With the Knicks set to open the 2014 portion of their schedule in San Antonio against the Spurs, the gap between the two teams couldn’t be any more apparent.
The Spurs, the NBA’s blueprint for success, once again own one of the league’s best records while the Knicks, notorious for poor personnel decisions, have lost 21 of their first 30 games.
It’s no coincidence that the Knicks enter play Thursday with just nine wins. As Mike Woodson inches closer to getting fired with each loss, the team he’s coaching is a horribly constructed mess.
Whereas watching the Spurs play is a clinic in efficient basketball, the Knicks allow the most points per shot in the NBA, and rank just shy of last in field goal percentage and rebounding differential.
Possibly the only downfall of winning as much as the Spurs do each season is it leads to less desirable draft picks. But that hasn’t stopped San Antonio from building their roster with outstanding scouting and an assortment of players selected well after teams in front of them have picked through the supposed top prospects.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and his front office have a well thought-out philosophy and they fill out their roster accordingly.
With the exception of Tim Duncan, not one member of the team was taken during the draft lottery’s first 14 picks. And though not everyone was originally drafted by San Antonio, each acquisition has mostly worked to their benefit and the players are all signed to team-friendly contracts.
The Knicks, who haven’t won more games than the Spurs in a single season since the 1996-97 campaign, routinely draft ahead of San Antonio – at least during the years when they’ve held onto their own draft choice – yet have little to show for it.
Despite the fact that this year’s draft is considered one of the most talent-loaded in quite some time, the Knicks will be without what is shaping up to be a very valuable first round pick.
While most people familiar with the situation knew Carmelo Anthony had his sights set on signing with the Knicks once he became a free agent in the summer of 2011, the team surrendered much of their depth by trading for him midseason – in addition to including this year’s draft choice in the trade without any sort of protection attached to it should it turn out to be a lottery pick.
With Anthony possibly leaving via free agency this summer, the Knicks could very well end up with absolutely nothing to show for the trade other than a few early exits in the playoffs.
The Knicks are currently paying both Anthony and forward Amar’e Stoudemire over $23 million each this season – which is more than Duncan and Spurs point guard Tony Parker make combined.
Stoudemire’s injury woes made signing him a huge question mark in 2010. In year four of his contract, he is so beat up these days that he is forced to play only limited minutes.
With an early termination option set to kick in after the season, Stoudemire now at least possesses value as a tradable expiring contract. Though given their track record in making deals, it’s hard to believe the Knicks will get much in return for him.
There have been countless opportunities to trade Iman Shumpert, yet the Knicks thought too highly of him and his value has diminished greatly.
Not known for his offense to begin with, Shumpert is currently experiencing the worst shooting season of his young career.
Making matters worse, fellow guard J.R. Smith is also shooting the ball worse than ever before.
Given Smith’s incredibly inconsistent nature, the team would’ve been wise to let him sign elsewhere in the offseason – however they instead rewarded him with a three-year contract.
Sadly, the list of questionable decisions made by the Knicks goes on and on.
Right now, the Knicks don’t have any sort of identity. They can’t shoot, they don’t play defense, and they’re unable to grab a rebound. The team probably isn’t as bad as they’re currently playing, though it’s not much better.
Without assets that interest other teams, there is no quick fix.
It might be a new year, but it is still the same old Knicks.