Bobby Portis thinks the Knicks can make the playoffs next season

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

The New York Knicks largely struck out in free agency this summer. They couldn’t convince Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker to come home. They cancelled a meeting on Kawhi Leonard and definitely weren’t going to offer the full max to Kevin Durant anyway.

But one player they did land was Bobby Portis. And Portis has some bold thoughts about his new team.

In an interview with HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy, Portis said that the Knicks can make the postseason months after finishing with the league’s worst record.

“The naysayers, the haters, the people who are doubting us will say that we’re crazy as hell for saying that (the playoffs are a realistic goal),” Portis said. “We have a lot of pieces who can play. I think we’re loaded at every position; there are two-to-three players who could start at every position. When you have that much talent, that rises the competitiveness and improves the team as a whole.”

The Knicks are loaded ... at power forward

Portis is right about several things here, including the naysayers; the Knicks are more deep than they have been in years. After trading Kristaps Porzingis to clear enough space for two max contracts, the Knicks had a lot of money burning a hole in their pocket.

What they lack in quality, they certainly have in quantity now. They invested $57 million in four different power forwards who are now the most expensive players on the roster. It’s as if they watched Space Jam and only took away that you can make a starting lineup with four big men.

Between Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Taj Gibson and Portis, it will be hard to find enough minutes for each of those players. And that’s before even considering center Mitchell Robinson and combo forward Kevin Knox. But Portis isn’t worried.

“Going into the season, I think you need three, four, five frontcourt players that can be interchangeable,” Portis said. “The season is obviously a long haul and things happen; players get hurt and this and that. Over the course of a long season, you need depth. I think we have a lot of depth on this team, at every position... We have a lot of players who are going to compete at a high level each and every night. We have a lot of talent on our roster. I think we’re being overlooked.”

Depth is needed for just about any contender, and the Knicks did add it elsewhere with Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington and Elfrid Payton. But without top-line talent, that depth will only get you so far.

Bobby Portis was one of many power forwards to sign with the Knicks during free agency. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Bobby Portis was one of many power forwards to sign with the Knicks during free agency. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

What are the Knicks’ chances of making the playoffs?

The Knicks finished with just 17 wins last year, and no team has made the playoffs with a losing record since 2015, so the team will likely need to improve by at least 24 wins to reach its goal.

The spate of free agent additions will help, but the Knicks also lost Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Burke and DeAndre Jordan. None of them are stars, but their production adds up quickly.

Most experts don’t see that happening, at least not in 2019-20. Betting markets give the Knicks 300/1 odds to win the title, tied for third-worst in the league, but even then, oddsmakers often inflate popular teams’ odds to squeeze more money out of eager bettors. FiveThirtyEight is even less optimistic, giving them a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs and rating them as the second least talented team in the league.

Portis has every right to feel confident about his new team — it’s the best attitude to have — but he’s pretty much alone on this island.

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