NY Post: Knicks In the Driver’s Seat for the #4 Seed!

I added my own headline now that the Bucks won.

From Marc Berman:

The Knicks still need some assistance to secure the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, but they continue to do whatever they can to attain the best possible postseason positioning.

On Saturday afternoon, the Knicks took care of the first of their final two games, outlasting the Hornets, 118-109, in overtime at the Garden for their 40th win of the season. The victory temporarily moved them back into the No. 4 position in the East — ahead of the idle Hawks via the head-to-head tiebreaker. They also were a half-game ahead of Miami, pending the Heat’s visit to No. 3 Milwaukee on Saturday night.

The Knicks (40-31) will conclude the regular season Sunday at the Garden against the Celtics, while the Hawks will host the NBA-worst Rockets and the Heat will visit Detroit. A three-way tie would give the Hawks the No. 4 slot as Southeast Division champions and drop the Knicks to No. 6 due to a lost tiebreaker against Miami.

In most other seasons, I would expect the Knickiest ending of the Knicks somehow losing to the Celtics tomorrow, but one of the most important things about this team is that they don’t do Knicksy things. In both this game and the Spurs game, the Knicks got knocked on their heels by a big run by the other team (“It’s the NBA. Everyone makes a run.”), but the Knicks got right back up and took care of business. That differentiates them from past Knick teams and that’s all Thibs.

So I find it very difficult to believe that they’re going to lose to some scrubby Celtics team that doesn’t even need to win tomorrow, so might even rest their starters.

The Knicks are this close to home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Amazing.

And come on, when Jimmy Butler missed tonight’s game, you can’t tell me that you didn’t get that feeling that this Knicks’ season has had more than a dollop of pixie dust on it, right? Thibs creates a lot of magic pixie dust himself, but they’ve also been blessed with stuff like that, too, all season long and it’s been much appreciated.

So I now expect a Joel Embiid playoff injury after the Knicks take care of the Hawks, when Trae Young slips on a banana peel or some shit and misses three games of the first round series.

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53 thoughts to “NY Post: Knicks In the Driver’s Seat for the #4 Seed!”

  1. It’s one thing to get lucky breaks and another to be positioned to take advantage of them. There wasn’t enough luck in all the 4-leaf clovers and horse shoes on earth to get our recent teams to a home court advantage in the playoffs.

    Leon fucking Rose. My man.

  2. There’s something so sweet about having the chance to clinch the 4-seed against Boston in the last game of the season. Knicks!!!

  3. It’s one thing to get lucky breaks and another to be positioned to take advantage of them. There wasn’t enough luck in all the 4-leaf clovers and horse shoes on earth to get our recent teams to a home court advantage in the playoffs.

    Oh, definitely true. Like I said, Thibs created a whole lot of pixie dust just on his own, ya know?

  4. This really put the last 20 years of Knicks futility and fandom in perspective. I think the, ahh, Knicksamine receptors that should allow me to enjoy this fully are a little broken but I am getting there.

    Tommy Beer
    Tomorrow is May 16.

    The Knicks have won only one game past mid-May this century (Game 5 vs. the Pacers at MSG in the second round of the 2013 playoffs)

  5. Burks, Quickley, Noel, and Derrick Rose. Those are the key pieces of the team that were not here last year. And sure, Obi Toppin was a bit of a whiff given his draft position but he’s not a complete stiff either. Hats off to Leon Rose for bringing in all of those pieces.

    And of course Tom Thibodeau was the biggest acquisition of all. Thibs’ old mates Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose played out of their minds for the guy, both players had their best seasons in many, many years.

    If the Knicks win tomorrow they’ll be a 47 win team if you prorate that to a full season. Well, 46.69 but I’m rounding up. Not in my wildest imagination did I think this was a team that could come close to sniffing .500 ball.

    I wish ephus was here to tell us it’s a great time to be a Knicks fan.

  6. Kemba Walker, Rob Williams, Marcus Smart and Tristan Thompson are out against the Knicks tomorrow. The Celtics are locked in 7th. We still have to bring the A game!

  7. Boston has no incentive to play any of their stars tomorrow. They’d be better off resting everyone for the play in. It’s on us to show up and put them away!!!

  8. Both teams are on back to back and these games are always dangerous, it’ll probably be a messy game with tired legs and weird runs, but I’m strangely confident that this team can take care of business.

    We might not make it to the 2nd round but at this point I genuinely don’t think I care, this season is already a massive win no matter what happens really, outside of a really unlikely embarrassment at the hands of the Hawks. Really insane job from the front office and the coaching staff.

  9. The unsung hero in this turn around is Perry for not maxing KP and signing Randle after whiffing on Durant and Irving.

  10. Bruno Almeida: oth teams are on back to back and these games are always dangerous,

    And the Knicks played two OT games in 3 days and traveled.
    They can rest later after tomorrow. It’s time to dig down and rip out that throbbing green jugular.

  11. GHenman:
    The unsung hero in this turn around is Perry for not maxing KP and signing Randle after whiffing on Durant and Irving.

    Well, Perry is still there in some capacity. I don’t think we’ll ever know too much about who did what exactly, since Rose has been so silent to the media, but so far it’s been just a huge surprise how quietly effective everything has been ran. There was what, a little bit of drama at the beginning of the season about Noel’s minutes, and that was pretty much it? Even that weird leak brought no real drama and everyone just moved on promptly.

  12. Perry is the GM. I said Perry because he’s the only one left. That decision was crucial in ending the drought. He or Mills was also instrumental in signing Morris and Bullock. I tend to think it was more Perry than Mills because of the type of contracts, but who knows. They also drafted Mitch and RJ. My point is a lot happened before Rose got here.

  13. I’m reallly praying that the Knicks will win Tom.
    Getting that 4/5th seed is really beneficial for us. We are guaranteed of 4/5 if we win right?
    A series vs Atlanta is very doable for us. Hope we get that W. Come on Knicks let’s do it.

  14. Started the season thinking that we can trade Randle to Ben Simmons.
    Will we still do it again?
    Do you guys think randle will be worth the max contract and be one of our stars?

  15. We are guaranteed of 4/5 if we win right?

    A win guarantees the #4 seed.

  16. GHenman:
    Perry is the GM. I said Perry because he’s the only one left. That decision was crucial in ending the drought. He or Mills was also instrumental in signing Morris and Bullock.I tend to think it was more Perry than Mills because of the type of contracts, but who knows. They also drafted Mitch and RJ. My point is a lot happened before Rose got here.

    If we’re looking at executives, the one constant during the awful years was Steve Mills who’s Knick career started in 2013. How much power did Perry actually have with Mills about? I don’t know and don’t have enough understanding of the inside politics, but Perry brought in Bullock, Taj, Marcus Morris and Randle as FAs. He trade Morris for picks. There were no awful contracts brought in by him.

    That all being said, your argument makes sense.

    Here’s what I know now. This organization has transformed overnight. Does credit due to the addition of Leon Rose or the removal of Steve Mills?

    It just seems interesting to me that Perry survived but Mills didn’t.

  17. I agree that the fact that Perry is still here is telling. The biggest difference is Thibs, which Rose deserves all the credit for. Not many coaches could get this collection of individuals on short term contracts to play together as a team. Rivers is the one guy who wouldn’t buy in when it was his turn to sit and he was banished immediately. Very good job buy the organization.

  18. He started out playing okay, then he went into a slump and fell out of the rotation. Evidently, he and Thibs didn’t see eye to eye, so he was let go.

  19. Rose seems to have bought into the Team of Rivals approach. That’s a very smart idea for an executive with zero experience taking over a laughingstock franchise in a media capital. He’s a listener, not a talker. He lets the product do the talking.

    But by far, the biggest decision he made was his first…hiring Thibs. Some here didn’t think he was a good coach, which is inexplicable. Others (like me) were more concerned about the timing…I thought that they should build a bit more before hiring him because he’s not the right guy for a losing team and would burn out (see: Mike D’Antoni). Only a couple of folks here were very enthusiastic about him. But it turned out to be a stroke of genius.

    There are bigger decisions on the horizon, and if Rose fucks those up he will be accountable. But to transform the team from laughingstock to a #4 seed that everyone is taking seriously with the lowest payroll in the league and not a single player making more than $20mill or some transformational rookie deal kid like LeBron is maybe unprecedented in the history of the league. If Ujiri or Morey or Buford or Riley did it on another team, we’d be drooling. And nothing is more responsible for that than the Thibs hire.

  20. Getting us this far was brilliant, getting us to the next level will be tricky. This is probably Thibs last hurrah, so his window is probably only 3 or 4 years. He probably won’t have the patience to build through the draft so we will need to find the missing pieces through trades or free agency. Can the front office do it? We shall see. Whether they succeed or not, this is the most fun I’ve had as a Knicks fan since the 90’s. The 90’s!

  21. Deeefense:
    Imagine if we had a starting PG with a pulse.

    I could see Thibs actually abandoning Elf for the playoffs. Elf barely even tried yesterday. He’s way too big a risk for actual playoff games, IMHO.

    (Of course, because I’ve been wrong about basically everything this season, Elf will probably come out and triple-double or something today.)

    One thing I’ll take to the grave as being right is that Frank Ntilikina is the perfect Trae Young slayer if things get to that point and I’ll be perturbed if Trae gets off and leads the Hawks to wins with Frank permanently on the bench. (Thibs sees this too — thus the Frank-for-defense moves late yesterday — and he really needs to find the stones to follow through with it)

  22. Playoffs? We’re talking about the playoffs? The playoffs?

    Payton does have triple doubles in him, but his confidence is completely shot. I don’t believe beginning the process of replacing him before the season was even finished helped in that regard. The best move at this point is to go ahead and bench him. We can go with Rose, Burks, and Quickley at pg.

  23. Here’s what I know now. This organization has transformed overnight. Does credit due to the addition of Leon Rose or the removal of Steve Mills?

    It just seems interesting to me that Perry survived but Mills didn’t.

    Leon Rose was an agent, which means he must have had personal knowledge of what it was like negotiating with different GMs around the league and would have known which ones negotiated good deals for their teams and which did not. He didn’t have to keep Perry but he did, which pretty much tells you that his agent experience made him respect Perry. My conclusion, Perry is actually good at what he does.

  24. I think what happens now that Perry’s contract is up will be indicative of how much input he actually has. If he’s important, he’ll be resigned. If not, he likely will not.

    At the time, it sure seemed like Perry kept his job because he was under contract and it was hard to hire a new GM during a pandemic, and that Brock Aller was the de facto GM, but if Perry is resigned, then it is likely that he had a bigger role on the team.

  25. Obviously the draft should not be anyone’s primary focus right now, but one thing to keep in mind is that being unexpectedly good gives us an opportunity to take a Nuggets-like approach. In recent years they’ve prioritized upside over immediate impact in drafting MPJ, Bol Bol, and RJ Hampton. It remains to be seen if Bol can ever become more than a meme but I would say the approach has paid off for them generally.

    It’s a somewhat counterintuitive approach as the conventional wisdom holds that good teams should draft more for fit and prioritize immediate impact, but this might’ve created a bit of a market inefficiency for high-ceiling types later in the draft.

    Even in our range, I think this draft has a lot of guys who fit this mold. One or more of Jaden Springer, Josh Christopher, Sharife Cooper, and Cam Thomas should be available with at least one of our picks, and in my estimation these guys all have ceilings that are atypical of players that can be drafted so late. There’s probably something to be said for being able to develop slowly and/or in the G-League on a good team too.

    There should also be some safer picks available (e.g. Donsumu, Butler, Duarte) and I wouldn’t mind going that route at all. Projecting ceilings is more art than science and sometimes these kinds of safe, “low-upside” types can surprise you with their upside (e.g. Jalen Brunson becoming an 18-5-5/36, .620 TS% guy).

    When you account for the chance we’ll eventually be trading these guys anyway though, and for the fact that it doesn’t seem likely they’ll be getting tons of minutes any time soon anyway, I might be somewhat partial to the swing for the fences approach.

  26. TNFH, I’m leaning towards using one of our firsts on a plug and play guy and the other on an upside gamble. We absolutely need more 3-and-d help and should be able to find some even in the 20s.

  27. Boston resting basically everybody. Kenna, Tatum, Smart, Brown, Fournier, Thompson.

    Classic makings of a trap game right there.

  28. Alan:
    TNFH, I’m leaning towards using one of our firsts on a plug and play guy and the other on an upside gamble. We absolutely need more 3-and-d help and should be able to find some even in the 20s.

    Any discussion about the draft has to be about salary cap, the current roster, free agency, the draft and a long range plan. It must be holistic. Next year’s roster looks like this: RJ, IQ, Vildoza, Knox, Randle, Toppin, Pelle & Mitch – All others are free agents. Since that’s a shell of this team, I think mist discussions about it are fruitless. Honestly, I don’t want to deal with any of this yet. Leon has a lot of work to do after the playoffs. For now I just want to savor this day.

  29. Brian Cronin: I think what happens now that Perry’s contract is up will be indicative of how much input he actually has. If he’s important, he’ll be resigned. If not, he likely will not.

    I agree. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s rehired.

  30. Boston resting basically everybody. Kenna, Tatum, Smart, Brown, Fournier, Thompson.

    Classic makings of a trap game right there.

    I mean, I guess, but sure sounds more like a gimme win more than anything. It fits right into this magical season.

  31. Brian Cronin: I mean, I guess, but sure sounds more like a gimme win more than anything. It fits right into this magical season.

    It was tongue in cheek. I think they will take care of business like they have done all season.

  32. ESPN: “Kyrie Irving focused on issues other than hoops, says ‘basketball is just not the most important thing to me right now’

    Please, please, please never let this guy wear a Knick uniform. Between this dweeb, ring-chaser Durant and the jerk named Harden, I’m growing to hate the Nets more than the Red Sox.

  33. Speaking of the draft, in regards to the pick from the Mavs, I think they can finish 6th today but not 7th because they own the tiebreak with the Lakers, right? So they have escaped the play in?

  34. I’m fascinated from all the possible routs our front office can take in the offseason.

    For now they have earned the benefit of the doubt and I hope they’ll choose a good one, even if I fear that this incredible season could blind many about our real value and let Dolan force them to do some old-fashioned Knicks’ style blunder (see recent Rangers’ events as a warning).

    The two first rounders are important, if used wisely we can get two good players for a combined cap hit in the 4/5 M range, and the Detroit pick could also be good, because while close in players’ value to a late first it’s outside the rookie scale and allows to sign a player to a multiyear deal with few guarantees (see Robinson, Mitchell).

    OTOH I can’t see Thibs’ too happy with a roster carrying 3 rookies and 2 sophomores, so there’s a possibility that part of our draft capital will be used for trades/sign-and-trades (Lonzo?).

    But that’s will be an argument for many other threads, now let’s beat the Celtics and rock the Garden in the playoffs!

    Let’s go Pixie Dusted Knicks!

  35. BJ:
    Speaking of the draft, in regards to the pick from the Mavs, I think they can finish 6th today but not 7th because they own the tiebreak with the Lakers, right? So they have escaped the play in?

    Yes, they can finish 5th or 6th, not lower.

  36. It might be smart if the knicks did what they did last year with the 33 pick this year with one of their firsts. This year we will actually have a hard time adding three players to the roster, and a future pick is likely to have more value on the trade market than a rostered player.

  37. ***If we’re looking at executives, the one constant during the awful years was Steve Mills who’s Knick career started in 2013.***

    If Mills’ awful years started in 2013, how was he able to threaten Annucha Sanders way back in 2007?

  38. Perry will probably keep his job, but it won’t be because he’s GOOD. He’s just not as terrible as what we had become used to.

    He wasted years of our rebuild on former high draft picks and overpays like Mudiay, Hezonja, Portis, Vonleh, and Trey Burke.

    His drafts of Knox, Trier, and Brazdeikis were not good.

    He and Mills brought in Fizdale when Budenholzer and I think Thibs were available. Doh!

    You can count not signing KP to a max deal as a positive if you want, but he lost the deal. We basically got two non lottery picks and a draft bust for a guy that was worth way more than that at the time. They went big game hunting and it was total folly. Getting Rose out of DSjr was entirely about making a vet like Rose happy and him wanting to return to Thibs, otherwise DSjr was worth almost nothing And for all the whining about KP, he’s 25, still improving, and back for a playoff run despite the additional knee issue last year.

    I don’t even remember the details of the McDermott trade, but I liked him and he turned out to be a very useful player. I think we got Mudiay. lol

    He did a few good things.

    He signed Randle (which was possible and a perfect fit if we kept KP). Personally, I give credit for Randle’s development to new management and coaching, but that’s my opinion.

    He took a gamble on Robinson that worked out well.

    He signed and then traded Morris for a late 1st round draft pick that new management used well (we didn’t keep Harkless).

    We got Bullock at a bargain price because he got hurt (and that was the only reason we got lucky to get Morris).

    He drafted RJ (which was a no brainer)

    There are no disasters. That’s why some people have a high opinion. But on balance there’s good and bad and there’s probably more bad.

  39. If Mills’ awful years started in 2013, how was he able to threaten Annucha Sanders way back in 2007?

    He previously worked for MSG, which is where he left Sanders (a friend of his that he specifically got to come work there!) out to dry when she came to him about the harassment. Dolan fired him from MSG and then later hired him for the Knicks.

  40. Randle was good before he got here. He had a TS over .600 the 2 years previous to signing with the Knicks. Signing him to a 3yr $63 million contract rather than maxing KP makes the trade a win regardless of how the picks work out. Maybe if Bullock wasn’t injured they would have had better spacing and they wouldn’t have sucked. Drafting RJ was by no means a no brainer. Many people here and elsewhere thought he had bust written all over him. I wasn’t crazy about the KP trade, but in retrospect it was the right thing to do. I’m not saying Perry was great, but I do think Rose came into the job with a solid base.

  41. Perry also made a good deal in trading Melo when many thought it would be impossible to trade him at all, much less get anything useful in return.

  42. Drafting RJ was by no means a no brainer.

    There was no player going to be drafted at #3 but Barrett. It took very little thought to take Barrett there. He was by far the consensus #3. I don’t think a single mock draft didn’t have him there.

  43. Perry seems like a journeyman as a GM. Nice guy, well respected, just not much of a visionary like Ujiri, Morey, or Riley. He’s probably a good member of a team of rivals. Just not qualified to be the only or the main voice in building a contender. Certainly not an incompetent backstabbing scumbag like Mills or a bumbling burnout hippie like Phil.

  44. incompetent backstabbing scumbag like Mills 

    Bravo. Perfect distillation of Mills. Boy, did I dislike that guy.

  45. @MikeVorkunov
    Everybody is healthy for the Knicks today against Boston, except Mitchell Robinson. The Celtics are benching, well, pretty much everyone. Tatum, Kemba, Fournier, Robert Williams, Tristan Thompson, and Marcus Smart are all out.

  46. Brian Cronin: There was no player going to be drafted at #3 but Barrett. It took very little thought to take Barrett there. He was by far the consensus #3. I don’t think a single mock draft didn’t have him there.

    If he meant “consensus” in the KB context, that’s a bit more fair, there were plenty of RJ detractors here who would rather have traded down.

  47. We basically got two non lottery picks and a draft bust for a guy that was worth way more than that at the time.

    I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but my long-time problem with this argument is people tend to presuppose his value was way higher than what we got, then blame Perry et al. for not receiving that higher value.

    The obvious flaw in this argument is that nothing is ever cited in support of the idea that his value was so much higher than an unprotected first, a lightly protected first, and middling-but-not-totally-distressed (yet) asset in DSJ. This is to say nothing of the cap space we gained, which we easily could’ve used to get more picks had we chosen to do so instead of signing all the mercs (without it, I don’t think we could’ve signed both Randle and Morris, so there’s that).

    At the time of the trade Porzingis had recently torn his ACL and was coming off his third-consecutive season that started well and then fell off a cliff. It is quite possible front offices around the league just didn’t value him as highly as you think!

  48. Duncan and LaRue were also pretty down on him off the top of my head, but yes most people had him #3.

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