Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Without a Draft Pick, It's Playoffs or Bust for Knicks

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Without a Draft Pick, It's Playoffs or Bust for Knicks

Article excerpt

The Knicks limped into the All-Star break -- and limp into Thursday afternoon's trade deadline -- a beaten team. They fired coach Derek Fisher last week and have lost 10 of 11 games, dropping to a season-worst nine games under .500.

With a breather over the break, they're hopeful that it's not too late to regroup and make a run at a playoff berth. And that goal is everything because New York already has traded away its first-round draft pick in the Andrea Bargnani deal, which haunts them to this day.

Carmelo Anthony, finishing up his All-Star Weekend and headed for a quick vacation in Puerto Rico, said, "I think we need this break. I think we need this next couple days, just relax, reboot ourselves."

Anthony and team president Phil Jackson have insisted the playoffs are the goal and the team isn't looking to unload talent at the deadline.

But just how can they believe? And what can happen to make it happen? We consider those answers here.

Will the new coach be the same as the old coach?

The Knicks dumped Fisher and replaced him with Jackson's friend Kurt Rambis, who was serving as associate head coach. The system is staying the same, the triangle safely entrenched in Jackson's heart. Maybe Rambis will be better than Fisher, who transitioned from his playing days to the top job without a day as an assistant. But remember, Rambis was 32-132 in his two seasons in Minnesota.

Will Friday look like today?

Jackson rebuilt the roster last summer, signing six free agents and adding a pair of first-round picks in Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant. But with a 23-32 record, maybe it's time to revisit that plan.

The Knicks would like to be buyers on the trade market. There are three point guards being dangled -- Atlanta's Jeff Teague, Detroit's Brandon Jennings and Minnesota's Ricky Rubio -- all of whom would upgrade the slow-footed backcourt. But the Knicks have little to send back. Rajon Rondo could be available, too, but he and Jackson, let's just say, are not on the same page. …

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