We have a special edition of our Knicks Bulletin today masquerading as a series of questions and answers shared by Evil Brother Stan Van Gundy, who talked to Steve Serby of the New York Post before the weekend and discussed a lot of things related to the current iteration of the New York Knicks.
Serby made sure to ask SVG about the chances of NYK winning 50 games for the third time in 25 years, the possibility of this team making a deep postseason run, his perception of Jalen Brunson as a top-tier player across the NBA landscape, potential players that could improve the roster, players and assets the Knicks could dangle before the trade deadline and many other things.
Here’s a recap of the conversation, presented and outlined for easier digestion. S/o Serby for getting the sauce straight from SVG and allowing us to pick the brain of someone with close-to-inside information and years of experience in the Association!
On the chances of New York winning 50 games this season...
“50 games has always sorta been a marker in the league of a really good regular-season team.”
“Unfortunately, people discount the challenge of the regular season and the consistency it takes to go out and play high-level basketball every single night in the NBA, and I think the Knicks are doing that.”
On the misconception of Tom Thibodeau being an all-defense, no-offense coach...
“There’s a narrative around [Thibodeau]—everybody thinks he’s a good coach, they think he’s old school, they think he’s all defense and the whole thing, and it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.”
“It’s two years in a row now he’s had a top-10 offense, and I don’t think when you look at the roster, that’s a roster that you would think would be a great offense, either last year or now. They’re a top-10 offense because [Thibodeau] maximizes the abilities of people around him.”
On OG Anunoby and how the trade with Toronto could help the Knicks in the playoffs...
“He can go match up with the best player on every other team in the league. It makes them a far more formidable playoff team than they were before.”
“What New York did with that trade was a step forward. They gave themselves a puncher’s chance. If somehow they can add a bench scorer to that group, now they’ve got a little bit more of a chance.”
“But I don’t see a route for them to come up with a roster where I would look at it and say, ‘Yeah, I think their roster’s as talented as Milwaukee’s, Boston’s, or Philly’s; I don’t think that’s gonna happen.“
“Right now I would put the Knicks in a group with Miami and Cleveland in those 4-through-7 spots. But the caveat is Miami was even lower than that a year ago and ended up in the Finals. So if you get in those spots and put things together at the right time and get the right matchups and have the right health, you could make a run from being that horse coming up on the outside and get in. But it’s still something of a long shot.”
“New York has a better chance now than they’ve had in a long time to go a step further or two steps further in the playoffs. But I still think anything beyond winning in the first round they would need some breaks, or maybe they hit it right and continue to improve.”
“They’re still on the outside. They certainly have a chance if things go right, but you would need a lot of things to align correctly for them to have a run.”
On Brunson and Randle being (or not) one of the best duos in the NBA...
“Brunson and Randle are good players, but are you taking Brunson and Randle over [Joel] Embiid and [Tyrese] Maxey? Are you taking them over [Jayson] Tatum and [Jaylen] Brown? Are you taking them over [Damian] Lillard and Giannis [Antetokounmpo]? You’re not, you’re just not.”
On potential trade targets to improve the Knicks roster...
“A guy like Jordan Clarkson, a guy who would be able to add some offensive punch off the bench would be what they would need the most, that’s just me looking from the outside. Those are all great names (referring to Malcolm Brogdon, Bruce Brown, Dejounte Murray, and all other players linked to the Knicks of late).”
“I don’t see a lot of trade value left on the Knicks. That’s the problem. I love Quentin Grimes myself, but I don’t know that [he] gets you any of those guys. Their centers (Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein) have some value, but I don’t think they would want to give away either of those guys.”
On voting Jalen Brunson for his first All-Star game...
“When I did my media vote for All-Star starters—so you’re only coming down to five guys—the three guys I considered (for the two backcourt slots) were [Tyrese Haliburton], Brunson and Maxey, and I ended up going with Haliburton and Brunson.”
“I love Tyrese Maxey, (but) what it came down for me was as good as Tyrese has been, he hasn’t had to carry as heavy a load because of Embiid, obviously, as Brunson has.”