Carmelo Anthony says he's putting his trust in Phil Jackson that things will get better. In the meantime, Anthony probably should prepare for many more nights like Thursday.
He sat behind the bench in a suit, shaking his head during the Knicks' franchise-record 14th straight loss, in Houston. That was just one of the images as the Knicks fell to an NBA-worst 5-34. They have dropped 24 of their last 25 games.
Five fans were seated in the front row at the Garden with paper bags over their heads. Later, while airing the game's highlights, the TNT studio crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith also wore bags.
The Knicks have won only once since beating the 76ers on Nov. 22 and have lost a team-record 11 in a row at home. They hope the slide ends Saturday afternoon against Charlotte. But with Derek Fisher forced to use six players from the summer league team, including three rookies, every game will be a struggle.
"I see frustration and I see disappointment," Fisher said. "None of us are enjoying losing at all. But I don't think that means our veteran guys aren't trying as hard or aren't trying to be leaders and stabilizers."
Anthony (left knee), Amar'e Stoudemire (right knee) and Andrea Bargnani (right calf) aren't expected to play on Saturday. But building for next season and beyond is the plan now.
The Knicks cleared cap space for this summer when they traded J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert for three players whom they waived. They also cut ties with Samuel Dalembert. They will have a high draft pick and money to spend on free agents in July. But there are no guarantees of a quick fix.
It's hard to predict what kind of impact this historically bad season will have on the Knicks' ability to sign marquee free agents. They also don't have a lot of assets to trade and want to maintain some flexibility for 2016, when Kevin Durant will be a free agent. So Anthony's trust and patience could be tested.
Anthony signed a five-year, $124-million deal in the offseason, knowing the Knicks would be rebuilding, but he never believed it would be this bad.
In Thursday's 120-96 loss to the Rockets, undrafted rookies Travis Wear and Langston Galloway and 2014 second-round pick Cleanthony Early were the Knicks' top three scorers.
The Knicks want to see which young players could fit into their future, especially at a low price. But Jackson and Fisher don't want to have the players get used to a losing culture. "It's tough mentally," Jose Calderon said. "But we've got to be professional and just keep playing and keep working hard. And we've just got to be better, as a team, as a teammate, and everything."
Some believe Calderon could be the next Knick on the move if they find a taker for his contract; he is owed $15.1 million for 2015-16 and 2016-17. He was expected to be a good fit for the triangle, but the Knicks are 2-24 with him starting at point guard.
He was scoreless against Houston and called it "one of my worst games in the NBA." He was dejected afterward, but that's been a familiar feeling for the Knicks this season.
Anthony just hopes those feelings don't extend to 2015-16.
Notes & quotes: The Knicks plan to sign forwards Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas to 10-day contracts, according to league sources. They acquired Amundson from Cleveland and Thomas from Oklahoma City in Monday's three-team trade and subsequently waived both of them before their contracts became guaranteed.
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