There’s a saying coined by the legendary former Giants coach Bill Parcells: “You are what your record says you are.”
Except possibly not in a pandemic season with numerous variables.
The circumstances suited Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks completely within the common season, however the talent level got exposed throughout a playoffs that felt like regular occasions with near-full buildings louder than ever.
Wednesday’s late-night post-game Knicks Zoom press convention was a lovefest in saluting their gritty 41-31 common season. It sounded as if the Knicks had been taken out in a deciding seventh recreation and never having misplaced the ultimate three video games by a mixed 41 factors.
Fact is, the Knicks weren’t aggressive. The Knicks didn’t appear to be they belonged on the identical court docket because the Hawks, who weaved the identical 41-31 file.
That’s a priority going into an offseason that has promised additional riches with their $60 million in cap area and two first-round draft picks.
But being routed in three straight playoffs games by the Hawks modifications the lens, raises extra questions concerning the validity of 41-31.
Is Julius Randle actually a “1a?” Is RJ Barrett even near being a “1b?” What will Derrick Rose, turning 33, appear to be if he returns in a similar role taking part in 30-plus minutes an evening? Rose was burnt as toast within the ultimate two playoff video games, his knee appearing up.
For all the good discuss “building a foundation,” it was a sobering actuality these previous 10 days in the way in which they acquired pummeled.
The Knicks acquired their doorways blown off and Randle didn’t look near being in a position to lead a playoff run, although it was his inaugural attempt. And Thibodeau made no changes the final three blowout losses. He mysteriously stored Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina mounted to the bench in every passing rout following his backfiring starting-lineup shakeup with Rose.
It brings to thoughts a remark as soon as made by Warriors president Bob Myers, a former agent like Knicks chief Leon Rose. Myers is comfy speaking to the press, whereas Rose has had the mute button on since final July’s Thibodeau press convention.
“The playoffs are nothing like the regular season,” Myers stated. “They are two completely different sports.”
Myers went on for extra chilling remarks contemplating the depth of Randle’s struggles within the playoffs when he shot 29.8 p.c (33.3 p.c from 3).
“Whatever they know (a star) does well, is gone,” Myers stated. “Even shooters. … That two feet of space in the regular season is two inches. Watch how many players cannot make a shot in the playoffs and shoot 42 percent (Randle’s percentage) in the regular season. It’s not the same thing. Why does that matter? The more dimensions you have to your game the harder you are to take away. You watch the playoffs you know who can play basketball. That’s when you evaluate players.”
The Knicks nonetheless hope to increase Randle’s contract this August if he’s prepared. They can supply him a four-year extension, however not at max cash beneath CBA guidelines. The Knicks can supply, tops, a 120 proportion bump from his $19.8 million ultimate season. That means it might probably “only” begin at $23.8 million in 2022-23.
The excellent news is after Randle’s humbling playoffs, he could also be wanting to lock it up as an alternative of testing unrestricted free company in 2022 and vie for the max.
Knowing the depths of the participant’s despair, Thibodeau by no means sounded extra optimistic than after Game 5’s season-ending clunker. No extra motivational riffs that they must be higher. It was over, and most of the fringe gamers are transferring on in free company.
“Just building a foundation, building the right habits,” Thibodeau stated. “Everyone getting better, learning, growing, being together. Getting knocked down, getting back up. Coming back in the next day, attitude and approach was outstanding from last summer to the end. I couldn’t ask for anymore from the team.”
Indeed, the Knicks performed with a warrior spirit within the common season that thrilled their followers however wasn’t almost sufficient within the playoffs. The roster wasn’t constructed for this. Thibodeau squeezed blood from a stone all season.
As Jeff Van Gundy has attested, his buddy is a grasp at logging regular-season victories, taking part in his prime weapons max minutes with no one taking nights off.
His two greatest gamers, Randle and Barrett, had been 1-2 in whole minutes performed within the NBA. Other NBA groups don’t perform that approach, however Thibodeau wanted to this season to determine the Knicks as credible to free brokers.
Next season, the coach will be extra about pacing. Maybe Randle will get a few load-management off days subsequent season as a result of he regarded mentally and bodily exhausted in Game 5 – like Rose.
The Knicks, as has been reported, benefitted from pandemic guidelines, not having the standard distractions taking part in in New York. No private appearances, no media round apart from the club-controlled Zoom calls. They thrived in largely empty arenas all season when the strain wasn’t as excessive. When the buildings acquired stuffed, the Knicks had been working on empty.
Before the playoffs, it was clear they wanted a place to begin guard. Portland’s Damian Lillard may demand a commerce, or they might signal Lonzo Ball, Kyle Lowry or Dennis Schroder.
But within the wreckage of the Hawks’ five-game domination, the Knicks might have much more, particularly with increased expectations subsequent season. Under nearer inspection, that 41-31 file can look more mirage than real.