The Knicks enter the second half of the season at 23-32 and in 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings. They resume play on Friday night in Brooklyn against the Nets.
Here are three key questions they face:
1. Deal or not to deal?
The Knicks would like to do something by Thursday’s trade deadline, with point guard their biggest area of need. An athletic, versatile wing player, a shooter and draft picks also are on their wish list. But beyond Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, they might not have much that other teams desire. Anthony has said he won’t waive his no-trade clause, so unless he has a change of heart and the Knicks decide they are willing to move him, he will stay put. Porzingis, a franchise cornerstone, isn’t going anywhere.
2. How is Anthony physically and mentally?
His left knee issues remain a concern, but Anthony said he will try to push through and play the remaining 27 games. What bothered him most over All-Star Weekend were a recent trade rumor and — barring a very strong finish — the likelihood that the Knicks will miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Anthony went to Puerto Rico to unwind for a couple of days, but spending the weekend with other stars, some of whom tried to recruit him, could make him begin to rethink his commitment to the Knicks.
3. Can Kurt Rambis make a push to stick around?
Rambis, a close friend of Phil Jackson’s, has a chance to have the interim removed from his title and be the coach next season if he can get the Knicks to play defense, play with more urgency and make a playoff push. The Knicks appeared to be a team that could contend for a playoff spot earlier in the season, but after going 22-22, they entered the break having lost six straight and 10 of 11, which led to Derek Fisher’s dismissal.