Derek Fisher: High number of expiring contracts challenge Knicks’ chemistry

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No team has fallen further short of its Vegas-based projected winning percentage than the Knicks.

Part of that is probably New York’s large fan base skewing the projection by betting on the hometown team. Part of it just the Knicks stinking.

At 5-21, they’ve looked jumbled on the court. Perhaps, their roster breakdown – beyond a lack of talent – is to blame.

New York has nine players with expiring contracts:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire
  • Andrea Bargnani
  • Samuel Dalembert
  • Jason Smith
  • Iman Shumpert
  • Shane Larkin
  • Quincy Acy
  • Cole Aldrich
  • Travis Wear

Plus, J.R. Smith has a player option, and Pablo Prigioni’s deal is only partially guaranteed.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Derek Fisher’s job of developing the Knicks into a cohesive unit has been compromised by two-thirds of the roster being in the final year of their contracts, according to the head coach.

“That’s a reality of this game,” Fisher said on Sunday. “You have a number of guys that are thinking about how they’re going to provide for their families and where their career is going and whether they’re going to be here or on another team and all the ramifications of those decisions.

“So that’s not easy stuff to process. And then on top of that they’re being asked to sacrifice more and do less in order to win so it’s not a great combination for cohesion and team chemistry but I do think there are enough guys in the locker room that want to do it the right way and so that’s why we’ve had a chance a lot of nights to win. But I don’t think anybody’s giving up on what we’re trying to do at this point.”

I’m sincerely impressed by the way Fisher addressed this topic. He didn’t criticize or belittle his players for being concerned about their next contracts.

Their concern is valid. To the Knicks whose contracts end after the season, counting cap space and speculating about free agents is not a game. It’s real life with major decisions and worries ahead.

Fisher, whose playing career just ended, can relate. Perhaps, he can even help them navigate these difficult waters.

If the Knicks just worry about their next contracts, that won’t help them. They’ll keep losing, and their value this offseason will continue to fall. Winners get overpaid.

Fisher’s understanding is a step. If he can make more logical substitutions and get everyone on the same page with the triangle offense, that would go a lot further.