During his first meeting with Knicks scouts since Leon Rose took over as president in March 2020, he talked about his vision and some of his goals.
Jalen Brunson, then a backup Mavericks guard, was named that day—to the surprise of some Knicks talent evaluators, The Post has learned.
More than two years later, Rose hits a top goal as their marquee off-season maneuver,
Exactly two weeks in, the Knicks open training camp to coincide with Media Day and do their first practice the next morning to begin the 50th anniversary season of their final title.
It would be Brunson or Bust.
Despite the detractors, a Western Conference personnel director thinks the Knicks have prided themselves this offseason on improving their 37-45 defeat.
The Knicks met their dire need for a point guard, added a more aggressive/durable center off the bench in Isaiah Harttenstein and Donovan Mitchell passed on wisely“Cuckoos Over the Cuckoos” by Danny Enge of Utah Are Not Ready to Be.
The personnel director said the Knicks have a strong, deep and young bench, led by spree power forward Obie Toppin and experienced point guard Derrick Rose, who are no longer heavily relied upon.
“Not providing a home for Donovan Mitchell has given him a lot of flexibility for the future,” the personnel director said. “I wouldn’t give them 10 for their offseason, but I think they can accumulate future moves now [draft] Property they didn’t have when adding an effect player to a position. And now Derrick doesn’t even have to play starter minutes or even 70 games. He is the best in a limited role.
Brunson’s $104 million contract — the personnel director’s estimate — has not been elevated enough. Yes, the Knicks sacrificed their lottery pick, the 11th pick, to free up cap space, but…
“It’s hard to get players of that ability, especially at that age (26),” he said. “You’re getting him as he enters his prime. What they’re paying him isn’t overpaying. Beauty is signing him on as a free agent. He’s got three first-round picks or several.” There is no need to give away assets.
“It’s one of the better moves the Knicks have made in years,” said the personnel person.
To boot, Brunson’s fit should be sleek. His father, Rick, is on Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff, Rose was his former agent – and Rick.
“This will help with their accountability,” the executive said. “Shopping will be seamless. And baby makeup is one where New York is not an issue.”
An important point is whether Brunson turns RJ Barrett and Julius Randall into more skilled scorers. Before Brunson, they were without playwrights.
“Randley will need to adjust,” said the personnel person. “Randall likes to be handled and facilitated at the top but he can be a secondary ballhandler. He’s not overbearing. I don’t think it will be difficult.
“Jalen is a team man. He’s about the right things. Not a scores-only guard. He’s a better playwright than Derrick.”
Rose, Emmanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes form an interesting dynamic mix of reserve guards. Quickly was the 2020 first-round pick, Grimes was the 2021 first-rounder.
Rose knows Thibodeau’s system better than any other player when it comes to recovery. Late in the season Toppin is showing flashes of explosiveness and new signer Hartenstein is a capable two-way backup center, a strong backup group as it formerly.
The talent evaluator said Toppin could come off the bench in a few nights and give 20 points.
“Obie has always had the key to understanding defensive concepts,” said the personnel director. “Being able to be reliable for Thebes. His ability to improve in that area and the one Thebes can rely on will increase his playing time. He needs to do it because he needs that offense .”
Last season, center Mitchell Robinson’s backup Nerlens Noel was considered, but he worked his way up for 25 games. The platoon of Taj Gibson and then-rookie Jericho Sims was subpar. It has been addressed.
,[Hartenstein] Open can hit 3 but that is not his strength,” said the personnel director. “But he can shoot. No one can be a better shooter than Noel and . [Robinson], His strength is midrange shooting where he can do a pick-and-pop instead of one-dimensional rolling on the rim. He’s fine in many areas – rebounding, rim safety – but he’s a much more offensive-oriented center than that and he’ll be available. Noel is never available.”
what’s all this? The scouting major has — on paper — eight teams with more talent in Boston, Miami, Philly, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Toronto and Atlanta.
But the Knicks could leap beyond ninth if Randall looks a bit more like the player he was two seasons ago in his entire career.
“Last year the former was the best since the 90s and this year it took another step,” said the personnel person. “They are a play-in team – better than what they were a year ago.”