New York Knicks 2016-17 season review: The oral history of yet another disaster

The 2016-17 New York Knicks brought their fans nothing but misery. They finished 31-51, one game worse than the year before. On their way to their fourth straight season out of the playoffs, the Knicks provided seemingly endless drama and dysfunction and a lot of really bad basketball. We've already taken a look at how to fix the Knicks, but let's have one last look back at everything that went wrong, through the words of the characters involved. 

Part 1: The summer of hope

June 3: "There must be something about the word triangle. Maybe we'll call it the circle offense. To me, it's just a way to space the floor. When I was talking with Coach in L.A. and started looking at things that I would like to do out of the triangle offense, he goes, 'Yeah, you can run whatever play you want out of the triangle offense.'" -- Coach Jeff Hornacek, meeting the New York media for the first time.

June 24: "I don't know why I was traded, but I would like to tell them thank you [for] giving me another start. I'm grateful to be where I'm at. I could have been anywhere. Not saying all the other teams are bad places, but to be in this market, the legacy and history of basketball, coming from the rivalry with Chicago and New York, I'm grateful to be here. I feel like they're gonna appreciate me a little bit more." --  Derrick Rose , meeting the New York media for the first time.

June 27: "I feel a bit more confident now that we actually made that move, made that decision. It shows me they're looking at now, and not the future just yet. The time is now. We have to capitalize on what we have right now. Of course the front office also has to look at the big picture, but the time is now." -- Carmelo Anthony , praising the Rose trade

July 7: "We're contenders, man. They didn't make the playoffs last year, but we're looking to change that and win big. The ring is the ultimate goal for everybody on the team; I know it is for me. When they talked to me and told me about the pieces they were adding alongside the players who were already there, I didn't think anything less than a championship [was the goal]. We're trying to get the Knicks back into the playoffs and win big. ... Everybody is hungry and everybody has their own motivation or chip on their shoulder. We just need to come together, get that chemistry and see it click. Once everybody is together and everybody is hungry, I think we can be very scary." -- Courtney Lee , less than a week after signing with the Knicks

July 8: "I took a plane, went to Montana and I knocked on [Phil Jackson's] door. We started talking. 'Why are you here?' [he asked]. I said, 'I don't know.' It was a great couple of days -- an opportunity to meet one of the legends and spend time with him. Life works in mysterious ways and now we're here." -- Joakim Noah , telling reporters about his unannounced visit to Jackson's home five years before signing with the Knicks at the behest of a dentist

July 14: "Here's what: We have brought change to the Knicks team. The real dimension of change is how much the players what to unite in this change. It's not about bonding and being friends, it's about joining in the effort of playing HARD on every effort. #respect" -- Jackson, tweeting

July 18: "The front office stepped up. It was a collective effort. They did their job and did what they had to do to make things happen. Now they've put us in the situation to give us an opportunity. All we have to do is take advantage of it. I want no credit … He did it for me? Thank you, Phil. I'll take it." -- Anthony, gushing over the offseason moves

July 21: "[Expectations are] high. I mean, with these teams right now, they're saying us and Golden State are the superteams, and they're trying not to build that many superteams, and Adam Silver came out with the statement and this and that. And the expectations I think of us, we just want to win. Talking to Melo and all the guys who've been around. You've got Brandon [Jennings] who just signed for one year, he's got to show why he's there. I've got to show why I'm there. Joakim [Noah] has to show why he's there. Everybody's trying to prove themselves." -- Rose

Aug. 15: "I still believe that. With that superteam term, I have to be careful with that term, I guess if you're in the United States." -- Rose, given a chance to clarify or amend his statement about the Knicks being a superteam while on a promotional trip in China

Sept. 7: "I don't know what to expect with the team. I'm expecting something good but I don't know, really, like, in detail what to expect. Am I going to run pick-and-roll with K.P.? Am I going to run it with Melo? If Melo has the ball, am I going to come off and set a ramp of picks coming down the court? Like, I don't know how we're going to play and the style we're going to play. I think we're going to play an up-tempo-type pace and probably use the triangle here and there. But right now, nobody knows." -- Rose, perhaps the only starting point guard unsure about his team's system in September.

Sept. 15: "Playoffs is good, but just making the first round isn't good enough. So I'm going to go out on a limb and put a little more pressure on us. If we make the playoffs, we've got to get out of the first round." --  Brandon Jennings , optimist

Sept. 17: "Obviously, the No. 1 goal is the playoffs this year. That's where my head is at. I can't be thinking nothing past that. Right now it's the playoffs." -- Kristaps Porzingis , thinking one step at a time

Sept. 23: "Fiscally, I've been very responsible as president. I don't think I really had opportunity with personnel, [but] we've been successful to get in a position where we could operate as a basketball team. That's been our first goal. Eat some dung in the process. We had to do that and live with it. The proof is in the pudding in that this team will prove it is capable." -- Jackson at media day

Oct. 9: "Guys, first of all, don't like to run it. But secondly, it makes it very difficult to get easy buckets early in the offense and I think in today's game those early buckets are nice to get. We're not running it every time. We're mixing it here and there." --  Hornacek on the triangle offense, after two preseason games

Oct. 22: "I love it. Playing with the ball in my hands. Something I always like. Last couple of years, the offense, we didn't run the pick-and-roll. That wasn't the type of offense we were trying to play. This is more the style of play where it calls for me to have the ball in my hands, playing pick-and-roll, figure out the defense, use mismatches. I'm all for it." -- Anthony on the Knicks' new offense

Carmelo Anthony Derrick Rose
Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose take questions at media day. USATSI

Part 2: The season begins

Oct. 25: "We will improve -- I guarantee that. We will get better, especially defense. That should be more of our focus.'' -- Anthony after the Knicks' 117-88 opening-night loss in Cleveland

Oct. 25: "Of course I want to pick-and-roll every time down but with the triangle … you got to get used to it so it's not that foreign." -- Rose after his first regular-season game as a Knick

Nov. 2: "We run the triangle, we practice against it a lot. I think we need to practice against pick and rolls, practice against other looks and whatnot and get accustomed, get comfortable with that. Because that's what other teams are running. They're coming in here, they're spacing the floor and doing that and we're not getting stops." -- Lee, following a 118-99 loss at home against Houston

Nov. 7: "I'm tired of hearing about the triangle, man." -- Anthony, a day before a report that Jackson is unhappy with New York's limited use of the triangle offense in its 2-4 start

Nov. 8: "Whether we're comfortable with it or not, it is what it is so we have to buy into it." -- Anthony, offering a ringing endorsement of assistant coach Kurt Rambis being put in charge of the defense

Nov. 9: "When we get on the same page, we see this team climbing and growing and getting better. They all want to do it. They're all frustrated with themselves and how they're playing. They know they're better than how they've executed on the floor. It's going to take a while. I don't know how long, but it will take a while. Once it happens, our team will really take off.'' -- Rambis, who also directly criticized Porzingis for being tentative when he gets in foul trouble

Nov. 14: "When LeBron was playing with the Miami Heat , they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night. They don't do overnights. Teams just don't. So now [coach Erik] Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, 'What do I do in this situation?' And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, 'You are on the plane, you are with this team.' You can't hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland." -- Jackson, answering a question about Heat president Pat Riley's communication style

Nov. 15: "It just sucks that now at this point, having one of the biggest businesses that you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter that has done so many great businesses, that the title for young African-Americans is the word 'posse.' So, for me, we see the success that we had, but then there's always someone that lets you know how far we still have to go as African-Americans." -- LeBron James , who added that he has lost respect for Jackson

Nov. 15: "When it comes to Phil, you just never know what's going to be said, what's coming out. It depends on who's listening. People take it the right way or people take it the wrong way. You just never know when it comes to Phil. I just don't understand him talking about LeBron right now in November. I don't understand that." -- Anthony, who added that you don't "have to be a rocket scientist or an educated person to understand" the connotations of "posse"

Nov. 17: "We're the Knicks. You have to know what's across your chest. There's a bigger bull's-eye on it. Everybody wants to beat us. It's a known national team. These are games we have to win. We should be disappointed." -- Jennings, after a 119-112 loss to the Wizards

Dec. 7: "Carmelo, a lot of times, wants to hold the ball longer than -- we have a rule, if you hold a pass two seconds, you benefit the defense. So he has a little bit of a tendency to hold the ball for three, four, five seconds, then everybody comes to a stop." -- Jackson, interrupting perhaps New York's best stretch of the season -- it would be 14-10 on Dec. 11 -- with a rare interview

Dec. 9: "We're playing good basketball. That's the only thing that really matters at this point. Any negativity coming to us toward the team, I don't think we need it at this point, especially when we're trying to make a run on this five-game road trip and have a chance to do something special." -- Anthony on Jackson's comments, adding that he "said my part of it" on Instagram

Dec. 15: "I didn't want to lead them on." -- Kevin Durant , on why he didn't meet with the Knicks in free agency

Jan. 1: "This is the time we can take the next step, or it's going to get ugly. Our schedule's tough. We got to be ready." -- Jennings, on the 16-17 Knicks trying to find a rhythm in the new year

Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis has a bright future, but do the Knicks? USATSI

Part 3: The meltdown and the Melo-drama

Jan. 2: "I don't think our guys aren't trying. Maybe we're just not capable of it. I don't know." -- Hornacek, fed up after a 115-103 loss to the Orlando Magic

Jan. 5: "It is what it is. Regardless of what happens when we win, it's us. When we lose, it's me." -- Anthony, lamenting being a scapegoat the day after Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo hit a game-winner at MSG

Jan. 7: "Honestly, I don't think we've played well at all this year. I don't know if you're watching it. We're winning games because of our talent. Basketball-wise, I don't think we're playing basketball like we should. Maybe two games here and there. [We're] not playing like I feel the Knicks should be playing." -- Jennings, after a 123-109 loss in Indiana 

Jan. 7: "It's not coming together yet. It's frustrating.'' -- Porzingis, echoing Jennings' sentiment

Jan. 9: "I hope Derrick is fine. I have zero information about what is going on. So hopefully they tell me something as soon as possible because this is a little weird. Everybody is worried." -- Porzingis, after Rose mysteriously skipped a game against the New Orleans Pelicans without informing the team beforehand

Jan. 9: "We got our asses kicked." -- Noah, assessing the Knicks' performance without Rose in their 110-96 loss

Jan. 11: "Definitely embarrassing the way we're losing games. There's no excuses. It's just us. This shit is definitely embarrassing. We have to find consistency in everything -- soon." -- Lee after Sixers guard T.J. McConnell hit a winner in Philadelphia

Jan. 16: "If that's the case, [if] that's what's coming from that side I guess it's a conversation we should have. If they feel like my time in New York is over I guess that's a conversation we should have." -- Anthony, responding to an article by Jackson's ghostwriter and friend Charley Rosen asserting that the forward has "outlived his usefulness in New York" 

Jan. 21: "I think it will be more on the front office. I have the power, but still I would talk to them. We would be in communication if they feel like they want to go in a different direction, they want to start rebuilding for the future. If they tell me they want to scrap this whole thing, yeah, I have to consider it." -- Anthony on waiving his no-trade clause, days after telling Jackson himself that he wants to stay in New York 

Jan. 28: "You've got to deal with that, even though I try not to read it, and everywhere you go, even if you don't hear about it, somebody is telling you about it, somebody is saying something. It can be mentally draining, mentally fatiguing." - Anthony, on trade rumors

Feb. 2: "[Seven crying laughing emojis]" -- J.R. Smith, on the idea of rejoining the Knicks

Feb. 6: "It's just not there. It's kind of everybody for himself a lot of times, both ends of the floor. So I wish I had the answer." -- Porzingis, trying to explain the Knicks' 121-107 loss to the Lakers at home

Part 4: All hell breaks loose

Charles Oakley, oh no
The ugliest moment of the Knicks' season. ESPN

Feb. 8: "I didn't do nothing … this is bullshit." -- Knicks great and fan favorite Charles Oakley, while handcuffed and arrested in the tunnel at Madison Square Garden during a Clippers-Knicks game

Feb. 8: "Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner. He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City Police Department. He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon." -- New York Knicks PR staff, via Twitter

Feb. 8: "That was sad. That was tough for me to watch. Honest to God, you could see it, I actually took three steps and I swear I was going to run down there and I thought, 'What the hell am I going to do?' But I didn't like that. That's my guy. He's the best teammate in the world. He really is. I've been in the league a long time, I've never seen anything like that." -- Clippers coach and former Knicks guard Doc Rivers on Oakley being ejected from the arena and arrested

Feb. 9: "I'll pack Phil's bags for him. I think I still believe in Carmelo, but Phil Jackson is making it very difficult for him." -- Spike Lee

Feb. 10: "Hey may have a problem with alcohol, we don't know." -- Knicks owner James Dolan, speculating about Oakley an an ill-advised interview where he also announced Oakley was banned from the Garden

Feb. 10: "Charles Oakley for President." -- LeBron James

Feb. 11: "I think what happened [with Oakley] is just an accumulation of an incident on top of another incident on top of everything that's going on with the New York Knicks organization right now. It's just kind of a cloud over our heads right now." - Anthony, sounding thrilled

Feb. 12: "I mean, how can you say somebody is an alcoholic? You just can't, in my opinion. And even if the person was, why would you say that? I don't know why you would say that. All I can do is wear my [Charles Oakley] jersey." -- Spike Lee, who added that it was "obvious" what Dolan was trying to accomplish by parading out a small army of former Knicks at their game against the Spurs 

Feb. 24: "No, not now. No, to be honest with you." -- Anthony on whether he understands management's vision after no trades were made before the deadline

Feb. 28: "As times goes on, you say can they get it? Are they getting better at it? If they're not, you go, OK. End of the year comes and we're having our discussions and you say, 'Can this guy play this offense? We'll say either yay or nay or he's getting it, he's getting better. So I'm sure that's part of evaluations this summer." -- Hornacek, explaining that the re-emphasis on the triangle offense after the All-Star break

March 2: "Shit, do I have a choice?" -- Rose on warming up to the triangle

March 2: "I'm trying to put pieces of my game together. I'm not shooting 3s yet. Hopefully I'll start shooting them in the playoffs. It's going to take a lot of sacrifice and dedication to get there." -- Rose, adding that he "can shoot them now" but chooses not to, despite the fact that Hornacek directly said that he wants Rose to shoot them in order to keep defenses honest 

March 3: "When teams make adjustments, we're still playing the same way as teams make adjustments defensively.'' --  Anthony, after the Knicks lose to the Sixers again

March 3: "I'm in the same position I was in New York, but just in a better system for me personally and with a team that actually plays together." -- Jennings, after the Knicks bought him out and he made his debut for the Wizards

March 3:  "They got talent on the team. They should [be] third or fourth spot [in the East]. They have enough talent to be the third or fourth spot. It's up to the guys on the team." -- Oakley

March 17: "A team like that, you look at the roster, they shouldn't be in the gym with us." -- Kyle O'Quinn, after the Knicks' second loss to the Nets in five days

March 19: "I think it was pretty easy to tell from the inside that we're not that good of a team. We can win games based on our talent, but it's not going to last long." -- Porzingis

March 27: "I'm more of a kind of a natural guy, juiceball guy, Chinese herbs, African herbs." -- Anthony, after the injured Noah was suspended for 20 games for violating the NBA's anti-drug program

March 28: "I think if you look at our defense this year, we can use some more defensive players." -- Hornacek, finally stating the obvious

March 29: "I don't even know my role. I don't know my role to be honest. I'm just here to kind of help those guys and keep those guys positive and motivated. I get in where I fit in." -- Anthony, the night the Knicks are officially eliminated from playoff contention

March 31: "This team really just hasn't had it, and they haven't had it since Phil Jackson landed there." -- Scottie Pippen, calling for his former Bulls coach to be fired

April 5: "I did call him an asshole, because he is an asshole." -- Dolan, admitting to getting into a verbal altercation with Knicks season-ticket holder Mike Hamersky when Hamersky yelled at Dolan to sell the team

April 6: "It was roller coaster, everything he had to go through. It was unfair to wake up every day hearing [Anthony] might be gone. That was one of the wildest things I've seen. Everyone was on their phones checking. It definitely took a toll on the team." -- Jennings, after his return to MSG

April 11: "If they're revoking my tickets, at least have the courtesy to tell me." -- Hamersky, claiming to be blocked from renewing his seats after his altercation with Dolan

Kristaps Porzingis Carmelo Anthony
Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony watch as the Knicks play out the string. USATSI

Part 5: It's all over

April 12: "I wanted to win. They know that when I signed my contract a couple of years ago. That's still my mindset. If that's not the direction they want to go in — it's communication. Just communicate. Communicate with me directly. If that's the direction you want to go in, I'll respect that. If it's something you want to continue to build on, I'll respect that, too. Just communicate with me and be up-front with me. I'm open. I've seen the writing on the wall a long time ago." -- Anthony after New York's season finale

April 14: "We have not been able to win with him on the court at this time. And I think the direction with our team is that he is a player that will be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship. Right now we need players that are really active, can play every single play defensively and offensively. That's really important for us." -- Jackson on Anthony at his season-ending press conference

April 14: "REALLY [two crying laughing emojis] #StayMe7o" -- Anthony, via Instagram

April 15: "We voiced with the commissioner today our view on the inappropriate comments by Knicks president Phil Jackson. If players under contract cannot, under threat of league discipline, speak openly about their desire to be employed elsewhere, we expect management to adhere to the same standards.  The door swings both ways when it comes to demonstrating loyalty and respect." -- NBPA executive director Michele Roberts

April 19: "It's not the right moment to comment on anything [about it]. I don't want to say anything." -- Porzingis, a day before flying back home to Latvia, on the reports that he skipped his exit meeting with Jackson and plans to spend the summer with the Latvian national team instead of taking part in the Knicks' triangle offense seminars at their practice facility

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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