The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are two of the most storied franchises in NBA history.
They were also two of the worst teams in the league last year. The Knicks went 17-65 and finished last in the East, while he Lakers went 21-61 and finished second-last in the West.
Last year wasn’t an anomaly, either. Well, at least not for the Knicks. New York has advanced past the first round of the playoffs just once since 2000, while Los Angeles has missed the playoffs in each of the last two years and hasn’t been to the conference finals since 2010.
So, which franchise is in worse shape?
“Well, I think the Knicks are worse because the Knicks can’t sell tradition like the Lakers can,” Bleacher Report NBA writer Ethan Skolnick said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They’re both a little bit in the same boat. They’re learning that being a big market is really not that important these days. Kevin Durant became a huge superstar in Oklahoma City – coming from Seattle obviously, but really in Oklahoma City. We’ve seen players in small markets (thrive). Damian Lillard in Portland has gotten big deals. People know who Marc Gasol is in Memphis. He was first team All-NBA and he was an All-Star starter. So you don’t need to play in New York or Los Angeles or Boston or Chicago to get the kind of attention that you used to need those cities for.”
Indeed, the times have changed, which means the Lakers and Knicks need to change, too.
“I think the Lakers have to reinvent themselves,” Skolnick said. “They have to be smarter. They’re not an organization that uses analytics. They gave Kobe a big deal. I mean, people talk about Dwyane’s deal, but Dwyane’s was a one-year deal for $20 million. Kobe’s was two years for $48 (million). That prevented them from doing some things the past couple years. Plus, Kobe is not the kind of guy that other players on other teams are going to want to play with – not because he’s not great, but because he’s very hard to play with. He’s hard on other players. Obviously he likes to shoot quite a bit.
“The Knicks have a little bit of the same problem with Carmelo,” Skolnick continued. “He’s not a LeBron. He’s not a player who’s going to attract other players. LeBron attracts other players and was able to get some veterans to Cleveland and other guys to stay with him in Cleveland. And I think he’ll be able to do that going forward – easier than he did the first time when he wasn’t a champion yet.”
As for the Knicks and Lakers, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but neither franchise can see it yet.
“I think they’re both in a bad spot,” Skolnick said. “I think you should feel a little bit more comfortable with Phil (Jackson) maybe than you would with sort of the way the things are going for the (Buss family) out there. But then again, Phil is new to this, too. I thought he did a pretty good job on draft night, but I think he’s finding that just his name and the Knicks’ name is not enough to bring in big-time free agents.”