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Knicks Media Roundup: Brunson’s dishes, Hartenstein’s injury, Begley trade news, and NYC a ‘Knicks Town’ again

Jalen Brunson is becoming a top disher and Isaiah Hartenstein has Achilles tendinopathy.

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

In today’s NY Daily News, Kristian Winfield wrote about New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson’s uptick in assists since the OG Anunoby trade. Winfield writes, “[Brunson] went from having no games with 10 or more assists this season to logging two in a row in the games that immediately followed the deal.”

Following the end-of-December trade for OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn in exchange for Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, Brunson’s assist average has risen significantly. Winfield states that “Brunson was averaging just six assists per game this season prior to the trade,” but now, “Only six players are averaging more assists per game in the New Year than Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau attributes the improvement to the spacing added by Anunoby, who is a reliable three-point shooter, and emphasizes the importance of playing to individual strengths.

“I just think catch-and-shoot, our spacing on the floor is different, and then all players and everyone is different, so whatever your strengths are, play to your strengths. [...] The principle of a sound offense is forcing the defense to collapse. So that’s what we’re trying to do. Understand the value of shots. Everyone fits into it. Maybe you’re a good cutter, maybe you’re a good driver, maybe you’re a good offensive rebounder. Maybe you’re a good catch-and-shoot guy. Whatever you are, play to your strengths.”

Winfield also reported that Isaiah Hartenstein “is day-to-day with what the team is calling left Achilles tendinopathy,” and that “he’s dealt with the tendinopathy ‘for a while.’ ”

Per the web: “Achilles tendinopathy is a painful syndrome affecting the Achilles tendon (which attaches your calf muscles to your heel bone).” It is an injury that comes from overuse and recommended treatment is rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, and the avoidance of “activities that aggravate the condition.” Like playing professional basketball, one presumes.

Hartenstein had “Achilles” on his injury list in 2019, but not since he’s been a Knick. He’s been an absolute iron man for New York, and Tuesday’s game was the first he’d missed since joining the team in July 2022.

Get well soon, Isaiah! We’ll need you against Joker on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ian Begley (SNY) wrote that the Knicks have had no significant trade developments this week.

According to Begley, Alec Burks and Bruce Brown are on the radar, but Jordan Clarkson is less so due to his potentially high cost. Nothing is happening on the Malcolm Brogdon (Portland) front. Quentin Grimes continues to garner interest from various teams. The Knicks are unlikely to pursue DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine, but New York does see a potentially good fit pairing Dejounte Murray alongside Jalen Brunson. The Hawks want at least two first-round picks for Murray, however, and advanced talks with the Lakers have stalled with D’Angelo Russell as a sticking point.

Murray is contracted through 2026-27, so Atlanta could decide to sit on him past the February 8 deadline. Begley proposes trades nonetheless: “Grimes and Evan Fournier give the Knicks enough outgoing salary to acquire Murray,” and “Mitchell Robinson on his own also gives New York enough outgoing salary to obtain Murray.”

Obviously, the deciding factor here would be draft compensation. New York owns eight first-round picks in the next four drafts. In any trade they make at the deadline, the Knicks want to have enough draft capital left over to pursue a top player via trade in the offseason or during 2024-25. Trading Fournier or Grimes removes one trade chip.

Finally, Mike Vaccaro (New York Post) opined that “New York is fully a Knicks town once again.”

Nets fans at the Barclays Center were drowned out by the Knicks’ faithful last night, especially down the stretch. Vaccaro writes:

The whole game, the invaders among the 17,732 kept overpowering and overwhelming the guardians of the Nets. There were regular chants of “M!V!P!” whenever Jalen Brunson did something reasonably electrifying, and at 30 points and four assists there were plenty of opportunities. There were the random and robust pleas of “LET’S GO KNICKS!”

He quotes Brooklyn Nets’ star Mikal Bridges, who recorded a career-high seven three-pointers in the loss: “It felt like a friggin’ away game when they made their run.” Indeed, Bridges looked miserable after the game:

Sorry, Mikal—‘twas a very satisfying win. Maybe you’d prefer playing with the crosstown team instead?

Go Knicks!