Derek Fisher admits the Knicks' chemistry could be affected because many players are on expiring contracts and might not be a part of the team's future.
The Knicks, who have instituted a new system, were hoping to be a playoff team. That no longer seems realistic, but with a first-round pick -- which looks like a high lottery choice -- and plenty of free-agent cash, they expect to contend in the future.
"You have a number of guys that are thinking about how they're going to provide for their families and where their career is going and whether they're going to be here or on another team and all the ramifications of those decisions," Fisher said. "So that's not easy stuff to process. Then on top of that, they're being asked to sacrifice more and do less in order to win, so it's not a great combination for cohesion and team chemistry.
"But I do think there are enough guys in the locker room that want to do it the right way, and so that's why we've had a chance a lot of nights to win. But I don't think anybody's giving up on what we're trying to do at this point."
J.R. sits again
Fisher declared J.R. Smith his starting shooting guard Sunday night, but he was a late scratch after a pregame warm-up. An MRI Saturday revealed that Smith, who missed the previous two games, has a partial tear of his left plantar fascia. Smith said he was feeling good, but that was before he tested it. He said when he's flat-footed, it feels "like a real sharp pain coming up the back of my leg."
Smith said it's up to him whether he can play through it and that he's been told "there's nothing really they can do but keep treating it" and "some days will be better than others."
The Knicks are without regular starting shooting guard Iman Shumpert (dislocated left shoulder) for at least three weeks. Tim Hardaway Jr. started against Toronto.
Fisher had no update on Andrea Bargnani, who hasn't played this season because of right calf and hamstring injuries. Fisher said Bargnani is "progressing" and that he's "not ruling it in or out" whether Bargnani will practice this week.