Knicks Mailbag: New York's strong 2022-23, possible offseason pursuits
SNY's Ian Begley will be responding to and breaking down answers to Knicks questions from readers. Here's the latest...
@MikeRee60259113 This has been a great season and I’m looking forward to the playoffs. In the offseason what do you think the Knicks will attempt to do or what position will they most attempt to upgrade?
Thanks for the question, Mike. It’s a good one and I’m going to answer it. But I think what you said at the beginning of the question deserves some attention.
The Knicks are playing meaningful basketball in late March right now. That’s only happened three times in the past 10 years (the 2013-14 team was in the hunt late in the season). The 10 years before that? Only three Knicks teams could make that claim.
More often than not, Knicks fans are looking at lottery odds at this point in the season. They’re worried about how a meaningless late March/early April win will hurt their ability to get a top pick. They’re wondering why an established veteran is playing ahead of a young prospect when the games have no consequence.
And that’s just on the court. Many off-the-court issues, unforced errors, have plagued the franchise over the past 20-plus years.
Right now? There’s nothing.
No civil suit involving the team owner and a fan favorite. No public feud between the star player and team president. No significant turmoil among the players, coaches, front office or ownership.
It’s just about basketball.
So you can look at Monday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and wonder why the Knicks couldn’t get a stop against a team missing two of its top players. You can question why RJ Barrett wasn’t in the game in crunch time. You can disagree with the Knicks’ decision to go through Julius Randle late on a night when he seemingly couldn’t miss but was fatigued.
You can do all of this without wondering about the immediate future of the team.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau is on solid ground. Team president Leon Rose and his front office made one of the best signings in the offseason (Jalen Brunson) and one of the best trades at the deadline (Josh Hart). So they’re on solid footing as well.
And there’s continuity on the roster. Hart is the only rotation player who isn’t under contract for next season. It’s logical to assume that he will be back on a new deal this summer. Everyone else in the rotation has multiple years left on their current deals. Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, and Miles McBride are on their rookie contracts. The continuity extends beyond just this season. The Knicks are winning with significant contributions from Randle, Barrett and Mitchell Robinson – all players who were acquired during the Steve Mills/Scott Perry era.
This is foreign territory for a franchise that has specialized in roster turnover for the past two decades.
So thinking about this offseason is relevant and important. But it’s also worth taking a minute to enjoy the present. The Knicks are playing meaningful games in late March. And there seems to be stability/sustainability throughout the key parts of the organization. You couldn’t say that about many Knicks teams over the past two decades.
To address Mike’s question about the offseason, I don’t have specific intel on which position the Knicks would look to upgrade. Barring something unforeseen, I think you can forget about them pursuing point guards or power forwards at the moment.
But they’ve always been aggressive in seeking opportunities to acquire a top player.
The Knicks won’t have any cap space in 2023, so they’ll need to upgrade the roster via trade. We’ve talked a lot about the situation in Philadelphia with Joel Embiid/James Harden and why it’s relevant to the Knicks (we addressed that, and other topics, in the video mailbag this week). Given Jaylen Brown’s recent comments in a Ringer article about the Celtics, I’m sure teams are keeping an eye on Boston as a future trade partner.
You don’t need to be an investigative reporter to deduce that Thibodeau is a big fan of Miami’s Jimmy Butler. He’s always highly complimentary of Butler whenever he speaks about him. Could the Heat look to make a major pivot if they fail to make a run in the playoffs? That’s also something to keep an eye on.
But plenty can happen between now and late June -- including the Knicks making a surprising playoff run. How they do in the postseason will certainly influence their approach in the offseason.