Derrick Rose is no longer the only New York Knicks guard to make a bold, public proclamation about the team’s chances next season. After Rose put the Knicks in the same category as the Golden State Warriors and did not take his chance to back down from his “superteam” quote, guard Courtney Lee told Basketball Insiders that they are championship contenders:
“We’re contenders, man. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, but we’re looking to change that and win big. The ring is the ultimate goal for everybody on the team; I know it is for me. When they talked to me and told me about the pieces they were adding alongside the players who were already there, I didn’t think anything less than a championship [was the goal]. We’re trying to get the Knicks back into the playoffs and win big. … Everybody is hungry and everybody has their own motivation or chip on their shoulder. We just need to come together, get that chemistry and see it click. Once everybody is together and everybody is hungry, I think we can be very scary.”
Before talking about New York in particular, a disclaimer: Training camp hasn’t started yet. Everybody is optimistic. In the same piece on Basketball Insiders, Indiana Pacers big man Myles Turner said that his team should finish no worse than third in the Eastern Conference and Sacramento Kings guard Garrett Temple said his team should push for a playoff spot. This time last year, various members of the Los Angeles Lakers organization said they were good enough to make the postseason. It would be weird if Lee said that the Knicks were going to be under .500 again.
Let’s be serious, though. The Knicks are not contenders. They are nowhere near contenders. Outside of the Cleveland Cavaliers, no team in the Eastern Conference looks championship-caliber. Even if you’re assuming the best about their starting lineup — it has been years since both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were fully healthy at the same time — it is difficult to be confident in New York’s bench.
As a competitor, of course Lee should be confident in himself and his teammates. It would do him no good to enter a season thinking negatively. For this particular Knicks team, though, this season should be seen as a huge success if they just sneak into the playoffs and see some development from Kristaps Porzingis. Setting expectations higher than that is dangerous.
Source: CBS Sports / Knicks’ Courtney Lee: ‘We’re contenders, man’