The Knicks are having quite a time. They’ve got the longest active losing streak in the NBA, at seven games, and they’ve lost a nightmarish 22 of their last 25, stretching all the way back to November 27. To the extent that the Knicks can be said to have had any chemistry at any point in the 21st century, that chemistry is starting to fray under the strain of just constantly failing all the time.
There’s the ongoing Enes Kanter situation, of course. Kanter says he was told he’d get the start at center against the Houston Rockets Wednesday night, but that the team changed course unexpectedly, and instead Kanter logged the very first DNP-Coach’s Decision of his career. This led to Kanter sulking on the sideline during a close and competitive game, and getting righteously heckled by, of all people, teammate Mario Hezonja.
That isn’t the only place the cracks are showing. Rookie Allonzo Trier, who performed valiantly in the loss, slid into a fan’s Twitter DMs Wednesday night to correct the record about defensive responsibilities on Eric Gordon’s game-winning three-pointer. Trier later apologized for “letting social media get the best of [him],” but there’s no getting around the fact that his explanation for what happened put teammate Tim Hardaway Jr.’s ass, as they say, in the jackpot. This did not sit very well with Hardaway, who seemed to learn about the whole thing from a reporter:
“Oh, so he’s blaming other people, basically? Well at the end of the day I think it all falls down on the team. Team defense, you learn from it, watch film—we looked at it today. I think in that scenario I was denying James [Harden], trying to deny him from the ball and have someone else score. But, yeah, just gotta watch it, look it over, and see what we can do better to make sure that doesn’t happen again. That’s all I can say.”
That was, in fact, not all Hardaway could say. He also had some specific thoughts on Trier voicing his frustration on Twitter, describing it as “breaking the rules of being a team,” and positioning it outside of what he considers the behavior of a professional:
“Keep all your frustration and everything and be pros. Don’t listen to the outside. We’re all in this together, 15 strong. If you let that affect you, then you don’t have your mindset and you don’t have a clear mind to where you want to go and where you want to be.”
Cameras caught Hardaway bitching at Trier earlier during the Rockets game, when Trier didn’t pass it ahead on a two-on-one fastbreak, so it’s safe to say those two are not the best of pals these days. In possibly related news, as the Knicks continue the ongoing and awkward process of figuring out “who’s moving forward out of this current group,” Hardaway and Kanter have reportedly been made available via trade. This makes sense—at 26 years old apiece, they count as tough old birds on a Knicks team that opened this season with one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, and they’ve become especially superfluous as the organization loads up the tank down the stretch of the season. If there’s interest elsewhere around the league in the services of a couple one-dimensional veterans, probably it would be better for everyone if an arrangement could be reached. Certainly Kanter has already forcefully expressed that opinion.
At any rate, that’s a lot of instability and conflict swirling around the daily grind of an 82-game NBA season. But not to worry! Head coach David Fizdale has reached a place of serenity, reasoning that no off-court or locker-room distraction can be considered all that destructive for a team that already sucks so much reeking ass:
As a matter of fact, yes, the Knicks are going to lose more games. Tons and tons of them. But since that’s all but inevitable, and since losses probably register as good news according to New York’s immediate plans, what’s another several layers of upheaval and dysfunction, give or take?