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P&T Round(ball) Table: Are the Knicks a playoff team after their free-agent spending spree?

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the knicks it finished six games behind the play-in last season. This week, they added free agents Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein. They also re-signed Mitchell Robinson. Are these improvements enough to get the Knicks back into playoff contention in 2022-23? P&T staff say…

Joe Flynn: Nope. could the Knicks vying for a playoff spot? Absolutely. They have talent and depth. They have a handful of young players who seem primed for a breakout. But this is still Tom Thibodeau’s team, sadly. Thibs helped the Knicks to the playoffs when he was able to play an All-NBA-level Julius Randle 40 minutes a night and got 6MOY-level contributions from Derrick Rose. This current roster, however, is based on youth and depth, two ideals that are anathema to Thibs. I don’t trust Randle to bounce back, and I don’t trust Thibs to become a rising Obi Toppin. Now, if the front office trades Randle and forces Thibs’s hand, that’s another story.

Matthew Miranda: They can be a playoff team, if only because they can be a play-in team, putting them just a win or two away from the playoffs. Of the top 10 teams in the East a year ago, aside from catastrophic injuries to any of their key players, I think nine of them will be as good as they were last season, if not better. Brooklyn could be left out of the play-in, which could open up a spot for New York. Charlotte may once again be in the neighborhood of a .500 team, a mark these Knicks could also hold all season. The biggest threat to the Knicks might be the teams in their rearview mirror: Indiana, Detroit and Orlando all picked well in the lottery and hope to win more games this year than last.

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kento kato: No. They have a roster that can make it interesting, but I don’t see them beating any of the teams that made the playoffs last season. I guess I could see a world where Julius Randle comes back and plays better than he did last season. A resurgence of Randle, along with the continued improvement of RJ Barrett and incoming point guard Jalen Brunson could help them sneak into the play-in game. But right now, I’m not sure that will happen. We’re much more likely to see a young team that shows flashes or brilliance, but generally lacks the star power and top-tier talent to beat good and even mediocre teams consistently enough. I see Randle playing only slightly better than last season and the return of Coach Thibodeau and his archaic ways of coaching may lead to another frustrating season of wondering where the youth movement is.

Lee Escobedo: No. And although it sounds contrary, it should not be the main objective. Now that most of the veterans are gone, it’s finally time to focus on youth and development. Jalen Brunson will take a while to adjust to a new role and team. He has only known how to play the second violin of a generational talent. This Knicks team has nothing like it. But we have good vibes and a cheerful young core. Something Brunson will add immediately. Giving youngsters the bulk of the minutes will come with its fair share of bumps and bruises. There will be brutal sections. Losses will accumulate. But this young core will finally get a chance to prove themselves and show us what every young player is made of. And hey, one more losing season plays in our favor too, as we’ll go into next year’s draft packed with potentially five first-round picks.

Russell Richardson: Yes. Unfortunately for the Knicks, the Eastern Conference is overflowing with talent. Every playoff team has at least two respected players at the helm: Giannis, Jrue and Khris; Jaylen and Jason; Zach and DeMar; etc. Jalen Brunson is a fantastic addition to the Knicks, but the fate of the team depends on a few other factors. Will Julius Randle recover from a one season dog? Will RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin continue to flourish, and will one or more become worthy of All-Star consideration? Will Thibs be less rigid and find ways to maximize the talent he’s been given? And even if the answers to all those questions are yes, the East is still a beast. Instead of asking if the Knicks are a playoff team, I’d ask if they’re better than five other teams in the East, because if they are, they can sneak into the play-in bracket. I say sure, why not? New York will be better than the Hornets, Wizards, Pacers, Pistons, Magic and Nets, and will try their luck as a playing team. But don’t listen to me. I predicted they would be third in the East last season and couldn’t shut up about their depth. Lesson learned.

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