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Knicks' Offseason of 'Flexibility' Praised by Western Exec

The executive praised the signing of Jalen Brunson, as well as the Knicks' restraint when it came to Donovan Mitchell.

No Donovan Mitchell? No problem for the New York Knicks, an anonymous Western Conference executive told the New York Post.

A Western personnel director (presumably not that of the Utah Jazz, Mitchell's former employers) lauded the Knicks' offseason activities to Marc Berman, being particularly impressed by their apparent restraint in the Mitchell situation. The front office character isn't ready to bestow a perfect 10 for what the Knicks have done since their 37-45 season wrapped last spring but mentioned that the moves they did make will put the franchise on a sustainable and malleable path moving forward. 

"Not giving away the house for Donovan Mitchell has given them a lot of flexibility for the future,’’ the exec said, referencing the apparent draft pick ransom Utah demanded for Mitchell's services. "I think they now can make future moves (with) accumulated assets while adding an impact player at a position they didn’t have."

In an apparent attempt to stockpile assets for Mitchell, the Knicks now have 10 first-round picks to work with over the next drafts. That gambit wasn't for naught, as it did clear the cap space that allowed them to land Dallas Mavericks playoff hero Jalen Brunson on a four-year, $104 million deal.

The exec believes that the price tag is fully worth it thanks to Brunson's relative youth at 26.

"You’re getting him as he enters his prime. What they’re paying him is not an overpay. The beauty is signing him as a free agent. They don’t have to give three first-round picks or multiple assets," they said. “It’s one of the better moves the Knicks have made in years." 

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Also praised is the fact that the Knicks brought Brunson's father Rick in to serve as an assistant coach, over two decades after he came off the bench for the Knicks' most recent NBA Finals group in 1999. 

The exec notes that some kinks still need to be worked out: Julius Randle, for example, will have to move back toward becoming a "secondary ballhandler" (a task described as "not difficult") and Obi Toppin will need to endear himself to head coach Tom Thibodeau. 

Overall, however, rival exec believes that the Knicks have improved, and foresees a rise-up to Play-In Tournament contention. While that might not seem like much in the eyes of long-suffering, passionate Knicks fans, that, for a change, isn't the team's fault, instead serving as more of a testament to the Eastern Conference's relative return to power. The conferences have split each of the last four NBA Finals titles after the West won five of the prior five and seven of the previous 10. 

This time, however, it appears there could be at least some form of postseason to play for in the Knicks' future.

“Last year the East was the best it’s been since the 90s and this year it took another step,’’ said the exec. “(The Knicks are) a play-in team — which is better than a year ago.’’

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags