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P&T March mailbag invite

Tick, tick, tick, playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers play the New York Knicks in an NBA regular season game at Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday, Mar. 12, 2023. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

With the ides of March now safely behind us, it’s the ideas of March we turn to. Namely, what ideas you been tossing around? As far as the New York Knicks? I suppose about life, too, but while life brought us all here in a big-picture sense the ties that bind are orange and blue.

The regular season nears its end, and what a season it’s been. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one like it — 1992 had some similarities, but started stronger and ended in collapse; there were echoes of 2011, but this team was more dangerous off the bat and didn’t blow itself up to make a lateral move for a star. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson have been better than I dared hope. Mitchell Robinson and Quentin Grimes took meaningful steps forward. Immanuel Quickley and Josh Hart are both too good to be true. Isaiah Hartenstein struggled early with injury and his play, recognized the fans’ disappointment and kept fighting to where he’s now widely viewed as a positive. RJ Barrett remains metaphor incarnate, the word made flesh: to look upon him is to see whatever you expected to see, each and every time.

The playoffs near arrival. For the Knicks that appears to mean the Cleveland Cavaliers. If you‘re looking for an overview of the Cavs, someone’s podcast probably did a super-amazing job of that earlier today. But what about you? How do you feel about matching up with the Cavaliers? What does this specific opponent raise as far questions in your mind? Your heart? Your inner no-no square?

With the playoffs coming, so does award season. He won’t win Coach of the Year, but how much credit does Tom Thibodeau deserve for this regular season? Is there any avenue to Randle or Brunson ending up on an All-NBA team? Could Brunson make it two Knicks in three years to win Most Improved Player?

And then there’s the draft, assuming the Knicks end up with the Mavs’ first-rounder — not a given, given the way Dallas is struggling; they could easily crash and burn right out of the play-in. Can’t you just picture Luka Dončić, Victor Wembanyama and Mark Cuban with cigars alight in their great grinning gobs, champagne popping in celebration of their 2028 three-peat? Let’s say we avert disaster and live in the universe where the Mavs’ pick does convey to the Knicks. Who you got your eye on mid-first round? If the Wizards make it to the playoffs, the Knicks get their pick too.

Is it ever too early to think about free agency? The Knicks could face an unprecedented fork in the road sooner than later, i.e. the only downside to having a roster full of young great talent is that many billionaires are cheap and don’t wanna spend the millions on all that young great talent. Who are the Knicks going to extend out of the young bunch? How high a luxury tax will James Dolan be willing to pay for a good team? If MSG loses its unjustified, unjustifiable $40M per year property-tax exemption — fingers crossed — will Scorched Earth Jimmy take it out on/of the payroll? Is there anything that man won’t do when he feels crossed? Not so far.

As you can see, I’m pretty full of questions. I showed you mine. Show me yours.