New York basketball is almost here, and everybody is starting to jump aboard the Knicks train with fewer than 20 days left before tip-off day and not even four for the start of the pre-season!
That being said, it might take a while for the NYK to click. In fact, that’s exactly what Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News pointed out in a column published on Thursday in which he highlighted the usual struggles of the Knicks at the start of the season.
“Recent history and the upcoming schedule suggest the same thing: The Knicks could struggle out the gate,“ Winfield wrote.
Under coach Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks have accumulated a 33-44 record to begin those campaigns. The upcoming season’s schedule won’t make things easier for your Knickerbockers, mind you. Here’s a quick summary of what’s on tap for New York to get the ball rolling starting Oct. 25:
- Opening night hosting Boston — The Celtics added Jrue Holiday to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kristaps Porzingis
- On the road at Atlanta — Remember this Trae Young guy?
- Back-to-back at New Orleans the next day — Healthy Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram
- At Cleveland — The first-round losers still have Donovan Mitchell around and a bunch of interesting additions
- Back home hosting Cleveland — One day later
- On the road at Milwaukee — A good (Dame) time to scout future Knick Giannis?
- Back to MSG to host the Clippers — Hoping for some load management here
Not bad for a start!
Thibodeau has been positive about all of that, though, saying on Thursday, following Day 3 of the Knicks training camp at The Citadel, “All three years we played significantly better at the end.” No excuse, just produce, Thibs!
Larry Brown compares 2023 Knicks to 2004 Pistons
From New York City to Lido Beach to Chapel Hill to Detroit and a million places in between, Larry Brown has always done the same thing: winning chips (except in 2004 with Team USA—nobody is perfect).
The Olympic Games gold medal in 1964. and the ABA in 1969 as a player. The NCAA in 1988 and the NBA in 2004 as a coach. The list of accolades is hella long.
According to the old wise man, the Knicks might be on the verge of etching their name in the list of NBA champs for a third time in their history and more than 50 years since they last did it.
Speaking to the New York Post, Brown told Mike Vaccaro, “I’m a big fan of these Knicks—I love the players they have. I love Thibs. I love watching them play. And I’m excited to see what they can do this year. I really am.”
Vaccaro pondered “How good can [the Knicks] be and how far can this team go,” coming up with the comparison to the 2004 champions Pistons.
Brown, who led that team from the sidelines, said, “We kind of had a team that liked each other, and had a mentality they wanted to make their teammates better every game, every practice.” The coach highlighted the “defensive-minded and hard-working” mentality of those Pistons, and he acknowledged “Knowing Thibs and what he believes in, I know these Knicks are the same way.”
He even went on to make some individual comparisons.
- “Brunson reminds me a lot of Chauncey [Billups]”
- “The way RJ Barrett has improved every year reminds me of Tayshaun [Prince].”
- “Mitch Robinson, if he can stay on the floor, there’s no telling how good he can be. He has a lot of the qualities that Ben [Wallace] had.”
Vaccaro also noted in his piece how everything changed for those Pistons when they traded for Rasheed Wallace (and Mike James) midway through the season, a masterful move by GM Joe Dumars that boosted Detroit’s game and saw them win 16 of their last 19 games that year in the regular season before navigating the playoffs and beating the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals.
The Knicks did something similar last year with the season-changing acquisition of Josh Hart, and they are aiming at landing the ultimate superstar while building organically in the meantime.
Could that transaction happen next February? Only time will tell, but these Knicks could very well be one Sheed away from winning that championship!
Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose drop subtle digs
They had nothing to do with each other, but they were both equally fun to watch.
On Thursday, Joel Embiid announced his decision to join Team USA in the 2024 Paris Olympics. He could have chosen his native Cameroon or France—a country he has citizenship in—but it looks like JoJo preferred to play MoJo and keep it evil.
That’s according to Evan Fournier, of course, who lost no time in showing his colors on Twitter (formerly known as X) after the news of Embiid’s decision came out a bit earlier.
“Fierté. #ENSEMBLE,” wrote Fournier, which translated means “Proud. #TOGETHER.”
Fournier better get ready, because the full American (power)house seems to be going to Paris clad in Team USA threads as many superstars confirmed on Media Day.
Q: “Is this 1st practice similar to other 1st practices you've had in your career, or is it different w/a different team?”— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) October 5, 2023
Derrick Rose: “Yeah; these last 2 years I had Thibs…So this one compared to Thibs is, uh—don't get me wrong, we work—but Thibs is more of a like, uh, it's… pic.twitter.com/iVtAmYAvvT
Speaking of superstars, Simeon’s Finest—outside of the late Benji Wilson, rest in peace—Derrick Rose took to the mics on Thursday and shared some thoughts about the Memphis Grizzlies training camp compared to those he endured while playing for Thibs in New York.
“These last two years, I had Thibs,” Rose started. “So this [training camp practice] compared to Thibs is—don’t get me wrong, we worked—but Thibs is more of like, how can I say it?”
Rose answered the question himself, adding, “It’s ran different. I’m just going to say that. It’s ran different.”
Pooh described the Grizzlies’ practices as “more smoother, more fluent.” At least our man cut the Knicks some slack, acknowledging, “That’s not saying the guys in New York didn’t get their work in.”
Are the Knicks looking into trading for Zion Williamson?
Well, well, well... our friend Marc’s back.
The Knicks 'checked in' about Zion Williamson this offseason.@NYPost_Berman on The Knicks trading for a star: "New Orleans is still not sold on Zion Williamson. Obviously there's a risk there, all eyes on him this season. I was told the Knicks checked in over the offseason… pic.twitter.com/Px5HcEJA4l— The Knicks Recap (@TheKnicksRecap) October 5, 2023
Former New York Post and Knicks beat reporter Marc Berman spoke to Troy Mahabir in the latest episode of The Knicks Recap podcast and he brought the saucy, spicy heat to the conversation when asked about the oft-talked and highly anticipated Knicks trade for a superstar.
“New Orleans is still not sold on Zion Williamson,” Berman said. “Obviously, there’s a risk there. All eyes are on him this season. I was told the Knicks checked in over the offseason about Zion. That could be a possibility.”
Williamson, who has had his fair share of injury problems, showed love to the Knicks a while ago when he said that Madison Square Garden is his favorite arena outside of New Orleans.
“New York is the Mecca of basketball,” Zion said. “I love playing there—the atmosphere is amazing. It’s my favorite place to play outside of New Orleans”
Obviously, the connection between Zion and the Knicks is already there if you want to come up with something quick that links Williamson to his prospective, possible future team: he was teammates with RJ Barrett in their Duke days a few years ago.
Simpleton’s thoughts, but you’ll start reading about those everywhere the minute rumors about a potential NYK-Zion trade emerge. It is what it is, just like Toronto is always being rumored to have an interest in signing Canadian players...
Keep those feeds refreshed. You never know what’s about to pop.