While Miami, Indiana, Chicago and Brooklyn are considered the favorites out of the Eastern Conference, New York Knicks owner James Dolan isn't about to concede anything. Dolan expects his team to compete for an NBA championship this season. According to ESPN New York's Ian Begley, Dolan told his staff that he thinks the team has enough to win it all, and one source said Dolan "expects it to happen this year."
That's why, according to sources, Dolan's expectations left some staffers in the meeting with an uneasy feeling.
"A few people were a bit surprised, taken aback. But he's the owner. He has a right to expect it," one source said.
Of course, a number of teams across the league will have something to say about New York's place in the title conversation. Though the Knicks have a payroll that's second-highest in the Association and behind their neighbors in Brooklyn, coach Mike Woodson's team is coming off a 54-win season and facing a number of questions about whether it can win more than a playoff series or two.
Derrick Rose made his return for the Chicago Bulls in Tuesday's season opener, putting them back into the picture. The Nets, of course, acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett this offseason to roll out a starting five of potential All-Stars, and Indiana and Miami are the class of the conference until they're beaten.
New York's trade that netted them Andrea Bargnani was the boldest of its offseason moves, and it remains to be seen how much that will swing things favorably.