New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau in the 2nd...

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau in the 2nd quarter in game 7 on Sunday at MSG. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

1. Will the Knicks be in the star chase?

The Knicks have spent years compiling assets and cap space to be ready to pounce when they could make a deal for a star. But this season they found that they already have one in place in Jalen Brunson, who finished fifth in the NBA’s Most Valuable Player voting. So do they pass on the opportunity to pursue Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland? How about if Devin Booker or Kevin Durant shakes free in Phoenix? What if Giannis Antetokounmpo drops hints that it’s time to abandon Milwaukee? The Knicks do have the pieces to bid and now would have to be the time before their cap situation gets much tighter, but they have to tread carefully with this clearly Brunson’s team. Fit is crucial.

2. Can the Knicks protect their own?

The Knicks' front office built a deep and talented roster with fairly priced contracts and the type of players who fit in with Tom Thibodeau. Now the task is to keep them. OG Anunoby would seem to be a fait accompli, but in a weak free-agent class don’t put it beyond teams like the Sixers to try to throw a wrench in the Knicks' plans and up the bidding. It’s not just Anunoby though. The Knicks could find themselves fighting to not be outbid on Isaiah Hartenstein, also an unrestricted free agent.

3. Is it Tom Thibodeau’s time?

Thibodeau has his critics — including those who insist that his gravelly voice has an expiration date. But you won’t find those critics among the current Knicks players, who vociferously defend their coach. And why not? He’s turned many of them from role players into stars and made them a lot of money while doing it. So it’s time for him to get his payday, too. With just one season left on his five-year contract — and having overseen the most successful run for the franchise since Jeff Van Gundy walked away — it’s time for a contract extension and the price is high for a coach with his record.

4. Will the Knicks lock up Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle?

Both players are eligible for contract extensions. The Knicks could lock them up this summer, but they are very different decisions. Brunson turned out to be a bargain free-agent signing two years ago at $107 million for four years. All indications are he won’t hold the team up now, and that he's willing to sign a four-year, $156 million contract extension. That would remove his fourth season from the current deal and provide five more years of certainty in New York, rather than waiting until next summer for a five-year, $270 million extension. Randle is a tougher question. He also is on a team-friendly deal but suffered a serious shoulder injury this season. Could they opt to wait and see how his shoulder holds up?

5. Is the health of the team a concern?

First, dismiss the Thibodeau criticism that the rash of injuries are overuse problems. Almost every injury was the result of a hit or a freakish occurrence. But the one curious spot is if the series of injuries that have sidelined Mitchell Robinson are just a coincidence and can they trust him to stay on the court going forward. The answer might play into just what the Knicks will pay Hartenstein.


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