Tomorrow Has Finally Arrived For the Knicks

The Knicks season gets underway in Toronto on Wednesday night

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Ever since Donnie Walsh took over the Knicks, the team's theme song has been "Tomorrow" from "Annie." After years of a hard knock life as horrible as anything in a fictional orphanage, Knicks fans were more than ready to bet their bottom dollar that tomorrow would bring sunshine.

    Now it's hear and it's clear that the theme song should have been "Tomorrow Never Knows" by "The Beatles."

    Everyone believed that this year's team would be the one to take the Knicks back to relevance and, by extension, the playoffs. This was going to be the year where the Knicks unveiled solutions to all the problems that had been allowed to fester for so long and the year when every fan was paid back for spending a decade supporting a team that routinely laughed at such devotion.

    As a side note, how can really make the argument that New York fans won't support a rebuilding effort after the last decade at Madison Square Garden? The Mets can't get a soul to go to Citi Field, but the Garden still filled up every year with hardy souls unwavering in their committment to the Knicks.

    Back to the point, though. Tomorrow has come for the Knicks and things aren't looking quite as sunny as everyone hoped when last season came to an end. The team's better and there's plenty of reason to hope for the future, but there's an awful lot of optimism surrounding a team that will start Landry Fields and Timofey Mozgov against the Raptors on Wednesday night. Fields may be starting because Wilson Chandler gives the team a better second unit and Mozgov might be a big weapon in the Knicks' effort to blunt Mikhail Prokhorov's foray into Brooklyn, but a pair of unheralded rookies really wasn't what anyone had in mind back in June.

    That fact alone should tell you how much work Walsh still has to do if he's going to finish what he started two years ago. His first draft pick is going to have a lot to say about whether or not he reaches that finish line.

    Danilo Gallinari is about to start a fairly massive season in his young career. The guys at Basketball Prospectus have called him a future All-Star and the man can certainly shoot the hell out of the basketball, but the rest of his game is still, to put it kindly, a work in progress. That's to be expected for a guy who is entering his third NBA season at 22, yet it feels like he should be further along because the Knicks aren't going to climb the next rung of the ladder on the back of Amar'e Stoudemire all by himself. Gallinari has to develop into that lofty prediction in order to help the Knicks, even if it is through a trade, because stagnation is going to lead to another upheaval.

    Knicks fans haven't lost a sense of perspective because the last vestiges of the Isiah era have disappeared. The sixth seed in the playoffs would be greeted with a delirium akin to winning the biggest jackpot in lottery history. Another year out of the playoffs, however, would be a massive kick in the gut. This team can't sell tomorrow any longer and you get the feeling that James Dolan would be plenty happy to send Walsh and Mike D'Antoni packing should they fall short of the first round again this year. 

    Fair enough, but hardly the kind of thoughts that we were having about this day six months ago.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.