Mori­bund Knicks need a new hero

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS - NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

NEW YORK — Kevin Du­rant caught flack for sign­ing with the great­est reg­u­lar-sea­son team in NBA history. And if he’s look­ing for ap­proval from those crit­ics, Du­rant could do the ex­act op­po­site with the Knicks.

Maybe that’s part of the ap­peal.

The Knicks won’t fin­ish with the worst record we’ve ever seen in the league (not un­less they drop the rest of their games), but the los­ing has al­ready reached his­toric pro­por­tions.

With Satur­day’s loss against the Rap­tors at the Gar­den, the Knicks have dropped 16 straight — ty­ing the fran­chise record set dur­ing the 2014-15 cam­paign un­der Derek Fisher. They had al­ready bro­ken the team record for con­sec­u­tive de­feats at home with 15.

Depend­ing on how you like to slice mis­ery, they ei­ther lost 24 of their pre­vi­ous 25 games, or 29 of 31. If that rate con­tin­ues, they’ll eas­ily own the worst record in fran­chise history — which now stands at 17-65 from 2014-15 — and fin­ish with one of the sev­en­worst in the NBA dur­ing its 82game era.

This means very lit­tle for pur­poses of the draft lottery. Per the new anti-tank­ing rules, the bot­tom-3 teams all have the same chance of win­ning the Zion Wil­liamson sweep­stakes at 14 per­cent. The only real ben­e­fit is that the worst team can’t drop lower than fifth in the draft, as op­posed to sixth with the sec­ond-worst record, or seventh with the third­worst record, and so on.

To the credit of the Knicks’ spin doc­tors, they’ve been able to

take the fo­cus off the prod­uct on the court and turn the at­ten­tion to­ward the sum­mer. That has al­to­gether re­moved pres­sure and

blame from coach David Fiz­dale and the front of­fice. A sea­son pro­posed by the Knicks as their op­por­tu­nity to show­case premier player de­vel­op­ment quickly de­volved into a gi­ant punt to July.

Since Steve Mills

usurped Phil Jack­son prior to last sea­son, the Knicks’ record is 39-97 with a 28.7 win­ning per­cent­age. That’s worse than Jack­son’s record as pres­i­dent.

But the al­lure of Du­rant, Kyrie Irv­ing and An­thony Davis made it easy for the

Knicks to sell their mis­sion and the con­dem­na­tion of Kristaps Porzingis. The ques­tion wasn’t why Porzingis wasn’t happy on the worst team in the NBA, but how can he not be happy with such a great plan un­der­foot?

Ei­ther way, the Knicks can no longer claim with sin­cer­ity that this was their plan all along. Prior to the sea­son, Mills pitched the idea of sell­ing a su­per­star free agent to play with Porzingis, a re­vi­tal­ized cul­ture and the mar­ket. Now all they have is the mar­ket.

Per­haps that’s enough for Du­rant. He can swoop in as the sav­ior in­stead of be­ing the su­per­flu­ous sign­ing in Golden State. The Knicks need a hero.

David Zalubowski / As­so­ci­ated Press

While the Knicks wait for the off­sea­son to see if they can lure Kevin Du­rant to New York, this year’s team con­tin­ues to set records for fu­til­ity.

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