ESPN Forecast: Knicks finish 38-44

Carmelo is back and he has Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher to run things.

The Knicks should be better than last season right? Well, according to ESPN’s NBA Insider forecast, the Knicks will be one win better than last season.

That’s right, ESPN Forecast predicts the Knicks to go 38-44 and finish ninth in the Eastern Conference, one spot behind the Brooklyn Nets. Ouch.

Insider’s Jordan Brenner writes: “It's hard to imagine things being much better for the Knicks. They have the makings of a fairly effective offense, but their defense could be dreadful, especially after subtracting [Tyson] Chandler and adding [Jose] Calderon to a unit that already struggled at that end.”

Last year, SCHOENE correctly predicted the Knicks would finish 37-45 but had the Knicks placing seventh in the East. They did not make the playoffs, ending in the ninth spot.

This year, SCHOENE projects the Knicks to finish with a 32-50 record.

Jackson made changes to the roster, jettisoning Chandler and Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin. He drafted Cleanthony Early and added the likes of Jason Smith, Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw.

And of course, Jackson hired Fisher to coach. It remains to be seen how this current cast of Knicks will do in the triangle system before Jackson can potentially bring in significant help next summer.

For what it’s worth, my prediction is the Knicks will win 42 games. I definitely think there will be growing pains with the triangle. Fisher has never coached before and there will plenty of bumps in the road. Mastering the triangle is also no easy task. It could take months if not the season to learn it.

But last season, the Knicks lost a few games looking completely unmotivated. The Knicks also lost some games due to mental mistakes and lack of execution late. My guess is that the Knicks won’t lack motivation this season under a new coaching staff with Phil keeping a watchful eye as he assesses who to keep around.

Also, there are key players on contract years as well. Carmelo Anthony wants to prove that he can win playing it Phil’s way in the triangle and that he made the right decision by re-signing with the Knicks. Also, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are looking for bounce-back seasons.

Yes, the Knicks defense could be severely challenged on many nights. The offense might struggle to adapt to the triangle and there could be some ugly nights. But the Knicks have enough talent around Melo to win 42 games provided they can stay healthy.

What do you think of the ESPN Forecast prediction and what is your prediction for the season?