While the two teams that finished above them in the Atlantic Division standings last year continue to endure turmoil and uncertainty, the Knicks are mostly gearing up for the upcoming NBA season amid a rarity for their franchise: peace.
The Nets announced Tuesday that Big 3 star Kyrie Irving will not be a part of their team – at home or on the road – until she relents and gets vaccinated for COVID-19.
And while the Sixers are still trying to resolve the possible absence or return of All-Star guard Ben Simmons, the Knicks have operated mostly under the radar and without controversy since training camp opened two weeks ago — and Wednesday. was entering his third of four preseason games. Night against the Pistons in the Garden.
“It doesn’t matter. We’re all about the Knicks,” third-year guard RJ Barrett said Tuesday after practice in Tarrytown. “The Knicks will never be an under-the-radar team. We are focused on improving and getting better every day.”
The Knicks finished 41–31 (fourth in the Eastern Conference) last season under first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013, although they were defeated in five games in the first round by Trey Young and The Knicks. was terminated. Hawks.
After the organization added free-agent guards Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier to a corps featuring Barrett and All-Star forward Julius Randall over the summer, Thibodeau said he is more engaged in integrating newcomers into his system. , because he is concerned with himself about what is happening. in Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
Thibodeau said, “I have enough to worry about here, so I’m just worried about us.” “And I love the group that we have. From our veterinarians to our young people, it’s just a good group.
“You’re not looking forward to seeing them, being with them, and working together. And when you find a group that has that type of commitment not only to themselves but to each other, it’s special.” And we have a lot of work to do. It’s not going to be easy. But I look forward to doing it with these guys. They’re special.”
Thibodeau said his team’s surprising regular-season finish last year – and the quest to repeat or exceed those results – is the “beauty of the game,” regardless of what the Knicks’ divisional competitors are going through.
“When you think about it, it’s like you go into season one and you don’t know how it’s going to unfold,” Thibodeau said. “Things can change very quickly in this league. They can go from bad to real very well very quickly and they can do the opposite.
“So you can easily go sailing and then all of a sudden, you can get derailed by an injury. And so, it’s part of the game… but you have to play the game.”
Veterans Center Nerlens Noel also said that Knicks — who is 100 percent vaccinated — hasn’t consumed herself with Irving’s condition in Brooklyn.
“We try not to dwell on that. We respect everyone and their bodies and their decisions — or I do. So we don’t really pay attention to that,” said Noel, who kneels and “We know what our goals are this year. If you’re a competitor, you’re not really focused on that. You’re focused on what you can do to win the game, period.
“If it is their weakness, then we just focus on what we can do when we are playing against these opposing teams. So we’re not worried about what’s happening to them, of course.”