Carmelo, Knicks hedge championship aspirations
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks have an identity. They have a superstar. They have big names in their supporting cast. They have a sharp coach. They have a full season together. They have competition, both in town and 1,200 miles down the Atlantic coast.
But the Knicks also have injury and potential chemistry issues and were overachievers last season who might not be able to repeat.
Madison Square Garden will be loaded with expectations this season. The Knicks are coming off a 54-win season that culminated in their first playoff series win since the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals. But it has been 41 seasons since New York raised a championship banner, and the Knicks enter a franchise-defining season.
Unlike the rebuilt Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks have chosen to temper expectations.
“It’s hard for me to say what is a successful season,” superstar forward Carmelo Anthony said earlier this month. “We thought last year was successful due to what we accomplished as far as the goals we set at the beginning of the season — 50-plus wins, a division title, not just making the playoffs but making a run in the playoffs. I don’t want to put that pressure on the team or myself to say that it’s championship or bust. I just want us to go out there and play ball.”
These aren’t the same Knicks, but the roster is similar. The team made a few splashy moves in trading for 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick Andrea Bargnani, signing lightning rod Metta World Peace in free agency and hiring new president Steve Mills. But those moves probably won’t alter the on-court product too much.
The formula is simple: NBA scoring champion Anthony is surrounded by shooters and rebounders. The Knicks set an NBA single-season record with 891 three-pointers last season, though with Jason Kidd retired (and coaching the Nets) and Steve Novak gone in the Bargnani trade, they likely won’t push that record any further this season.
Bargnani would seem to fit that mold, as long as he improves dramatically on the last two seasons, when he slipped to 30.3% from three-point range because of injuries and … [For more on Carmelo Anthony, Knicks hedge championship aspirations, click here.]