NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks hope they are nearing the end of what might be the worst stretch in their history.
They have matched the franchise record by missing the playoffs for seven straight years, a streak that seems unlikely to end this season. They have posted their two worst won-loss records during that span, changing players, coaches and executives but not the results.
Tom Thibodeau takes over now, a former NBA Coach of the Year who has turned around teams in Chicago and Minnesota. He plans to do the same in New York, though it probably won’t happen just yet.
“I think at the end of the day we only really answer to ourselves. Only we know if we’re putting everything we have into something and I think when you do that anything is possible,” Thibodeau said. “So if we keep concentrating on the improvement, we will get better and we’ll see good things in the end.”
He’ll try to get the Knicks to defend the way he likes, but they appear to lack the firepower to compete in a league where teams need to put up the points.
They are well-positioned to get the players who can do it in the future, armed with loads of salary cap space. Now they need to make the Knicks attractive to the type of stars worth spending it on.
New York fired David Fizdale after a 4-18 start last season and dismissed Steve Mills as president later in the season that ended with a 21-45 record. Leon Rose was hired in March, trying to make the transition from successful agent to successful executive.
He couldn’t get much done in his first shot at free agency, though it’s unclear how hard he tried. This year’s class wasn’t deep in difference makers, but there is hope in what shapes up as a better 2021 group.
Before that, the Knicks need to show they are headed in the right direction. They have tried to sell New York and Madison Square Garden, but haven’t been able to offer a path to winning. Now Thibodeau and his young team need to start demonstrating that one can exist.
“I think that era of people not wanting to come here, our job is to change that,” veteran newcomer Austin Rivers said.
“We’ve got to make it attractive and we will, because we have everything else.”
Things to know about the Knicks:
RJ Barrett said he was bothered by not being voted to an All-Rookie team after he was the No. 3 selection in the 2019 draft. He was playing well when the season was stopped in March and will hope that continues when the season starts.
OBI COMES HOME
The Knicks landed the college player of the year in the draft when they got Dayton forward Obi Toppin with the No. 8 pick. The 6-foot-9 Toppin averaged 20 points last season and the Knicks believe the New York native will bring some much-needed athleticism to their roster.
THEIR OLD KENTUCKY HOME
Rose has a relationship with Kentucky coach John Calipari and turned to a bunch of former Wildcats to fill out his roster. They added SEC player of the year Immanuel Quickley with their second draft pick and signed Nerlens Noel and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a team that already had Julius Randle and Kevin Knox II. Kenny Payne also joined Thibodeau’s staff after a lengthy run as Calipari’s assistant.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
While the Knicks have already matched their longest span without making the playoffs, they are still one away from their longest stretch without a winning record. They were under .500 for eight straight seasons from 1959-67.
STRUGGLING TO SCORE
The Knicks averaged 105.8 points last season, 29th in the 30-team league. They were 28th the season before, when they scored 104.6 per game.
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