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Courtney Lee on Knicks’ prospects: ‘We’re contenders, man’

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Newcomer Courtney Lee has joined the chorus of New York Knicks players who have an extremely positive outlook on the 2016-17 NBA season.

Lee, who signed with the Knicks in July, not only believes the team will improve upon its disappointing 32-50 campaign, they are capable of rocketing up the standings to become a big-time threat.

“We’re contenders, man. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, but we’re looking to change that and win big,” Lee told Basketball Insiders. “The ring is the ultimate goal for everybody on the team; I know it is for me. When they talked to me and told me about the pieces they were adding alongside the players who were already there, I didn’t think anything less than a championship [was the goal]. We’re trying to get the Knicks back into the playoffs and win big.

“… Everybody is hungry and everybody has their own motivation or chip on their shoulder. We just need to come together, get that chemistry and see it click. Once everybody is together and everybody is hungry, I think we can be very scary.”

It’s undeniable that the Knicks have been taking steps in the right direction under the guidance of team president Phil Jackson. But the transformation from a team not sniffing the postseason to being legitimate contenders in one season is arguably a long-shot, even in the weaker Eastern Conference.

The Knicks nevertheless have upgraded the roster significantly — on paper at least, as Camelo Anthony suggested in July — with the additions of veterans Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah as well as Lee. The Knicks already boasted a decent nucleus with Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, the latter who defied expectations with a strong rookie season.

But Lee’s assertion that the Knicks have been transformed into true contenders — like Rose’s questionable contention the Knicks  “have a chance to win every game” — might be overstating things a bit, if not a complete mischaracterization of the prospects for success.

Perhaps Lee and his teammates should wait and see how the Knicks perform under new head coach Jeff Hornacek in the initial weeks and months of the season before making any further bold proclamations.