The Knicks lost to the Nuggets by 37 points a few nights after losing to the Bucks by 44. New York is now 4-18, on pace for a 15-win season. Only 29 teams in NBA history have won the equivalent of 15 games or fewer in a season, and there have only been three this decade (‘16 Sixers, ‘14 Bucks, ‘12 Bobcats). The Knicks’ current scoring margin is -10.77 per game, which would be the 13th worst mark of all-time and is a half-point per game worse than the margin for the 10-win ‘16 Sixers.
The Knicks are really bad and don’t seem to care that much. Fantastic!
David Fizdale will soon be made the scapegoat, reports the New York Times’ Marc Stein. The front office will probably follow out the door in the summer after the run of embarrassing mishaps stemming back to someone convincing James Dolan the team was getting Kevin Durant and/or Kyrie Irving last spring. That all backfired spectacularly. If Dolan knew what he was doing, he’d have fired Steve Mills in the summer, after the team had to apologize to fans for striking out on the stars.
But here’s the thing: the Knicks are poison. Whoever enters the halls of Madison Square Garden to run the Knicks from the front office or from the bench ends up poisoned by the atmosphere, the job, and mostly essentially the kingpin running the whole show. No one gets away from Dolan unscathed.
This is why it is inconceivable that someone smart like Masai Ujiri would trade stable hero status in Toronto for the high-profile, high-stakes re-re-rebuild job in New York. Is any amount of money or potential fame worth letting the Knicks poison into your veins? I think not. The poison damages every person it touches: stars like Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, coaches like Mike D’Antoni, Mike Woodson, and Derek Fisher, executives like Phil Jackson and Scott Perry (who was getting a lot of good press in Sacramento before the Knicks poached him).
Eventually, the doom spell will break -- it has to, right? -- and someone will again find success with the Knicks, like Donnie Walsh (now a Westian advisor for the Pacers) and Woodson (totally out of the league) briefly did. (Wait ... what about bringing back Donnie Walsh and Mike Woodson? No, that’s too cruel to them.)
Firing Fizdale would potentially be cathartic, and maybe the team would start trying again. But the chase for high-profile replacements for him and the front office scapegoats to follow seems totally doomed. The risk is too great for those in stable situations who don’t need the job or the fame. Good luck filling the slot with toxic Dolan at the head of the franchise.
Sixers 113, Wizards 119
Nuggets 129, Knicks 92
Rockets 119, Raptors 109
Suns 139, Pelicans 132
There are only three national TV games all weekend. Check out the full schedule here.
Nuggets at Celtics, 8 ET, ESPN
Lakers at Blazers, 10:30 ET, ESPN
Cavaliers at Sixers, 7:30 ET, NBA TV
I wrote that the East is finally actually as good as the West. It only took 20 years!
Marc Spears with a huge piece on Damian Lillard’s mind and music.
Rob Mahoney on Chris Paul’s self-made limbo.
Coaches hate the challenge system meant to benefit them. Maybe we can just kill it, then?
Haley O’Shaughnessy on James Harden as an NBA heel.
Tom Haberstroh on James Harden’s scoring in context.
LeBron addressed the Jazz announcers chiding him for celebrating in socks in garbage time. I do hope folks maintain charity toward the Jazz announcers given that it’s likely they didn’t see LeBron give away his shoes in real-time. Of course, the Jazz announcers weren’t charitable with LeBron. But the virtuous cycle needs to start somewhere.
The woman who accused Luke Walton of sexual assault has dropped her civil suit and ESPN reports there is no evidence of a settlement.
Be excellent to each other.