Knicks Unlikely to Return When NBA Season Resumes

Jesse Pantuosco
May 30, 2020 - 1:24 pm

The NBA seems all but certain to return this summer and when it does, the New York Knicks will likely be watching from home. Owners are expected to green-light a July 31st return when the Board of Governors meets next Thursday with the majority of teams in support of commissioner Adam Silver’s plan to resume the season with 20-22 teams. That would give teams on the playoff bubble including the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs (all within a half-game of each other in the Western Conference standings) an opportunity to punch their postseason tickets.

The Knicks, of course, are not anywhere near what would qualify as the playoff bubble. Saddled with a sluggish, though not entirely unexpected 21-45 record (striking out with free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving certainly didn’t help), New York’s .318 winning percentage ranks 25th out of 30 NBA teams. Furthermore, the Knicks trail the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic (not exactly world-beaters themselves at 30-35) by 9.5 games for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff berth.

With playoff chances bordering on zero, there’s not much incentive for the Knicks to spend the next two months prepping for a handful (at most) of meaningless games amid a global pandemic. All-Star Damian Lillard expressed earlier this week that he’d only suit up if the Trail Blazers had a realistic chance of playing in the postseason and he’s not alone in that camp with Michael Jordan and others showing similar skepticism. Silver’s chief priority has always been player safety (hence the NBA’s decision to set up shop in Orlando), making it unlikely that all 30 teams will be present for the league’s reopening in July.

Once the Knicks’ wrap up their season, New York can begin its coaching search in earnest with former Bulls and Timberwolves bench boss Tom Thibodeau considered the overwhelming favorite to replace interim coach Mike Miller. Beat reporter Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News confirms Thibodeau is confident he’ll get the position.