Carmelo Anthony hasn’t gone out of his way to give Kurt Rambis a ringing endorsement, but he wants to believe in something the Knicks’ interim coach said.
Before falling to Toronto in Sunday’s regular-season home finale on Fan Appreciation Night, Rambis said, “We see this turning around real quick.” That sounds good to Anthony.
“I hope so,” he said. “As players, man, we want this to be our welcoming to the postseason. We want to be looking forward to gearing up and tightening up some screws and bolts and preparing for the postseason. I don’t want to get used to — we shouldn’t get used to — kind of this feeling and having Fan Appreciation Night this early.”
The Knicks (32-49) close out this disappointing season Tuesday night in Indiana and need a win to avoid their fifth 50-loss campaign in nine years. Overall, they have finished with a below-.500 record 12 times in 15 years.
Phil Jackson was hired as president in March 2014 to help the Knicks establish a winning culture and build something sustainable, but Jackson’s arrival has yet to pay dividends. The Knicks are 49-114 in the two seasons Jackson has been in charge and have a long way to go to become a playoff team, let alone a title contender.
Rambis said Sunday that they’re “making progress.” They appeared to be when they were 22-22, but then the wheels came off. Derek Fisher was fired after the Knicks dropped to 23-31. Rambis took over a team in disarray and hasn’t made the impact Jackson hoped for.
This should be another change-filled offseason, but it’s still unclear who will coach the Knicks after Tuesday night.
“It’s plenty of uncertainty right now when it comes to that,” Anthony said. “That’s what guys get paid the big bucks for, man. Everybody got to put their heads together and try to figure out what’s going on and what’s going to happen and how we can continue moving this ship forward and getting better.”
Jackson reportedly wants to keep Rambis, who is 9-18 since taking over. Anthony was asked how Rambis has developed as a coach and whether he’s seen any improvement. The Knicks’ lone All-Star was measured in his praise.
“He was kind of a big-time influence in what we had going on early in the season and even last year, being the associate quote-unquote head coach,” Anthony said. “But just the way that he was able to jump right in there, get guys’ attention and get guys to play. Usually in that situation it takes time to come in. Most people put in a new system, a new offense, a new defensive scheme. He jumped right in there because it was the same system.”
If Rambis is back, he will emphasize running the triangle offense and defensive responsibility more than Fisher did. The Knicks feel good about their frontline of Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez, but the backcourt and bench need major upgrades.
Anthony said he wasn’t thinking that Sunday could have been his final home game as a Knick. He said his focus is on how the Knicks can get better. As of now, rather than waiving his no-trade clause, he sounds as if he wants to stick it out, and he hopes the fans do the same.
“I don’t think it’s time to give up on us just yet,” Anthony said. “There’s a lot of fans that are not going to stick around and not be a fan, so I appreciate the true fans that stuck with this for not just this season, but the past couple of seasons.
“Knowing the situation at hand, understanding how we feel as players out there, going through the same situation, the feeling is mutual. I don’t think there’s no need to give up on their team now.”