Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There, there, Knicks fans. Let all the tears out, even the ones that sting. Another NBA season has come and gone, once again in an uninspiring Game 7 in the East Semifinals.

Adding insult to injury, the banged-up Knicks lost to the rival Indiana Pacers. All signs point to them or the even more hated Boston Celtics winning the Eastern Conference before being fed to either Minnesota or Dallas.

And you know what? I’m not panicking at all. In fact, I’m more excited for the 2024-25 New York Knicks season than I have been for any other of coach Tom Thibodeau’s previous four. Next year’s New York Knicks have the opportunity to not only win, but win big.

Let’s start with the bare numbers. The Knicks fought, clawed, hammered, and defended their way to the No. 2 seed in the East with a 50-32 record. This despite suffering key injuries throughout the season, particularly to All-NBA forward Julius Randle and defensive specialist OG Anunoby. Mitchell Robinson also suffered his own lengthy absence.

We saw firsthand not just in the Pacers series, but in the entire playoffs how much all three mean to the Knicks. Robinson, when healthy, is an elite rim protector who would be a regular Defensive Player of the Year finalist if he just played consistently. New York’s on-ball defense practically vanished once Anunoby popped his hamstring. Randle’s injury left 24 points and 9.2 rebounds per game sitting on the bench.

Two of those three are under contract for next year, and Anunoby is expected to be a priority if he opts out into free agency. Breakout center Isaiah Hartenstein is also hitting the market. If Josh Hart has his way, both will be back. Furthermore, look at Hart and Jalen Brunson after the game yesterday: Despite the sting of defeat, do these two look beaten down by it?

These New York Knicks know how good they are and so does their front office. Stefan Bondy at the Post reports Thibodeau, whose contract expires after next season, could soon be extended. The team has enough draft capital that it can either trade for a star name or even pick a lights-out shooter and/or durable big man in June.

Put it all together, and now add a healthy Randle back into the mix? The Knicks, after winning 50 games shorthanded in 2023-24, could maybe push for 55 or even 60 wins in ’24-25. The Eastern Conference is that noncompetitive and largely incapable of keeping up with Thibodeau’s physical style.

The New York Knicks, to put it bluntly, are fine.

Nobody likes the offseason starting early, but consider this. When was the last time the Knicks had a front office as competent as Leon Rose and Worldwide Wes? If your answer was anyone before they were hired and after Dave Checketts resigned in 2001, you haven’t been paying attention.

Buckle up, basketball fans. The Knicks may be down now, but they’ll rise again. And very soon.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.