Carmelo Anthony has been the spokesman for the Knicks the past couple of years and has had some memorable words about their struggles. But one of the team's most respected and least vocal players may have gotten right to the root of this team's major issue.
"Maybe we don't have enough talent to win," Pablo Prigioni said after the Knicks sank to 5-25 with Sunday's 118-108 loss in Toronto.
Prigioni, 37, has had a decorated career internationally and is one of the smartest players on the team. The Knicks have two more losses than the 76ers, who might have the least talent in the NBA. Philadelphia never pretended it could compete for the playoffs, but the Knicks thought they would. Phil Jackson said as much.
Yet the Knicks have the NBA's second-worst record, have lost 15 of 16 and will take a five-game losing streak into their Christmas Day game against the Wizards.
"I don't have the right answer or the explanation to know why we are in this situation," Prigioni said. "I'm a positive guy and I always think the next game is going to be better than the last game. And 30 games into the season and we are in a very bad position."
The championship runs that first-time president Jackson and first-time coach Derek Fisher experienced were supposed to help change the culture, and the triangle offense was going to take the load off Anthony and make the Knicks hard to guard -- no matter the talent level.
But none of that has happened. The triangle critics believe more than ever that it's not effective unless you have Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'Neal.
There has been a players-only meeting, resistance to the system and a heated on-court exchange between Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. Jackson used Twitter last week to defend himself and his team against critics in the media.
Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, Jose Calderon, Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani have missed multiple games.
But other teams have won without key players.
When the Knicks were 3-11 last season, Anthony said they were "in a dark place," and after they fell to 3-13, he called them "the laughingstock of the league." He hasn't been as colorful this season after signing a five-year, $124-million contract.
Anthony is down and searching for answers, and also is navigating through a left knee problem, but he doesn't want to "shut it down" and rest or perhaps have surgery.
But there could come a point when that's the most prudent thing.
"I kind of try to approach each day as a new day," he said. "Try to stay positive throughout this whole situation. Just keep believing that it will turn around one day. I've got to be strong for myself mentally and then for the other guys, who probably are not taking it as well."
Prigioni said the Knicks are putting in the work, but something is missing.
"I think everybody is trying to do their best," he said. "But it's like we need something. I don't know what [that] is. We fight, we compete against everybody, but at the end of the game, we don't have that energy or that mentality to put the game in our pocket. It's tough."
Notes & quotes: The NBA fined Samuel Dalembert $15,000 for elbowing Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas in the face Sunday.