Reaching the win total from last season is something of an accomplishment for the New York Knicks. But despite the “new” Carmelo Anthony, the exciting Kristaps Porzingis and a revamped, improved roster, this team is still a few more signings away from being a force in the Eastern conference.
Anthony scored 25 points to lead the Knicks in a 98-90 win over the Miami Heat, stopping an eight game losing streak to the Heat and picking up a third consecutive win and fourth in five games, all coming against would-be contenders in the East; exactly the kind of team the Knicks are hoping to become in the next stage of their evolution, although that is definitely not the final stop they have in mind.
Porzingis had a rough game with 12 points, all of them in the second half. The Heat focused a lot of energy on trying to get into his head, maybe seeing he and Kent Bazemore almost came to blows in the previous game. While it did make it difficult for the Latvian to show his full arsenal of offensive weapons, it took a lot out of both Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside, and probably made it easier for Anthony and Robin Lopez (19 points) to get easy baskets, both of them finishing with 9-of-12 from the field.
The Knicks finding rhythm again and learning more and more about the offensive weapons they have besides Anthony and Porzingis puts them close to the second tier in the Eastern conference, but when you try to see how the Knicks can turn this into a championship team, it’s not going to happen without a blockbuster free agency signing, or working towards that kind of trade by dumping Anthony. The Knicks aren’t going to be champions with Anthony and probably not Porzingis as their number one players.
There is one player everyone is going to be after in 2016: Kevin Durant. Are the Knicks an option? Obviously, but there are better options out there for him with money not being the issue as everyone is going to be drowning in cap space except for a select few. LeBron James is probably going to opt out as well, but in terms of franchise changing players, it’s Durant and that’s about it. James isn’t leaving the Cavaliers. The Knicks can improve just through this roster alone, but it won’t take them all the way.