GREENBURGH, N.Y -- The New York Knicks are at the tail end of a lost season. Most of the fan base is content to see the team lose its final eight games and earn a top pick in June’s draft.
But the players still want to win -- and a couple of Knicks say they will have extra motivation on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.
“We know that our season hasn’t gone the way that we wanted it too. But we also know that we’re playing a lot of teams that are positioning themselves for the playoffs. Brooklyn, especially, they’re trying to get into that playoff picture. They’re right there with Boston. We know that we can kind of be that spoiler,” Jason Smith said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think that gives us a lot of energy, motivation. We haven’t had a [good] type season but we want to go out there and kind of ruin everybody else’s season, too.”
Added Cleanthony Early: “Things are already messed up, let’s mess some other things up.”
New York will have a chance to do just that on Wednesday against the Nets.
Brooklyn entered play Tuesday percentage points behind Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
In addition to the Nets, the Knicks play Indiana next week. As of Tuesday, the Pacers were a half game behind Boston and Brooklyn. So the Knicks will have an opportunity to impact the race for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
"We use that as a lot of motivation," Smith said.
Ruining opponents' playoff plans is all that’s left for the Knicks in a season that has gone horribly wrong.
The team is 14-60 entering Wednesday’s game. That is the worst record in the NBA. The 2014-15 Knicks are the first team in the franchise’s 69-year history to lose 60 games.
Beating Brooklyn would provide a small amount of relief amid a season of disappointment.
“We don’t have a chance of making the playoffs. We know that. We want to make sure that other teams don’t really get that chance either, especially Brooklyn, our hometown rival,” Smith said.
Hardaway Jr. out: Tim Hardaway Jr. will sit against Brooklyn with a right wrist injury. Derek Fisher said Hardaway Jr. still can’t shoot with his right hand. “We know he loves to shoot,” Fisher joked.
Shved watch: Sources say Alexey Shved, out with the rest of the season with a rib injury, would be open to a return to the Knicks. New York’s interest in Shved is unclear at this point.
Fisher says fans are patient: Fisher was asked about Phil Jackson’s note to season-ticket holders in which he told fans to “remain optimistic.”
“I think our fans, they appreciate how difficult it is to be successful so I don’t think that they expect us to be able to just snap our fingers and win games or win a championship,” the coach said. “But Phil’s message is our message. That we do have a path and we’re going to continue to work until we get farther down that path and down that road. And it’s the actions that will set the table. We have the money, we have the draft picks, we have the ability to build whatever it is we want to build here, which is a gift. But we have to utilize that gift properly.”