NY Post: Knicks may have sealed postseason berth in classic fashion

From Marc Berman:

The famous Garden pinwheeled ceiling sprung a leak as rain pounded the roof Sunday night, causing a 14-minute delay.

And for an uncharacteristicly long segment of the second half, the Knicks defense sprung a leak, too. After going up by 18 points early in the third quarter, the Knicks couldn’t do a thing right as the Raptors put together a 40-15 run, taking a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

But this is the new Knicks, in a new era. Before they could choke the game away, they rose up late and survived a brutal and ugly 102-96 decision over Toronto to break a nine-game losing streak against the Raptors.

“We found a way at the end,’’ Tom Thibodeau said. “I like we have the mental toughness to work our way through it and pull it out in the end. But I think we’re capable of playing better than we did today.”

More importantly, the Knicks probably sealed a spot in the play-in tournament. They moved six games in front of the Raptors, who are in 11th place. The top 10 teams will either qualify for the play-in or for a playoff berth.

I mean, a four game lead was already likely enough for the Knicks to remain in the top ten teams, but yes, this definitely almost definitively solidified them a spot in the top ten. So it was a big win. They also got to .500. They never quit under Thibs. It is great to see.

Less great? Pretty much everything else about this game. There was this segment where the Knicks came back to tie and take the lead in the fourth where it was great that it happened, but how it happened was just brick after brick by both teams until the Knicks eventually made enough to take (and keep) the win. It was an ugly, ugly game. It reminded me of the 1990s, but more like the Fratello Cavs.

But hey, the Fratello Cavs were routinely playoff teams, so it is all good!

Now they just need to kick the Lakers’ ass on Monday to get over .500 and, well, you know, kick the Lakers’ ass, which is always fun.

Also, the Pacers are coming on strong (they also beat the Grizzlies in a game very similar to the Knicks) and now that Caris Levert is healthy, they’re looking pretty frisky, and the Knicks desperately need to keep ahead of them. Making the top ten is big, but making the top eight is almost just as big, as it means needing to lose two games to miss the playoffs rather than needing to win two games to make the playoffs. I don’t think I need to explain to you why the former is much, much better than the latter, right?

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56 thoughts to “NY Post: Knicks may have sealed postseason berth in classic fashion”

  1. It’s great to wake up in the morning and watch a nice-ugly Knicks Win!

    Thibs mixing the units was pleasantly welcome. Seems to me like he’s getting better in rotations freeflow feeling.

    What about “5 sec Frank”? Is this a new lucky trend?

  2. Huge win for the standings and this is the important thing.

    Another big lead vanished, a disturbing trend,
    this team never quit but too often they shoot themselves in the foot and need to win games multiple times,
    we were lucky the game tide turned on the just-out-of-bounds three…

    RJ, Noel and Payton (yes, Payton) played well,
    Randle redeemed himself from the line but was awful from the floor, Burks again with a bad shooting night but a clutch basket, Quickley was simply bad.

    I’d like to see more of Barrett on offense, he has taken less shots in the last handful of games, with very good efficiency, and has been really clutch in the last three. He’s growing steadily under our eyes.

    Is Obi injured? He looked decent, I don’t see any other reason to keep him on the bench in the second half.

    Now we really need to beat the undermanned Lakers, definitively a winnable game if we stay focused and cut the bad habits…

  3. Is Obi injured? He looked decent, I don’t see any other reason to keep him on the bench in the second half.

    I think it was more about Knox being better suited to combat the Toronto zone defense. Obi is looking a bit better, but nobody respects him from distance yet. For good reason.

  4. Obi getting the ball outside the 3p line, giving it away after a second and start running urgently to nowhere with his head squeezed between his shoulders somehow reminds me of comic figures running after putting dynamite! Like the Daltons from Lucky Luke!

  5. the Knicks … After going up by 18 points early in the third quarter … the Raptors put together a 40-15 run, taking a 5 point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

    I guess Berman, among other things, has a problem with math :D

  6. Ugly or not (definitely super ugly), it was a very important win, as the Bulls also lost and if the play-in is now guaranteed, the chance for the Bulls to catch us is also closing, which is very good. We should be happy, for a change. :)
    About the 8th/9th battle, and it will be a battle indeed, that is a lot more leveled. If IND wins the 2 games they have fewer than us, we’ll be tied, so no separation as of now. On the bright side, we still have one of the worst schedules, but that hasn’t changed and we’re hanging on, whereas IND had the easiest schedule and now has the 20th, so they must have been on an easy stretch and were 6-4 (the Knicks were 5-5). I’m not optimistic, but it’ll be a battle, as IND doesn’t look like a killer. Let’s hope we can keep them behind.

  7. Now they just need to kick the Lakers’ ass on Monday to get over .500 and, well, you know, kick the Lakers’ ass, which is always fun.

    I think this stretch needs a disclaimer, like in political campaigns…
    Hello i’m Cdiggy, and I approve this message” :D

  8. A few excerpts from Kevin O’Connor’s new Ringer column titled “There’s Good News to Spread in New York for a Change”:

    Thibodeau’s comments align with intel from around the league that says Barrett is a basketball junkie who works hard and seeks out feedback. Guys like that tend to fulfill their upside. It’s just a matter of what that upside is: All-Star? Superstar? He already looks like a really good rotation guy and his head coach believes in him. We’ll see.

    and

    People around the league consider New York more of a destination today than it was in the past. Team performance has gone a long way in repairing the organization’s image. But the people running the show have changed too, with a new front office led by former CAA agent Leon Rose and William Wesley (a.k.a. World Wide Wes). Fielding a competitive team and overhauling the front office was the same formula in recent years for the big-market Clippers, Lakers, and Nets, which positioned all three of those teams to appeal to their current superstars. The Knicks would have loved to have been in on that past crop of free agents, especially since this summer’s class is relatively weak after a rush of re-signings this past year. It’s been reported the Knicks will have interest in Lonzo Ball when he hits restricted free agency this offseason, which would make a lot of sense considering the pass-first nature of his game. New York was also in the running for Andre Drummond as a buyout before he signed with the Lakers. How much Drummond would actually help is questionable, considering the Knicks have plenty of other bigs and adding another could further stunt Toppin’s development.

  9. Lakers have been surprisingly frisky without Lebron and AD (right around .500 overall actually I think) and we’re on the back to back. They’re still an excellent defensive team and I think another rock fight is pretty likely.

  10. Not sure if this piece has been linked to yet, but is a really fascinating article about RJ’s offseason work.
    https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/article/inside-rj-barretts-transformation-one-nbas-deadliest-shooters/

    Confirms what some of us were guessing at last season, which is that even after his hot shooting start to the season after working with Hanlen post-draft, Keith “Smart” and the crack Fizdale coaching staff changed RJ’s mechanics with predictably bad results.

    It’s really hard to fathom how bad that coaching staff was. The fact that Adam Gase and David Fizdale were simultaneously coaching my favorite football and basketball teams must mean I did something wrong in a past life.

  11. by the way, we all have issues with Thibs and his man-crush on Elfrid Payton, but it really is amazing that he has this roster and has transformed them into the 4th DRtg in the league, especially with our best defensive player out for much of the year. Everyone and their mother was predicting a serious regression after the early 3 point defense “luck”, but lo and behold, even as that 3 point luck has regressed, we’re still 2nd in the league defensive eFG.

    I am not totally sure whether his schemes are very different than they were in Minnesota, but his success here despite having probably mediocre defensive talent probably tells you something about KAT, his ability to anchor a defense, and the buy-in from the Wolves in general during the Thibs years.

    Speaking of the Elfrid man-crush –>
    Payton’s minutes/game by month:
    Jan: 29
    Feb: 27
    Mar: 23
    Apr: 19

    it’s happening.

  12. I watched some video of Josh Giddey and I must say that I’m intrigued. 6’7″ pg with a nice handle, vision, and passes with both hands. Simmons light?

  13. The best thing I can say about RJ is I found myself screaming for Randle to pass him the ball for that shot. Then when it was up I felt extremely confident it would go in.

  14. Frank:
    by the way, we all have issues with Thibs and his man-crush on Elfrid Payton, but it really is amazing that he has this roster and has transformed them into the 4th DRtg in the league, especially with our best defensive player out for much of the year.Everyone and their mother was predicting a serious regression after the early 3 point defense “luck”, but lo and behold, even as that 3 point luck has regressed, we’re still 2nd in the league defensive eFG.

    I am not totally sure whether his schemes are very different than they were in Minnesota, but his success here despite having probably mediocre defensive talent probably tells you something about KAT, his ability to anchor a defense, and the buy-in from the Wolves in general during the Thibs years.

    Speaking of the Elfrid man-crush –>
    Payton’s minutes/game by month:
    Jan: 29
    Feb: 27
    Mar: 23
    Apr: 19

    it’s happening.

    I’m happy to see Payton’s minutes go down, but that also means more Derrick Rose. His defense on Flynn last night was atrocious, and he’s been pretty bad on offense lately too.

    It’s a choice between shit and vomit, but I’ll still take Payton over Rose.

  15. Rose looks good in flurries, but sometimes he starts out hot and then tends to flame out later. He also doesn’t seem to finish very well. I see too many plays where he gets to the basket with a good shot and should finish but misses. It’s different than let’s say Frank who occasionally tries to get to the basket but winds up with some really awkward shot because he doesn’t have to handle/moves/quickness to get a good shot.

    We need two things.

    1. A PG that can penetrate, shoot and make plays to help create space and open looks

    2. A high level scorer with a 3 pointer to help Randle/RJ and prevent double teams.

    It should be an interesting off season.

  16. I think this stretch needs a disclaimer, like in political campaigns…
    “Hello i’m Cdiggy, and I approve this message” :D

    I don’t even dislike the Lakers, but games like tonight feel extra important just because of cdiggy (who, incidentally, I met at KB mixer once and unsurprisingly is the nicest guy you could imagine).

  17. Hubert: I don’t even dislike the Lakers, but games like tonight feel extra important just because of cdiggy (who, incidentally, I met at KB mixer once and unsurprisingly is the nicest guy you could imagine).

    That’s so cool, and yeah that’s exactly how i imagine him to be. :)
    One of these days i’ll go to NY, to the Garden and to a KB mixer. That’s on my lifetime’s to do list, at least once. ;)

  18. d-mar: I’m happy to see Payton’s minutes go down, but that also means more Derrick Rose. His defense on Flynn last night was atrocious, and he’s been pretty bad on offense lately too.

    It’s a choice between shit and vomit, but I’ll still take Payton over Rose.

    Last night and I believe another game recently, Burkes closed at point guard, so Thibs agrees to a certain degree.

  19. We need two things.

    1. A PG that can penetrate, shoot and make plays to help create space and open looks

    2. A high level scorer with a 3 pointer to help Randle/RJ and prevent double teams.

    It should be an interesting off season.

    Randle’s post-ASG performance is really making me second guess some of the things I would have pursued a few months ago. I like him a lot. I would love him on the team-friendly extension we can offer him this offseason (the one most people reasonably expect he will turn down). But if his plan is to play out next year and seek a max, I’d be inclined to explore his trade value.

  20. Maybe this recent play from Julius is a wake up call for him, and the chance he signs on the max extension we can offer (4/$106M) is rising. And for the Knicks, 26.5M AAV doesn’t seem like the bargain it seemed 2 months ago, seem about right actually. Let’s do it.

  21. Hubert:
    The best thing I can say about RJ is I found myself screaming for Randle to pass him the ball for that shot. Then when it was up I felt extremely confident it would go in.

    +1

  22. Frank: a really fascinating article about RJ’s offseason work.

    Good article, and for those who haven’t read it, this part is a diagram for RJ’s improvements going forward. Helps in terms of time frame and specifics and managing expectations as we continue to debate his ceiling…

    “This coming summer the focus will be on adding the ability to shoot threes off the dribble and on the move.

    Part of Barrett’s improvement this season has been focusing on taking advantage of open catch-and-shoot opportunities. The next step is to be dangerous either coming off screens or pulling up off the dribble against sagging defenders.

    As well, more attention will be given to adding some shiftiness to Barrett’s dribble-drive game as defenders have to honour his shooting.

    Finally – likely heading into his fourth season –the goal will be developing a more varied package of shots to finish at the rim in traffic.”

  23. Hubert: Randle’s post-ASG performance is really making me second guess some of the things I would have pursued a few months ago. I like him a lot. I would love him on the team-friendly extension we can offer him this offseason (the one most people reasonably expect he will turn down). But if his plan is to play out next year and seek a max, I’d be inclined to explore his trade value.

    I’ve been defending him since last year, but I don’t disagree. I still feel like part of his problem is that we don’t have a PG and another scorer to give us enough firepower and spacing. That causes him to try to do too much. However, I still some of the same old bad habits that make me think he’s going to drive me crazy from time to time with the dribbling, occasional poor shot selection or boneheaded TO. Personally, I wouldn’t trade him if the major asset we get is a pick. I don’t want to take a step backwards. I’d want a really good player back as part of bigger deal. I’d be open to it too.

  24. The plan for RJ’s development sounds sensational. That’s the way you should do it. Every off season you should try to add 1 or 2 new things to the arsenal.

  25. d-mar: I’m happy to see Payton’s minutes go down, but that also means more Derrick Rose. His defense on Flynn last night was atrocious, and he’s been pretty bad on offense lately too.

    It’s a choice between shit and vomit, but I’ll still take Payton over Rose.

    Elf + RJ + Randle 3 man lineup: net rating -2.3, ORtg 108.2, DRtg 110.5

    Rose + RJ + Randle 3 man lineup: net rating +10.9, ORtg 110.6, DRtg 99.7

    It’s just not arguable anymore that Elf is good. Can’t shoot. Doesn’t pass. Not a good finisher. Overrated defender. What are we doing here?

    Even if Elf is a marginally better half-court defender than Rose, part of having a good defense is having a good offense – fewer transition opportunities, set defense, etc etc.

    And I’m not even a Rose fan — I’m just super anti-Elf.

  26. Elf has been a disappointment to me. IMO, it’s correct to build in an expectation of some improvement in shooting over time when a player is still relatively young. But it’s still just a probability. It doesn’t have to happen. I was hoping he’d improve enough to become a solid if not spectacular starter, but it just hasn’t been in the cards. IMO, Rose is the better player (albeit nothing to get excited about). I don’t think Rose can or wants to play starter minutes given his injury history. So Payton is going to play.

  27. I think you extend Randle and hope to get him in the 25 to 30 million range. He might regress (he has recently) but he’s still entering his prime and still a useful player. The thing people are afraid of is that he will prevent us from a max for a superstar. But he can still be part of a trade for a star later and really the only unmovable contracts are the super overpays for 30 plus players who are declining and injured. Those are the real killers. All the other ones are usually movable.

    I think Obi picking up more minutes, a better starting PG, RJ continuing to improve, etc…can all help lighten the load for Randle in the future.

  28. Love Obi playing more confidently. I’m not sure whether he’ll ever live up to his draft slot, but at least he doesn’t look completely lost out there anymore. He also looks physically bigger – they have definitely gotten him in the weight room.

    I was happy to see Knox get minutes last night. Thibs needs to experiment more with him on the floor for the inevitable zone defenses we are going to see in the play-in / playoffs.

  29. With Toppin, you console yourself with these things:

    1)Nobody expected Randle to be playing this heavy a minutes load
    2)Thanks to our crap sandwich at PG, we play a slow offense in a scheme that is antithetical to nearly everything that made Toppin so good offensively at Dayton. (We’ve barely seen any of the high-level passing skills he showed off in college and at times in the preseason.)
    3)No summer league, brief training camp, and he was injured to start the season
    4)He’s anecdotally a really hard worker and an eager learner who has been a late bloomer at every level he’s played at.
    5)Eye-popping athleticism, but also a body that clearly needs to (and can) get bigger to deal with NBA-size players

    But you also gnash your teeth at:

    1)Hali (or Vassell, or Bey) would really fit perfectly with what we need
    2)He moves SO deliberately out there, on both ends, that I worry there’s only so much that coaching and hard work can do
    3)Hali
    4)Even when his three-point shot goes in, it makes me question all my life choices
    5)Hali

    These last few games have at least given me hope that he can be a rotation player in the league, which is more confidence than I’ve ever really had in Knox. But a lot has to go right for this to not be an utter fiasco of a pick, given some of the other options.

  30. Alan: With Toppin, you console yourself with these things:

    Agreed, but adding one more we’ve discussed before. They consistently stick him in the corner, as if he were Kevin Knox, which he isn’t. I know that’s the entire design of this ancient, creaky offense, but it’s just a terrible scheme for him to show anything except the occasional safety-valve moon-shot three that he probably shouldn’t even take until next year.

  31. Agreed, Raven. If this is how we were going to use him, we should have just taken Vassell.

    I guess the other thing you can maybe console yourself with is that spending a season in an offense that leans into most of his weaknesses and none of his strengths could in theory make him a more well-rounded player if he ever winds up in an offense that understands how to use him. But it becomes difficult to imagine that happening here, because even if we upgrade at point guard — and even if you believe this Paleolithic offense is much more the fault of our talent than of Thibs — Randle is still going to be playing a ton of minutes next year, and when Obi plays, it’ll mostly be alongside another big man.

  32. Cybersoze – The Garden is amazing. The basketball has been terrible for so long I don’t know how they still have fans but yet there they are. So knowledgeable too. It’s a lot of fun and I hope you make it there in a year the Knicks are finally good.

  33. Watching that RJ 3 pointer in the closing seconds last night – crazy what a difference a year makes.

    last year – Randle definitely doesn’t pass that ball. He definitely barrels into traffic, gets doubled by Siakam, tries a spin move, and gets stripped. He definitely doesn’t pass the ball to RJ in the corner because he didn’t trust RJ. This year, Randle drives right into the double team, but specifically and purposefully to draw that double team, just so he can pass to RJ, who he trusts to hit that shot.

    Last year, RJ didn’t trust RJ. He wouldn’t have shot that ball, and even if he did, he wouldn’t have shot it with the quick release and no hesitation that he did. Siakam was RIGHT THERE with his crazy wingspan — the only way RJ could get it off is with a great pass in the shooting pocket and zero hesitation.

  34. It’s too bad about Obi. Randle taking this big of a leap and crowding out his minutes was one of the lower probability outcomes for this season, but here we are.

  35. good article frank…. hanlen was with begley before the season and did throw the prior regime under the bus… which was funny because you rarely see people be so blunt about it… but it’s good to finally have the details about what exactly they interfered with on the shot….

    the offseason plan does look good… the pull up isn’t exactly an efficient shot but it’s there to keep the defense honest and open up his drives a bit more…. so we’re almost definitely going to see his 3p% drop but it’s one of those 1 step backwards 2 step forwards deal… leave it to the canadiens to do a better job than the ny beat writers to get info that actually matters…

    rj is already adding stuff it seems like every game…. last night he was outstanding finding the open man on his drives in the not so usual places … half of which i was expecting for him to throw up a desperate attempt at the rim or throw it to the corner like he usually does.. he’s learning and he’s adding stuff every game…

    but one thing we’re all discounting is that he is going to mature physically also… he’s obviously pretty strong already and has the body of an nba vet but it’s not like precocious athletes’ bodies stay the same into their primes either…. lebron at 20 and lebron at 25 .. kobe at 20 vs 25.. or even julius randle at 20 vs 25.. if they work at it they can go through staggering transformations… that’s not to say that rj is going to turn into lebron or kobe but this isn’t anywhere near his peak athletic form either…

    he’s going to look and perform differently within these next few years and it’s likely to catapult him into his prime… how good that’s going to look is anyone’s guess but answering all the questions people had of him quite emphatically so quickly you’d be hardpressed to put that cap too low….

  36. RJ had 5 assists last night, and 3 I remember clearly – 2 great dishes to Noel for dunks and 1 to Burks at the top of the key for a critical 3 pointer.

    His passing and mostly solid defense are more reasons to be really excited about 20 year old RJ Barrett.

  37. what’s happening with obi sucks and the alternatives were better both at the time and in hindsight… but as we’ve seen with both randle and rj…. we should have some patience…

    he hasn’t been irredeemably bad and while he’s probably not going to turn into amare… he probably could be a very useful player… which thanks to randle is all we kind of need at this point…

    you couple that with the fact that he could have completely different pg’s to play with and an extra year for thibs to walk the walk on his offensive enlightenment… then there’s still an opportunity for obi to turn this narrative around…

  38. I’m starting to think that Obi will be fine. He’s quickly losing that deer in the headlights look. Even though Knox took his second half minutes due to the Raptor’s playing a zone, Obi should get all of Randle’s backup minutes. His defense and rebounding have definitely improved.

  39. Has anyone seen Giddey play? He looks like a maestro with the ball in his hands. I’d use our pick on him.

  40. At least Haliburton has been playing like trash lately. Makes the Obi pick feel a bit better.

    I’d be down to package him with our first to move up. Or flip him straight up for a mid-teens pick, if available.

  41. d-mar:
    RJ had 5 assists last night, and 3 I remember clearly – 2 great dishes to Noel for dunks and 1 to Burks at the top of the key for a critical 3 pointer.

    His passing and mostly solid defense are more reasons to be really excited about 20 year old RJ Barrett.

    I just watched the assist to Burks – RJ was driving the baseline right into Lowry. RJ last year would’ve taken it strong and gotten called for the charge, esp with Lowry the master charge-taker as the primary defender there. This year, easy pass to open Burks for 3.

    The third assist to Noel was also sweet – he cut into an open spot (Great cut), then immediately threw it basically behind himself no-look-style to Noel. Just showed great awareness of where everyone is on the court.

  42. It’s pretty hard to find nbl games online but there’s stuff you can find on youtube…. giddey doesn’t look bad and the numbers do look impressive… i’m not sure if he’s a pg tho but i don’t think he needs to be in order to be successful…..

    a lot of folks have a high opinion of the nbl like pelton …lamelo and hampton have played extremely and reasonably well respectively so the hype is probably justified…. noble is pretty high on him from what i remember also…. i’m very agnostic on this since i have a tough time with international prospects and i hate not watching anything about them…

    giddey hasn’t been getting a lot of buzz… sometimes he’s in the first towards the middle.. sometimes in the end and not even included in some others.. i think he will probably go late.. there aren’t many international guys that are legit this year… him and sengun are probably it as far as 1st rders go…

    i haven’t seen much buzz for him though which may or may not change… tough to tell with international prospects but he’ll likely be around for either of our picks..

  43. i hope we extend the offer for extension this off-season, and i hope julius takes it…

    it was interesting at the end of the game when julius hit those two free throws and a young RJ came over to a big daddy kind of julius to give him a little rah rah, and to see julius just pat RJ on the chest a couple of times like it wasn’t no thing making them free throws, didn’t even glance at him…

    it’ll be interesting to see julius adapt to RJ being the focal point of our offense…which it will most likely be next season…

    julius calling out elf earlier this year i thought was a significant point in our season (got elf to actually play better for a few games)…julius relinquishing control of the ball next season to RJ will also be a step forward for the team…RJ seems like a pretty willing passer…

    i swear, you look out on the court, listen to him speak – RJ Barrett sure don’t seem like no young person getting ready to hit 21…

    someone mentioned it in the game thread, but yeah, incredible emotional control…there’s this really cool movie call Free Solo about Alex Honnold climbing El Capitan…during the movie alex gets an mri done to to see if it’s possible to provide a biological answer for his ability to climb in the fashion he does…

    turns out his fear switch is pretty much totally shut off…

    who knows, international based player, number one college recruit…maybe we did land a superstar…

  44. djphan:
    It’s pretty hard to find nbl games online but there’s stuff you can find on youtube…. giddey doesn’t look bad and the numbers do look impressive…i’m not sure if he’s a pg tho but i don’t think he needs to be in order to be successful…..

    a lot of folks have a high opinion of the nbl like pelton …lamelo and hampton have played extremely and reasonably well respectively so the hype is probably justified…. noble is pretty high on him from what i remember also…. i’m very agnostic on this since i have a tough time with international prospects and i hate not watching anything about them…

    giddey hasn’t been getting a lot of buzz… sometimes he’s in the first towards the middle.. sometimes in the end and not even included in some others.. i think he will probably go late.. there aren’t many international guys that are legit this year… him and sengun are probably it as far as 1st rders go…

    i haven’t seen much buzz for him though which may or may not change… tough to tell with international prospects but he’ll likely be around for either of our picks..

    He looks like an amazing distributor, from the little I’ve seen. Totally ambidextrous dribbling or passing. High rebounds and steals too.

  45. Now they just need to kick the Lakers’ ass on Monday to get over .500 and, well, you know, kick the Lakers’ ass, which is always fun.

    cybersoze: I think this stretch needs a disclaimer, like in political campaigns…
    Hello i’m Cdiggy, and I approve this message” :D

    HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAA oh yes this made my day thank you!

    Sidebar: Today is the first day our student-athletes are allowed back on campus for conditioning activities in 13 months. We’ve been focusing on that, so I hope my coworkers will be too occupied to pay attention that their precious Lakers play us today – heck, the head #lolKnicks troll (i.e. my supervisor) will be busy with football workouts this afternoon while the teams play.

    That said, I’d really like us to win tonight, even if they’d prolly dismiss the win due to the Laker injuries.

  46. Hubert: I don’t even dislike the Lakers, but games like tonight feel extra important just because of cdiggy (who, incidentally, I met at KB mixer once and unsurprisingly is the nicest guy you could imagine).

    Shit… we met at that one KB/P&T mixer I went to Hubert?? I’m so sorry for not remembering – it had to be like btwn 2010 and 2012 before I moved back upstate to ‘Cuse (I do remember seeing Robert Silverman tho). Thank you so much for the kind words tho… damn I’m getting old.

  47. About RJ – I think next season will tell us much more about what his ceiling could be. If the whole “3rd Year Jump” is really a thing, then oh boy…

    Doug Chu:
    It’s too bad about Obi. Randle taking this big of a leap and crowding out his minutes was one of the lower probability outcomes for this season, but here we are.

    And I understand the criticisms about Obi’s draft selection, but this is why I don’t get up in arms about it. I’m OK if folks want to flip him in a good trade, and I still think a full NBA offseason regimen will do him a world of good.

  48. My big Obi question that I don’t think anybody can answer is what his path is to more minutes. Thibs doesn’t seem to have any interest whatsoever in the Randle/Obi combo (and probably rightfully so, it’s hard for me to imagine that being strong enough on O to make up what you’re sacrificing on D) and Randle has turned into one of the league’s biggest workhorses. You can hope that Thibs will dial down Randle’s minutes a bit if/when Obi proves a more competent backup but that’s a route to maybe 15 minutes a game, which is still a tiny role.

    For his first season, that’s a problem, but not a crisis; but for year 2, for a guy who’s going to be 23 going on 24? It’s not a tenable situation in my opinion, not from an asset management perspective, to take a top 10 pick and completely box him in to a marginal backup PF role. They probably have to trade him this offseason, solely for that reason, putting aside any questions about him as a player.

  49. I was talking with a fellow Knicks fan last night, and he said the best part of this season has been gradually becoming convinced that RJ could be the second best player on a good team, maybe a very good team. So the question is how we get the best player on that team. Randle has established that he’s a terrific player, too, but as we’ve talked about, his fit is more complicated than with someone like RJ, who could be useful on pretty much every roster in the NBA. I would not be shocked if the plan is at some point to flip Randle along with picks for someone who’s more obviously a number one guy. And if that’s the case, having Obi still around might be very useful.

    But thenamestam’s point about playing time rings true. Short of an injury or Thibs radically altering his belief in how this roster and rotation can be constructed, where does Obi get more time? And how much can he develop, even with a great coaching staff, if he’s not getting minutes in year 2?

  50. That sportsnet article is great. It makes you wonder how many weak shooters could’ve improved if they were willing to put in all that work, and it definitely speaks highly of RJ that he was in fact willing.

    The Ringer piece alludes to us targeting Steph in 2022. Sign me the hell up at any price–that dude is gonna be good at basketball for as long as he wants.

    noble is pretty high on him from what i remember also….

    Correct. I am not a film expert by any stretch but I like everything I’ve seen. His size doesn’t seem to impede him much when it comes to carrying out point guard duties and his jumper looks perfectly fine for his age. Like you said the NBL is developing a pretty solid track record and his numbers don’t lie.

    For his first season, that’s a problem, but not a crisis; but for year 2, for a guy who’s going to be 23 going on 24? It’s not a tenable situation in my opinion, not from an asset management perspective, to take a top 10 pick and completely box him in to a marginal backup PF role. They probably have to trade him this offseason, solely for that reason, putting aside any questions about him as a player.

    Yeah, it’s pretty simple–Obi Toppin and Julius Randle are not going to co-exist as key pieces on any team’s roster. If we extend Randle the writing is on the wall for Toppin. If Toppin quickly improves, trading Randle is probably the correct play from an asset management perspective. However that is a a humongous “if,” and my guess is Toppin gets flipped for a late-ish first or as part of a trade up package before too long if he doesn’t shed all of his value.

  51. Owen: It’s a lot of fun and I hope you make it there in a year the Knicks are finally good.

    That’s the plan, and this season is telling me “save the money fast, cause the Knicks are rising again” :)

  52. If Toppin quickly improves, trading Randle is probably the correct play from an asset management perspective.

    This is definitely the other theoretical option but I just don’t think that’s the kind of move this front office would consider. Obviously they’re still very new and they might surprise me, but based on my current assessment it’s not the kind of move I’d expect from them. Coming off this feel-good season, the front office is going to be looking to take what we have and build on it, not move in a dramatic new direction. Trading the teams best player just is not in the cards I don’t think. They’re going to be thinking along the lines of Beal+Randle, not swapping Randle for Beal to take just one example.

  53. When’s Minny’s next game? I wonder if we’re going to have a repeat protest about the Daunte Wright shooting. Aaron Hicks of the Yankees (who played for the Twins) is sitting tonight’s game out. I would imagine, as we saw with their responses to the Jacob Blake shooting that the NBA players are very on top of this.

  54. And as I wrote that, I saw that the Minny/Nets game has been postponed. It’ll be interesting to see if the Knicks and Lakers actually play tonight.

  55. As a Knicks fan, I selfishly hope they don’t postpone the game. I’d rather play the Lakers without LeBron and AD.

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