Rookie coach Derek Fisher has his work cut out in New York.
He is taking the helm at a roster that managed only 37 wins, while star player Carmelo Anthony cut a frustrated figure.
Carmelo has made no secret of the fact he will opt out of his contract to become a free agent this summer. Meanwhile, the hefty, guaranteed contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler means they can’t upgrade their roster significantly. This all points to a bleak outlook for next season, but Fisher is having none of it, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com reports:
“But how do you make the most of what you have? That’s the message that I’ll send to these players, every single day. We have to bloom where we’re planted a lot of times in life. We can’t look for ways out, and excuses why you aren’t excelling and doing things at a higher level.”
Fisher insists that the Knicks have “very, very talented players” outside of Anthony, and he has a point.
Tim Hardaway Jr has a lot to build upon after an eye catching rookie campaign and Iman Shumpert is on course to have a full-on break-out season. Tyson Chandler is capable of dominating the boards and providing shot blocking; Stoudemire and Bargnani are good third or fourth scoring options behind a focussed JR Smith.
The question has never been whether the Knicks have enough talent to succeed in the regular season and beyond, but whether the talent is compatible with each other, and specifically for Melo, whether it is good enough to win a championship.
The answer to the first question depends on how well Fisher can galvanise his team.
The answer to the second question is an emphatic no. But how far they go next season is still extremely critical, because it can give the Knicks and Fisher credibility ahead of an enticing 2015 free agency class.