It was ugly.
The Cleveland Cavaliers showed up to Madison Square Garden Sunday with a roster in transition - young players such as Collin Sexton learning on the job next to veterans such as Kevin Love - but they play hard and smart for first-year NBA coach John Beilein.
That effort blew the doors off the Knicks, who trailed by 30 and ultimately lost to the Cavaliers 108-87.
The Knicks have lollygagged to a 2-8 start to the season and after the embarrassment at the hands of Cleveland on Sunday there was a lot of soul searching in the Knicks organization. Enough that president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry made a surprise appearance to speak to the media afterward.
Knicks coach David Fizdale walked up to the podium postgame and took full responsibility for his team's early play this season.
When a team struggles it is usually the coach who becomes the scapegoat - and Fizdale deserves blame. Not all of it, but certainly some. Sunday the Knicks faced a struggling backcourt defensively in Cleveland, so they attacked it with.. a lot of Julius Randle post-ups. However, Marcus Morris didn't want to blame the gameplan, saying, "At the end of the day, f*** the X's and O's. We have to come out and we have to be better."
Nothing is imminent, but owner James Dolan is not famous for his patience (except with Isaiah Thomas). Fizdale or someone else in the front office could be in trouble if the losses keep piling up. Again, from Begley.
New York knows it is rebuilding and there was a lot of talk about staying the course and the process and "pounding the rock." But when a team is getting outworked the process issues seem secondary.
The Knicks entered this season with outsized expectations - welcome to New York - for an ill-fitting roster where the focus should be player development.
That said, the Knicks shouldn't be getting blown out like this at home, either. They didn't land the biggest names on the board last summer, but they did spend on players such as Randle and Morris, and young players like RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson provide hope for the future. This team should be better than it is. Instead, the reality is they are tied for dead last in the league in net rating (-10.2, the same as the Memphis Grizzlies).
We have yet to see evidence of the culture change Mills and Perry have said they wanted to bring. Changing coaches early in the season (or making another front-office change) would re-enforce the belief among players and agents around the league there is a lack of stability in New York - and that instability starts at the very top of the organization.
Thursday night Kristaps Porzingis returns to Madison Square Garden, wearing the colors of the Dallas Mavericks, for a nationally televised game. If that is another embarrassment, like the game Sunday, all bets are off on the Knicks being patient and not making changes.