Surprise: The New York Knicks are still comically incompetent.
Kidding, clearly it's no surprise. In addition to a decade's worth of managing a team with every possible pre-installed advantage into the ground, the team once again flashed the ugly, ignorant teeth of their aloofnees this summer when they took the beautiful gift they received in last year's NBA draft—a cheat code named Kristaps Porzingis—and proceeded to take every possible measure to sap him of his potential.
The inept front office mistook the young but versatile 7'3" Latvian's arrival as a mandate to try to "win now" and promptly hamstrung the next four years of his Knicks career with bloated contracts to Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Lance Thomas.
With Carmelo Anthony already in tow, the team went out and acquired Derrick Rose—a former MVP turned into a low-efficiency chucker by injuries—to ensure that Porzingis, oozing with potential at 21 years old, gets as little in-game work with the ball in his hands as possible.
Noah presents another problem: At 7'3" and with a perimeter game that almost no center can defend, Kristaps is destined to be a nightmare of a mismatch at that position. With the former Bull starting in that role, Porzingis is forced to try to keep up with speedier forwards, and while he can abuse smaller defenders with his post game, that becomes almost impossible with Noah clogging up the lane.
The sophomore's numbers haven't necessarily suffered due to the changing coniditions—through four games, they're close to identical to his rookie season—but his playing time and development are suffering because of this illusion that the team will be competitive this year. They're 1-3.
On Tuesday, in a 102-89 loss to the Detroit Pistons, Porzingis sat through almost the entire fourth quarter, entering with three minutes left after the game was out of reach. New head coach Jeff Hornacek opted for the defensive-minded Thomas instead for most of the fourth. The Knicks scored just 10 points in the period.
“Of course [I want to play more in the fourth quarter],’’ Porzingis said after the loss. “The second half I was better offensively. But that’s the decision the coach made. He thought it was best for the team. At that point, it was out of my hands. I always want to be on the floor, obviously. We lost the game. It’s not that period that it didn’t work out for us.’’
Yet another problem, this one unrelated to the makeup of the roster: Whether by the doing of Hornacek or at the behest of president Phil Jackson (probably the latter), the team's obsession with the mostly outdated triangle offense that minimizes the pick-and-roll strengths of players like Rose and Porzingis is driving them not only to ugly offensive trips, but because of some ridiculous practice methods, is somehow killing their defense too.
"We run the triangle, we practice against it a lot," said Lee, the team's starting shooting guard. "I think we need to practice against pick and rolls, practice against other looks and whatnot and get comfortable with that because that's what other teams are running."
I mean, Jesus. A veteran is suggesting the team tries practicing pick-and-roll defense.
Porzingis deserves better than this.