Donnie Walsh sees New York Knicks' struggles and mulls trades

Mitch Lawrence

Before making his pitch to LeBron James on July 1, Knicks president Donnie Walsh wanted to make the playoffs.

Making the playoffs, which the Knicks haven’t reached in six years,
might have helped in recruiting James as a free agent this summer.But Walsh has seen anything but a playoff-quality team in the last few weeks, as the Knicks lost nine of their last 12 games in January to fall into 10th place in the East, 5-1/2 games behind struggling Miami for eighth place.

Walsh was especially troubled by the team’s back-to-back losses in Washington and Minnesota last weekend. Those defeats to teams headed to the lottery dropped the Knicks to 18-29 – the first time since early December that they have been 11 games under .500.

"I don’t like the way we played, it was a disappointment," Walsh said after practice in Greenburgh Tuesday. "I didn’t see the intensity, which you have to have at this point. That has to pick up."

It already might be too late, in terms of recovering for the Knicks’ first playoff berth since 2004. Over the final three months, the schedule is brutal, with two games each against Cleveland, Boston and Toronto, and games against Dallas, Denver, San Antonio, Orlando, Atlanta, Utah, Portland, Phoenix, Houston, Oklahoma City, Memphis and Miami. After the Feb.12-15 All-Star break, the Knicks will have 13 home games left, as opposed to 18 on the road.

"I didn’t expect this," said Walsh, whose team hosts the Wizards tonight at the Garden. "If we want to compete for a playoff spot, we’ve got to play with more purpose, more force and more commitment."

While Walsh is talking to other teams about trades, he gave no indication anything is imminent. As for the rotation, Mike D’Antoni is not planning any major shakeups.

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