Commentary: James Dolan Has Made a Mess With His N.Y. Knicks

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on December 16, 2013 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Wizards defeat the Knicks 102-101.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Commentary: James Dolan Has Made a Mess With His N.Y. Knicks

Promise of contending has given way to the reality that New Yorkers are looking at mediocrity.

Published February 28, 2014

Owner James Dolan told anybody who would listen that his New York Knicks would compete for an NBA title, and entering the 2013-14 season, who dared doubt Dolan?

But when Knicks fans look at a 21-37 team that sits near the bottom of the NBA Eastern Conference standings, they all have to know that Dolan’s prediction didn’t pan out. For even with a superstar like Carmelo Anthony, Dolan’s Knicks are a pathetic lot. They’re an old, plodding team with parts that don’t fit.

Dolan should have seen the folly of building around antiques after his front office and coach Mike Woodson tried that strategy and failed last season with veterans Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace, all older than Methuselah.

By year’s end, Woodson’s men played as if straight from a senior citizens center. They ran out of energy when they needed energy the most: for the post-season.

Even with Kidd, Wallace and Thomas gone, ’Melo & Co. haven’t gotten much younger, and the lethargic play that defined the Knicks at the end of last season is what they’ve shown 58 games into this season. Woodson’s slow-mo Knicks have been downright painful to watch.

To see these Knicks is to see a team that has court chemistry like an intramural team. They throw the basketball around as if they were a Little League baseball team. They can’t shoot; they can’t rebound, which doesn’t leave much else they can do well, does it?

Yet don’t feel sorry for Dolan’s Knicks. They have tried since Isiah Thomas ran the team adrift to become one of the elite NBA teams. Bringing in Carmelo, Tyson Chandler and A’mare Stoudemire was supposed to give the Knicks the star power needed to keep Madison Square Garden filled to the brim and to make them competitive with LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

In a sport where athleticism counts for a lot, the Knicks don’t have much of it. Up and down their bench, they do have veteran smarts, and veteran smarts are what Woodson likes. But smarts can’t make up for his team’s inability to run the floor. And since the Knicks can’t run the floor, they’re having an impossible time stopping an opponent from doing so.

Woodson has bemoaned the loss of those veterans, but his moaning has brought him not a bit of sympathy. This disaster is of Woodson’s making and Dolan did nothing but back his coach’s play.

He won’t find a fix this season. He could think about firing Woodson if he would like, but no coach can turn this dysfunctional team into a legit contender. The Knicks might get better, but the best Dolan can hope for now is that Woodson’s positioning the Knicks for a lottery pick.

They could use the pick, too; they could use any young talent that would make them more athletic.

In a city that detests the word “rebuilding,” Dolan has only the prospects of tomorrow to offer Knicks fans. For they have heard his promise of contending, and they now see it as just trash talk.

For New Yorkers, trash talk doesn’t fill the Garden. They’ll pay big dollars to watch a winner. Regardless what price they shell out for tickets, fans won’t see much winning this season from this version of Dolan’s Knicks.  

Probably not next season either.

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Follow Justice B. Hill on Twitter: @jbernardh

(Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Written by Justice B. Hill


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