The New York Knicks are in the midst of a very disappointing season, and while there have been some encouraging signs as of late, it’s hard to muster up excitement.
Julius Randle spent a good chunk of the season looking like he regressed mightily from his All-Star production of last year, and the Kemba Walker experiment was a downright disaster.
Now the team is starting Alec Burks at point guard, and the results there haven’t been pretty. A big bright spot has been RJ Barrett’s development and he is looking a lot like one of the building blocks of the future.
Despite that, the struggles of this year could be enough to cost coach Tom Thibodeau his job. One season removed from winning Coach of the Year, the well-respected leader is at the helm of a team that has been on a complete nosedive.
While he might not find himself in immediate danger of being let go, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz argues that his seat should be looked at as being “quite hot.”
Is It Getting Hot in Here?
The Knicks have had more eyes on them than usual this season, and a large part of that is thanks to the success of last season. This has led to people all around the country seeing just how disastrous the season has gone, but they continue to be displayed on nationally televised games with good regularity.
Swartz argues that if it weren’t for the Lakers, the Knicks could actually be the most disappointing squad of the year.
“If not for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Knicks would hold the title as the biggest disappointment in basketball this season,” he wrote. “While there’s still a flicker of hope at making the playoffs (New York is three-and-a-half games out of the play-in tournament), this looks like another lost year for Knicks basketball.”
In February, there were reports that Knicks vice president William Wesley laid the blame for Knicks’ struggles this year on Thibodeau, and it was also reported that Thibs wasn’t on board with the trade for Cam Reddish.
Reddish had problems cracking the rotation since the trade, and now he’s out for the remainder of the year, so Thibodeau doesn’t have to worry about dealing with that anymore.
One thing working in Thibodeau’s favor is the fact he’s just in the second year of a five-year contract, so he might have a long leash, something that Swartz notes.
“It’s fair to wonder if his contract will play a role in his job security,” he says. “He’s only in the second season of a five-year deal, meaning the Knicks would have to eat a significant amount of salary moving forward.”
With the Knicks having a lot of money tied up into veterans like Julius Randle and Evan Fournier, the expectation is that the Knicks are in a “win-now” mode, but that just hasn’t been the result so far.
Knicks Have Other Problems
While there has been a lot of blame placed on Thibodeau this season by fans, notably for the way he runs his rotations, there are other questions that need answering.
Mitchell Robinson will be hitting free agency after the season and the team will have to determine whether it’s worth letting go of the fan-favorite big man.
Kemba Walker will more than likely be moved in the offseason, and that means the Knicks will yet again be on the hunt for their answer at point guard. That could come in the draft or through a big trade, but they’ll definitely need to do something on that end.
Figuring out what version of Randle is here to stay will be important to figure out as well. His contract extension kicks in next year, so his contract will balloon up to one of the highest-paid players in the NBA. He’s looked like a new player since coming back from the All-Star Break, but it’s tough to say if that’s just a good stretch of games or if he’s turned the corner.
His play will factor in mightily to any long-term success for the Knicks, so the team will have to keep their fingers crossed and hope this version of him is here to stay.