A year ago, Phil Jackson made a statement ahead of Knicks training camp that haunted him for the rest of the season.
''We believe we're going to be a playoff team,'' Jackson said a year ago, ''and then we don't know how far we'll be able to go, but we're hoping for the best.''
The Knicks went on to endure one of their worst seasons ever, finishing up at 17-65 and landing in the NBA lottery.
So a year later, Phil isn't making the same mistake twice.
"I want to stay away from expectations," he said Friday at the Knicks' training facility in Tarrytown. "It's such a long season. We want to talk about competitieveness, home court advantage."
Seems like a smart move by Phil.
With Carmelo Anthony coming off knee surgery -- although he is not expected to face a minutes-restriction -- and an entirely new roster from a year ago, who knows how many games the Knicks will win. Only time will tell.
"For us right now it's more about the process and focusing on the daily habits that are required to build a good team," second-year coach Derek Fisher said. "It's my job to lead them in the right direction along with our staff."
Photo: Scott Cacciola / NY Times