Down three with three minutes to go, the Knicks went scoreless over the next two minutes and allowed the Phoenix Suns to run off six straight points to seal a 99-90 win at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks fell to 5-24 -- the worst record in franchise history through 29 games. New York has one more loss than Philadelphia, which has the worst record in the league at 2-23. The Knicks have also lost four in a row overall, 14 of 15 and seven straight at Madison Square Garden. They are 3-12 at home.
Close, but no cigar: The Knicks fell to 3-16 in games that were within five points with five minutes to play. That is the second-worst winning percentage in the NBA in such situations. On Saturday, New York was outscored 17-12 in the final five minutes. Point guard Eric Bledsoe had 11 of the 17 points. The Knicks walked off the floor to boos from the Garden crowd after Bledsoe torched them late.
Melo plays: One of the lone bright spots for the Knicks was Carmelo Anthony. Playing on a sore right knee, Anthony had 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. Jose Calderon also played well on offense with 21 points (5-of-6 from 3-point land), five rebounds and three assists. Tim Hardaway Jr. struggled with his shot, with 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting. He missed four of his five 3-point attempts.
Question: If you’re Phil Jackson, do you make a trade to shake up the team? If so, who do you trade for?
“Every team that is going to be available for me is going to be an option,” the Phoenix point guard said before Saturday’s game against the Knicks. “I think New York, they have great base of fans, [a] great basketball organization [and] in the past few years they didn’t play so well. ... That luck can change quick. It’s still too soon to think about that.”
Dragic has a $7.5 million player option for the 2015-16 season that he is expected to decline. Phoenix, according to reports, will make re-signing Dragic a priority. But between Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe, they have $14.4 million dedicated to the point guard position next season.
So Dragic may be deemed expendable. There have also been reports that Phoenix would explore its trade options with the 28-year-old Dragic.
Dragic insisted on Saturday that he’s not thinking about free agency at this point in the season.
Instead, he’s focusing on the daily grind of the NBA season with the Suns.
For what it’s worth, though, Dragic did say that he disagrees with Charles Barkley’s theory that free agents will not be attracted to the Knicks because of the Phil Jackson factor.
“Why not? He did an amazing job with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers,” Dragic told ESPN New York. “I know right now he’s in a different situation -- he’s not coaching that team. But still, I think he has enough knowledge -- he won so many championships -- that he knows what he needs to bring to try to get the team better.”
Dragic added: “You have the great Phil Jackson on this team and then the fans are amazing. Every game is sold out.”
He also didn't think that the Knicks' poor record would be a deterrent for potential free agents.
"It can change quickly," he said.
The Knicks have started the season 5-23. So the light at the end of the tunnel for fans is New York's potential to be a big player in free agency this summer and its first-round draft pick.
The Knicks are expected to have enough cap space to sign a max free agent this summer. So they will have plenty of money to make a strong offer to one of the big names on the market.
It sounds like Dragic will be interested.
Question: Do you think the Knicks should make a big offer to Goran Dragic this summer?
Markieff Morris added 19 points for the Suns, who won their second straight after a six-game skid.
Thomas made a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, giving Phoenix the lead for good and triggering an 8-0 burst. Marcus Morris made another and Alex Lin tipped in a miss for a 75-68 lead, and the Knicks were playing catch-up from there.
Carmelo Anthony had 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks after missing a game with a sore left knee, but he was on the bench for a rest when the Suns surged into the lead. New York has lost four straight and is 5-24.
Barkley shared his thoughts on Friday on “The Mike Lupica Show” on ESPN New York 98.7 FM -- a day after he into a war of words with the Knicks’ president during the Knicks-Bulls telecast.
“This theory that [the Knicks] got all these expiring contracts, they got all this money, that people are going just be flocking to New York because of the great Phil Jackson, I think it’s a flawed theory,” Barkley told Lupica. “You got to admire and respect what Phil Jackson has accomplished but this notion that all these free agents are going to give up [money]? ... To think guys are going to turn down $30, $40, $50 million dollars to come to New York just because you got Phil Jackson, I just think that’s a flawed theory.”
All of those players would have to accept a contract worth less money and with one less year to sign with the Knicks instead of their current club.
Barkley also reiterated that he thinks the Knicks (5-23) are struggling because they are asking players on expiring contracts to run an offense (the triangle) that asks for selfless play. The Knicks have nine players playing in the final year of their contracts.
“All these guys are going to be free agents,” Barkley told Lupica. “They’re not trying to win. They’re trying to put up good numbers and audition because they know that they’re not going to be with the Knicks next year. So instead of, maybe let’s do the triangle and average 8 points per game, I’d rather average 16 points per game and get me a big contract on some other team next year. This system was flawed from the beginning. ... They’re really auditioning for other teams, they’re not going to buy into the triangle ... so it puts Derek [Fisher] in an awkward situation.”
Fisher said last week that having so many players on the final year of their contracts is not conducive to building good team chemistry, so Barkley may have a point there.
Barkley touched on a few other Knicks topics:
The Tyson Chandler trade: “You don’t trade Tyson Chandler, you don’t. He was your second-best player on your team, he was a great character guy. He was a hard-working guy.”
On Phil Jackson calling him out on Twitter: “Phil Jackson is too old and too important to be doing Twitter. He’s Phil Jackson -- he does know that right?”
Barkley added: “Everybody can say that the Detroit Pistons stink. But Phil Jackson doesn’t want you to say the exact same thing about the Knicks. That’s the thing that annoys me. People want you to be honest unless they disagree with you.”
On criticizing the Knicks: “I don’t dislike the Knicks. I think it would great if the Knicks had a good team, great for the NBA, but when you’re team is 5-23 you stink, plain and simple. ... I didn’t think they would be this bad. I thought they would be battling for the 7th, 8th spot in the East because there’s only four legitimate teams in the Eastern Conference.”
Question: Do you agree with Barkley or do you think free agents will come to play for Phil?
New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher knows the idea “sounds crazy.”
But he remains confident that the Knicks will make a run at the playoffs this season.
“I think if we can get healthy and we can continue to build confidence in one another [and] in what we can do, we’ll still have a shot at the right time,” Fisher said Thursday.
At 5-23, the Knicks are off to the worst start in franchise history. They enter play Friday seven games behind Brooklyn for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Given all of that, the idea that they can make the playoffs seems far-fetched.
What gives Fisher confidence that the Knicks can make a run for the eighth seed?
“How we’ve lost a lot of games that we have lost. That, I think, is also in my opinion confirmation that we’re not as far away as it seems,” Fisher said. “Although that sounds crazy with  losses. To think about being [seven] games from still being kind of in the race is somewhat mind-boggling, but it’s a very long season.”
To Fisher’s point, the Knicks have played in 18 games in which they’ve been five points ahead or behind with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks are 3-15 in those games -- the worst record in the NBA in "clutch" situations. That's part of the reason they're 18 games under .500.
At this point in the season, the Knicks face extremely long odds to make the playoffs.
John Hollinger’s playoff metric states that the Knicks have just a 2.4 percent chance of getting to the postseason.
In Hollinger’s projection system, a computer plays out the remainder of the season 5,000 times to see the potential range of projected outcomes. The results reveal the most likely win-loss record for each team -- and what the odds are for each team to make the NBA playoffs.
So things don’t look good for New York.
Here’s another factor to consider when you talk about the Knicks and the postseason: If New York somehow sneaks into the playoffs, the club will be out of the draft lottery.
However, if the Knicks continue to lose, their probability increases for getting a top pick in June's NBA draft.
No gifts this season: The folks at the NBA got creative in this ad campaign to promote the Christmas Day games. Check them out here and here. The Knicks play the Wizards on Christmas at noon on ESPN.
Question: Do you think the Knicks should make a playoff push? Or should they be content with losing the rest of the season to ensure a top draft pick?
ESPN.com Bulls reporter Nick Friedell contributed to this report.
The New York Knicks' rough start is going to cost Madison Square Garden shareholders a projected $6 million in profits.
The estimate was put forth Friday by Rich Tullo, director of research for Albert Fried & Company, which covers the MSG stock.
"As the Harlem Globetrotters are the only New York professional [basketball] team winning in Madison Square Garden this season, we cut our estimates to reflect light TV ratings," Tullo wrote.
Through last week, the New York Daily News reported that average viewers per game was down almost 20 percent as compared to a similar point in the season last year.
"Following more than 20 games highlighted by creative destruction, we think the sample set is large enough to determine lower estimates," Tullo wrote.
At 5-23, the Knicks have the second-worst winning percentage in the league (.179), ahead of only the Philadelphia 76ers.
Tullo said that Madison Square Garden is insulated somewhat from a bad season in that only 30 percent of revenues from the MSG Network come from advertising, while the rest is made up of affiliate fees that are locked in. Ticket revenues are also a somewhat steady business.
"Our view is New York in the winter is a basketball town," Tullo wrote. "Thus owing to great teams visiting the Knicks and sports tourists, we think the demand for 41 Knicks games and its 18,500 seats is somewhat inelastic in the short term."
Over the last three months, MSG stock is actually up more than 14 percent.
Barkley, a TNT analyst, was calling the Knicks-Bulls game for the network.
Jackson apparently didn’t like what Barkley had to say.
The Knicks president tweeted during the broadcast:
do I have to mute this game? Chuck just remember your fundamental...key to ▲— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) December 19, 2014
Barkley responded at halftime by saying, “I can respect Phil Jackson ... But he’s too old to be tweeting.”
Barkley added: “He takes it personal when people talk about the triangle. ... You need players, the league has always been about players, and always will be.”
Barkley is a longtime critic of the Knicks, but this season it’s hard to argue with anyone who is tough on the team.
New York fell to 5-23 with Thursday’s loss and is off to the worst start through 28 games in franchise history.
One issue for the Knicks, according to Barkley, is that their players in the final years of their contracts aren’t fully committed to the triangle.
“These guys aren’t trying to run the triangle and make it look pretty, they’re just trying to get numbers,” he said.
Question: Do you agree with Barkley? Are the Knicks not fully committed to the triangle?
Effort wasn’t an issue for the New York Knicks on Thursday night. Talent was.
The undermanned Knicks fought for 48 minutes against the Chicago Bulls but came up short to lose their third straight game.
New York fell to 5-23, the worst record in franchise history through 28 games.
With Derrick Rose out, Chicago was led by Jimmy Butler, who had 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.
Pau Gasol had 20 points, including a layup in traffic to put Chicago up three with under a minute to play. Gasol’s layup basically sealed the win for the Bulls, who have taken seven straight home games against the Knicks.
Short-handed: With Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert out, the Knicks started five players that Derek Fisher probably never thought he’d ask to start a game.
Jose Calderon and Tim Hardaway Jr. started in the backcourt along side Travis Wear, Amar'e Stoudemire and Cole Aldrich in the frontcourt.
The Knicks battled throughout, going on a 7-0 run to cut Chicago’s lead to one with under five minutes to play. But they couldn’t get over the hump. Anthony sat due to soreness in his right knee.
STAT suits up: Stoudemire didn’t think he was going to play in the morning but told reporters he was going to suit up with Anthony out. Say what you want about Stoudemire, but he has shown strong leadership qualities for a Knicks team in transition this season. Stoudemire had 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with 23 points.
Question: Do you think Carmelo Anthony should sit out for an extended period?
Playing without Rose, who sat out with an illness, the Bulls got another strong game from Butler. He was 11 of 21 from the floor with four 3-pointers, five rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Still, the Bulls had trouble shaking a short-handed New York team that's lost three straight and 13 of 14. The Knicks were led by Tim Hardaway Jr., who had 23 points and five 3-pointers.
Samuel Dalembert made a basket with 2 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Knicks a 74-73 lead heading into the fourth. New York outscored the Bulls 29-21 in the third, holding Chicago to six field goals.
Fivethirtyeight.com has taken a look at every NBA team’s chances of winning an NBA title by 2018-19.
It used three factors to determine the odds:
1. How good is the team now?
2. How old is the team?
3. How good is its best player?
The outlook isn’t pretty for the Knicks.
According to Nate Silver, the founder and editor-in-chief of Fivethirtyeight.com, the Knicks have a 3 percent chance of winning an NBA title over the next five seasons.
You can look at the full results here.
Jackson, of course, hopes to defy those odds. The Knicks, who haven’t won a title since 1973, are off to a horrendous start this season. They are 5-22 -- the worst start in franchise history through 27 games.
But Jackson’s plan is to rebuild the team through free agency and the draft.
The Knicks have a first-round draft pick in 2015, and they expect to have significant cap space this summer to chase free agents.
The plan is to add a free agent or two around Carmelo Anthony and chase a title while Anthony is still in or near his prime.
But the odds, according to Silver, are against that happening.
He also said that those questioning the trade should "relax."
"I'm OK with the Dallas deal. Tyson fits there and our three players, Jose, Sam, and Shane are on the court," he tweeted in response to a writer who opined the Dallas Mavericks got the better end of the trade.
Jackson's first trade as president of the Knicks sent Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavericks in exchange for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin and two second-round picks (Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo).
Thanks in part to the stellar play of Chandler, the Mavericks are off to a 19-8 record. The Knicks are 5-22, the worst start in franchise history through 27 games.
Whether Chandler could have helped this year's team is up for debate. Maybe Chandler, who is in the final year of his contract, could have helped on the boards. The Knicks are getting outrebounded by an average of 2.7 rebounds per night, the fifth worst differential in the NBA.
Chandler is averaging 11.5 rebounds per game, the fifth highest total in the league entering play Thursday.
Jackson defended the trade in a series of tweets.
CHICAGO -- New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony sat out Thursday night's 103-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls because of left knee soreness and admitted before Thursday's shootaround that people close to him are trying to get him to shut things down for a few weeks.
"I have multiple people say kind of just shut it down," Anthony said. "Or just take time off. But at the end of the day, it's hard for me to just do that right now in the midst of what's happening with the team and this season. So just trying to be smart about that."
Anthony said the knee started acting up again in Tuesday night's loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and he acknowledged that he didn't do much during Wednesday's practice. He wanted to warm up tonight before making a final decision.
"It gets frustrating," he said. "Not knowing what's going to happen kind of with your body. So for me it's just taking it as the days come."
Anthony was hopeful that his knee would feel better with a few more days of treatment and said that "some days are better than others" as far as the pain in the knee goes. He has been feeling soreness since the Knicks' second game of the season. The team's medical staff has told him his condition will not improve if he continues to play -- but it also will not worsen.
He isn't sure what it would take to finally make the decision to rest it for a while. He said earlier this month that he would consider surgery as a last option.