“We’re going to shock the world.” – The Denver Post


With training camp on the horizon, All-Star hopeful RJ Barrett delivered the strongest message of confidence during Monday’s Media Day.

“I think we’re coming even more experience, even more hungry, a lot of guys with something to prove. Myself included, I have everything to prove,” Barrett said. “That’s my mindset and I definitely think we’re going to shock the world.”

Barrett declined to define such a shock – “it’s whatever you want it to mean,” he answered – but it’s fair to say a playoff series victory would exceed expectations.

The Knicks appeared on a path toward contention a year ago, but last season’s sputter left them an afterthought in the stacked Eastern Conference. It’s hard to squeeze them in the top-9 above the Bucks, Heat, Sixers, Cavs, Nets, Raptors, Bulls, Hawks or Celtics.

Still, Tom Thibodeau’s squad overcame similar odds during their rise to the fourth seed in 2020-21. This season, they’ll bank on the addition of Jalen Brunson, the recovery of Derrick Rose, the revitalization of Julius Randle and the continued ascension of Barrett.

For Barrett, who just signed a four-year, $107 million extension, the All-Star Game is a personal goal. It’s realistic for the 22-year-old — though probably not likely given his competition in the Eastern Conference — after Barrett averaged 20 points last season.

“I’ve thought that every year [about being an All-Star]. So, of course, I’m thinking that,” Barrett said. “Just being a better player every year is what I strive for. People think you should make this huge leap out of nowhere and it’s like — if you just add one or two things to your game and just get better every year steadily, you’re going to get to where you want to go, whether it comes right away or comes later. So that’s what I’m focused on.”

Barrett would’ve had a stressful offseason if he paid attention [he claims he didn’t]. He was dangled in trade negotiations for Donovan Mitchell and declined to play for the Canadian national team because contract negotiations dragged until September.

Still, Barrett expressed no hard feelings with the Knicks or the process.

“I think lots of people are in trade rumors. I’ve been in trade rumors. A rumor is a rumor. That’s what I think,” Barrett said. “Whatever happened after that, I’m a Knick now. So I guess a rumor means nothing at this point.”


Jalen Brunson was peeved about the publicity surrounding his free agency.

“Free agency was kind of awful, how public it got,” said the new Knicks point guard. “Not going to lie to you. For me, I’m a very simple person. I loved the opportunity to come back east, in a familiar area where I grew up, somewhat close. I’m just really excited for this opportunity with these guys.

“I think we can do something special.”

Brunson added “a lot of things” were reported inaccurately but he declined to specify. As a result of the timeline of the reporting — which had Brunson committed to the Knicks long before free agency started — the league opened an investigation into tampering.

The investigation is ongoing but Brunson said he wasn’t contacted by the NBA. The Knicks, who hired Brunson’s father as an assistant coach, risk losing a draft pick and/or a fine.

“My reaction to the league investigating? I didn’t really have one,” Jalen Brunson said. “Nothing really to investigate.”

Knicks team president Leon Rose also denied tampering.


After last season’s disappointment, Julius Randle said he took some valuable reflection time.

“The first part of the summer I just had to get away, spend time with the family, clear my head, reevaluate all different normal processing-type stuff,” Randle said. “I think it really helped me this offseason. The offseason before, I didn’t. I just kinda got straight back into the work. And I think with anything, you need breaks. You need time to reflect and I gave myself that opportunity to recover.”

Randle arrived at training camp noticeably thinner, which could hurt his ability to bully in the paint but should relieve his joints.

“These boys, they’re moving fast, man,” Randle said. “Young dudes running up and down the court. Gotta keep up.”

A big part of Randle’s descent last season concerned his attitude and the multiple fines levied by the NBA. They became indictments on Randle’s leadership. He didn’t acknowledge an issue but Monday said he learned from last season’s travails.

“When it’s good, it’s easy to be a leader,” Randle said. “When things aren’t as good and you’re going through adversity, I think it’s even more important. So, I learned a lot.”



Source link