The New York Knicks are coming off their ugliest loss of the season by far, falling to conference rivals Indiana Pacers 125-91 on the road last night. The Knicks picked up right where they left off going into the All-Star break, opening a window for the Brooklyn Nets that they have clearly been taking advantage of. The Knicks have dropped their last three games, and the Nets are currently riding an impressive four game winning streak, eliminating any breathing room they once had. With a loss to the Toronto Raptors and a Nets victory against the Houston Rockets tomorrow night, the Knicks would be tied with them atop the Atlantic Division.
So that brings up the question, what’s going on with the Knicks? The bottom line is this team is playing with little to no continuity, and until they find the same rhythm they had when they started the season 18-5, the results are going to remain similar. Jason Kidd has been showering the Knicks with basketball wisdom and experience since the first day he stepped on the court, but the fact of the matter is he’s 39-years-old. His legs have virtually withered away more and more as each three-point shot he takes and misses. Not only do I feel Kidd’s roll in the rotation should diminish slightly, but it’s time we start flat out giving the second all-time leading assist man in NBA history some nights off.
Kidd has cemented his identity on this Knicks team since day one, and that’s clearly recognized by his teammates. When I say Kidd should be losing minutes, it’s not for punishment. We need this vital part of the team fresh, and ensuring that for playoff time is much more important then we realize. So, how unproductive has Kidd been of late?
Over the last two weeks, the Knicks have dropped four out of their last five games, with Kidd averaging over 28 minutes in that span. He has shot a pathetic 20 percent from the field during the stretch, hitting on .5 three-pointers per game. Isn’t that exactly why he’s on the court? This team struggles entirely too much if their outside shooting is that putrid, with no one is spreading the floor. Aside from the shooting, Kidd has only averaged 2.5 total points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. In other words, Kidd is producing close to nothing, in way too much court time. With any players level of production that low when approaching nearly 30 minutes a game, it’s a liability.
Kidd’s extra rest for the remainder of the season shouldn’t necessarily carry over into the playoffs, it’s more preparation right now. Let’s be honest, Kidd receiving more rest right now will not make or break the Knicks season at this point. So why not have him as fresh as possible when it really counts? Kidd knows how much he means to this team’s success when he’s rolling along.
With the young, fresh legs of Iman Shumpert and James White on the bench losing playing time by the day, it seems their confidence is following. Shumpert’s shooting has been abysmal, going 32 percent from the field since returning from injury. I talked about Shumpert in a previous article, where I mentioned we need patience. His defensive prowess can cause many problems for perimeter players, and I feel he needs to be pushed harder in order to restore him to his capabilities.
Brewer has been in Head Coach Mike Woodson’s doghouse for quite sometime now, and I’m certainly not saying his outside shooting can turn the team around. The bottom line is he’s younger, and the amount of defensive pressure he can apply on a team can get under anyone’s skin.
Kidd only received 17 minutes in the matchup versus Indiana last night, so we can safely say he wasn’t the deciding factor in the blowout. But in a game that’s literally over before halftime, it’s hard to judge how the rotation would have ended up if the game was competitive. Now I don’t want to single Kidd out what-so-ever for the Knicks tanking of late, I’m merely pointing out how important he was when they were winning. Kidd needs to get fresh, regain confidence, and continue to provide this team with the veteran leadership any championship squad needs.
Father-time is a factor that needs to be taken into account on every professional team. Undefeated in life, father-time is going nowhere for Kidd, but it can be monitored. It’s time Woodson starts expanding his options, freshening up the older guys on the roster, so he can give this team the chance to obtain the form they had when the season started.