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Knicks legend Earl Monroe sees New York finishing top four in the East ‘easily’

Jul 30, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT

Earl Monroe Earl Monroe

It’s always interesting to see how the game’s legendary greats view the current state of their former franchise.

In Los Angeles, for example, the hiring of Byron Scott as head coach was met with the in-person approval of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes — all of whom appeared and briefly spoke at the introductory press conference.

Some Hall of Famers, however, can occasionally be a little overly-optimistic when sizing things up.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Knicks legend Earl Monroe sees some pearls on this Phil Jackson-inspired, revamped Knicks roster. The man known as “Earl The Pearl’’ even believes Jackson’s Knicks easily could finish in the top four in the wide-open Eastern Conference after failing to make the playoffs last season with a 37-45 record.

Monroe, the flashiest member on the Knicks’ last title team in 1973, with Jackson as teammate, said he believes on paper only Indiana and Chicago boast a distinctly better roster. Sorry, LeBron.

“If these guys can get off to good start and stabilize what their roles are, I don’t see why they can’t be as good as the rest of the guys in the East,’’ Monroe told The Post Tuesday. “I see them [in the top four] easily.’’

Monroe is 69 years of age, so we’ll forgive him if his memory may not be what it once was. But at first glance, there are at least six teams in the East that would appear to have a better immediate outlook than do the Knicks.

LeBron James joining the Cavaliers in the offseason puts them near the top of the list, and the return of Derrick Rose along with the signing of free agent Pau Gasol puts the Bulls right there, too.

The Pacers got a little bit worse from a talent perspective by losing Lance Stephenson in free agency, but may be better-suited for the mental aspect of the playoffs now that he’s gone, and will still be formidable with Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West all firmly in place.

The Heat aren’t exactly going to be terrible now that James is gone, especially after inking Luol Deng to a deal in free agency and bringing back Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Wizards emerged as a strong team near the end of last season, and added Paul Pierce to an already playoff-tested squad. And we can’t forget the Raptors, who took the Nets to seven games in the first round of postseason play, and brought back all of their key free agents for next season.

That’s a lot of talented teams that the Knicks need to overcome to meet Monroe’s expectations. While it’s possible and maybe even likely they’ll be slightly improved next season under a new head coach, finishing the year as a top-four team in the East would exceed even New York’s highest of expectations.

  1. 4thquartermagic - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    “Hey Earl, what color are the lenses in those frames?

    Rose colored?

    Thought so.”

    • eddit13 - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:34 PM

      If the Knicks win the division, they are in the top 4. Toronto won 48 games, they aren’t elite and the rest are tomato cans this year. BK is on the decline and Boston is still rebuilding and likely dumping Rondo on someone. And then there’s Philly.

  2. paleihe - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Go home Pearl, you’re drunk.

    • lolmelohaters - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      Last year we played horrible, one on one, free flowing basketball when our roster did warrant so because of the bad coaching and roster management by Woodson. Now we have great leadership, management and we wont play a cancerous style of play…IMO we will easily be a playoff team, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were a top 5 team. We won 54 games with J. Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and KMART all big parts of our rotation for much of the year. Plus, who cares about this year, Im waiting till next years free agent class. We can sign two max players to pair up w Melo, like Marc Gasol and Rondo? Who knows? But Knicks bashing must stop, whats the purpose, whats the reason. Let fans have there optimism.

  3. Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    To let these guys tell it, 2012-13 never occurred… it disrupted the narrative of tired jokes. They were dying for everyone on the Knicks to have career worst seasons and think it will happen again this year.

    You are out of your mind if you think Miami and Indiana are going to be anywhere near as good as they were last season.

    • 4thquartermagic - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      And your out of your mind if you think the Knicks will finish in the top 4.

      That team from 2012-2013 is long gone. The second best player from that team is in Dallas now.
      That roster is garbage.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        JR Smith was arguably their second best player that season. He had a career year that was far out of his normal performance.

      • 4thquartermagic - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        Fine. I’ll give you JR second best player from 2013.

        How was JR last year?

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        He also played more minutes than he ever had. Try again, asimonetti.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:22 PM

        He probably played more minutes than he had before because he played better than he ever had before.

    • casualcommenter - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      Here’s the complete list of players from the Knicks 2012-2013 roster who are signed to the 2014-2015 roster

      Carmelo Anthony
      Amar’e Stoudamire
      Pablo Prigioni
      Iman Shumpert
      JR Smith

      End of list. The Knicks current roster has more in common with last year’s roster that performed poorly than the one from 2 seasons ago that exceeded expectations. Since that surprisingly good season, Prigioni has gotten older, Amar’e has remained unable to average more than 23 minutes per game, and I don’t think anybody would argue that JR Smith has become more reliable. While Woodson was far from a great coach, we have no idea if Derek Fisher is any better, and the Triangle offense takes awhile to master.

    • bball242322 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      Mr. Wrong strikes again

      • jimeejohnson - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:49 PM


    • cruzan80 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      @ 4thquarter

      “How was JR last year?”


      Since Smith’s recovered from his surgically-repaired knee he looked exactly like the player from that 54 win team. In the final 43 games of the season J.R. averaged 16.7 points per game on 45 percent shooting and knocked down 42 percent of his 3-point attempts; in the 31 games prior, Smith hit just 34 percent of his 3s.

      Smith was even more valuable later in the season for the Knicks. After being inserted into the starting lineup for the final 22 games, Smith averaged 18.1 points per game as the Knicks finished the season 16-6.

      He hit 45 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts last season, including 46.2 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s last season, per SportVU. That 3-point percentage was the sixth highest among players who attempted at least 1.5 catch-and-shoot 3-point shots per game, according to the stats site.

      That kind of efficiency would fit well in the triangle offense, which, when run properly, produces ample open jump shots.

      Hope that answered your question buddy……

      • 4thquartermagic - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        I love how we all can point to stats to back up any argument we want.

        Yes he was injured to start the season but he was also suspended for a failed drug test.
        Once he returned to the court, Smith was abysmal for two months, shooting 32.8 percent in November and 36.8 percent in December, far off his career field-goal percentage of 42.5 percent.

        But yeah he redeemed himself and helped steer the Knicks to a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs.

        “I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there, not looking as focused as a person who should be.” -JR

        Yeah THAT’s the guy I want on my team.

      • cruzan80 - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:07 PM

        @ 4thquarter

        “I love how we all can point to stats to back up any argument we want.”


        You’re obviously a Knick hater (your always trolling Knick related articles telling everyone why they’ll never be good) so all of your “facts” are going to be negative.

        (i.e.) You said “But yeah he redeemed himself and helped steer the Knicks to a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs” but conveniently left out the FACT that despite his horrendous start they missed the playoffs by ONE GAME. That would be an objective way to look at things…but being a hater requires you to reject objectivity & just spew crap like “The roster sucks!” or “Melo isn’t a winner!!”.

        Implement LOGIC & you’ll see that all the Knicks have to do is win the division & they’ll be 4th at worst. What Earl said isn’t a stretch by any means.

        Its simple. If you hate the Knicks, you’ll look only at how they started last season, pretend like the 54 win team never existed & ignore the fact that the management & coaching staff has been replaced with guys who did nothing in this league but win championships. If your objective, you’ll look at the entire season….start to finish & all the changes that has taken place so far with the team & the other teams in the conference. Do that & you’ll understand what “The Pearl” was talking about. Otherwise…troll on.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:00 PM


        you say pretend the 54 win season didn’t happen to that other dude.

        why make so much of that 54 win season? first, most of their games and wins were against the LEASTERN conference.

        oh, teams play the teams in their division more than other teams in their conference and the teams in the Knicks division sucked so that was more easy wins.

        The Knicks went 16 & 14 vs. the Western conference that year. Count up the wins to the bad teams in the West that they played and you see that the Knicks were only 8 & 14 against the good teams in the West that season. The Knicks beat up the non-playoff teams in the West beating Minnesota twice, the Jazz twice among others.

        The Knicks played over .700% vs. teams in the East and even better against those in their crappy division.

        Again, why make more or so much out of that 54 win season? It wasn’t anything good.

        Let’s look at their record before and after that 54 win season and lets see if the 54 wins was the aberration.

        2014 37 wins
        2013 54 wins
        2012 45 wins (rounded up to that as this was the 66 game season and I just extended their winning percentage for an 82 game season as they were 36 and 30 in the 66 games that yr)
        2011 42 wins
        2010 29 wins

        it’s ugly before 2010 too as in only 20 something or 30 something wins all the way back to 2001.

        oh, they won’t be good this season either so add another bad record above the one for 2013.

        That 54 win season sure looks like an accident in the middle of that “great” run by the Knicks there.

      • cruzan80 - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:19 AM


        I was hoping you would get in on this.

        “Why make so much of the 54 win season?”

        I’m sorry but when exactly did I make so much of the 54 win season???? My quoted was:

        “If you hate the Knicks, you’ll look only at how they started last season, pretend like the 54 win team never existed & ignore the fact that the management & coaching staff has been replaced with guys who did nothing in this league but win championships.”

        It’s cute how you conveniently single out one sentence so you can attempt making what is a very weak point. Speaking of which…

        ”The Knicks beat up the non-playoff teams in the West beating Minnesota twice, the Jazz twice among others”

        Wrong again HATER. They went 1-1 against the Thunder, Nuggets, Warriors & Grizzlies. The only contender in the west the Knicks had a losing record against were the Clippers. Oh, I almost forgot one….they went 2-0 against some team called the SPURS…maybe you heard of them???

        “The Knicks played over .700% vs. teams in the East”

        And this rule is different for all the other teams in the league how???? This one made me LOL buddy.

        “oh, they won’t be good this season either so add another bad record above the one for 2013”

        Well…you’re also the same genius who repeatedly said LBJ will never go back to Cleveland because Dan’s letter was too “mean” so I shouldn’t be surprised at the non-sense you posted here. You try to say that the only reason why they won 54 games that year is because of the “Leastern” conference but they won’t be good this season. So, you think the East & the Atlantic division is going to be better next season????? No KG & Pierce in Boston, Sixers are in straight up tank mode & the Nets are old, injured & have no clue what direction their going. That leaves the Raptors (who they had a winning record against this past year) as the only real “threat” in their division. You do understand that if the Knicks win their division their guaranteed no lower than a 4th seed right????

        Your entire post is contradicting & just like the other “dude” it’s because your just a Knick hater who is completely incapable of being objective about anything regarding the Knicks.

        Troll on sir….troll on.

  4. bucrightoff - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Earl Monroe = Cantonbound?

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      Cantonbound’s attending hate camp for losers and is unavailable.

  5. pdixon920 - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    I give an all-time great player in Earl Monroe a lot of credit for sticking by his team through the rough times but…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, and that is all.

    • rodyaugu - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:15 PM


  6. cantonbound13 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    People tend to forget, they did finish the season 16-5 when everyone was finally healthy. The won 54 the year before. They upgraded at point guard & coaching. I respect Earl’s opinion over some PBT writer.

    • rodyaugu - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:14 PM

      They couldn’t even grab an 8th seed in the east. They suck bruh.

      • money2long - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        Did u hear what he said about how they finished ?
        Obviously the Knicks had a long rough patch during the season but it’s well documented they didn’t have a smooth story line. Stuff happened that derailed them from performing well consistently. But when health was on their side the Knicks did well.

    • 4thquartermagic - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      Yeah because he’s telling you what you want to hear.

      Bet you also believe Melo “cares about winning more then money” too.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      I think they’ll be better, but they’d have to be a TON better to get a top 4 seed. They’ll probably be in the 6-10 seed range, but they will likely not start hot as Fisher adjusts to coaching.

    • mazblast - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      In the last quarter of the season, there are entire teams that aren’t trying to win (and even some quite content to lose). I don’t take much stock in how a non-contender does during that time.

  7. rodyaugu - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Even Without Lebron the heat will still be much better than the knicks. That’s a sad reality for knicks fans.

    • money2long - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      The games determine their record.
      That’s why your negativity means nothing.

  8. milkman1989 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Does he also believe Carmelo stayed with New York as it was the best chance for him to win hhhhhmmmmm?!?!?!

    • cpcheung - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      That is the only thing Earl, the Pearl, dare not mention?!

  9. milkman1989 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Guys please help. I’m doing a dissertation on the NBA focusing on its lack of competitiveness. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE could you answer my questionnaire, its only 4 short questions and i promise it will only take 1 minute max. Here is the link and I will be very grateful to the community on here. Thanks guys:

    • zacksdad - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      Ok, you have spammed your plea too many times. I for one plan on skewing your results. I will answer the first option on all you questions. And if everyone also does this, your survey is now worthless.

      • milkman1989 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        If that’s the case i’m sorry, im only asking for a little help towards my degree.

    • cpcheung - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      You need a Harvard tutor Jeremy Lin to write about NBA.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      I submitted the survey with no answers.

  10. cpcheung - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Earl, the Pearl, actually said “the top ten in the East. It was a typo.

  11. borisalessandri - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    1 Bulls
    2 Cavs
    3 Pacers
    4 Wizards
    5 Raptors
    6 Heat
    7 and it doesn’t really matter after the sixth spot (actually after the fourth spot)

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      it doesn’t matter after Bulls and Cavs actually

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:14 PM

        and in the west, ya got Spurs and Thunder and maybe the Clippers.

        title more than likely goes to one of those 5 teams (Cavs and Bulls in east).


        Clippers (lower than Cavs and Bulls only cause they gotta get thru the West and either the Cavs or the Bulls will be in the Finals from the East)

    • nickjackalson - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      7&8 should then be between Atlanta, Brooklyn and Charlotte

      reality sucks for NY

    • arrondior - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      It’s really tough to forecast who is going to have the best reg. season record. So much change in the East this off season. This is how my top 5 would look though.

      1. Cavs
      2. Bulls
      3. Wizards
      4. Heat
      5. Raptors

      I really don’t think the Pacers will be top 5 next season.

    • rodyaugu - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:48 AM

      The Wizards will sneak their way into the dance, but they will not be a top team in the east. My guess they will be in 6 to 8th seed range.

  12. borisalessandri - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    I’ll be bold and say that I see the Knicks as a top 15 team in the Eastern Conference but in the lower-to-mid bowl range. Wouldn’t be surprised if they end up anywhere from 7-9 in the East.

  13. jimsjam33 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    C’mon , ease up on the Pearl . He meant the Summer League . Hang in there with your team . I like that !

  14. hannsta - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    To put the Eastern conference and ‘solo stars’ in perspective…

    Al Jefferson went to the Bobcats and made them a playoff team in the East…..

    The Knicks are better without Melo than the Bobcats are without Jefferson(worst season in history?)

    Melo is very overrated.

    • cruzan80 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:15 PM


      • hannsta - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        Eh didnt type it as effectively as it sounded in my head but im saying the bobcats, err hornets excuse me, were one of the worst teams in the leauge before Jefferson arrived. They then became a low seed playoff team. Melo has more help than jefferson had and they placed below the bobcats. If Jefferson’s team impact is greater than Melo’s…Melo is crazy overrated.

  15. mogogo1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    I hope the expectations don’t kill any chance Phil Jackson has of turning things around but stories like this make me wonder. He could make all the right moves for the long-term and still be branded a failure because so many people seem to think it’s an easy fix. Like just having his name on the door will win them a bunch more games.

  16. elledaddy - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    I see many of you dont know basketball. The knicks only have to be better then Toronto and Brooklyn( basically) to get atleast the 4th seed, that would win the Atlantic division.. Maybe some of you guys dont even know that Chi, Clev, Ind CANT finish 1,2,3 but whatever. And a team’s last year dont have anything to do with the next year, ask NY they went from 54 wins to 37 wins.

    • duhwighthoward - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      Many? That’s being kind. Even the bloggers don’t.

  17. sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Great player…

    But he’s delusional now about their chances…

    Just like Lakers homers who think they’ll be back to the Show Time Lakers “soon”.

  18. cruzan80 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:25 PM


    That’s what will make the difference for this team winning 30-40 games vs. 40-50 games.

    Once everyone was healthy last season & Woodson went with the starting 5 of Chandler, Stoudamire (no minute restriction), Anthony, Smith & Felton the team finished the season 16-6….fact.

    Phil & Fisher are implementing a system there & are adding players who fit that system….a system that has proven success at that.

    I know its the law or something for everyone outside the state of New York are suppose to hate the Knicks but the games still have to be played.

  19. bhunter1995 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    Not trying to nit pock but there are eight teams that will place in front of the Knicks

    (not in any order)


    Maybe even the Hawks, with Horford coming back they could take the Nets spot at #8.

  20. Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Win the division and they are 4th at worst. And unless Toronto finds some consistent scoring (have not, yet), they won’t win the division again. New Jersey and Boston are irrelevant, and Philly has excused themselves from the NBA until they decide to court an actual team again.

    Again, how is what he said a stretch? They don’t have to win 54 to win the division, just 45-49, which they will.

  21. jadaruler - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    The East was awful this year, but I believe it will be a lot better this season. I could see 4 50 win teams (CLE, CHI, IND, WSH) next season with MIA TOR, ATL and CHA not far behind.

    I see the Knicks battling for 7-8 spots with the Hawks, Hornets, Nets and a surprising Bucks team.

  22. eddit13 - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    You guys are all missing the point, you win your division and you’re in the top 4. Atlantic division includes Toronto (good, not great), Brooklyn (decline), Boston (rebuilding), and Philly (LOL). Knicks re-signed Melo, got younger and probably have better chemistry on offense with the triangle intead of ISO which brought out the worse in many of them. Then on defense, they won’t be switching constantly like they did the previous two seasons. That madness needed to stop and mercifully, it will.

    • cruzan80 - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:16 PM

      Thank you…smartest thing I’ve read on this entire article.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:10 PM

      Let’s see…

      Toronto or the Knicks…


      Knicks won’t be 4th.

      Just because it’s a factual statement that the Knicks would be in 4th if they won their division, doesn’t mean that it will happen.

      • cruzan80 - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        Hmmm…let’s see.

        They went 2-2 against the Raptors LAST season.

        The raptors were 0-2 against the the Knicks once they went with chandler, amare, Melo, smith & Felton as the starting 5.

        Nice try though hater.

        Troll on sir.

  23. mnsadsportsfan - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    Earl “the delusional pearl” Monroe

  24. ernwop64 - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    It could happen,the Knicks went to sleep last year on their coach.With a system and some discipline they have a good roster.The triangle will make scoring easier it worked well in the past with a great scorer and they have the best scorer in the league .The big unknown is J.R. will he take to the triangle.They are better at point and wont miss Chandler who was afraid to score.Bargiani will play well in the triangle.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      J.R. take to the triangle?

      What about Melo?

      Melo to coach, we doin’ da triangle? OK, I got that, it’s got four sides right?

      J.R.’s rolling and laughing on the court. J.R. yells to Stat and says Melo doesn’t know that a triangle has 5 sides, he said it has 4.

      Stat walks away shaking his head and saying his knee hurts a lot right now…

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