The Knicks were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs during Wednesday night's loss to the Heat, making this the fourth consecutive season where New York will not reach the postseason.
"I think today was mathematically [eliminated] but I think the writing was on the wall prior to this," head coach Jeff Hornacek said, according to Newsday. "So the other guys have played a little bit more. Maybe they'll continue to play a little bit more."
Carmelo Anthony, who was the subject of trade rumors before the deadline and is expected to be shopped during the offseason, said he's at peace with the reduced minutes he's been receiving with the team trying to get their younger players more experience.
"I see the writing on the wall," Anthony said. "I see what it is. I see what they're trying to do and it's just me accepting that. That's what puts me at peace. Just knowing and understanding how things work. I'm at peace with that."
The 28-47 Knicks have seven games remaining.
Now that the Knicks are mathematically eliminated, they can come to terms with what's gone on and quit avoiding the inevitable. Enough time has gone by to recognize what went wrong this season. While the team initially had much higher hopes, they now have an opportunity to openly begin planning ahead for next season.
There are plenty of things (and players) that didn't work out this season. That's why New York is currently in the boat they are in. At the same token, they can now explore the various strengths and weaknesses of players who may be able to help them next season. They'll soon have a clean slate again and this is an early start.
It's a positive development, but that doesn't mean it's going to be all daisies and roses as the team scratches the surface with different players. Both Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Ron Baker have seemed to struggle a bit in recent games. While exhibiting a mature defensive awareness, Baker has left much to be desired on offense. Kuzminskas could perhaps use a boost of confidence from the coaching staff.
Hornacek seems to have a short leash on the forward, often subbing him out after a single missed shot, errant pass, etc. He needs more court time and it's been interesting that the Knicks haven't encouraged him to get reps in Westchester.
Nevertheless, Baker and Kuzminskas are just two players who will be receiving more looks in the coming weeks. The pressure is off. While this team shouldn't be fighting tooth and nail for additional victories, it's a chance to see youngsters to do some positive things and give New York a better idea of who they are.