There are NBA teams with personality clashes, philosophical differences, and individual talent that just doesn’t mesh – and then there are the Knicks. New York (4-20, 1-11 on the road) is off to the worst start in franchise history and arrives in Boston saddled with a 10-game losing streak, yet somehow the off-court issues are what’s really staining the season.
A look at what is ailing the NBA’s most dysfunctional team:
■ In an age where analytics have become a vital part of NBA front offices, chemistry remains the hardest element to quantify. But it doesn’t take a psychologist to see that the Knicks just aren’t clicking. Recent reports out of New York detail Carmelo Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. nearly coming to blows after a recent game against the Nets, underlining a strained relationship. Anthony and Hardaway disputed any friction beyond the frustration of losing, which is it taking its toll. The New York Post reported Anthony, fresh off re-signing on a massive deal, would consider waiving his no-trade clause to get out of the submarining season. Team president Phil Jackson on Monday said New York has a “loser’s mentality.”
The Knicks did nothing to suggest otherwise Wednesday, getting washed out by a Spurs team resting Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard.
■ If you squint hard enough, you can see some positives for the Knicks. Amar’e Stoudemire looks as strong as he has in years, and it’s coming at the right time. The 32-year-old’s massive contract is expiring, and a team looking to either wipe more than $20 million off the books or even rent a legitimate frontcourt scorer might be willing to part with something of value. Stoudemire has played in all but one game this season, averaging 25.8 minutes. His scoring and particularly his rebounding numbers, on a per-36-minute basis, aren’t far off from some of his All-Star seasons in Phoenix. Take a look at him dominating Omer Asik (and even Anthony Davis) Tuesday in New Orleans:
■ For the Celtics (7-13, 5-7 at home), it’s a golden chance to fatten up on another Eastern Conference dreg, something the team has been able to do. Anthony (knee) and Smith (heel) may miss tonight’s game after sitting out the San Antonio loss, providing no excuse for Boston not to run roughshod. Even an effort as lazy as the one shown in Wednesday’s loss to Charlotte could be enough to beat the Knicks.
Knicks at a glance
■ When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at TD Garden.
■ TV, radio: CSN, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Scoring: Carmelo Anthony 22.9, Amar’e Stoudemire 13.3, J.R. Smith 10.3.
■ Rebounding: Stoudemire 7.5, Anthony 6.6, Samuel Dalembert 5.5.
■ Assists: Jose Calderon 3.9, Iman Shumpert 3.3, Smith 3.3
■ Head to head: This is the first of four meetings this season. The teams split the four games last season.
■ Miscellany: Anthony averaged 25.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists against the Celtics last season . . . The Knicks have lost their last 10 games . . . The Celtics leads the all-time series, 278-177, and also own the advantage at TD Garden, 24-13.