OKLAHOMA CITY -- It isn't a stretch to say that the New York Knicks need this All-Star break more than any of the other 29 NBA teams. They've spent the first two-thirds of the season losing games they should have won and making news for all of the wrong reasons.
Maybe that's why Derrick Rose smiled wryly on Wednesday when asked if the team was looking forward to having a week off.
"Yeah, to get our minds right, to figure out what we're trying to do," the point guard said.
Rose was referring to the players but, really, the Knicks' front office should take the same approach. Phil Jackson & Co. have to figure out what they want to do with this club during the next seven days, when they'll be faced with decisions that could have a significant impact on the organization's future.
Does Jackson, ignoring what his eyes must be telling him, keep this club together and try to sneak into the postseason? If so, there are minor moves that can be made to improve the roster.
But the Knicks (23-34) provided more evidence Wednesday night that they are a team trending in the wrong direction. A loss to the Thunder was their 21st defeat in 28 games. They're four games behind the eighth-place Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference. According to ESPN's BPI, the Knicks have just a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs and they've offered no reason to believe that they can overcome those odds.
As one East scout texted as the Knicks were squandering their 17-point lead against the Thunder, "This team looks like it's quitting."
So, should Jackson quit on the season and look to improve New York's position in what is believed to be a guard-heavy draft?
Players are publicly and privately steeling themselves for that scenario. Rose has wondered aloud several times if he'll be dealt because he's on an expiring contract and could help a team looking for backcourt depth.
"I like being here but [you] never know what could happen," Rose said Wednesday. "My job is to come in and play as hard as I can."
Multiple teams view Rose as a potential trade target, according to league sources.
It would be surprising if the Knicks didn't get calls about Rose as the deadline approaches. He has struggled on defense and hasn't distributed the ball well, but he has shown that he's again one of the best lane penetrators in the NBA.
Rose isn't the only Knick whose name will be bandied about in the next seven days. There's also the well-documented Carmelo Anthony situation.
Anthony said Wednesday that he expects to be back with the Knicks after the trade deadline. But what Anthony didn't say might be more significant. He didn't say that he has told the Knicks he won't waive his no-trade clause.
Of course, why would he limit his options at this point? One team that had been talking to the Knicks about Anthony earlier this month expected New York to discuss potential offers for Anthony up until the deadline, to see what kind of package it could command.
If that unfolds, maybe there will be deal on the table -- with the Clippers, perhaps? -- that would entice both the Knicks and Anthony before next Thursday's deadline.
Some in the organization believe that Anthony won't want to give Jackson the satisfaction of running him out of town. Anthony on Wednesday didn't sound like a player who was ready to leave. He talked about wanting to recruit free agents to New York when asked about the subject; he also acknowledged that he still holds out hope of one day playing with the Clippers' Chris Paul and the Bulls' Dwyane Wade. "A dream," Anthony called it.
And while he doesn't expect to leave New York, Anthony knows better than to assume anything when it comes to the days leading up to the trade deadline.
"I've seen a lot of things happen in this league over the years," he said. "... Obviously we know what can happen over the next week or two. But we'll see when that time comes."
That time is here for Knicks management. Jackson needs to decide whether he wants to continue to push for the playoffs or pull the plug on what feels like another lost season in New York.