Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks: “The fans are dying, we’re dying”

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It’s one thing to have an intellectual understanding that the efforts to change the culture of a franchise on and off the court is going to be an ugly, rough process. It’s another thing to go through it.

The Knicks are going through it — and it’s worse than expected. Knicks fans — not a group traditionally known for their patience — are fuming. Carmelo Anthony owned up to it after the Wizards toyed with the Knicks on Christmas Day in Madison Square Garden, as reported by ESPN.

“The fans are dying, we’re dying. We’re out there, we’re not producing. We didn’t expect, I didn’t expect to be sitting at 5-26,” he said. “So as much as I feel for the fans, I feel for us going through it, too. I don’t expect nobody to feel sorry for us, I don’t expect nobody to feel sorry for me.”

The Knicks are 5-26 on the season having lost 16 of their last 17. They are bottom 10 in offense and defense, the triangle looks like a rhombus, they don’t defend with any kind of consistency or urgency, the roster doesn’t fit the system, much of the roster is being selfish hunting for numbers because they know they won’t be with the Knicks next season, coach Derek Fisher can’t get guys to buy in and play to the system (he looks like a first year coach of a bad team in every way), and their star leader Carmelo Anthony is playing like himself — stopping the ball movement and taking contested shots (21 of his 28 shots on Christmas Day were contested).

So, they have a few issues to address.

Phil Jackson promised Knicks fans things will be better in 2015, but that’s a pretty low bar to clear. It has to start with him getting better talent on the roster and talent that will be committed to playing the system, to playing the team basketball they need. That means landing some better defenders — like a real rim protector — as well as willing passers. That’s why Marc Gasol is their top target next summer, but Jackson better have a Plan B because getting Gasol out of Memphis will be difficult, he likes it there. And if he does leave there will be a long line of suitors (including the Spurs if Tim Duncan retires). The Knicks can’t just snap their fingers and count on landing a top free agent (same goes for the Lakers, trying the same thing on the other coast). The new CBA was aimed directly at big market teams and the Knicks are going to have to adjust.

All of which is to say, this is not a one season process, or even a two season process. It’s going to take time. No matter who is the coach, no matter who is making the front office decisions, Knicks fans are unfortunately going to have to learn patience. Because getting out of a hole like this takes time.