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NY Bricks Not Tanking, Just Stinking

By JACOB SMITH

Friday night’s home win over the Hornets not withstanding, the Brickerbockers have been an absolute horror show over the past two weeks, starting with the 26-point loss to the New Jersey Nets and culminating in last night’s debacle in Charlotte against the Larry Brown-led Bobcats. After the Nets loss and the 27-point embarrassment at Madison Square Garden against the cellar-dwelling Kings the following night, the Brickerbockers’ playoff hopes were unofficially sliced and diced to bits.

In 2010, the Knicks’ draft pick belongs to the Utah Jazz, so it is imperative that the team, certain to once again appear in the lottery following this season, gets a high selection and uses it wisely. So I’d understand if the losing streak was a result of playing our youngsters, gauging who to keep and who to let go, who has a future in the Big Apple and which bad apples we should let rot elsewhere. After all, it would be in the best future interests of the club to both let the young guys mature and be in the best draft position as possible.

The problem is, aside from Wilson Chandler, who I’m not sold on as a starting-caliber player in the NBA, and Danilo Gallinari, who has been shelved for remainder of the season, we have no real youth. We have Nate Robinson and David Lee, but in their fourth seasons in the league, we really have to consider them veterans. And, honestly, there is a good chance that one or both of our young stars will leave via free agency and not return to the Bricks next season.

Therefore, I don’t think we can consider this swoon “tanking.” We are playing our normal rotation normal minutes and losing - badly. Tanking teams are almost always in a rebuilding stage, letting their recent draftees and younger players show that they belong at the highest level.

However, it remains to be seen what kind of rebuilding the Bricks are really undergoing. How can we be hopeful heading into next season without the promise of younger players improving? Between Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, Chris Duhon, Jared Jeffries and the rest of the vets, we pretty much know what we’re getting, and it isn’t anything pretty. This rebuilding stage is, in effect, a fraud. It is just a name of hope to mask for another year of watching holdovers until the front office cleans house and hopefully brings in some star power.

Returning to the present, I’m not sure what happened after that three-game win streak two weeks ago to turn the Knicks back into the Bricks, but it has deflated the high that many Knicks fans, including yours truly, have carried for most of the season. And barring any major off-season or draft-day shakeups, it is reasonable to assume we will be entering next season with the skeleton of the team intact. So unless Chandler or Gallinari come back vastly improved, we can expect more of the same Brickerbocker chucking and the same lack of defense and results.

Never did I think tanking would sound like such a good alternative.

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