The Honeymoon is Over for the Knicks

nysportsday wire

After a fabulous season and playoff run that captivated New York and their fans, the Knicks will be under a lot more pressure next season to go beyond the second round in the post season.

The fans gave them a standing ovation at the end of the game 7 loss to the Pacers. Will they be standing and cheering if they lose again in the second round?

The pressure will be ramped up on Coach Tom Thibodeau, who did a good job and should definitely be re-signed, but Team President Leon Rose and the front office, who have been able to hide behind an “Orange and Blue” wall of silence, will also be under the gun going forward.

This Knicks team showed tremendous heart, guile and grit, but you can’t win with that alone. It will take a lot more than those intangibles if they want to get to the promised land.

Jalen Brunson, who was tremendous all season long, did not consider this season a success because they didn’t win the championship. That’s the right mindset to take for the immediate future, so what’s it going to take to get to the Conference Finals and possibly the NBA Finals.

Many think they should run it back with this cast, citing health as the reason they lost this year, but there are flaws with this team that nearly cost them against the Sixers and came back to haunt them in the second round loss to Indiana.

There’s no denying that acquiring O.G. Anunoby from Toronto was an excellent addition. I get trading R.J. Barrett (although the jury is still out on him. Check out how his numbers increased across the board in Toronto) but did the Knicks have to trade both him and Immanuel Quickley. They basically subtracted two rotation players for one, who came aboard with a history of being hurt and is an unrestricted free agent and will have to be re-signed. With 8 first round picks in the coffer, why couldn’t they have used one of those without giving up two rotation players.

Do you think Quickley, who is a restricted free agent, could’ve given them a little better defense against a big guard like Tyrese Haliburton? I-Q is listed at 6’2”, but has a lengthy wing span that made him a superior defender against bigger players. Not to mention, he could’ve alleviated some pressure from Brunson who put a lot on his shoulders in both playoff series and could’ve spent some valuable minutes resting on the bench while Quickley played.

DiVicenzo was inconsistent and would be better served coming off the bench. Same with Josh Hart. Obviously, the injuries forced them into starting roles but Hart was the only one who would’ve come off the bench if Julius Randle was healthy.

They gave up Quentin Grimes, certainly not a Hall of Fame player but a superior perimeter defender, to acquire 35-year old Bojan Bogdanovic, who was inconsistent and doesn’t defend well, and Alec Burks who only got minutes in the post season because of the injuries and who had a few good moments and not what you would call a piece of a championship team. There’s a reason he’s been with 7 NBA teams.

Rose has been showered with praise for some of his moves, and rightfully so, but he also signed Evan Fournier, who turned out to be a waste, and selected Obi Toppin with the 8th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, his first as Knicks’ President, while passing on Haliburton and Tyrese Maxey. Toppin was eventually traded to Indiana which renders the pick useless.

Signing Brunson turned out to be a tremendous addition. Looking back, Brunson makes up for not drafting Haliburton but Rose and the Knicks lucked out because no one thought he could be this good. Isaiah Hartenstein turned into a nice pickup but he’s an unrestricted free agent and could be looking for big money off a season where he emerged as more than just a back up center.

How long is Rose going to hold on to all these first round picks that he acquired. How will he use them and what is the plan going forward?

Is it really prudent that Rose does not talk to the media? The owner and the NBA allow this to take place but is that making the team better. Some fans say screw the media and in some cases, that is what those some of these so called journalists deserve, but denying access to credible media members is not the way you promote your product on the floor.

While Randle was trying to recover from his shoulder injury, would you have liked to have gotten some updates on how it was going. All we got was crickets. Turns out, he would’ve been better off having the surgery right away. They waited and waited and he never played and still needed the surgery.

Randle will be 30 years old next November and in his 11th NBA season coming off surgery. Do we know if he’ll be the same player when he returns? Rose and company need to take some heat for that decision to delay the surgery.

Mitchell Robinson is a defensive and rebounding force in the middle, but his lack of offensive ability and durability leaves him vulnerable, particularly in the post season. In post season match ups, teams have no fear when he has the ball on offense. In fact, they encourage it. Maybe it’s time to part the ways there.

The Knicks have reached a crossroads in their developmental stage. Rose’s legacy as the team president will be riding on what the Knicks accomplish in the next few seasons. Is the future bright, as most seem to be implying, or will they go backwards because of some poor personnel decisions.

51 seasons and counting without a championship. The honeymoon is over, pressure is on.

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