Last season, the Knicks finished second in the Eastern Conference with a 54-28 record and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Their owner has much higher hopes this season, though.
James Dolan told his staff that he expects to win the franchise's first championship in 41 years, according to the New York Daily News and ESPNNewYork.com, which reported the owner's message to his team this way:
In a recent meeting with the coaching staff and some team executives, Dolan said he believes the Knicks have enough talent to win a title and that he expects them to do so this season, league sources with knowledge of the owner's message during the meeting confirmed.
"He told them he believes they have enough talent to win it all," one source said, "and he expects it to happen this year."
"A few people were a bit surprised, taken aback. But he's the owner. He has a right to expect it," one source said.
In response to the reports, Knicks general manager Steve Mills told reporters: “In terms of an edict, we try to win every year. And our goal is to try to win a championship and try to be as competitive as we can possibly be.”
The Knicks opened at 22-1 to win the title. Nine teams had shorter odds, including four in the East: two-time defending champion Miami; Chicago, which has former MVP Derrick Rose healthy again; Indiana, which beat New York in the second round and upgraded its bench after pushing the Heat to seven games in the conference finals; and Brooklyn, which added Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry after winning 49 games.
With little financial flexibility, New York's main offseason additions were much-maligned forward Andre Bargnani, 33-year-old forward Metta World Peace, backup point guard Beno Udrih and rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks also re-signed guards J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni and power forward Kenyon Martin.
In SI.com's season predictions, none of our six writers picked the Knicks to make the conference finals. “I think we’re solid enough to compete for [the title], absolutely,” coach Mike Woodson said Tuesday, according to the Daily News. “I think we’re one of the teams that are going to be in the hunt.”