“This season and last season is no comparison,” Carmelo Anthony said late Saturday. “It’s a different year, a different team. As long as we continue to get better, then we can make a push for the playoffs.”
That’s the big question facing Mills and the Knicks’ front office over the next 18 days:
What do they have to do before the Feb. 20 trade deadline -- if anything -- to put this team in a position to make a legitimate run in the playoffs?
And, more importantly, what do they have to do to convince Anthony that it’s worthwhile to stick around beyond this year?
For what it’s worth, Anthony has sounded more optimistic about the season in recent days.
The Knicks will enter play Monday one game out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference after going 4-4 on their home stand.
“We lost some games that we thought we should have won that but that's neither here nor there. I like the direction that we're going in as far as our mentality, our focus,” Anthony said. “We've got to bounce back on Monday.”
Mike Woodson’s club has been injury plagued for most of the year.
It started with Tyson Chandler’s leg fracture in early November. It continued with ankle injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. Also, Raymond Felton has missed time with hamstring and hip injuries. And Iman Shumpert is out now with a shoulder ailment.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries; that affects how you play as a ball club,” Woodson said. “And it affects chemistry. It affects rotation. When you don’t have enough guys to practice, it affects how you come out of practice and go into a game.”
That’s one issue that Mills & Co. needs to consider as the trade deadline approaches: does New York have enough talent on its roster to, when healthy, compete with the top teams in the East?