When the Knicks dropped the third game of their most recent four-game road trip against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night, they were without both Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih.
Each veteran is on the verge of receiving a buyout, and is no longer with the team.
At 21-35, the Knicks remain five and a half games out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But any glimmer of hope to catch fire and make a run is dwindling, with time to do so quickly running out.
At an unfortunate crossroads in their season, how much longer will New York remain confident in the possibility of a last season run? Should the soon-to-be two open roster spots be used on veterans who may be able to provide the team with a boost down the stretch, or perhaps an extra young gun or two who they explore for the future?
Currently with a much firmer grip on that potential last playoff spot than the Knicks have had all season, the Brooklyn Nets consider themselves a contender. With that in mind (and in need of a big man off the bench), the team signed one-time Net Jason Collins to a ten-day contract on Sunday. He'll become the first openly gay athlete in any of the world's four major sports.
With problems of their own down low (the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin, and Andrea Bargnani have all been fighting injuries as of late), the Knicks could have used a big man like Collins on the roster. A proven veteran, the 35 year old could have provided the team with some necessary defensive intensity down the stretch. Coach Mike Woodson coached Collins previously with the Hawks.
One has to wonder, had Collins not signed with the Nets, would the Knicks have looked to pick him up after clearing a roster spot or two? With so much negativity surrounding the team due to their poor play, such an acquisition would have, of course, brought some positive buzz along with it.
But alas, such a signing should not centered around that. It's undoubtedly positive that Collins signed with Brooklyn and is back in the NBA, but it'll be even better when such a signing has become second-nature, and is not looked at any differently.
The Knicks not only considered adding Collins in the offseason, but also briefly following an injury to Tyson Chandler this past fall.
At this point, the contending Nets are probably the better fit for Collins anyway. A veteran of a former Nets' squad that made two trips to the NBA Finals, the big man will be welcomed back to the organization in 2014 by his former floor general (and now Brooklyn head coach) Jason Kidd. What's more, he's played with the likes of Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce on other teams before as well. Deron Williams also played with Collins' twin brother, Jarron (now a scout for the Clippers), previously on the Utah Jazz as well.
Earlier Sunday, General Manager Billy King insisted the signing of Collins was indeed a basketball decision. Kudos to Brooklyn for not allowing anything else to get in the way of that.