There’s an old saying that goes, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.’’ The New York Knicks, who often look as lost as those poor squirrels, finally located their acorn in the last game before the NBA All-Star break.
Saddled with an 18-game losing streak and without a victory since Jan. 4, New York produced a stunning wire-to-wire victory over the Atlanta Hawks that left some people wondering who they were and what they had done with the real Knicks.
Before the victory, this team had lost 26 of their last 27 games, 31 of the last 33 and an unimaginable 17 straight at home. The win at Atlanta brought their record at the break to 11-47, embarrassing and historic. No Knicks team has ever lost 18 in row before this group and their futility is stunning.
Management talks about a process in reconstructing a credible team. But at the moment that process seems not to have made much progress.
Their roster is almost entirely anonymous, especially after they traded Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. along with two other players to Dallas. The deal opened salary cap space for the Knicks and they promise to use it to sign a couple of fancy free agents.
A fine idea but they went a bit too far with it when they had the audacity to send out season ticket brochures featuring Kevin Durant on the cover. Durant works for the Golden State Warriors at the moment and although he will be a free agent next summer, it is a pipe dream to think he will show up in a Knicks uniform. Why would he leave a perennial championship contender to join this dumpster fire?
New York has had some awful teams in the four major professional sports. The Nets lost the first 18 games in 2009-10, which should earn them an asterisk in this misery index. None of the others however – and yes, that includes the 40-120 New York Mets of 1962 – has been quite as bad as these Knicks. The expansion Mets once lost 17 in a row. They never managed 18, though.
The Knicks have been awful since the end of the Patrick Ewing era. That’s two decades worth of bad basketball. One can only wonder what Walt Frazier, who played on their championship teams a lifetime ago, must think as he broadcasts their games night after dreary night.
In the midst of this mess, there is a ray of light. Dennis Smith Jr., acquired in the Porzingis trade, can play. So can Kevin Knox, their first-round draft choice last summer. They almost certainly will have one of the three worst records in the league and qualify for a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 draft choice. Dreams of Duke’s Zion Williamson dance in their heads, right alongside Kevin Durant.
So they will play out the remainder of their 82-game schedule and every so often win a game here and there. But the acorns will be few and far between for a team that bears a striking resemblance to those blind squirrels.