Should we be concerned about NY’s (somewhat) quiet offseason?

Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

SNY’s Ian Begley will be responding to and breaking down answers to Knicks questions from readers. Here’s the latest…

With training camp about three weeks away, here’s an informal mailbag culled from some tweet replies over the past few weeks:

@JimboBleu — Hey @IanBegley what’s going on with the Knicks for a team that’s not a contender going into the season they are way too quiet for my liking

Hey Jimbo, thanks for the question and for the entertaining Knicks takes on Twitter. I have a couple thoughts here: Usually, if your team is making a lot of noise at this point in the NBA calendar, it’s a sign of instability. Back in September 2017, the Knicks were searching for ways to send Carmelo Anthony out of New York and end an acrimonious relationship.

This season, there will be a lot of noise around Portland and Philadelphia at the start of training camp for the wrong reasons. That’s what happens when your star player requests a trade.

Will the Knicks make any noise prior to training camp?

My educated guess is that they won’t add any potential rotation players before camp opens. If I had to guess, the Knicks sit tight (unless an Evan Fournier trade emerges), in part, because they are comfortable with Josh Hart as a backup PF who screens and makes plays out of the short roll, as noted earlier.

But maybe I’m misunderstanding your point. Maybe you’re saying that you wished the Knicks made bigger moves in the offseason. If that’s the case, I understand but I didn’t see a big move out there that made a ton of sense for the Knicks. I don’t think they ever expressed strong interest in trading for either Damian Lillard or James Harden. I assume that there wasn’t enough internal support behind the idea of adding either player. Maybe the Knicks’ thinking on Lillard or Harden changes if they get off to a slow start?

Outside of those two trades, I don’t see an obvious opportunity that the Knicks passed up in the 2023 offseason.

Now, that doesn’t mean that a bigger move isn’t coming. We all expect New York to trade for a big-name player at some point. Knicks governor James Dolan has referenced that as part of New York’s plan under team president Leon Rose in past interviews.

Whether it’s Joel Embiid, OG Anunoby, Donovan Mitchell (again), Karl-Anthony Towns, Zion Williamson or – further down the road – Giannis Antetokounmpo, I assume the Knicks will seriously engage another team in trade talks for its star player.

(If you’ve listened to recent quotes from Antetokounmpo, you know he is putting pressure on Milwaukee to improve. That’s why, as we noted in June, teams are keeping an eye on Antetokounmpo’s situation in Milwaukee. As an aside: When I wrote that, some Bucks fans said some not-so-nice things to me on Twitter. I won’t hold my breath waiting for an apology from them.)

With all that said, the Knicks had a relatively quiet offseason. They bet on internal improvement and the idea that adding Donte DiVincenzo and subtracting Obi Toppin will lead to improvement from last year’s 47-win season.

We’ll find out over the next six months or so if that bet was correct.

Obi Toppin

Obi Toppin / USA TODAY Sports/SNY treated image

@_Facci — EVERYONE will be questioning the Knicks front office this season (like they used to) for how the Pacers STOLE Obi Toppin from them!

The “Obi for MIP” campaign is officially underway!!!!

You might be right, @_Facci. Tyrese Haliburton would probably agree with you.

“I’m excited about (playing in transition with Toppin) but I’m also excited to help him add more parts to his game at the same time,” Haliburton told SNY at Team USA training camp last month. “I know how dynamic he is in transition. But I think, for him, the next step is going to be adding more in the half court and I hope that I can help with that with play-making and creativity. That’s a goal of mine.”

We all know that Toppin’s Knicks role was limited because he played behind Julius Randle. Randle has made an All-NBA team and All-Star team twice in the past three seasons. He isn’t going anywhere. So there was no straight path for Toppin to get more minutes with this Knicks team.

He obviously should get more playing time in Indiana this season. Haliburton seems to be excited about that.

“I think, numbers don’t lie. You saw what he did when he started games for New York. His numbers go up as his minutes go up. That’s encouraging,” Haliburton told SNY last month. “I think that’s something that he sees. Like, ‘if I have a bigger opportunity that’s going to be good for me.’ I think that’s something that the league is seeing and obviously something that our organization is seeing by making the deal for him.”

@KnicksVerse — As much as it stings to not medal in the #FIBAWC2023, RJ Barrett coming through for Canada is bringing a BIG smile to my face for his upcoming season with the New York #Knicks. Could the long awaited All-Star-adjacent RJ consistency leap finally happen in year 5?

I’m not big on predictions, but I’d look at Kevin Pelton’s SCHOENE numbers if you want an idea of realistic expectations for RJ Barrett in Year 5. One thing I can say confidently: Barrett will stay steady amid any in-season struggles. I’ll never doubt his ability to do that after the way he produced in the postseason following Games 1 and 2 against Cleveland.

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