Report: Knicks seeking draft picks to package for a star?

This morning we learned from ESPN’s Ian Begley that the Phoenix Suns may be interested in acquiring Frank Ntilikina.

Then John Gambadoro of Arizonasports.com reported that the Knicks are looking for draft picks to package for a star player in any deal that involves Ntilikina.

In his estimation, the Suns’ pick from the Milwaukee Bucks (acquired in the Eric Bledsoe deal) might be sufficient to get the deal done.

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Gambadoro is the same reporter who was first to break the story that the Suns and the Knicks discussed a potential trade for Kristaps Porziņģis before the 2017 NBA Draft.

This report was later confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, then with Yahoo Sports.

And so now we know what the Knicks might want in a deal for the former 2017 8th overall pick from France. Because they may be of the mindset that Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving (both once reportedly interested in teaming up with the Knicks) are both staying with their respective teams, the Knicks could be setting their sights on acquiring a star via trade.

It will be interesting to see if the Knicks have altered their strategy in chasing star players to add to their young roster. Could they be considering moving Frank Ntilikina for draft picks that they could eventually bundle for a star? We shall see.

Courtney Lee is probable to return to the lineup on Saturday; whose minutes will be impacted?

After being sidelined with a neck injury since training camp, Courtney Lee is finally probable to play tomorrow against the Milwaukee Bucks.

With tomorrow being his first game back in so long, you should expect Coach Fizdale to ease him into game action.

Accordingly, Fizdale mentioned that there won’t be any changes to the starting lineup, as confirmed by Chris Iseman of The Record:

Rapid Reaction:

Courtney Lee’s return will be comforting – at the minimum – for Coach Fizdale as his team has lost two straight games and had one of their worst performances of the season on Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Lee’s return will bring a true veteran presence to a rotation that lacks a player older than 26 years old.

From a game perspective, Lee can provide some order to a team that often settles for isolation baskets when plays break down and lets their guard down during stretches on defense. At the minimum, Lee can be a guide for our younger players to know where to be on the floor at different times during the game.

However, Lee’s return will also create an undoubted rotation crunch to a roster that’s already had several players accrue DNPs this season. Here are a list of the players (in order of likeliness) that will be impacted by the return:

1) Damyean Dotson

Lee’s return will most likely cut into Dotson’s minutes. Dotson got minutes as an energy spark in the last two games and was already a DNP in the four previous games. Based on where he fit in the rotation before Lee returned, it seems like Dotson’s minutes are in greatest jeopardy.

2) Frank Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina’s minutes have dwindled over the last four games. He’s often the last guard to enter the game in the 1st quarter, subbing in for Tim Hardaway Jr. Trey Burke has typically come in as the backup PG for Mudiay and will most likely continue in that role. In the last few games, Frank had been relegated to garbage time minutes in the 4th quarter. There is a strong possibility that Lee’s return may also cut into his minutes even further as long as Frank’s playing as a wing.

3) Mario Hezonja

Outside of Hezonja’s strong start against the 76ers, he’s been quiet since being inserted into the starting lineup. Hezonja’s also endured some DNPs before the starting lineup change. Hezonja is slightly safer to retain minutes because Fizdale isn’t ready to change the starting lineup just yet. However, any new starting lineup will likely send Hezonja back to the bench and most likely into DNPs.

4) Trey Burke

Burke’s job as a backup lead guard is safe for the moment as Fizdale’s not ready to make any starting lineup changes. However, Burke’s had a rough shooting stretch since scoring 29 points against the Celtics before Thanksgiving. A combination of bad defense and a rough shooting slump sent Burke to a round of DNPs earlier in the month. A prolonged slump could also send Burke back into that direction with Lee’s return.

Film Analysis: How Allonzo Trier’s college strengths have translated in the pros

Allonzo Trier has taken the NBA by storm as an undrafted rookie out of Arizona.

While his name and skillset might be new to Knicks fans, those who followed him closely in college had an idea of the type of player he could become. Zach Milner shows us that what Trier is doing well in the pros is not very different from what he did well in college. In other words, he is playing his game.

Zach was able to scout Trier for three years at the University of Arizona, and one thing was clear to him – he should have been drafted.

If you read Zach’s scouting report from the summer, you will find familiar themes to what you are seeing in Trier’s game with the Knicks. Players don’t change much between the time that they graduate to when they are playing a few months later with Jerry West’s icon on their jersey. The question mark is whether their skills will translate. In Trier’s case, they have.

Make sure you subscribe to Zach’s YouTube channel where you will find excellent breakdowns of prospects leading up to the NBA Draft, with occasional Knicks content, too. And follow him on Twitter!

Unlocking the Frank Ntilikina mystery

One of the most common tools teachers use when they’re too lazy to think of something better to support student learning is a KWL chart. It’s not a terribly complicated tool:

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Generally, you start out a class by having kids fill in what they “know”, followed by what they want to know, or “wonder”. The goal is that by the end of the period, they can put some stuff on the right side of the page – in the column for what they “learned” throughout the lesson. Ideally, all three parts of the chart get more or less equally filled.

Before the season, the KWL chart on Frank Ntilikina looked something like this:

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We’re now 23 games into the 2018-19 season, and the KWL chart on Frank Ntilikina is barely legible.

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Instead of added clarity, we’ve gotten more confusion. The questions now surrounding Frank not only center around what (he is), but how (the coaching staff is using him), why (he can’t hit a shot), when (they’re going to try him at point guard again), who (he should be playing with) and where (he’ll be after the February trade deadline).

Regarding that last one, if you hopped on Twitter Friday morning, you’d think that every team in the league is interested in trying to swipe him from the Knicks’ grasp. This is in part because, as Marc Berman’s Friday NY Post article noted, “Fizdale and team brass are agonizing over whether he’s a point guard or wing.” Teams are thinking confusion for the Knicks equals opportunity for them.

The shame of it is that if Ntilikina didn’t exist, the narrative surrounding this season would be almost entirely positive. There would be no point guard controversy – for all their faults, the Mudiay/Burke combo would be viewed as found money. The minutes crunch that saw Damyean Dotson get four consecutive DNP-CD’s would be eliminated. With the exception of Kevin Knox, who’s likely still inhibited by his early-season ankle injury, the young players on the team have blown away expectations.

Most significantly, the Knicks have generally been far more competitive than anyone expected, and seem to be getting better. They sport a minus 2.2 net rating over their last six games (which includes Wednesday’s Philly disaster that came on the second night of a road back to back), good for 17th in the NBA over that span, one spot below the Warriors. It’s bad, but not awful.

But this Ntilikina thing…it’s the turd in the punch bowl, and the worst part is that no one’s happy1. The Frankie Truthers are convinced David Fizdale is slowly ruining him, playing him out of position and not putting him in spots where he can be successful. The Frankie Haters are more convinced than ever that the Knicks wasted a draft pick. The cops broke up the party and no one’s getting lucky.

So let’s try to sort through some of this, shall we?

For starters, a simple truth that hasn’t been mentioned enough: If Ntilikina was putting up four or five deep balls a game and converting them at an above-average clip, much if not all of this handwringing would go by the wayside. Point guard or no point guard, it would be proof enough that he’s going to be a useful offensive player. Combined with his defense, that alone would be enough to to justify his spot as part of the team’s core, if not his draft position.

That, of course, isn’t the case. Ntilikina is currently hitting 25.7% of his three 3-point attempts per game. It’s truly been a tale of two seasons: over the first seven games, Frank was hitting 41.4% on over four looks per contest. Since then, he’s gone 6-for-41 – a cool 14.6%, which sure makes it seem like there’s something to the murmuring that his shoulder is bothering him. That’s not just falling off a cliff; it’s finding a fissure and going straight through to Beijing.

Speaking of China, the other added complication no one saw coming is in the form of a young man who played there as a teenager, Emmanuel Mudiay.

I wrote about Mudiay 10 days ago, coming down on the side that, while his development was a worthy pursuit, it shouldn’t come at the expense of Frank, mostly due to Manny’s defense (he had an abysmal 116.6 defensive rating at the time) and lack of any elite skill.

Naturally, Mud has a 103.3 defensive rating since then, best among the ten Knicks who’ve appeared in all six games. He’s also continued to get a lot of looks around the rim – 40% of his shot attempts overall, which is in the 84th percentile league-wide according to Cleaning the Glass, and he’s hitting them at a respectable 57% clip. The scoring gap in terms of overall efficiency when Mudiay is on the court vs. Ntilikina is a widening chasm.

To some, all of this is evidence that Frank, as the troll dolls put it, is trash. To others, it’s Exhibit A in the argument that David Fizdale isn’t doing nearly enough to bring him along. Regardless of which side you’re on, one thing there’s no denying is that Frank has become less involved in the offense as the year has gone on.

Over the season’s first five games, when Ntilikina was the starting small forward, he was averaging 48.8 touches per game, netting 3.65 seconds and 2.96 dribbles per touch. When he took the starting point guard reigns, those numbers increased to 54.5 touches, 4.35 seconds, and 3.67 dribbles2. Back on the bench primarily as a wing, the next five games saw the numbers go down to 27 touches, 3.2 seconds, and 2.35 dribbles. Finally, in the last four, they’ve cratered to 17.3 touches, 3.21 seconds, and 1.91 dribbles3.

So let’s add “decreased role” to our “know” column. What I’m “wondering” is why that is.

There are some who feel that the team, or at the very least the coaching staff, has already given up on him – not only as a point guard, but as a player. This is a great talking (head) point, but not one that stands up to logic. Even if the coaching staff had already decided Frank was terrible – and Fiz doesn’t seem capable of thinking any player is beyond repair, as we’ve seen – killing his trade value by relegating him to insignificant offensive role in furtherance of no greater purpose would be biting one’s nose to spite one’s face.

It’s far more likely that Fizdale, who in no uncertain terms will be judged on how he develops the young players on this roster, is doing this as part of some larger plan. Thus far, the dividends have been inconsistent at best. On one hand, after Frank got moved to the bench, we saw stellar efforts against Portland and Boston. Not coincidentally, those games were the most minutes he’s played since November.

We have another “wondering”: Did Frank earn more time because he played well, or did he play well because he got more time? The answer likely lies somewhere in between, but that’s besides the point. The bigger question is what is playing well under David Fizdale?

You don’t have to read between the lines much to figure out the answer. I’ll give you a dollar if you can find a media session that doesn’t include Fiz either praising a player’s aggression or demanding more of it. It’s his Golden Rule, especially for ball handlers: if you’re not trying to prod, probe or penetrate the defense, you’re not doing your job. That is Fizdale’s offense: screen, screen and screen some more until there’s a hole in the dam and then, BANG – hit it, and hit it hard. For all of their assist issues, the Knicks are 11th in the NBA in screen assists. Aggression is the key to it all.

Most Knicks fans know what an aggressive Frank Ntilikina looks like and what it doesn’t. Some may mistake taking shots for aggression, and then get confused when he gets pulled after a few bricks, thinking that Fizdale is benching him for missing open looks, which runs counter to good development. Case in point: against Philadelphia, Frank put up three shots over 12 possessions in just six first half minutes…not a bad ratio. The issue was that on eight of the other nine, Ntilikina didn’t touch the ball, never getting out of the corner. This came one night after the Detroit game, when, as Clarence Gaines noted, Frank was in “attack mode” on only three of 24 possessions.

More than anything, this is the biggest “wondering” that supporters of the young Frenchman have: how can Fizdale expect Ntilikina to be aggressive when all he does is stand in the corner as Trey Burke or Alonzo Trier go to work?

It’s a fascinating question that goes to the heart of what David Fizdale expects from his players. Even when he’s not the nominal point guard, we’ve seen stretches from Ntilikina where he gets the ball and takes control. Just because the offense calls for Frank to start out in the corner doesn’t mean he has to stay there. Fiz critics will lament possessions where Ntilikina never moves from his corner spot like a member of the Queen’s Guard, but some of this has to fall on the player too. In Fizdale’s mind, if you want it, come and get it, and it shouldn’t matter who else is on the floor with you.

In a sense, Fizdale has already been proven right. We’ve seen the neophyte 4look good on offense from the point and on the wing, as a starter and from the bench5. For what it’s worth, before the season Trey Burke had this to say about his pairing with the 20-year-old6:

“I believe last year he played better when I was on the floor with him because he had a guy to take the pressure off him handling the ball,” said Burke. “He can play a spot-up and when he’s ready to be aggressive and get in the lane and make plays, he could. I think he played much better with me, and he’d say that as well. I definitely see us in the backcourt a lot.” – Tommy Beer, Forbes

When he’s ready to be aggressive. That hasn’t happened much.

It leads us to our biggest “wondering,” the 800 lb. gorilla in the room: wouldn’t it be easier for Ntilikina to be aggressive if he were, you know…still the starting point guard?

At first glance, the numbers from when he manned that role are kind of ugly. During that nine-game stretch, the Knicks had a 100.7 offensive rating with Frank on the floor, which is just about tied with the league-worst Hawks.

As Fiz has said repeatedly implied though, it’s about the process, not the product. If Frank was playing the way Fizdale wanted, he’d likely still have the role, no matter how rough a go it was.

Initially, he was. In his first four starts at point guard, Ntilikina averaged 8.8 drives per game in 30.6 minutes of action – nothing crazy, but more than respectable. That number would lead the Knicks for the season, is the same as Steph Curry and in the neighborhood of guys like Jamal Murray and Victor Oladipo.

During this stretch, Frank also made half of his 3.5 field goal attempts on drives and sported a 14.3 assist percentage out of such possessions. Best of all, Ntilikina attempted and made eight free throws during those four games. That obviously doesn’t sound like a lot, but for a player who has attempted only eight total free throws in the other 19 games combined, it was a lot.

As an added bonus, the Knicks held a fourth quarter lead in every one of those contests, winning twice and losing to Indiana and Golden State.

The next four games were a very different story. Frank’s drives dipped to an average of 4.5 in 21.6 minutes of action. He shot it at about the same rate (50% on 2.0 FGA per game), but his assist percentage plummeted to 5.6. The first of those four games came against John Wall in Washington, when it seemed like Ntilikina became unnerved on both ends from Wall’s aggression. The next three – vs Chicago, at Atlanta and at Toronto – didn’t get any better. The game after that was the 5:45 affair at home against Orlando when he looked perhaps more out of sorts than ever in his brief stint.

In total, New York’s offensive rating over his final five games running the show was an abysmal 85.8 in 92 minutes. Their overall net rating with Frank on the floor during that time was a negative 19.2.

It leaves us “wondering”: did Fiz bench Ntilikina because Frank wasn’t playing the way he wanted him to, because he felt he was doing more harm than good to his own development, or simply because he felt he wasn’t ready for the responsibility of being a starting NBA point guard?

Based off of what we know about Fizdale, one thing we can be pretty sure of is that Frank wasn’t benched simply for poor play7. Need proof? Ntilikina’s four highest minute totals have come in games where he’s gone a combined 8-for-29 from the floor. That’s not what matters to this coach.

It seems far more likely that Fiz simply felt the time wasn’t right to keep the experiment going. Is it because he wanted to teach the kid a lesson? Maybe a little. It’s just as probable that he felt Ntilikina would lose too much confidence if things kept progressing the way they were. It also can’t be discounted that he wanted to continue to put forth starting lineups that remained competitive in games as he tries to instill a culture where losing is abhorred as opposed to simply frowned upon, or worse, accepted as the norm.

Has he given up on the idea that Frank can play the point? His stints during garbage time at the end of both the Detroit and Philly games would seem to indicate otherwise.

So our final “Wondering” is this: how much of the blame, if any, does Fiz deserve here?

Could there be a more sophisticated offensive system in place that garners more natural opportunities for Frank to find a rhythm? Probably. Could Fiz simply spare a handful of possessions per game where he lets Frank operate out of the pick and roll? Of course. Could there be at least some possessions every night when Ntilikina doesn’t share the court with another ball-dominant guy? Definitely.

Is it in Fizdale’s style to make these accommodations? At the moment, the answer seems to be a fim “no.” This might be the only thing we’ve really “learned” so far. If the scout in Berman’s article is to be believed – that Ntilikina is soft, unaggressive and lacks instincts to play point guard – maybe tough love is the approach he needs to emerge from the darkness and harness the gifts he clearly possesses. Luckily, his confidence doesn’t appear to be wavering, at least if you take his word for it.

If nothing else, more patience is warranted. As another scout quoted in the article noted, having an unselfish player who just wants to make the right play and doesn’t care about scoring is invaluable to have on an NBA roster where most guys are just looking to get buckets.

Ultimately, time will tell if Frank can achieve the balance between his natural instinct to distribute and the learned trait of attacking relentlessly. It requires a rewiring of the brain, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that 23 games in, it’s gotten worse before it’s gotten better. Luckily, they still have plenty of season left – more time for us all to fill in that last column, hopefully with something more positive than we have so far.

How the Knicks ended up with both Robinson and Trier on draft night

This is a fascinating report by Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic about how the Knicks targeted both Mitchel Robinson and Allonzo Trier, two players that seemingly were undervalued by the rest of the league, and how they were somehow able to draft and sign both of them on draft night.


Trier says he was told by the Knicks that if he was still on the board [when they picked in the second round], they would take him. The Knicks didn’t make a promise to Trier, according to league sources, but did have him in strong consideration for the pick.

“I didn’t think I would get past there, honestly,” he said.

Instead, the Knicks chose Mitchell Robinson, who they had tried trading up into the first round for. A call from a member of the organization soon followed, with an explanation. The Knicks had a need to go big, Trier says he was told, and Robinson had dropped to them, though they still evaluated him highly and hoped to get him.

[via Mike Vorkunov]


The rest is history, as Trier fell out of the second round and back into the Knicks laps as an undrafted free agent.

Why this matters: I think this is important because it shows that the Knicks are scouting the right players. Of course, it is way too early to say that both Robinson and Trier will be long-term successes in this league, just as it’s too early to give up on Ntilikina or to criticize Knox’s slow start. However, from a value perspective in the draft, the criteria is a little different for Robinson and Trier. Finding a second round pick and undrafted rookie, who both display any kind of high ceiling promise is a win that any organization would take.

The Knicks Lineup Discussion with Posting and Toasting

As the Knicks get closer to the 25-game mark and the end of David Fizdale’s self-proclaimed tinkering period, we thought the new head coach could use some help in deciding which lineup is the best. And since we don’t take this assignment lightly, we rang Posting and Toasting and asked if they could lend us one of their best people to help with this important task. Sadly, they were all busy, so they sent @shwinnypooh. Not to be out-done, we got Jonathan Macri off his barstool to cover our side of things.

What follows is Part 1 of the email exchange that occurred between these two titans. (Part 2 will appear on Posting and Toasting’s website on Monday)


Macri:

Hey (expletive deleted),

So first, I guess I should thank you for agreeing to humor me in this exercise, although it’s certainly not like you have anything better to do. Let’s call you Ron Baker, actually.

Anyway, lineups…don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it doesn’t look like David Fizdale has settled on one yet. He reminds me of Sideshow Bob in the “Cape Fear” Simpsons episode, and every new lineup combination is a different rake that smacks him in the face. We at least ought to try and help the poor guy out.

Let’s start with this: many in the fan base have been clamoring for a return to the Frank/Tim/Dot/Vonleh/Mitch starting unit, they of the positive 8.1 net rating over 94 minutes. Where do you stand on that?

Shwin:

Nice to hear from you Mrs. Lance Thomas,

Appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate how much more intelligent I am than you and for EVERYBODY in the Knicksverse to witness this beatdown.

Now, to your question about the starting lineup, personally I’d have persisted with the lineup that hung tough with the Warriors and Raptors, yeah. It doesn’t really bother me that Fizdale wanted to switch it up though. Frank really has been struggling offensively — having two strained shoulders may be a factor in this current slump he’s in — and Mudiay did do some nice things off the bench. I can wrap my head around that switch and think it’s perfectly reasonable, but moving Dot and Vonleh out for Trier and Knox is like willingly choosing to give up 130 a night, which they’ve been doing quite a good job of since the switch. Probably not a coincidence.

If you’re looking for more offense with ball movement and pace, probably don’t put Trier in there. He’s a scorer, yeah, but he likes to feel the ball before doing anything with it. If your starting 5 is made up of 4 minus defenders and Mitch, who’s a rookie whose performance on a night-to-night basis is volatile, shit’s going to get ugly on defense.

Whatever. I’m cool with experimenting, I just think there needs to be more balance in the experiment. If it was up to me, I’d probably mess around with a Mudiay/Frank/THJ/Knox/Mitch lineup and see how it goes. Still got 3 minus defenders in there, but you can switch pretty well and you have your best perimeter defender and rim protector in. You also get to see how Mudiay and Frank play together with a spread floor and you should theoretically have enough scoring to at least give yourself a fighting chance between Timmy and Knox.

You think that’s still weak sauce or is that something you might be interested in?

Macri:

Wow. Way to sign off your response with a clip from an HBO show that’s not only been off the air for years, but not even the best one.

I’ll let Tony Soprano tell you why you’re wrong here.

Yeah, I said it…these kids, they got no idea what it takes to be number one.

I get it. I do. We want to see a starting lineup with as many of the young’ns as possible. But three of them? It’s too much, and they’re not ready for it. Knox’s defense is such a train wreck right now that keeping him in the starting lineup causes too many breakdowns. There’s a fine line between “let the kids learn the hard way” and “let the kids make it so that no one else on the court can trust one of their teammates and peeps start up with the stink eye.” Knox is on the wrong side of that line.

Mitch, God love him, is too volatile. It’s important to have a starting lineup that you can trust to remain intact on the floor for a solid five minutes, and like Fiz said before the Portland game, he can’t rely on Robinson to avoid the silly fouls right now.

And then there’s Mudiay. I agree with your sentiment about him and Frank, and think the offense just looks more juiced when he’s in. I just don’t know that him and Tim can ever be passable defensively on the court at the same time. And this team can’t afford starting games with Tim on the bench.

So my alternative proposal: Frank/Timmy/Dot/Mario/Vonleh. Mario makes up for some of what Mudiay brings on offense, and if he’s your 4th best defender and Tim is your 5th, you can more than survive if the other 3 are solid, which is the case here.

Shwin:

Is three young guys really too much? Maybe it is, but Hezonja isn’t the answer to anything. Knox has been bad — shocking for a 19-year old rookie, I know — but Super Mario has been playing like a wet fart. He’s bricking everything, taking horrible shots and tries to create in transition like he’s LeBron. I barely trust him to bring the ball up the floor without throwing the ball into the 10th row, let alone handing him more responsibility by leaning on him to initiate offense more consistently.

After seeing his performances against Boston and New Orleans, Mudiay, in his current form, has to start. He’s pushing the tempo well and finishing at the rim without always falling down.8

He hasn’t racked up a number of assists, individually, but he’s getting the ball moving early and often by forcing the defense to rotate when he penetrates. I love Frank, but that’s not something he’s comfortable doing so often.

I would ideally like Mitch to start, but I’m starting to come around to your and Fiz’s view here. It’s hard to build consistency when you have him getting into foul trouble every other game within two minutes of stepping onto the court.

The same can be said of Frank, to be honest, although he’s not nearly as bad with it as Mitch. Also if Kanter plays like he has the last couple of games, consistently, where he’s actually playing within the team concept offensively and giving a shit on defense, I have very little issue with him starting. Will he? I’m not sure, but for now he is, and so long as that holds true, it seems the most appropriate way to go.

I’m fine with the current lineup aside from Hezonja. He’s been so bad that the success they’ve had has been entirely in spite of him. The obvious move, if you’re uncomfortable with Knox, is to stick Frank or Dot in there. With Frank seeming to have really leaned into this current bench role with ridiculous defensive displays and a renewed, if still inconsistent, offensive vigor after a prolong slump, I think Fiz has to leave him there. Throw Dot in at the 3 so you have two plus defenders in the lineup with him and Vonleh, and add some defensive rebounding and shooting ability into the mix.

Macri:

Boy, I was all ready to defend my Mario point, especially since you compared a fellow Italian to a wet fart…and then I sat down…and I thought about it…and I thought about it some more…and, well…yeah, I just don’t have it in me. The idea of Mario is a beautiful cornucopia of basketball goodness. Actual Mario is leftovers that someone forgot to put in the fridge. It’s been 20+ games in a new environment, and we’re seeing a lot of the same things we saw again and again in Orlando. Let’s move on.

At this point, arguing against Mudiay seems foolish. Since I wrote a piece, like, 10 days ago, essentially saying that he would have to show even more to warrant key playing time at point guard, guess what: he’s shown even more.

Can we can go down the whole road of “what’s the point, he won’t be here next year, and he’s taking time away from someone who will?” Sure. But Mudiay is only 22 years old and his development into a real, live NBA player would not only be a huge feather in the organization’s cap, but it would hasten the development of those around him. Also, if you buy into the whole “losing mindset” thing, being competitive in games this year is a big deal, and will look good to prospective free agents. No reason Frank can’t still get ample time off the bench, including a handful of possessions every game where he runs the offense – something Burke always seems to cede his way.

Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m with you on Kanter. Plus, Kanter with Vonleh (plus 0.7 net rating as of Sunday morning, according to Cleaning the Glass) is a different animal than Kanter without Vonleh (minus 14.1, aka, the “we want Anthony Davis and we’re not afraid to admit it” Bobcats).

Logically, your Dotson choice makes sense. Too much sense almost – he shores up the defense and his shooting spreads the floor to compensate for the lack thereof elsewhere.2 I just…I don’t know. For as much as we may want to believe that it’s not about who starts, there’s something in me that feels there’s value in Frank being out there with the first five.

Am I being crazy? You can tell me I’m being crazy. It’s ok. I won’t be (too) hurt.

Check Posting & Toasting for Part 2 on Monday!

What you need to know about Luke Kornet’s call up from Westchester

The Knicks have recalled Luke Kornet from Westchester.

How did Kornet do in the G-League?

Kornet played great in Westchester, averaging 18.2 points on 48.5% shooting, including a scorching hot 47.5% from downtown on as many as six attempts per game. He also showed his ability to defend near the rim with 2.7 blocks per game. He did this all over 10 games during his stay in Westchester.

What are the roster rules again?

NBA teams are allowed to have a maximum of 17 players on their roster, including two, two-way players. Remember, Luke Kornet is not a two-way player; he is on a regular NBA contract, but with less than three years of experience, the Knicks are allowed to send him to the G-League as many times as they like, while he continues to earn an NBA salary.

Why call him up now?

Since Luke Kornet signed a new contract with the Knicks last summer, he cannot be traded until December 15, which is magically around the same date as when Allonzo Trier’s 45 days are up.

However, trading Kornet3is not so easy since he has automatic veto power as a player on a one-year deal with Early Bird rights.

The Knicks could be looking at the next two weeks as an evaluation period to decide if simply waiving Kornet makes sense to make room for Trier.

They could also be watching Mitchell Robinson get in foul trouble every night and think it’s time to add some depth to the big man ranks.

Do you think the Knicks will eventually waive or trade Kornet?

It’s possible. He is only making $1.6 million, so it wouldn’t be as much of a pill to swallow from a salary standpoint as it would be to cut someone like Ron Baker.

That said, there are so many reasons why Kornet provides value to the Knicks as a big man over the reasons you could list to keep another guard/wing on the roster like Baker.

I know Baker brings hair-flopping energy, and that is valued on a young team, even if it is demonstrated only in practice, but Kornet is a seven foot center who can shoot threes and offer the Knicks depth at a position they could use it.

Unless the Knicks find a way to trade an excess player, given Kornet’s salary amount, I am a bit worried the Knicks end up deciding to waive him over Baker, but we will see.

Can the Knicks convert Kornet to a two-way in place of Trier?

No.

A NBA contract cannot include more than $50,000 in compensation protection and must be converted to a two-way contract prior to the start of the NBA season.

Kornet has both too much money guaranteed on his contract and it is too late to convert him, even if he didn’t have as much guaranteed.

 

KFS Draft Watch: Jarrett Culver Through 11/28

Be sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter for NBA and Draft talk and reports throughout the season!

Jarrett Culver is an intriguing, likely lottery pick with a nice offensive arsenal. He improved his jumper big time over the summer, in percentage, as well as form. Even though he’s not an explosive athlete, he is a smooth one and gets to his spots. As you’ll see in the video, he really improved his all around game. His increased usage has resulted in a nearly double AST% but a lower TO%. His improved strength has helped him in drawing fouls (and finishing), and his craft around the rim has also looked really good so far this season.

Definitely someone to keep an eye on as the season goes on. The video above highlights his progress through November 28.

Allonzo Trier has worked several days on the Knicks for free

Allonzo Trier went undrafted in the 2018 draft. Whether scouts missed on him or were concerned with his PED suspensions, it doesn’t matter now. He went undrafted, which limited his ability to hold much bargaining power as a rookie free agent.

Hence, the Knicks were able to sign him to a two-way contract.

While everyone expects the Knicks to clear a roster spot and sign Trier to an NBA contract in December, an interesting caveat in the way NBA service time is calculated for two-way players has him playing several days for free.

Free, you say?

Well, let’s get into it.

There are three NBA service rules for two-way players that impact Trier’s service time this season:

  1. NBA service does not start accruing until G-League training camp begins.
  2. The days that Trier doesn’t participate in a basketball activity with the team are excluded.
  3. A new rule excludes travel days.

To the first rule, Trier was able to stay with the Knicks for about one month of time before any of his 45-day service limit started to depreciate. This provided the Knicks with a longer look at the iso-heavy guard, ultimately leading to rotation minutes, which in the end, could lead to an NBA contract.

All is good, right?

Mostly. But where this rule hurts two-way players is in their paychecks.

Two-way salary is calculated by multiplying the league minimum salary for a player with 0 years of service by the number of NBA service days they accrue.

This means that the entire time Trier spent with the Knicks in training camp, playing in preseason games, and balling out for the first three games of the regular season, are excluded from his NBA pay.

Combining the second and third NBA service time rules mentioned above into one thought, any day the Knicks travel, or Trier doesn’t participate in a basketball activity, are also excluded from his NBA service day count.

The recently changed rule for excluding travel days from their NBA service calculation is designed to help two-way players find more meaningful time with their NBA club instead of wasting away service time on buses or planes.

This all sounds favorable to the player since a two-way player is usually trying to prove something in the league and the more actual game days they get to do that, the better.

But all of these days that don’t “count” as service time also don’t count in calculating the amount of NBA salary two-way players receive for days they worked with the NBA club.

What does this all mean?

In the grand scheme of things, not a lot. I expect Trier to be rewarded handsomely in the near future, so he will do just fine for himself. All of this service day math makes it difficult to calculate exactly when Trier’s two-way NBA service time expires. However, Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that Trier’s date is around December 15, depending on if a practice, or two, is cancelled along the way. So expect Trier to sign an NBA deal close to that date.

This is really a labor discussion.

From an opportunity perspective, extending the number of days a G-League player can remain in the NBA, whether paid or not, helps, and perhaps a player earns an NBA contract as a direct result of that added service time.

From a labor perspective, it doesn’t seem fair that two-way players should be forced to work on days they are technically not paid.

Of course, even though two-way players are compensated on a daily basis, you could also look at it from an aggregate standpoint.

While Trier will get paid for less days than he serves with the Knicks, his real “paid” amount is the total value of 45 days worth of NBA salary at the rookie minimum rate (approximately $213,169), which is a lot better than the fraction he would have earned each day had he spent those days down in Westchester making G-League pay.

Knicks Film School Podcast: Post-Philly Mailbag

Since the Knicks blowout loss in Philly left fans feeling frustrated, Jon and Michael Nania opened up the pho-, Twitter lines for a good old fashioned (but also for the first time) mailbag pod. They hit on a bunch of topics, including whether we’re at a crisis point in Frank’s development, who are the five most valuable Knicks, who gets cut to make room for Allonzo Trier next week, and much more.

Subscribe: iTunes / Stitcher / SoundCloud / Google Play

Report: Orlando has shown interest in Frank Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina is clearly not progressing on the offensive side of the floor the way Knicks management and fans, alike, would hope to see. The French guard (wing?) has scored in double digits only three times in the 23 games he has played this season. He is shooting 33% from the field, down from an unimpressive 36.4% last season.

Of course, he continues to play strong defense, but his minutes have been sporadic, as Fizdale turns to Emmanuel Mudiay and Allonzo Trier (who people forget is nearly three years older than Frank, despite being a rookie). Some are questioning whether the Knicks have cooled their excitement about Frank’s future.

Apparently, that has not slowed other teams from around the league in taking notice of Ntilikina.

According to Mike Vorkunov, Orlando has shown interest in the 20-year-old who can defend at a high-level; they had a scout in attendance for the Knicks game in Philadelphia.

“He’s intriguing,” a different scout told Mike Vorkunov


Why this Matters: As great as Ntilikina can be guarding the basketball, he needs to eventually show some life on the offensive side of the ball, proving his perimeter shot is a strength instead of a promise never realized. It is difficult to fully evaluate Frank’s progression this season in a rotation that is constantly changing, not just in the minutes allocated, but the positions assigned.

I need to see more of Frank as the primary ball-handler, doing what is expected this season, playing through the ups and downs, on a nightly basis, as a young point guard. This is just for the Knicks to evaluate what they have in their lottery pick. Meanwhile, it is refreshing to see other teams remained intrigued by his talent, because it offers you a glimpse outside of the Knicks’ bubble.

Could Orlando simply be checking in on someone they consider a low-end prospect? Perhaps. But I suspect other teams would be “intrigued,” as the one scout put it to Vork, by a 20-year old guard who can defend all spaces on the floor.

Knicks blown out in Philly

This one was never close. Philly steamrolled the young Knicks playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

HIGHLIGHTS

[td_block_video_youtube playlist_title=”” playlist_yt=”PYxvdlqGfUU, QrehvoBnYmk, s5Z7fiLYB8o” playlist_auto_play=”0″]

GAME NOTES

Before Wednesday night, the Knicks had played two truly forgettable games this season – consecutive blowout losses to Orlando and Oklahoma City. Since the latter, things had been pretty good, with the team sporting a respectable minus 1.1 net rating over the preceding seven games.

That number is going to dip after what was probably their worst overall showing of the year, a 117-91 loss in Philadelphia. Granted, the team was on the second night of a back-to-back, playing a rested Sixers squad coming off a bad home loss, but they were thoroughly outclassed regardless, shooting a “wait, that has to be a mistake” 34.8% from the field. Most of the guys played a step slow all night on defense and you’ll rarely see a worse shooting night from an NBA team. There were a couple of important takeaways.

  • Big picture wise, the “Frank Ntilikina Development Watch” has now reached Code Yellow (that’s the middle one), approaching Code Orange. He played six minutes in the first half, and over a dozen possessions, he didn’t touch the ball on nine of them, all but one of which never saw him leave the corner. The three possessions he did touch the rock, he shot it … and missed all three. This wouldn’t be a story if there was some agreement that the coaching staff is deploying him in a way that is best for his development, but that’s a major source of contention amongst the fan base and NBA people, alike. As a slight silver lining, we saw some Frank at point guard minutes to close out the game in garbage time. This now officially bears watching on a nightly basis.
  • On the bright side, Damyean Dotson once again played, and once again looked like his regular, active two-way self. The numbers during what little meaningful time there was in this game weren’t great, but he again exuded the presence of a guy who just looks like he needs to be on the court. His three steals stood out.
  • Mitchell Robinson didn’t foul out, so that was a plus. He also had a couple nice blocks on Embiid late. Complain if you want about Frank and Knox, but Mitch is either ahead of schedule, or at worse, right where he should be – looking overmatched much of the time but making a few special plays every night.
  • Speaking of Knox, he had seven points on 3-of-7 shooting and generally looked better than he has in a few games.
  • The starting backcourt of Timmy and Mud shot a combined 1-for-16 from the floor and missed all nine 3-point attempts. Yeah.
  • Lastly, in the irony of ironies, Mario Hezonja may have been the best Knick on the floor, swiping four steals and looking the best he has on offense during a brief stretch in the first quarter. Fizdale’s choices don’t get any easier.

That’s it. Thankfully. The Knicks have two nights off. They look like they’ll need it. They’re home for the Bucks on Saturday.

Fizdale doesn’t plan on sending Knox or Robinson to G-League

Kevin Knox is off to a slow start after an exciting Summer League. The 19-year-old rookie is shooting a dismal 32.5% from the field in 15 games. Meanwhile, Mitchell Robinson has shown more flashes of excitement, but he can’t stay out of foul trouble; it is his first time playing organized basketball in over a year.

Would it make sense to have Knox and/or Robinson spend some time in Westchester this season to fine-tune their skills?

David Fizdale doesn’t think so. As he told reporters before the Knicks game against Philadelphia:

I’m keeping both of them with us. We’re raising them as a village now with the group. Through whatever tough times they go through that’s what we’ve got to go through with them right now.”

“But I want them with our guys, playing with our guys, interacting with our guys, having successes and suffering with our guys.”


What does this mean?

On the surface, David Fizdale’s proclamation that we’ll see Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson with the big club for the remainder of the season is a good thing.

For one, it confirms that the pair will continue to get minutes on the court for the rest of the season, because if the choice was between getting minutes in Westchester or riding the pine in MSG, they’d get sent down. How many minutes is anyone’s guess, but the safe bet is that Knox will get a minimum of the 15-20 he’s seeing now, with that number likely to go up as the season progresses. As for Mitch, the same would be true if they played with Summer League rules, where you needed 10 fouls, not 6, for a disqualification.

So that’s a plus. It also means that the team remains committed to the overall, season-long goal of developing the young players, even at the cost of wins. Again, keeping the organizational eyes on the prize is a welcome change from years past.

Of course, the Knicks could go halfway in making a decision on where to play the two rookies by doing something they did last year in sneaking each player some time in the G-League in-between games with the big club. The problem with that is those type of minutes are usually reserved for players who aren’t getting enough minutes in the NBA. It’s already a marathon for rookies to get used to the NBA schedule (especially so for Mitchell Robinson who didn’t play organized basketball last year), so adding minutes to their load doesn’t seem to make sense.

If there is a downside, it’s more of a devil’s advocate position than anything else: if accountability really does reign supreme throughout the locker room, does a statement like this so early in the year take away a little of the bite that goes with that? Probably not. If anything, the kids can feel reassured that as long as they play hard and unselfishly, they don’t need to be looking over their shoulder if they make a mistake (which is probably good, because that would result in a strained neck before too long).

Lastly, it’s an indication that, barring a trade, New York will continue to face a roster crunch in the near future. The rotation is at 11 players over the last two games, and that’s not considering Courtney Lee, who is close to returning. Whoever’s going to wind up the odd man (or men out), it won’t be Knox or Robinson.

Leadership in Suits: Grading the Knicks front office so far

Mike DeStefano continues his four-part series on the main components that can help us evaluate how the Knicks are progressing. Read Part I here. Let’s dive into Part II.

Part II – Leadership in Suits

The importance of this component goes without saying. Every organization that puts a good product on the floor has strong leaders in the front office and on the sideline. It’s why the Celtics most recent rebuild lasted exactly thirty seconds, and why the Sixers went from, “The NBA needs to do something about this” to “Sh**, the Atlantic Division is suddenly STACKED” in just a few short years.

As with any organization, it starts at the very top. Say what you want about James Dolan, but history shows that he’s willing to spend, and recent history suggests that he’s willing to stay the hell out of the way.

Beneath him, we’ve got the two-headed monster of Steve Mills and Scott Perry; beneath them, Fiz; beneath him, a top notch staff of assistants that includes four former NBA players and two guys with NBA head coaching experience.

This group from top-to-bottom is well-respected around the league and has done a nice job turning this team around in the most important ways:

  1. The front office has stuck to its plan – they’ve held onto draft assets; they’ve taken calculated low risk chances on young talent (yielding multiple payoffs); and they are prepared to be opportunistic if the right deal presents itself.
  2. Any team Pat Riley has ever been associated with plays hard. Fizdale’s impact on the Knicks in this regard has been nothing short of transformative. They come with heart and toughness every night. It’s been decades since we could say that.
  3. Guys have bought in. This is more than just the heart and work ethic referenced above. Example: a couple of weeks ago, Emmanuel Mudiay took Trey Burke’s starting spot. Burke’s role in the rotation was precarious at best. Both of these guys are fighting to secure their futures in the League. Yet when Mudiay dunked on Garrett Temple’s face in Memphis, no one was happier than Trey Burke. Big deal – it’s because he’s back in the rotation and got the assist. Keep watching the clip. The guys who lost their minutes to the Mudi-Trey tandem? They’re going nuts on the bench. It takes a special type of leader to get competitors – guys fighting for minutes, reps, reputations, money – to support each other this much, so credit Fiz & Staff for doing a masterful job in this regard.

So this component gets an A, right? Not quite.

First, I’m a hard grader. Deal with it.

Second, from the outside looking in, fans are seeing some mixed messages. Contradictions. These are the sorts of things that, if they persist and build (cue the melodrama), could erode a franchise from the top down:

“I want to get up and down the court.”  The Knicks are 19th in pace.  Last year they were 15th, and the year before, playing in the archaic Triangle Offense, they were 17th.

“I want to share the basketball.”  And, I want to have an unselfish ballclub just like [the Knicks’ championship teams].”  These Knicks are dead last in assists per game, according to ESPN Stats and Info. And while assists, or lack thereof, aren’t necessarily indicative of selfishness, the dismal numbers combined with the amount of bad/forced shots taken on a regular basis would suggest they are not playing unselfishly.

“There’s not going to be anybody that dominates the ball for us … One-second hold.  If you can’t get it done in one second, get off it.”  Trey Burke is 16th in the entire NBA in average seconds per touch (according to NBA.com) at over 5 seconds per. Allonzo Trier is third among rookies who’ve played at least 15 games at almost 4.5.

“But none of that will start without us being a great defensive team.”  25th in Defensive Rating (worse than last year) and 24th in opponents’ PPG. To be fair, Fizdale also talked about being more aggressive defensively – more deflections, more steals. They are up in both steals and opponents’ turnovers per game.      

“Everything is about, ‘You keep what you kill.’”  In other words, minutes will be earned.  For the most part, leadership has enforced this.  Whoever’s playing the best will play.  But what did Dotson do to lose his spot to Hezonja, who’s been playing bad at best?  Is it something that’s happening at practice?  Were the Knicks low-key disciplining Dot for something?  Is it political?

“We’re not putting all our stock in wins and losses right now…”  This year is all about player development, right? RIGHT?

*Stats below are based on the 5-game stretch immediately prior to Detroit last night*

ELDER KNICKS MPG FUTURE KNICKS MPG
Tim Hardaway Jr. 37 Mitchell Robinson 13
Enes Kanter 32 Kevin Knox 16
Trey Burke 27 Allonzo Trier 20
Frank Ntilikina 21

We know numbers like these can be misleading. There are so many variables at play here. For example, Mitchell Robinson fouled out of a game in 9 minutes. He, alone, is the reason he didn’t more run that night.

But:

  • Those ELDER KNICK MPG are significantly above their season averages. Two of them will not be on the team next year.
  • Those FUTURE KNICK MPG are below season averages. All of them, assuming Trier signs a multiyear deal when he gets converted, will have guaranteed contracts next year.
  • In the New Orleans and Memphis games, Kevin Knox played a TOTAL of 16 minutes. Frank Ntilikina played a TOTAL of 27. That’s 43 minutes combined. Over two games.
  • Enes Kanter played 41 minutes by himself against Memphis.
  • Damyean Dotson isn’t present in the chart above. As alluded to earlier, he hasn’t been in the lineup. Four consecutive DNPs prior to Detroit. He is also under contract next year.

Granted, I’m writing from an outsider’s perspective. I see what fans see. I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. I hear the press conferences and read interviews; I pay close attention to the front office’s plans and the staff’s basketball philosophies; and then I look for it all to manifest in their actions.

Some things take time – we understand that – but some things should be evident immediately. The front office made a concerted effort to get younger – youngest in the league – and more athletic, so why are we still playing at such a slow pace? Every basketball player has the ability to pass the ball and move without it, to play unselfishly and keep the offense from stagnating, so why aren’t they doing it? These aren’t talent issues, so what’s the explanation? Why have the organization’s leaders said one thing only for the world to see another?

Whatever the reasons may be, the Knicks are in a good place regardless. For all my criticism, Mills, Perry, and Fiz have done a fine job thus far. Fans who think they’re f***ing everything up are blinded by their decades of Knick misery. Fans who think they’re infallible and have operated perfectly are blinded by premature excitement that we’re finally back on a path to contention. They’re not failing, but they still have work to do if they want that A.

Part 1: Leadership in Uniform – C

Leadership in Suits – B+

The big things are in place. Patience, eyes for talent, and the blossoming of a culture predicated on athleticism and a never-say-die attitude. Some might say I’m nit-picking with the criticism above, but if fans can see them, Kevin Durant can see them.  Other free agents can see them.

Hopefully, the staff is operating with enough transparency at practice, in film study, and on the sidelines that these contradictions don’t exist to the players. Dotson told Rebecca Haarlow yesterday that Fizdale had been very communicative about the DNPs, which is important. And all the players, even the ones struggling for PT, seem engaged and enthusiastic when they’re on the bench, so my guess is outsiders like me make a bigger deal out of this stuff than they do.

Knicks Briefing

What’s going on, Knicks fans!

The Knicks have a few days off to recover from an ugly loss to Philadelphia.

They play next on Saturday vs the Bucks.

Let’s catch up on the latest news.

TOP STORY

Orlando interested in Ntilikina?

The Magic have shown interest in the 20-year-old, according to a league source, with a scout in Philadelphia last night watching him.

“He’s intriguing,” a different scout said.

[via Mike Vorkunov]

  • What this means: Hopefully, it means other teams see the same potential in Frank that many Knicks fans see. Could Orlando be simply checking in on someone they consider a low-end prospect? Perhaps. But I suspect other teams would be “intrigued,” as the one scout put it to Vork, by a 20-year old guard who can defend all spaces on the floor.
  • Read more about what this story means and provide your own comment.

NEWS CLIPPINGS

Fizdale started connecting early with Knicks players

Vonleh said after he signed with the Knicks, he started participating in pickup games they were holding at Hunter College and Columbia University.

The feedback he received was important.

“[Fizdale] would tell me after those pickup sessions, ‘I like what you’re doing out there, keep going, keep being yourself,'” Vonleh said […]

“The player development stuff, everybody talks about the gym work, we’re all stealing from each other,” Fizdale said. “All the coaches get together in the summer. We work together, we exchange ideas. We’re all developing the same skill sets. It’s how do you get through to that kid to get him back to where he believes in himself and try to get him a game that can be reliable on the NBA court. That’s really what I’ve tried to do with these guys.”

[via Chris Iseman]

  • What this means: At this site, perhaps more than any, we focus on the technical aspects of the game, the Xs and Os. But you can’t overlook how much confidence and camaraderie impact player performance. Fizdale has done a wonderful job connecting with this young group in short time.

Dotson stays ready

In 23 minutes, Dotson pumped in 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the Knicks’ 115-108 loss to the Pistons. It was the lone bright spot to a messy shooting night in Motor City as Dotson kept the Knicks within single digits within the final minutes.

“You’re always right there even if you haven’t played a game or two,’’ Fizdale said. “He stepped up big time. That’s what you call a pro. Keeping yourself ready and not let yourself get down and when your number is called, you go and produce. Dot’s a big-time pro. He’s a guy I really trust in.”

[via Marc Berman]

  • What this means: As Fizdale continues to experiment with lineup combinations, it would be easy for players to be frustrated when they don’t find minutes during a given stretch. It is refreshing to see a young player, like Dotson, continue to put in the work, even when he doesn’t play, so he can have a performance like he did last night, playing for the first time in five games.

Fizdale done tinkering with rotation?

David Fizdale appeared on The Michael Kay Show to discuss the state of the Knicks. He sounded more confident about what he has in his group in terms of deciding rotation minutes and roles going forward. It doesn’t mean things won’t continue to be fluid, but the group is so young, he explained that the constant lineup changes were a result of him trying to learn what the players can do, like an extended training camp.

I really liked this answer Fizdale gave about the process of building up a basketball team compared to other industries:

The difference with [basketball] than in most industries [is] people get to watch it while we experiment, and have to suffer, or go up and down through all of that… I was joking with one of my acting buddies the other day, ‘man, you get to do 100 takes and then come out with a great movie … but they didn’t see all of your screw-ups’ … basketball players are going through the ‘takes’ right in front of you.


Jimmy Butler never interested in Knicks?

With the Knicks set to face-off against Butler and the 76ers on Wednesday, local reporters are revisiting Butler’s supposed interest in New York.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia inquirer tells us Butler was never interested in joining the Knicks.

Why this matters: While Jimmy Butler seems happy in Philadelphia, and it seems increasingly unlikely he would leave a contending team in the East to join a lottery team next summer, the NBA is a crazy world where crazy things happen, so until he has signed his new contract with Philadelphia, the speculation will continue.


LISTEN

Happenings

Check out the new KP sneakers dropping December 1


ON THIS DATE

1969: “What a game! What a game!” shouts TV voice Bob Wolff.  The Knicks score six points in the final 16 seconds to defeat Cincinnati, 106-105, and run winning streak to a then-NBA record 18 straight games (the streak will end the next night with a loss to Detroit at MSG). The game against the Bob Cousy-coached Royals is played at the old Cleveland Arena.

1992: Knicks break an 11-game regular season losing streak against Chicago with a rousing 112-75 victory over the Bulls at Madison Square Garden. Patrick Ewing scores 26 points and grabs 15 rebounds.

2010: Amar’e Stoudemire begins his franchise record streak of nine consecutive games with at least 30-points, scoring 37 points and recording 15 rebounds and seven assists over career high 54 minutes in 125-116 double-overtime win at Detroit.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE


TOP READS

Is this the real Emmanuel Mudiay?

Michigan unite!

How Fizdale is rebuilding confidence in the Knicks


That does it for today!

Check out the new KP sneakers dropping December 1


Adidas will release the “Marquee Boost” Kristaps Porzingis on December 1 for $140. These are different than the Crazy Explosives we are used to seeing from Adidas in relation to KP.

The sneaker features a layered upper atop the brands’ signature full-length Boost midsole, per Sneaker Bar Detroit.

Adidas released the Pro Bounce “Unicorns” earlier this month.

Report: Jimmy Butler was never interested in joining Knicks

When it was first reported that Jimmy Butler wanted out of Minnesota, it was believed that the Knicks were on his short list of preferred teams. Remember, the team acquiring Butler needed to feel confident they could re-sign him as a free agent next summer, so who he preferred to play for mattered at the time.

Since then, we learned the Knicks didn’t even kick the tires on Butler. And, of course, he was subsequently traded to Philadelphia.

With the Knicks set to face-off against Butler and the 76ers on Wednesday, local reporters are revisiting Butler’s supposed interest in New York.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia inquirer tells us Butler was never interested in joining the Knicks.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News questioned Butler, directly, about his interest in wearing blue and orange. Bondy writes:

Butler seems very happy in Philly, and every indication is that he’s off the table for the Knicks in free agency since the Sixers can — and likely will — offer him the most money in July. Butler, according to sources, included the Knicks on his preferred destinations prior to the trade and would’ve re-upped in free agency.

When [Bondy] asked him about that Tuesday – a day before his Sixers host the Knicks – Butler claimed amnesia.

“I don’t know,” Butler said. “And to tell you the truth, I don’t talk about the trade because I’m here, I’m loving it here man and all of that is in the past so I’m leaving it just there.”


Why this matters: While Jimmy Butler seems happy in Philadelphia, and it seems increasingly unlikely he would leave a contending team in the East to join a lottery team next summer, the NBA is a crazy world where crazy things happen, so until he has signed his new contract with Philadelphia, the speculation will continue.

Knicks Film School: Damyean Dotson stays ready

Damyean Dotson might be young, but he works like a professional, always ready for when his number is called, as he proved again with an impressive performance vs Detroit.

After sitting out four consecutive games, Dotson scored 17 points on 6-8 shooting, playing a steady defense, both on and off the ball. This is the tenth consecutive game in which Dotson has played that he has scored at least double figures in points.

Music: www.thepassionHiFi.com

For all of our video breakdowns, make sure you subscribe to Knicks Film School on YouTube.

Knicks Film School Podcast: All good (Knicks) things must come to an end

Jon is joined by Jeremy Cohen to discuss a night in Detroit where the Knicks couldn’t buy a basket. They focus on several hot topics of late, including Allonzo Trier’s continued inspiring play, Mario Hezonja’s place in the rotation, Damyean Dotson’s return to the living, and Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina’s struggles.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Stitcher / SoundCloud

Knicks lose as Dotson and Trier shine

Knicks lose 115-108 in Detroit. They fly to Philadelphia after the game to face the 76ers tomorrow night.

HIGHLIGHTS

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GAME NOTES

Game recap is provided by Remi_Se.

The New York Knicks came out flat and never quite found their footing as they saw a three-game winning streak snapped by the Detroit Pistons.

New York shot 30% from the field and 17% from three in the first half before Allonzo Trier led a late comeback attempt that came up short. Foul trouble, poor shooting and shoddy decision-making plagued David Fizdale’s young squad that was coming off an emotional performance in Memphis.

Let’s take a deeper look at what stood out on

  • Allonzo Trier flirted with a triple-double during the most well-rounded performance of his young career. Iso Zo was elusive off the dribble scoring 24 points on 63% from the field while making 9 of 12 free throw attempts. Trier has shown that sort of scoring before, but tonight he added 10 rebounds and 7 assists to the mix. Seeing a player nicknamed for his isolation play become the Knicks best passer was especially fun to see as he continued to look for teammates even after making some mistakes for turnovers. This undrafted rookie was the Knicks best player by a large margin and showed that he has potential to be more than just a scorer.
  • After four games without a chance to play, Damyean Dotson saw the court and provided a spark quickly. The sophomore stepped onto the floor for just a single possession in the first half, but was impossible to take out of the game once he checked back in for the second half. As soon as Dot knocked down his first jumper, he snapped into gear and sought his shot aggressively and effectively. Dotson shot 6 for 8 from the field and made all three of his long range shots with many of his field goals coming off the dribble. Dot made another clear case that he belongs in the rotation going forward.
  • The rest of the Knicks youngest players struggled. Mitchell Robinson was fun to watch defend Blake Griffin through screens out to the three-point line, but fouled out in just 17 minutes. The rookie was repeatedly caught off balance by pump fakes. Frank Ntilikina continues to show nothing on offense (0-3) in 15 minutes of play. Kevin Knox continued his struggles as well, going 1 for 7 in 16 minutes. The kids got their opportunities and took their licks tonight.
  • It wasn’t just the youngsters that had trouble tonight. Tim Hardaway Jr, Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke were a combined 10 for 36 shooting while dishing just 5 assists. To Hardaway’s credit; he got to the line and made some plays, finishing with 19 points and 3 assists but he could not find a consistent jumper. Burke has had three straight poor shooting games and hasn’t shown the playmaking that got him 11 assists against Boston. Mudiay meanwhile had his worst performance in some time. These three guys have the ball in their hands more than anyone on the team, having all three off at once is a recipe for disaster.
  • None of the big men could guard Blake Griffin. Mitchell Robinson wasn’t the only player to foul out guarding Detroit’s star player. Noah Vonleh picked up his 6th foul after 19 minutes and Mario Hezonja was forced out in just 16 minutes of action. It was incredible to see as Griffin drew fouls on Vonleh with elusiveness; Hezonja with power moves and on Robinson with crafty head fakes.
  • Amid this collection of sloppy performances, Enes Kanter managed a pretty strong game. He gave Andre Drummond fits all night in route to 16 points and 14 boards. I tend to complain about Kanter not committing when he rotates to slashers, but he challenged some players at the rim tonight. That’s not to say he was anywhere near perfect defensively, but it was an improvement for a big man that struggles against the pick and roll.
  • This wasn’t a pretty loss. Even easy looks were just rimming out for the team tonight. But through the struggles we got to witness a rookie and sophomore stepping up to show Fizdale what they can bring to the table. It’s not surprising for the youngest team in the league to show a lack of consistency, but watching players step up when opportunity knocks is going to keep every game worth watching.

Fizdale explains why he’s been a “mad scientist” with the Knicks rotation

David Fizdale appeared on The Michael Kay Show to discuss the state of the Knicks. He sounded more confident about what he has in his group in terms of deciding rotation minutes and roles going forward. It doesn’t mean things won’t continue to be fluid, but the group is so young, he explained that the constant lineup changes were a result of him trying to learn what the players can do, like an extended training camp.

I really liked this answer Fizdale gave about the process of building up a basketball team compared to other industries:

The difference with [basketball] than in most industries [is] people get to watch it while we experiment, and have to suffer, or go up and down through all of that… I was joking with one of my acting buddies the other day, ‘man, you get to do 100 takes and then come out with a great movie … but they didn’t see all of your screw-ups’ … basketball players are going through the ‘takes’ right in front of you.

Highlights

  • Michael Kay asked Fizdale if he felt like a “mad scientist” with all of his lineup combinations, to which Fizdale responded, “The mad scientist part was trying to [experiment] early. That’s why I said our training camp was going to be a little bit longer this year because we have so many young players … So if we have to suffer early because of it, before we start playing really good basketball, then so be it … Hopefully, most of my experimentation will start to slow down a little bit and we can start to settling in and playing a little more of a set rotation.
  • Fizdale discussed the team rallying for him in Memphis. They wanted to win for him so badly that they came out tight in the first half, so Fizdale told them to stop worrying about winning the game for him. But Emmanuel Mudiay stepped up and said, “Coach with all due respect, I don’t agree with you, and we are going to go out and compete harder for you.”
  • Fizdale confirmed that Courtney Lee played 3-on-3 yesterday so is getting very close to returning.
  • In talking about Emmanuel Mudiay, Fizdale said, “I saw what Scott Perry was looking at it when he did it, from afar … I alway saw in that kid some similarities to guys I have coached … Put a lot of confidence in him that he can mistakes and don’t look over at me and lead the group … And so far, he has been taking to that.”
  • Fizdale talked about Frank Ntilikina’s offensive struggles, “He is a player in progress … I don’t get frustrated by it … I’m looking at it from the standpoint as an educator. So it’s my job to try to crack the code with him … And I don’t know if people are noticing what he is doing defensively … but he can guard and help our team.”

What’s happening in the NBA: November 27

Knicks fans are some of the most intelligent basketball fans in the world. They want to know more than what is happening with their team. This is a daily overview of NBA highlights and happenings.

TOP HIGHLIGHTS

[td_block_video_youtube playlist_title=”” playlist_yt=”GjOXdqSThGU, 7ztgZQ35eXI, fOm_0yLQ4RY” playlist_auto_play=”0″]

SCORES

Bucks 107, Hornets 110
Timberwolves 102, Cavaliers 95
Rockets 131, Wizards 135 (OT)
Spurs 108, Bulls 107
Celtics 124, Pelicans 107
Pacers 121, Jazz 88
Magic 110, Warriors 116

TOP STORIES

Sixers leaning on McConnell over Fultz

Examinations of Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz’s right shoulder will extend through Wednesday in New York and no decision on his next steps is expected until later in the week, league sources told ESPN […]

In recent weeks, the Sixers stopped listening to trade overtures for McConnell, sources said, a reflection of the fact that the organization knows it will be leaning more heavily on him now. McConnell can be a free agent this summer.

[via Adrian Wojnarowski]


Bradley Beal sets record straight

After the Wizards’ last game, Beal was asked by NBA TV’s Dennis Scott to address the report that he wanted out of Washington.

That’s nonsense,” Beal said. “I heard it earlier before the game and I was like if it ain’t come from the horse’s mouth, it wasn’t me. I got this Washington jersey on, I come out and work everyday until otherwise. This is where I want to be.”

[via NBA TV]


DeMarcus Cousins targeting return after Christmas

Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins is targeting a return from his torn Achilles sometime after Christmas, sources told the Bay Area News Group.

According to those sources:

* The determination was made during a meeting on Friday between Cousins and Golden State’s training staff, including head trainer Rick Celebrini.

* Before the meeting, Cousins was hoping to join the lineup during the team’s upcoming five-game trip.

* There have been no setbacks in the recovery process and the decision to push back Cousins’ target date was made so he can regain his conditioning and enter the lineup at peak form.

[via The Mercury News]


Jimmer Fredette hopes for another NBA opportunity

With all the success you’ve had in the Chinese Basketball Association, I’m very curious where your interest stands in potentially getting back to play in the NBA?

Jimmer Fredette: I want to have another opportunity in the NBA because there is some unfinished business for me there. After this season is over, I want another NBA chance. This time, I’ll succeed. I feel really good about how I am playing. I know that if I get a chance, I will take advantage of it and be successful and help a team win. I’m excited to see what the future holds. I’m going to finish my contract in China this season and be the best I can be for my team. But after that, I will see what is out there and try to be on a roster for the NBA postseason.

[via Bryan Kalbrosky]

Knicks Briefing: November 27

Good morning!

The Knicks play the first of a back-to-back tonight against Detroit. After the game, they fly to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Wednesday.

Let’s catch up on the latest news.

News Clippings

Teams are inquiring about Dotson

According to a source, the Knicks have been approached by a couple of teams about Dotson’s availability because of his precarious contract status.

Knicks general manager Scott Perry did not draft Dotson. Though president Steve Mills was GM for the 2017 draft, the Dotson pick at No. 44 was spearheaded by former president Phil Jackson and his top adviser, Clarence Gaines, according to sources.

[via Marc Berman]

  • What this means: Nothing. There is no indication that the Knicks are looking to trade Dotson, or that the second round standout is looking to be moved. I don’t doubt the report. I’m sure there are teams calling to check on Dotson, especially with Courtney Lee set to return and Fizdale’s rotation minutes as in flux as a Manhattan street corner. GMs and Agents are probably just checking in on the situation.
  • Read more from Jeffrey Bellone and Jonathan Macri

Fizdale wants Trier to rebound more

I’ve been beating him over the head about rebounding,” Fizdale said. “I just pause the film every time he’s flat footed when the ball’s in the air. Like how is it you can chase down a guy on the break and block it at the top of the square but you’re flat-footed on rebounds? He’s taken it to heart. The kid really wants to do well for the team so I’m really happy with how he did last game.”

[via Mike Vorkunov]

  • What this means: Fizdale has emphasized the importance of having his wings rebound the basketball so they can push it down the floor. That said, it’s important for a guard like Trier to learn how to rebound, and especially, since he is often mixed in multi-guard lineups that might require him to box out a wing.
  • As Vorkunov notes, Trier ranks in the 30th percentile for rebounding from his position, something that could be improved.

Trey Burke thinking playoffs

Obviously everyone‘s counting us out,” Burke told The Post late Sunday at FedEx Forum. “Look on paper, people don’t think we can do it. I think we believe we have a chance — and it’s early for me to say this — but I believe we have a chance to get in the playoffs this year. That should be our goal. I think that is our goal. It starts now.”

[via Marc Berman]

  • What this means: Players are competitive. No matter how much the fans want to talk about tanking or think realistically about the team’s chances, the players are always competing to win.

LISTEN

Happenings

Meet Allonzo Trier in SoHo this Thursday!

Stance Hoops is hosting “an uncommon kin conversation with Allonzo Trier” on Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 PM. The event will be held at 510 Broadway in SoHo.

Kevin Knox is giving back to his high school

ON THIS DATE

1999: Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell score 30 points each to beat Orlando 99-96

UPCOMING SCHEDULE


TOP READS

Should the Knicks explore a trade for Fultz?

Allonzo Trier the greatest undrafted rookie ever?

Fizdale has Knick players believing


That does it for today!

Should the Knicks consider trading for Markelle Fultz?

It was reported earlier this week that Markelle Fultz is no longer in the Sixers’ long-term plans. The former number one overall pick somehow losing his shot between the NBA Draft podium and suiting up for the Sixers, with shoulder issues part of the problem. As Philly tires of the drama that surrounds him and prepares to compete in the East, they are apparently ready to move on.

Which brings us to the Knicks. Always looking to capitalize on buy-low situations, should they consider making a move for the once promising guard?

JB | @KnickFilmSchool

Let’s start from a cap perspective. Does a trade for Fultz make sense given the Knicks plans to pursue a max free agent in 2019?

While Fultz is still on a rookie scale contract, don’t let that fool you into thinking he isn’t making a decent amount of money. As a former number one overall pick, his rookie scale is the highest amount from his draft class. He is due to make $8.3 million this season and $9.7 million next season, before a team option kicks in.

With the Sixers looking to have as much cap space as possible to re-sign Jimmy Butler and keep their young core in place, it would seem that both moving on from Fultz and clearing future cap space would be their main goals in trading the young guard. Because of this and the uncertainty surrounding his potential, Fultz’s trade value is probably not very high, as Keith Pompey from the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

If the 76ers have tired of this saga and are considering trading Fultz, and multiple sources said they are, his trade value must have declined a great deal since the start of the season.

Since the Knicks are a non-taxpaying team, they are able to accept an incoming salary that is as much as $5 million more than what they send out. This means the Knicks could trade as little as $3.3 million in a deal for Fultz, which gives them the flexibility to move a low cost piece if Philadelphia isn’t interested in taking back a salary like Courtney Lee’s. Of course, this would add salary to the Knicks books in 2019, so it would have to be the right deal for the Knicks to consider that.

Looking at it from the other side of the coin, the Sixers are also a non-taxpaying team so they can also accept as much as $5 million in additional salary in a trade, so the Knicks could send Courtney Lee’s $12.2 million to Philly for Fultz. New York, who is about $6.5 million short of max space for Kevin Durant next summer (see my assumptions for this projection), would then gain roughly $3 million in cap space in 2019.

Dave Early | @BehindCurve

The Knicks should absolutely consider trading for Fultz. He is 16 months removed from being a prospect who would have easily gone in the top 5 of any NBA draft over the last 5 years. Coach Fiz has shown an ability to get struggling players like Emmanuel Mudiay to play the best ball of their careers. It’s a lot of upside to try to unlock.

Like New York, Philly would probably want expiring contracts to increase their spend this summer; that’s why they shot down any reported interest in Lee months ago, per Keith Pompey. But they just might settle for a package that costs them space if they felt it moved the needle in their quest to win the east.

In that second scenario, discovering if Elton Brand believes that Tim Hardaway Jr. could be that piece is worth a shot. A deal centered around Hardaway Jr. for Fultz and Mike Muscala’s expiring contract would allow the Knicks to create more than enough space to take on Fultz while simultaneously creating room to sign KD. A dream scenario.

There is a very low chance that Philly believes Hardaway increases their title odds enough to justify the resulting loss of cap space. (If they simply traded Fultz for an expiring contract and late pick they could resign Jimmy Butler and also create up to ~$33m in additional room and compete with New York as buyers this July). It’s hard to imagine them loving Hardaway that much and it may require a bit more. But either way this dream scenario is worth a call from the Knicks.

Michael | @Michael_Nania

I think the Knicks should steer clear of Fultz. This team has got a great thing going with the culture they are cultivating under David Fizdale and the duo of Scott Perry and Steve Mills. While Fultz is undoubtedly an intriguing project, he has also looked completely lost out there most of the time, both literally and figuratively. He is surrounded by drama and negative media aura. Personally, I don’t see taking him on worth the circus he would attract, in addition to the playing time he’d take from the other young guards the Knicks are doing a nice job developing.

Mike D. | @DebateBBall

Should the Knicks consider trading for Fultz?

Of course they should. I’ll take it a step further and say they should actively pursue him.

The stipulations: No Frank, No Mitch, No Kev, No ‘19 pick.

As long as the Knicks avoid taking on an added contract in the deal, I don’t see a downside. What I do see, though, is potential for the sort of opportunistic move that accelerates rebuilds. If Fizdale can work his wonders with Mudiay and Burke, imagine what he could do with a 20-year-old consensus #1 pick whose under team control for another three years?

Vivek | @VDadhania

Yes, I’d trade for Fultz. He’s in a no-win position in Philadelphia and New York will allow him to reset his young career. He’ll be able to ease some of the pressure mounted on him with being the #1 overall pick by being in an environment that emphasizes development and patience. Fultz has the tools already to be an above average defender. The only thing missing is confidence on offense. He did show glimpses of his potential last season. If Fizdale and the Knicks developmental group can fix Mudiay and revitalize Burke, they should be able to work with Fultz. Fultz has better tools than both of those players and can be a great complementary weapon to add alongside Frank Ntilikina, both on offense and defense.

Tiff | @TiffStarr815

So, should we trade for Fultz? Not right now. Maybe I’m caught up in the moment of the 3-game winning streak and the overall play of the boys since the beginning of the season, but there’s no way I’m trading for Fultz, period. The man can’t even shoot a free throw right now. Believe me, when he was coming out of Washington, I was one of Fultz’s biggest fans, but he just isn’t worth it right now.

Even if he’s two seasons removed from being “right”, would the wait be worth it? At what cost? Frank? Our best defender with all-defensive team talent? I honestly wouldn’t even involve Vonleh in a trade for him. His energy and all around game on the court is what I would rather watch on a nightly basis. Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas are possible trade chips, but it’s uncertain how high other teams value each player, plus their veteran presence on the team has been lauded and praised by teammates and Coach Fizdale.

There isn’t one scenario that would make me remotely interested in a trade for Fultz, If it’s a trade involving the Warriors and KD and we won’t have to wait until July, then we can talk. Kidding. I really do wish Fultz much success , but he’s still going through “The Process” and he can continue to do it on a team not named the Knicks.

Macri | @JCMacriNBA

On the surface, it seems like the perfect lottery ticket. I forget who said it, but on one of the 2017 pre-draft podcasts, a respectable analyst referred to Fultz as the guard version of Karl-Anthony Towns, just in terms of how safe a pick he was. Somewhere, beneath layers and layers of physical, mental and emotional scarring, that player is still in there.

For New York, if they get that guy, it’s a potentially franchise altering move. The issue is this: if the Sixers – a damn smart organization – are ready to sell him for relative pennies on the dollar, why in the world should anyone believe that that player is still in there? If it’s essentially a straight up swap for Courtney Lee? I guess you’d have to. That said, if Lee comes back and looks healthy for a few games, you could easily argue that his 2019-20 salary is easier to move than Fultz’ would be come July.

If the Knicks had to throw in one of the juicy 2nd’s they got from Charlotte in the Willy trade? It might be a deal breaker for me.

My main issue, though, is this: can you imagine the scrutiny Fultz would be under in New York? Even if they hid him in Westchester, the minute he scored 20 points, it would be “Is Fultz the Knicks new point guard of the future?” and “Fultz languishes while the Knicks wilt in the Garden.” If he was with the big club every day? Forget it. I’m sorry … I don’t need it. I just don’t. Right now, the good ship lollipop is happily sailing along. Forgive me for being the wet blanket, but I think I’d like to just keep going in the direction we’re headed and not pick up any stragglers along the way.

Spencer | @FrontOfficeEye

I’m 100% in on trading for Fultz, IF the Knicks are not giving up any real asset (meaning, no core player). Hell, I’d put anyone on the table outside of Frank, KP, Trier, Knox, and Dot.

From a talent perspective, if Fultz gets his shot back, he’s a perfect fit next to Frank. People forget that he was a legit 3-level scorer on and off the ball at Washington. 87th percentile overall (possessions + assists), 93rd as PnR scorer, 73rd as a PnR passer, 71st on all jumpers, 63rd around basket, 70 catch and shoot, 88th on off dribble jumpers, and was a 67+ percentile shooter on jumpers from everywhere on the court.

He was a hell of an offensive weapon and his biggest question mark was his defense, which has actually been good this year (with a few bizarre mistakes here and there) – credit to Coach Brown for making Simmons and Fultz, two mediocre at best college defenders, into legitimately good NBA ones. Basically, from a talent perspective, he’d be an awesome fit next to the core + whoever the Knicks pick this year.

***I will also add that someone who told me that Burke to NY would happen months before it happened also told me that KD to NY is really in the cards. I’m not going to go into detail why (there are many working pieces from KD’s perspective), or who my source was, but he was spot on in the past and I do trust him.***

If Fultz doesn’t get back his Washington form, the Knicks could cut bait with him after the 2019-20 season. The way I see it, there is a very minimal risk and a massive reward (even if there is a small chance of that reward being found).

Let us know what you think below!