The New York Knicks are in an utter tailslide, and as talks of protests and free agency heat up, it seems that the 2013-14 season can officially be declared an utter disaster. The Knicks are 21-40. They’ve lost seven in a row, they’re 6.5 games out of the eighth seed, and with 221 games remaining, they’d have to go 20-1 just to finish above .500.
So, how does a team handle a pointless final 21 games to the season? It’s highly unlikely that the Knicks will turn things around for the playoffs, so how do you make the most of playing out a doomed season? I’ve got some suggestions.
1.) Play the youngsters
Seriously. Tyson Chandler hasn’t gone 100% in weeks, Carmelo Anthony is fed up, Raymond Felton is mired in the worst slump of his career; just let the young guys play. Throw Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., Jeremy Tyler, and Toure’ Murry out there for 35-40 minutes a night. It’s more fun for the fans to see what the future has in store, and it’ll also help the Knicks guide their future rebuild/retool.
Hardaway Jr. has already practically cemented a place on this team for the near future, but for Shumpert, Tyler, and Murry, this is like a tryouts — it’s their chance to show that they have a future. Unless, of course, they want to stink it up on the court to evade this dumpster fire as quickly as possible. That’s OK, too.
2.) Show off Amar’e Stoudemire
If Carmelo Anthony wants to book it this summer, the Knicks will either benefit from the open cap space, or they can try to find suitors who are willing to complete a sign-and-trade. If Tyson Chandler wants out, the Knicks can dangle, not only a talented, championship big man — but one on an expiring contract, too. Andrea Bargnani might not play again this season, but the Knicks should try to show Stoudemire off in these final 21 games. Over his last 30 games, Stoudemire is averaging 12 points on 58% shooting and 5 rebounds per game. If they can make him look good, then maybe they can convince a team this summer to take Stoudemire as both an expiring contract and a big man with some function left.
3.) Quicken the pace
The New York Knicks’ defense is doomed and won’t be repaired this season. The offense, however, is at least capable and, at times, fun to watch. If the Knicks want to at least try to win some games as this season wears on, they should just run and gun and utilize players like Hardaway Jr., J.R. Smith, Anthony, Shannon Brown, and Felton who are all athletic or have excelled in fast-paced systems before. At least make it fun.
4.) Demand J.R. Smith only shoot half-court shots or dunks
Smith is still an electrifying athlete and the range on his jumper is unlimited. Either he shoots from half-court or dunks it every time or he’s not playing. Simple as that.
5.) Play a BIG lineup
We all know Mike Woodson’s infamous “The East is big, man” remark, regarding his tendency to play traditional, ill-fitting lineups rather than his more successful small-ball lineups. Well, if he wants big, give him big. This lineup of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Cole Aldrich, Jeremy Tyler, and Tyson Chandler will lead the Knicks to that 20-1 record they need to finish above .500.