Knicks Notes: Brunson, Thibodeau, Anunoby, Offseason

After fracturing his hand and watching his Knicks fall to Indiana in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday, Jalen Brunson acknowledged that the team made “positive strides” in 2023/24, but responded “no” when asked if the season was a success, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“Did we win the championship? Did we get close?” Brunson said. “So, no. That’s my mindset. That’s just how it is.”

It was a terrific individual season for Brunson, who set new career highs in points (28.7) and assists (6.7) per game during the regular season, finished fifth in MVP voting, and averaged 32.4 PPG in the postseason. But he continued to be his own harshest critic following the Game 7 loss, suggesting there’s still room for improvement.

“I would say there’s pros and cons to how I played,” Brunson said. “The pros, obviously, are I played well individually at some points in the playoffs. The cons are that I didn’t play well enough to help my team move forward. You can say I got hurt in Game 7, I wasn’t playing well in Game 7. We had a 2-0 and a 3-2 lead, it’s just hard to look at things individually when you don’t help your team.”

Brunson has one more guaranteed year remaining on his contract with the Knicks, with a player option for 2025/26. He’ll become eligible this offseason to sign a four-year, $156.5MM extension that would start in 2025 and replace that option. However, he cut off a question asking about that possibility during his postgame media session, replying, “I’ll talk about that another time.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Head coach Tom Thibodeau briefly addressed his contract situation after Sunday’s loss, expressing a desire to remain in New York, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. “That’s something that my agent will take care of,” said Thibodeau, who has one year left on his current deal. “The Knicks have been great to me. So this is where I want to be.” Bondy cites a source who is confident that the two sides will reach an agreement, while Ian Begley of also suggests an extension seems like a foregone conclusion, noting that Thibodeau has the strong support of his players.
  • OG Anunoby tried to play in Game 7 after missing the previous four contests with a hamstring injury, but he checked out after logging just five minutes and admitted after the loss that he “just couldn’t move” due to his hamstring, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. “Was just trying, but couldn’t really sprint, couldn’t really jump, but just tried my best,” Anunoby said. “Just wanted to play. I wanted to at least try and help my teammates. We’ve been working really hard so I wanted to at least be out there.”
  • Thibodeau will face criticism from the “minutes police” for the way injuries decimated the Knicks’ roster down the stretch, but it’s not as simple as blaming all those injuries on overuse, according to Jared Schwartz of The New York Post (subscription required). While Thibodeau may deserve some blame, the team was also the victim of bad injury luck that forced the team to overuse players in the first place, Schwartz argues.
  • As dangerous as this year’s roster was when fully healthy, the Knicks haven’t ruled out the possibility of trying to trade for another star this offseason, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Still, the organization will be wary of how any major move would affect the culture and chemistry that made this year’s group special. “I think (the future) is very bright,” Knicks forward Josh Hart said. “I think there’s hope for what we’re building, and I think that’s the biggest thing. … I think we built a foundation of a franchise that’s gonna be fighting, a franchise that’s moving in the right direction. It’s tough to end it this way, but we’re going in the right direction. I think we’re giving this city and Knick fans something to hope for.”
  • Mark Deeks of HoopsHype and Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) preview the offseason ahead for the Knicks, exploring the major decisions facing the team with its free agents (including Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein) and extension candidates (led by Brunson and Thibodeau).
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