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Report: Playoff expectations from front office weighed heavily on Knicks players


The New York Knicks had a heavy burden to bear, as the front office set a high bar of expectations for the players — one they likely feel to this day.

Prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, members of the front office addressed the players with two distinct messages, according to SNY’s Ian Begley:

  1. They said, in no uncertain terms, that they believed that the Knicks were a playoff team and anything less than that was a disappointment.
  2. Players who were entering free agency in the summer of 2020 were told that they would be judged much more heavily on the team’s win-loss record than their individual play.

The losses started to pile on for the Knicks, and the players began to tighten up, as many were hoping to stay beyond their first season. The Knicks gave most of their free agents a one-and-one deal — a two-year deal with an option for the second season — giving them plenty of reason to worry about their livelihood as the team kept losing under coach David Fizdale, who ultimately was fired after a 4-18 start to the season.

One person admitted as much to Begley:

“They were definitely playing tight,” one person in touch with those players at the time said. “(Some of the players eligible for 2020 free agency) were already worried about next summer.”

While the front office might have been trying to motivate a group of young players, they ended up unnerving them, as they played frazzled through the starting stretch of the season.

The Knicks are 12-33 on the season, 14th in the Eastern Conference and far away from the playoff picture. If the front office edict holds true, expect not to see many of the players the Knicks signed in the offseason with the team for the long haul.