Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
After losses earlier in the season, the Knicks would sometimes say that they just needed more time to develop chemistry on the court.
After 42 games, that explanation is no longer valid.
"F--k that, nah, f--k that. The time is now," veteran forward Marcus Morris said following New York's 23-point loss to Phoenix on Thursday. "…. I mean at some point we as a team, you know what I mean, (we) have to pull together. We've been around each other for a long time. Everybody knows each other's game.
"… It doesn't have to do anything with new faces. We did that in the beginning, talked about that in the beginning. As a team we have to pull together, got to know what we're looking for, know the game plan, execute the game plan and just give ourselves a chance to win."
The Knicks didn't do much of that in the final three quarters of their loss to the Suns. They were outscored by 30 points after the first quarter. Morris and interim head coach Mike Miller felt that New York failed to play with enough effort on Thursday.
"Our energy level is not where it's supposed to be. X's and O's, at the end of the day, they only go so far. Our energy level just hasn't been where it needs to be," Morris said. "Being together, we're halfway through the season, you would expect us to be more together out there and more tighter. I just think at times we're pulling apart when we should be bringing it together."
"Kudos to Phoenix," Morris added. "But at the end of the day we were a better team. We should have got that win tonight."
New York (11-31) has dropped seven of eight and owns the league's third worst record.
Given where they are in the standings, it will be interesting to see whether the Knicks trade their veterans like Morris for future assets or if they try to trade for players who can help them win this season.
Because Morris makes $15 million, New York may have trouble finding a trade that keeps them from taking a player under contract for 2020-21 or beyond.
But if the Knicks can get back a first-round pick in a Morris trade without taking back an onerous contract, it's a move they'd almost have to make at this point.
Yes, members of the organization value what Morris brings on and off the court. And some in the organization see Morris as a great fit for this season and in the future. In a perfect world, New York would hold on to Morris at the trade deadline and re-sign him this summer.
But, given New York's record, it needs to make trades with an eye on acquiring future assets - whether it's a young player or a draft pick. And Morris should be able to command a first-round pick in a trade.
Whether the Knicks will pull the trigger on such a deal is unclear.
As reported earlier this month, teams in touch with the Knicks came away with the impression that they weren't committed to behaving as a traditional seller at the deadline. Those teams said the Knicks were open to talking about acquiring starter-level players in trades who could help them this season and in the future. An example of that approach? Their conversations with Detroit about a potential Andre Drummond trade.
But based on where they are in this season and in the team-building process, the most prudent approach for the Knicks is to operate as sellers ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline.