NY Post: Knicks thump Pistons to head into All-Star break over .500

From Marc Berman:

Tom Thibodeau soared into the All-Star break smiling and owning a winning record.

The Knicks whipped the Pistons, 114-104, Thursday to enter the All-Star break on an 8-3 spree, a 19-18 record overall and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks haven’t owned a winning record this late in a season since the 54-win, 2012-13 campaign.

With chants of “Let’s Go Knicks’’ from the 2,000 strong on hand at the Garden, they clobbered the Eastern Conference-worst Pistons for the second time in four days, making sure to take advantage on what has been a soft patch of the schedule recently.

Asked what he planned to do during the All-Star break, the hard-driving Thibodeau broke into a smile and joked, “You know me, Turks and Caicos.’’

Nah, there’s no Carribbean beach laying ahead for Thibodeau, though the Knicks first-year coach has earned at least a couple of days of respite.

“I’ll get some time with my family, just relax and recharge a little bit and then get ready for the second half,’’ Thibodeau said.

Of the Knicks’ last eight victories, seven have come against clubs well below .500 (Washington, Houston, Atlanta, Minnesota, Sacramento and Detroit).

“Last year those games were a tossup,’’ said first-time All-Star Julius Randle. “This year we’re handling business when we’re supposed to. That’s always encouraging, taking care of what you’re supposed to. It’s definitely helped us get in the position that we’re in right now.’’

Indeed, after seven years as the league’s laughingstocks, the Knicks will take it. Whether they can keep it up when play resumes is another story.

It’s not even that Berman is wrong, exactly, but that seems like a rather dour way to look at it. For now, we should just celebrate that the Knicks are .500 at the All-Star break!

It’s a fun situation to see them in.

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52 thoughts to “NY Post: Knicks thump Pistons to head into All-Star break over .500”

  1. If nothing happens, Randle stands to be a restricted free agent in 2022. “We’ll see when we get to that time,” Randle said. “But right now, I’m really just focused on what we have to do as a team. That’s so far ahead in the future. When that time presents itself I’ll be ready, we’ll talk or whatever, but I’m really just focused on this team, first off getting a win going into All-Star break, getting my body right so I’m healthy, staying on top of what I have to, starting off the second half of the season strong. That’s where my focus is right now.” – via Marc Berman @ New York Post

    I think we found our robin, now we need to go get the batman (as i don’t think RJ will be it anytime soon)

  2. And speaking of batmans, i was kind of surprised MIN was going for the “tank all the way”, as they only keep their pick if it’s Top3 (banking on 40% odds doesn’t seem all that smart).
    Now the rumors have them going after Collins (ATL) and Gordon (ORL), for a team like this: D’Angelo, Edwards, Gordon, Collins, KAT.
    If they pull that off, i think this takes KAT off the Knicks radar, as he always said he’s buddies with D’Angelo and so it won’t be likely that he’ll get frustrated before giving it a go for a couple of years.

  3. Beating a bad team is nice, especially when it seems so routine.

    I have found myself wondering how and why Keith Smart was ever allowed to be a shooting coach. Is it because he made that one shot in the tournament however many years ago?

    One story that shouldn’t go unnoticed is how much better many Knicks are shooting from 3 this year.

    Randle – 28% last year, 41% this year
    Barrett – 32% last year, 35% this year
    Bullock – 33% last year, 37% this year (close to his career average)
    Frank – 32% last year, 1000000% this year (actually 61.9%)
    Knox – 32.7% last year, 38.9% this year

    The only player playing significant minutes who still sucks at shooting is Payton – seriously, why is he so bad?

    But it goes beyond 3 point shooting – look at FT shooting too (for guys that have shot >20 FTA)

    Randle – 73% –> 80.5% sample size big enough that it’s probably not noise
    Barrett – 61.4% –> 73% sample size big enough that it’s probably not noise
    Payton – 57% –> 74.3% sample size big enough that it’s probably not noise
    Bullock – 81% -> 83.3% probably just noise

    The most disappointing one is Mitch, who is shooting worse from everywhere.

    I’m not sure who’s responsible (Johnny Bryant?) but it might be real.

    RJ Barrett update – since 1/1/21, shooting 40/99 (40.4%) from 3 point range, 47.7% from 2P range, 72% from the line. 100 3PA and 140 FTA – getting to be a reasonable sample size. Still small.

    Last year – 32% from 3P range, 43.2% from 2P range, 61.4% from the line.

    Really making strides, and even though his defensive counting stats (steals/blocks) are down, I actually feel like he has already turned into a plus defender.

  4. cybersoze: I think we found our robin, now we need to go get the batman (as i don’t think RJ will be it anytime soon)

    I gotta be honest – lots of talk on the airwaves about where Randle could slot in when/if we are eventually actually contenders – is he a #2 or a #3. Both Bobby Marks and JVG said it’s most likely as a #3, and JVG basically scoffed at Randle being compared to Chris Bosh (before walking it back a little bit unconvincingly).

    Do we really know that Randle might not be able to be a #2? Of course this is all assuming that his shooting so far this season is real, but so far he’s shooting 50/40/80 on high usage as the focal point of an offense that has very little other talent. He’s playing very good defense, can play both on and off ball on offense. And re: the Bosh comparison — I’d put Randle’s year so far up against Bosh’s very best years and it comes out pretty favorable for Randle:

    7th season for both, counting stats per 36

    Bosh – 23.9, 10.8, 2.4 assists, 1 block, 0.6 steals, 36.4% from 3 (0.3 attempts per 36), 79.7% rom the line, 59.2 TS, 28.7 usage

    Randle – 22.8, 10.8, 5.4, 0.8, 0.2, 40.8% from 3 (4.5 3PA/36), 80.5% from the line, 58.7 TS, 27.7 usage

    I dunno – seems pretty close to me. Bosh was the focal point of that 2009-10 raptors team that was 40-42. Randle’s the focal point of this team which is about a .500 team. It’s really very close.

    (now of course Bosh was the #3 on the Heat, but I think it’s totally plausible that he could’ve been the #2 on another title team).

    IMHO, being a #3 suggests that you need to be somewhat a dependent player – unable to run an offense on your own if/when the #1 or #2 sits. I think if the Knicks put a lineup around Randle that makes a little more sense (ie. no Elfrid Payton), the Knicks would have at least a league avg offense.

  5. Frank: Do we really know that Randle might not be able to be a #2?

    I agree with you, that’s why i called him a robin, meaning a #2 option. Then i’d try to keep RJ, but if i could get a superstar sooner than later, that’d be best. RJ would be the #3 for now and can keep getting better and be a #1 or #2 option in the future, depending on how his development goes. By that time, probably Randle (and the superstar) will be declining.

  6. I’m not shy on criticism on this team, before, during and after games, and yes we’re going to regress, we’ll be trying to hang to the last spot for the play-in tournament, we’re lucky on defense, we’re bad on offense, we’re ugly everywhere, we’re all going to die one day and yadda yadda yadda…

    I’d also like to politely point out that Berman is a piece of shit and he’s the sounding board for former FOs with sour grapes, so FU Berman even when he’s right.

    For now, Randle has played like a real All- Star all season long, stubbornly refusing to reverse to his (supposed) mean, RJ has made steady progress, Mitch has learned to defend without fouling and we discovered IQ.

    Plus, for the most part we’ve been competitive even in losses, the guys are easy to root for and we avoided all type of outside controversies.

    That’s more than enough to deem this a good season so far, whichever caveat we’ll like to apply.

    Let’s rejoice while we can, there’s always time for doom and gloom.

  7. Marc Berman @NYPost_Berman:
    Under the CBA particulars of Randle’s final non-guaranteed year, Knicks can tack on 4 years, $106M, per the great Bobby Marks

    Seems a perfectly balanced contract for me, for both parts. Maybe he gets more, if he waits one more year and keeps up this level of play, but he says he wants to be here long term and 106M is a very good contract. This can only happen in the offseason, when he’s extension eligible.

  8. Max: Let’s rejoice while we can, there’s always time for doom and gloom.

    What are you talking about? Until now, i’m not seeing doom and gloom on this thread. :P

  9. If you’re good, like Chris Herring, you don’t stay a Knicks reporter for long. If you’re not, you’re Marc Berman.

  10. As for the extension, I’d do that in a second. 4 years AAV $26 mil or so would be great. But I don’t see why Randle would. He believes he’ll get better, and an extra $5 mil next year won’t make up for the $20 or $30 mil he’d be leaving on the table.

  11. cybersoze: What are you talking about? Until now, i’m not seeing doom and gloom on this thread. :P

    In this thread I’m talking about Berman… but only in this thread ;-)

  12. rama is cautiously optimistic:
    If you’re good, like Chris Herring, you don’t stay a Knicks reporter for long. If you’re not, you’re Marc Berman.

    Herring is about to release a book on the 90’s Knicks, so stay tuned! :-)

  13. Here I go again. Starting the bidding.

    Toppin
    IQ
    1/2 2021 1st
    1 (top 3 protected) 2023 1st
    2022 swap

    For Beal

    I would do this deal. Then you basically have 2 “number 2 on a championship level team players” plus RJ plus Mitch as your defensive anchor.

    That’s quite a core.

  14. rama is cautiously optimistic:
    As for the extension, I’d do that in a second. 4 years AAV $26 mil or so would be great. But I don’t see why Randle would. He believes he’ll get better, and an extra $5 mil next year won’t make up for the $20 or $30 mil he’d be leaving on the table.

    I agree, to get him at 26M after this season would be a bargain.

    Maybe the FO could negotiate that he’ll play next season at his option (around 20M) and get an extension in the Hayward’s range starting in 2022-2023.
    This way he immediately get good guranteed money while still giving the team some savings compared to a max contract and its dreaded annual raises.

    Randle doesn’t look like a guy that will rest on his laurels once he signed a massive contract.

  15. cgreene:
    Here I go again. Starting the bidding.

    Toppin
    IQ
    1/2 2021 1st
    1 (top 3 protected) 2023 1st
    2022 swap

    For Beal

    I would do this deal. Then you basically have 2 “number 2 on a championship level team players” plus RJ plus Mitch as your defensive anchor.

    That’s quite a core.

    I’m sure you would but why would Washington? This deal is basically IQ plus two 1st round picks. Obi has little to no trade value at this point and a pick swap in 2022 for a team trading Beal is totally worthless.

    cybersoze: If nothing happens, Randle stands to be a restricted free agent in 2022.

    God, did Berman actually write that? Randle won’t be a RFA. Only guys on rookie contracts are restricted.

  16. Herring is about to release a book on the 90’s Knicks, so stay tuned! :-)

    On Zach Lowe’s podcast this week, Herring said he still has a few weeks of writing to go, and that the book likely won’t be out til January 2022. (Having published several books, it’s a long process even after you’ve turned in the manuscript.)

  17. Alan: On Zach Lowe’s podcast this week, Herring said he still has a few weeks of writing to go, and that the book likely won’t be out til January 2022. (Having published several books, it’s a long process even after you’ve turned in the manuscript.)

    I need them to be faster, it’s already in my Christmas’ list :-)

  18. vincoug: God, did Berman actually write that? Randle won’t be a RFA. Only guys on rookie contracts are restricted.

    LOL, you’re right, and i didn’t even noticed it.

  19. rama is cautiously optimistic:
    As for the extension, I’d do that in a second. 4 years AAV $26 mil or so would be great. But I don’t see why Randle would. He believes he’ll get better, and an extra $5 mil next year won’t make up for the $20 or $30 mil he’d be leaving on the table.

    $106MM guaranteed is still $106MM guaranteed. He’ll have made $60MM at end of the current contract, but tacking on another $100 MM guaranteed is generational changing money. I don’t know, maybe I’m risk averse, but I’d rather have $100MM guaranteed today than a chance at $140MM assuming I don’t get hurt or regress.

    I think the right thing to do is to offer him that max extension — it’s the max we can offer him and so it shows commitment by the team (while being a pretty team friendly contract considering his production).

  20. They used to call him Frankie “Smokes”. Now I am seeing Frankie “Flamethrower” and Frankie “Step Back”. lol

    It will interesting to see where his 3p% ends for the year, but I think it will be around 35%-36% or maybe a little better since he got off to such a great start.

  21. I don’t want to relitigate an offseason Beal trade, but I will reiterate two things:

    1. He would pair incredibly well with Randle.

    2. I’m confident he won’t cost nearly as much as y’all think. The logic of people who think you need to gut the team to gst him is flawed. Beal is not a “gut the team” guy, and I don’t want to gut this team, I want to add to it.

  22. It was bizarre that people had such strong reactions to the Randle/Bosh comparison. I guess once you have ringzzz you’re in a rarified club such that no one without them can ever be compared to you.

    I agree it’s close. I’m probably taking prime Bosh by a hair because he was more versatile on defense and was a better scorer (similar TS% but the era made Bosh’s a good amount better). He didn’t have Randle’s playmaking chops though and Randle’s durability is *knocks on wood* a legitimate point in his favor.

    I would absolutely sign up for 4/$106M, but I doubt Randle would. It’s not impossible as all players have different calculuses as to the risk vs guarantee question here though, so we should definitely offer it.

  23. 4/106 seems a little low for Randle right now. Maybe he wants to stay in NYC though. Loved his PT piece.

    Also, yes, Frank the Flamethrower. It’s happening.

    :-)

  24. I gotta be honest – lots of talk on the airwaves about where Randle could slot in when/if we are eventually actually contenders – is he a #2 or a #3. Both Bobby Marks and JVG said it’s most likely as a #3, and JVG basically scoffed at Randle being compared to Chris Bosh (before walking it back a little bit unconvincingly).

    Try as we might, and the effort is noble, we aren’t going to be able to wish away this reality.

  25. Instead of Beal, we could probably obtain Oladipo and gain assets in the process. I know he’s not Beal, but we wouldn’t have to gut the team to acquire him.

  26. NetsTown:
    Instead of Beal, we could probably obtain Oladipo and gain assets in the process. I know he’s not Beal, but we wouldn’t have to gut the team to acquire him.

    Oladipo also isn’t a good shooter, is injury-prone, and even when healthy doesn’t solve most of our offensive issues. Where Beal would — independent of the (too) massive cost to obtain him — slot in perfectly alongside Randle, Barrett, and Mitch.

  27. Alan showing off to us, the common people. LOL

    I literally shoved my Sopranos book in front of the Zoom camera during a podcast recording yesterday. I guess I’m feeling braggy lately?

  28. Alan: I literally shoved my Sopranos book in front of the Zoom camera during a podcast recording yesterday. I guess I’m feeling braggy lately?

    LOLOL! It’s the winning record Knicks effect! ;)

  29. If you look at the pinnacle of the “Big 3” Heat, the team that destroyed OKC, it was the best player in the league (Lebron), the last season of prime Dwyane Wade, and then a bunch of guys. Bosh was pretty good, but sure, that team would have won with Randle instead. Or with Carmelo. Or like 30 other guys. Lebron’s taken teams to the finals where the no 2 was like Larry Nance Jr. or Boobie Gibson. If you put a top 3 or 4 player on the Knicks and surrounded them with Randle, RJ, Mitch and IQ the team would be very good, especially if RJ keeps improving.

  30. It was bizarre that people had such strong reactions to the Randle/Bosh comparison.

    honestly I just think people struggle to make links between two players that don’t look alike. One guy is tall and lean, and the other is less tall and more stout. Call them the same, and people gonna be like “what? no!”

  31. I think the Randle version that shoots 40% from 3 is every bit as good as prime Chris Bosh. The aesthetics of their respective games are different….Bosh was a finesse guy who looked pretty doing some hi-skill things for a near 7-footer. This may sound crazy, but I see some LeBron similarities in Randle’s game…the end-to-end speed, the physicality of his isolation game, the dynamite first step facing up, the ugly jumper, the step-back baby jumper, and the rudimentary passing out of double-teams. So I guess just like the evolutionary end point of the Bosh lineage is Durant, for Randle, it’s LeBron. Bosh and Randle are like the same step down from those endpoints.

  32. If you put a top 3 or 4 player on the Knicks and surrounded them with Randle, RJ, Mitch and IQ the team would be very good, especially if RJ keeps improving

    That’s the rub, though, right?

    If you trade for a top 3 or 4 player, you’re definitely gutting that core.

    The free agent market is barren of that kind of player until the 2023 class that could be headlined by Jokic and Embiid.

    And if you wait til 2023, Barrett, Mitch, and Randle are all on their next contracts so you might have trouble affording him.

  33. And more hyperbole….I’m less sure that Randle can’t be a #1 guy on a really good team…maybe not a championship team, but one that competes for the conference finals every year. He’s showing the a) leadership and heart, b) consistency and durability, c) unselfishness and ability to make teammates better, and d) clutchness in tight games…to at least offer a possibility in that role. What are the criteria for being a #1? How many do Randle meet, or can meet if he continues to get better? I think he’s closer that people think.

  34. The whole concept of a #1 is a bit nebulous. I mean, on the Big 3 Celts most would say that Pierce was the #1, but Garnett and Allen and even Rondo were every bit as integral to their success. I would love to build that kind of team and Randle could surely be a part of it.

  35. Z-man:
    And more hyperbole….I’m less sure that Randle can’t be a #1 guy on a really good team…maybe not a championship team, but one that competes for the conference finals every year. He’s showing the a) leadership and heart, b) consistency and durability, c) unselfishness and ability to make teammates better, and d) clutchness in tight games…to at least offer a possibility in that role. What are the criteria for being a #1? How many do Randle meet, or can meet if he continues to get better? I think he’s closer that people think.

    You could make a case that Clyde was the best player on the championship teams but Willis was always unequivocally the leader. Randle could lead this team to wonderful places even if he is the #2 or even 3 man on the team.

  36. And more hyperbole….I’m less sure that Randle can’t be a #1 guy on a really good team

    Me, too. Hence the whole conversation about Beal the other day. Randle was the Batman. Beal is the Robin.

    A top 4 of Beal, Barrett, Randle, and Mitch; with IQ, Noel, a couple of the draft picks we keep, and random veterans on the bench is a really good team.

    And if you can use the remaining $20mm in cap space this summer to solve the starting PG problem, dare I say it… I think that team can win a chip when Barrett and Mitch come into their own while Beal and Randle are still 28/29 years old.

    IMO, that’s a better aspiration to pivot to than “go all out for a superstar.”

  37. My argument against Beal is that there’s no reason to really make a move now instead of in the next off-season. We’ll still have the cap space, the picks, Randle will still be under contract, and so much can happen in this playoffs that changes the league. Maybe the Clippers implode and Kawhi decides he wants out, maybe Towns asks for a trade, Philly gets embarrassed and Simmons becomes available, etc. The league is in a super volatile situation with a bunch of teams going all in for a title and no clear number 1 contender, the Lakers are still favorites but there’s at least 3 or 4 other real contenders with a good case.

    Trying to become a contender always involves unexpected moves coming up, so it’s better imo to put ourselves into the situation to take advantage of those moves in the best possible time frame.

  38. If you’re going to use assets to get a guard, get another PG who can stroke 3s like Ball, not Beal.

  39. Hubert: Me, too. Hence the whole conversation about Beal the other day. Randle was the Batman. Beal is the Robin.

    A top 4 of Beal, Barrett, Randle, and Mitch; with IQ, Noel, a couple of the draft picks we keep, and random veterans on the bench is a really good team.

    And if you can use the remaining $20mm in cap space this summer to solve the starting PG problem, dare I say it… I think that team can win a chip when Barrett and Mitch come into their own while Beal and Randle are still 28/29 years old.

    IMO, that’s a better aspiration to pivot to than “go all out for a superstar.”

    If the Knicks decide to do that I would be disappointed, but not crushed. I just think it will take more to get it done than it is worth…but Beal is a second-tier superstar knocking on the door and if Thibs can get him to buy in to a defense-first approach (think Ray Allen) then filling in around them with the Burks’ and Bullocks of the world to build a true contender isn’t impossible. Difficult and unlikely, but not impossible.

    I would by far prefer to wait until after this year’s draft to even consider a major move that cost several picks and young players. It really isn’t that hard to land a valuable player in the teens…look at the Pistons with Bey and Stewart…or Mikal, or Clarke, or Precious, John Collins…in a reasonably deep draft, those kinds of guys are always available and easily identifiable. We don’t have to swing for the fences in this draft to land at least one, and maybe two or three good players.

    I made the mistake in the past of assuming that the draft picks didn’t mean much because we would probably have too good of a record for it to matter. No way I’m making that mistake again. Patience is the best way to go this early into a rebuild. Acquire a good core…THEN land a disgruntled star from a bad team.

  40. Beal has a history of being frail and injured. I’m not so sure that he’s the right guy for us. Thibs might play him into the ground.

  41. I honestly would rather just play this year out and see what happens. Best thing that happens is that we somehow continue to improve, maybe make the 2nd round. Worst thing / best thing that happens is that we fall out of the playoffs and get a better pick. I think the point is made already – the Knicks are no longer a laughingstock. Barring a total collapse and Dolan coming in and giving covid to every fan entering the building, that point will stick.

    I’m definitely not trading assets for dudes I can just sign in free agency in 4 months ie. Lonzo Ball. I’d rather overpay him in RFA and keep all my assets than send assets and THEN have still overpay him in RFA (maybe slightly less I guess). And you better believe 100% Lonzo (or at least his dad) wants to sign an offer sheet with the Knicks.

    Re: Beal – I feel like he’s a #2. I would wait to throw our chips in for an actual #1.

  42. I’m still out on Beal because of cost and Zach LaVine. I’m pretty sure LaVine will be available around the same time, and he’ll be cheaper because he won’t qualify for the 10 year max the way Beal will in two years. The way I see it, you could probably grab Ball and LaVine for the price of Bradley Beal. Give me the tall athletic backcourt of Ball and LaVinr, the bruising forward combination of Barrett and Randle, and then maybe take the upside play on Mo Bamba as the two-way paint beast his advanced numbers suggest he is. That sounds like a team.

    Beal is the sexy name but he’s a luxury I wouldn’t go for.

  43. I think if you were a key piece on a team that competed for or especially won a championship and played at a high level people will give you extra credit because you’ve demonstrated you can perform well under the highest possible pressure against other great players. It’s also cumulative. The more you’ve done it the more credit you will get. That’s why Bosh is held in much higher regard than Randle.

  44. I’d love to add Beal. I just can’t see a way of getting him without giving up one or more players that are key parts of the future. The one exception is Mitch. It’s not that I dislike Mitch or think he doesn’t have a lot more potential upside than Noel. It’s that I think we wouldn’t lose nearly as much if we started Noel and found another cheap backup as we would gain if we added Beal. If price that’s the problem. That said, if we stand pat going into the draft, I think we should be trying to move up to get a star. I think our chances are better with a top 5 pick than couple of mid teens picks even we threw in the 2nd rounder also.

  45. Re: Bosh vs Randle this year, it’s really a coin flip when it comes to production. Bosh is the better player because he could do the little things, man either front court spot, and that guy was an 11 time all star at the end of the day. Julius gives you more juice as a play maker which makes him a better option to run an offense through, but comparing Julius Randle in a season where he’s a top 15 player to Chris Bosh makes a lot of sense.

  46. Jerami Grant turning down the same money to be the #4 guy on a championship contender to be the #1 guy on the second-worst team in the league and then getting traded to a team where he would be the #4 guy on a championship contender is such a peak NBA thing.

  47. My argument against Beal is that there’s no reason to really make a move now instead of in the next off-season.

    Oh, I’m in the offseason camp, too.

    There’s only one way this works: we have to get to Beal the way the Lakers, Clippers, and Nets got to AD, Kawhi, Kyrie, and KD. That stuff happens, and we set up our front office to do that.

    If Beal makes it known to the Wiz and the league that he wants to play for the Knicks, he can wield his opt out to ward off teams like Denver putting their best package on the table, and we can get him for a fair price.

    The fair price is key. There’s no reason for Jrue Holliday to be the comp. That price had a Giannis extension baked
    into it. Nor should the AD & Harden trades be a comp, bc those guys are legit superstars and Beal just a really great sidekick.

  48. Blake Griffin is expected to sign with the Nets.
    Are they becoming unbeatable?

  49. Brian Cronin:
    Jerami Grant turning down the same money to be the #4 guy on a championship contender to be the #1 guy on the second-worst team in the league and then getting traded to a team where he would be the #4 guy on a championship contender is such a peak NBA thing.

    It’s good stuff, for sure. Grant was clearly betting on himself to become a “#1 option” type guy, right? Hitting free agency at 28 with a couple of high-volume seasons behind him. Behind Tatum, Kemba and Brown he’ll be lucky to score 10 a game.

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