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Are the Knicks a playoff contender?

Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher, Kurt Rambis; these are all winners when it comes to basketball.  The New York Knicks before these personalities arrived to the big apple this offseason?  Not winners.  Will these winning minds help the Knicks turn the corner and contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference?  That remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the Knicks should be better than last year.

Coming off of a 37-45 campaign last season, the Knicks can only go up from here.  Phil Jackson is a no-nonsense guy and it will be interesting to see how the players respond to his philosophies . A lot of the bad air has been released from last year's team, as Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler are gone.  The Knicks have upgraded at guard in Jose Calderon and have an exciting guard in Cleanthony Early from Witchita State.  The Knicks have the talent to be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.  After all, they do have a top five scorer in Carmelo Anthony on their roster.  

If the Knicks don't make the playoffs this year, then when?  I am not saying they should get home court advantage throughout the playoffs, but why can't they be an eight seed?  All they have to do is go .500, that is it.  Is it too much to ask?  

Carmelo, you want to make the playoffs?  Just play some defense!  If Carmelo Anthony put a little more effort into playing defense, the Knicks would be five to ten games better than they usually are.  I am not saying it is only on Melo', but if he's being paid like a superstar, he should be held to that standard.

My one concern for this season? J.R. Smith.  Why is he still on this team?  The fact that he has even said that he was not as focused last season is all I need to hear!  How can you keep a guy like that on your team?  Yes, he has talent, but it doesn't outweigh his baggage.  I want to believe in Phil, but I am astounded as to why he has kept J.R. on this team.

If the Knicks can buy into the triangle offense, they should be alright.  But if the Knicks don't make the playoffs, this season should be considered a failure.  

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