The Knicks had an empowering win over the Spurs to cap off the weekend. Beyond that, however, the dysfunction has only continued. The rumors surrounding Carmelo Anthony continue to swirl. Frustration around the team's feeble defensive effort continues to set in. The mystique around what Phil Jackson's next remark may be (or how he chooses to communicate it) keeps everyone on their toes. And as if all of this wasn't enough, James Dolan played a part in a bizarre sequence of events this past week, reminding all that he is never truly far enough away.
As the trade deadline approaches and the losing continues, there are question marks around this team. Can the Knicks build off of the win against San Antonio, or will they fall back into their poor ways? Here's a look at what the team will face in the week ahead.
Questions about team culture: One could argue that the poor culture is going to affect the Knicks for years to come. Clearly, the lack of positivity makes it difficult for players already in the Big Apple to perform at an optimal level. What's more, all that has gone on as of late could certainly impact the decisions of prospective free agents and scare them off from donning orange and blue. For years, James Dolan has been criticized for his poor way of handling things and a lack of overall basketball knowledge. While he has stayed out of Phil Jackson's way, he proved this week with Charles Oakley that he himself will never be far enough away not to play a role in something here or there. That's not a good feeling.
As for Jackson. his decision to isolate, criticize, and call out Carmelo Anthony via social media and other forms of media has only created more of a dark cloud around this team. It's proof Anthony doesn't have the executive's support. Such a continued display (or lack there of) certainly disrupts the rhythm of those around him as well. His teammates and confidants around the league feel his pain. If the Knicks hope to develop some winning ways, they'll need to change up some of these practices.
Should more lineup changes be ahead? Following a frustrating defensive effort against the Nuggets Friday night, Jeff Hornacek held a three hour practice the next day and threatened lineup changes after calling out his starters. Not only has the first unit not been playing with the necessary energy, but there are intriguing youngsters not getting worthwhile opportunities to play meaningful minutes. If the the Knicks want to move ahead with a youth movement, things need to change.
Hornacek has proven he's not afraid to make bold decisions. Thus, the simple choice to go big and slot Willy Hernangomez in for Brandon Jennings against San Antonio was an underwhelming flip. If the coach really wanted to send a message, Derrick Rose should have been coming off the bench on Sunday along with Courtney Lee. Both Ron Baker and Mindaugas Kuzminskas have received spot starts this season. Despite the win against the Spurs, there's no denying the duo deserves playing time. The starters generally haven't performed and need to pay the price.
Has Carmelo played his last game at MSG? Anthony stepped up in the clutch and hit some big shots in a rare win over the Spurs on Sunday. Such a heroic performance was reminiscent of 2012-13, when the Knicks secured a division title. It was an exciting game, but not indicative of what's gone on most recently.
This latest push to legitimately compete again, complete with the acquisition of veterans and the decision to retain Anthony up to this point, has failed. Sunday could have been Anthony's last home game at The Garden, as the Knicks will not return until after the deadline. This could prove to be a nice sendoff. With the deadline steadily approaching, time to make decisions on the future is running out. By now, it's clear that a Knicks squad with Anthony leading the way isn't going to deliver this organization what it wants. It's time to move on. The only reason for keeping Anthony is to make a bet that trade options will be more vast come summer time.