking with the rebuild, Isola writes: “(Knicks coach Jeff) Hornacek is a competitive guy and is trying to win games, perhaps to try and save his job. But it may be too late.”
This quite a conundrum facing Hornacek and the front office. There should be no winning with the Knicks the rest of the way. Only degrees of losing.
Actually, the Knicks don’t need to lose so much as give the younger players some vital experience. If they happen to win … well, so be it.
At the same time, the front office can’t expect a coach to play anything less than his best players, especially if he feels like he’s on the hot seat. The only solution would be to give Hornacek a vote of confidence. But that doesn’t seem to be in the plans.
As for Noah, Isola writes: “[T]he Knicks must raise his trade value to have any hope of moving him. They can’t if Noah is exiled.”
Good luck, though. Noah and Hornacek reportedly had words just before the trade deadline, and again, Hornacek is still the man managing the games and rotation.
And it’s hard to see how the Knicks can both play younger guys and showcase Noah. In this instance, the Knicks just have to hope that someone, anyone will take Noah in an offseason trade. Throwing in younger player will likely be their only hope.
And finally, on Beasley and Lee, Isola writes: “With Kristaps Porzingis out at least the first two months next season, but likely more, the Knicks will need scoring.”
And aside from Tim Hardaway Jr., the Knicks will need that scoring to come from the likes of Beasley and Lee.
There are other motivating factors, too. According to Isola, the Knicks want Lee’s contract, “which has two years left, off the books by June 30, 2019.”
So is the season lost for the Knicks? Not totally. Yes, it will be another rocky finish of trying to figure things out.
But maybe this time, the Knicks can try to find out what works, what doesn’t, and plan the summer accordingly.