In the latest of a seemingly endless series of dispatches on ESPN with author friend Charlie Rosen on ESPN.com, Knicks President Phil Jackson admits that there's a good chance New York will struggle out of the gate this season:
"We have a number of new players, so they may struggle early as they learn how to play with each other," he says. "Where we end up as the season progresses is an unknown, but we have improved our roster and have a chance to be a good team."
Compare this to where Jackson was last year, predicting that the Knicks would make the playoffs, and you can see Jackson might have learned his lesson that this GM gig won't be necessarily as easy as giving them some books and chanting a few mantras. He's leaving open the possibilities of where the Knicks will finish and instead focusing on the simple concept of "getting better." That's where New York should concentrate. They need to worry about not being as horrible as last season, not putting pie-in-the-sky goals out there for a voracious and at times unrealistic market to consume and pour over. Managing expectations needs to be part of the gameplan.
The question, of course, is if the Knicks get off to a truly terrible start, how Carmelo Anthony will feel about things. Anthony has said the right things this summer and has been working out with first-round pick Kristaps Porzingis. He also wasn't thrilled with how the Knicks handled the LaMarcus Aldridge pursuit. How's Melo going to handle it if it looks like another wasted season without playoff contention? The East being awful will help, but it only adds to the tension between Anthony's goals, which are short-term, and the Knicks' overall needs, which are long-term.