The Knicks are consistent, if nothing else. They’re consistently bad.
Their 115-109 loss to the Pistons on Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden was their 50th defeat of the season. It’s the fourth straight year the Knicks have dropped at least 50 games, tying a franchise record. The Richie Guerin-led Knicks first accomplished the ignominious feat from 1960-64.
The Knicks, losers of 22 of their last 26, are 27-50 with five games to play. Their reward: They’ll likely get a top 10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. The Knicks are ninth in the lottery standings, 1 1⁄2 games behind eighth-place Chicago.
“It don’t sit well at all,” Trey Burke said after an 18-point, 15-assist performance. “Everybody wants to win. You don’t like losing. I haven’t been here the whole year, but I’ve been here. I’m a part of this team. I’m a part of that.”
A lot of people and things have contributed to reaching the 50-loss mark this season and the three previous seasons. It started with former president Phil Jackson’s first full season running the team and now it goes on the record of current president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.
The Knicks, who will not be in the playoffs for the fifth straight season, knew this would be a rebuilding year, but injuries to Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. were costly for a team that isn’t that talented or deep. The Knicks went 14-13 with the two of them in the lineup and are 13-37 when they have to play without one or both.
“I’m a bad loser, sore loser,” said Michael Beasley, who led the Knicks with 32 points. “But at the same time, you got to be able to accept the situation.”
The reality is the Knicks could be in this spot again next season. Given that Porzingis is recovering from February surgery to repair a torn ACL and there is no timetable for his return, and the fact that the Knicks don’t want to add too much in long-term payroll this offseason, 2018-19 could be another long and loss-filled season.
“You try, you try, you try, things don’t go your way, you got to take the good out of it,” Kyle O’Quinn said. “Valuable minutes at the end of the season, you can learn things, learn the guys’ tendencies and get a jump on next year.”
O’Quinn has experienced nothing but losing since he joined the NBA six seasons ago. He’s lost at least 50 every single season — three with Orlando and the last three with the Knicks.
“It can’t be tough for somebody who’s never been,” O’Quinn said. “My season’s always ended early. Of course I want to be there. But I can’t compare it to nothing that’s happened before. So I can’t comment on how tough it is versus another year.”
In less than two weeks, another offseason of change awaits. The Knicks could be conducting their third coaching search in five years. Jeff Hornacek, who is in the final year of his contract, is not on solid ground.
It’s not that the Knicks have underachieved. Their win total is right around where they were projected to be. Given that Porzingis has missed 29 games and counting and Hardaway has missed 22, an argument can be made that they have overachieved somewhat.
Rumors and reports have been swirling about Hornacek, who has one year left on his deal, but he’s continuing to try to keep his team focused and playing hard.
The Knicks have won or been in the game down the stretch in seven of the last nine games, which is an indication that the players are listening and playing hard for Hornacek.
“We do our jobs as coaches,” he said. “They’re playing as hard as they can. We’re trying to get some of these young guys in there a little bit and get some experience. With injuries to KP and Tim early on, these guys have battled all year. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
The Knicks dropped their 50th game of the season Saturday, their fourth straight campaign with at least 50 losses.