#KnicksTakes: Trading Marcus Morris

There’s always something to talk about when it comes to the New York Knicks. Even when they’re boring, just quietly going about their business, people find a way to reach for that controversial Knicks’ take.

This is not that.

#KnicksTakes aims to address the most worthwhile Knicks issues, conversations, and debates, and today, with the deadline around the corner, we’re talking Marcus Morris and TRADE SEASON.


Most fans agree that over the next couple of weeks, we need to make moves for the short and long term betterment of the franchise. Who are the prime trade candidates? Allonzo Trier is on the outs; Dennis Smith, Jr. needs another reboot; Taj Gibson’s recent scoring outburst has increased his value; Reggie Bullock’s return might have a contender or two after his shooting…but the hottest trade candidate on the roster by far is Marcus Morris.

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The Knicks Are Losing According to Plan

After particularly gut-wrenching losses, I, like many Knicks’ fans, go through a range of emotions and thought processes: I’m disappointed; I’m annoyed; I’m enraged; I’m encouraged when they keep it close; I look back for plays that cost them the game; I think about what they should’ve run or done differently; I point fingers; I search for silver linings; I focus on good for those that played bad and on bad for those that played well; I go on Twitter, look at the extremes, and settle into a middle-ground…

But sometime during this recent run of futility, I became enlightened. Honestly, I don’t know how I missed it before. Even at 4-20, I couldn’t see it. I’d ask myself, “We signed all these players. The front office talked about winning more games. How are we worse than last year when last year was a blatant tank?”

Then it hit me.

We were lied to.

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#FreeDot

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Last year, I wrote a piece suggesting it’d be wise to move Damyean Dotson at the deadline. I figured his value would never be higher: a consistently solid two-way performer who fit the big 3-and-D mold most contenders covet and still had an extra year on his contract at only $1.62M…

Perry stood pat. Fine. I like Dot. Everyone likes Dot. He’s a good player. He’s the sort of player every good team has, and we hope to get there sooner rather than later, so sure, why not?

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Inside Fiz’s Mind As He Considers Lineup Possibilities

I recently reached out to Coach Fizdale requesting a one-on-one interview about the upcoming season – his goals, his rotation, coaching adjustments he planned to make – and he said, “I’ll do you one better! How ’bout you hook my brain up to a psychological supercomputer and read my thoughts while I work!” I thought it was an odd request but, of course, agreed.

What follows is a live transcript – August 19th, 2019 – as he works on his rotation:

*

Alright, baby! This is the year! I got the green light from Pat for true positionlessness, so here we go: ‘Bron at the one, D at the…

[Realizes where he is, sobs for approximately 46 minutes]1

Get it together, Fiz. I mean, bright side – at least you’re not in Memphis. Right? You good? Good. Back to Fizness. New York Knickerbockers. Go New York Go New York Go. We on our way up, and Step One is beating last year’s win total. Shouldn’t be hard with the talent we added. Just gotta find the right combinations. Let’s go. Starting five…

Payton / Barrett / Knox / Randle / Robinson

Duh. Now, rest of the ten-man…wait a second. Uhh, Allan Houston, we have a problem. We’re trying to win games, and I’m pretty sure to do that someone’s gonna have to stick a jump shot. I mean, Julius is the best three-point shooter in this lineup! 2 Nah. Can’t do it. Yeah, Knox looked good in Vegas, but lots of stuff looks good in Vegas; then you sober up and you’re…never mind. Point is, until he does it in a real game, it ain’t real…

And who’s playing defense in front of Mitch here? Payton’s alright, and Julius’s 8-pack might scare some people, but no. No good. Ball-handling and play-making, sure, but no shooting and very little D. Can’t win that way.

mubarakmalik/IG

Payton / Trier / Barrett / Randle / Robinson

Shooting’s up at least. I love Zo. Love him. His near-40% from deep should help us do some things. Four guys who can get into the paint, two-and-a-half that’ll create for others, the best rim-runner in basketball…but…ahhhhhh.

I love Zo but I don’t love him and RJ together, at least not to start. Both need the ball, and so does Elf since he can’t spot up, and Julius is going at his man off the bounce…

Payton / Dotson / Barrett / Randle / Robinson

Dot’s good without it, and he’s probably our best perimeter defender, except wasn’t their some French dude? Is he still on the team? Anyway, this is more balanced. Let’s settle here for now. So who does that…well, might be easier to do it this way: who’s out of the rotation altogether?

Reggie B – street clothes for a while.

Big Taj – I like him, and I’m gonna play him, but spot minutes.

IGGY – I LOVE this kid. And how’s that saying go? Love means never having to spell his last name properly? But where are the minutes coming from? We’ll bring him along slow. Wait for injuries. Turn him loose in 2020.

Wayne – The guard version of Taj – just lead and stay ready and I’ll get him PT when I can.

Knick-a-leena?That’s his name! Frank whatever. Great defender, unselfish, leadership qualities…but he drives blindly into four defenders so…

That leaves these reserves:

Smith / Trier / Knox / Morris / Portis

Okay, shooters in the frontcourt – think of the space that’ll create for DSJ and Zo! And if Kev’s shot is fallin’, that’s four good shooters! And you seen those videos of Denny working on his mechanics? This ain’t bad. Defense still an issue, though. Lots of pressure on Twin to lead this unit, but that’s what the 15 mil is for…

Who passes in this lineup? I’m not even talking, like, a good passer – who’s a willing passer? I mean, yeah, I love reckless aggression as much as the next guy, but you need at least one…

A ha! I got it:

STARTERS: Smith / Dotson / Barrett / Randle / Robinson
RESERVES: Payton / Trier / Knox / Morris / Portis

If he’s finally put the J back in DSJ, then this works. Slight step back on defense, maybe, but Junior did average almost a steal-and-a-half with us last year. What he lacks in actually stopping guys he makes up for in pressure and steals, right? Right?

And that second unit now – a pure facilitator surrounded by shooters! Done. Let’s not overthink it. Let’s not worry about what the media will say about Kev bumped from the starters, or the fact we got $38 million in free agency money coming off the bench…

*This was completed prior to official signings of Marcus Morris and Ignas Brazdeikis and re-structuring of Reggie Bullock*

…this is the most balanced these lineups are gonna get: facilitators and scorers, shooters and drivers, defense and, well, no defense…maybe it changes after watching these guys work out and scrimmage, maybe it changes in training camp, maybe injuries force me to change things, but for now, this is what we’re going with! Boom!

Now the fun sh**: specialty lineups!

BIG AS BIG GETS
Barrett / Knox / Morris / Randle / Robinson

Part of me wanted to play Randle at the two or three to make room for Portis, but that’d be ridiculous. Or would it? #positionless

BIG BUT MORE TRADITIONAL
Barrett / Dotson / Knox / Randle / Robinson

BIG WITH MORE SHOOTING
Barrett / Dotson / Morris / Portis / Robinson

I can’t wait to turn RJ loose at the one. It’ll be Harden-esque. This writer sitting next to me would call my Harden-RJ comparison insanely premature and unreasonable…just don’t get so excited that you say it out loud, Fiz!

SMALL
Payton / Trier / Barrett / Knox / Randle

#positionless

I really wanna see the Knox-Randle frontcourt. I know, revolving door on D, but that offense? Watch out, now. Five athletes, five ball-handlers…I can run my offense through my center!

Maybe I should put in an offense…

ALL SHOOTING, ALL THE TIME
Trier / Ellington / Dotson / Morris / Portis

Or as I like to think of them:

39.4% / 40.3% / 36.8% / 37.5% / 39.3%

In an ideal world, Knox will shoot his way into this, and then, my boy: IGGGGGYYYYYYY!!!! Man, I can’t wait for trade season to make room for Ignatius. Ignacio. Ig – whatever. Bro-zeikis. Love that kid.

NO PASSING…AS IN, WILL TRY TO INBOUND TO HIMSELF
AFTER MADE BASKETS TO GO COAST TO COAST

Trier / Barrett / Knox / Morris / Portis

Hell yeah, this is what I’m talking about. Keep-what-you-kill thoroughbreds, forget about the white noise and go get me buckets. RJ’s got the potential to grow out of this lineup, but my four guys with NBA experience? Averaged a COMBINED 5.9 assists per last year. That stat can’t be right, can…yep. Yep, it’s right. Four men. 5.9 assists. WOW.

#KNICKSTAPE – HIGHLIGHT REEL
Smith / Trier / Barrett / Knox / Robinson

Adding an ACC-record-breaker to the flashes we saw last year? Am I drooling?

EXPERIENCE
Payton / Ellington / Morris / Randle / Gibson

Years of service: 5 – 10 – 8 – 5 – 10

We got a 24-year-old and a 25-year-old in our “Experience” lineup, and media will still find ways to kill us for late-game meltdowns. This city is a beast, man.

Bullock, if healthy, would be in here somewhere, since he’s going into Year Six, but I don’t see him suiting up at all this season if I’m being honest with myself. At least not for us. Weird deal, the way that all went down.

YOUTH
Ntilikina / Barrett / Brazdeikis / Knox / Robinson

How did the French guy get in here? I meant to put Dennis, but…whatever…since I broke the seal…

DEFENSE
Ntilikina / Dotson / Bradzeikis / Morris / Robinson

No one will score. Not us. Not them. No one.

PASS-FIRST
Payton / Ntilikina / Dotson / Randle / Robinson

Gimme a second, just trying…okay, sorry…almost threw up. Too much unselfishness. Can’t stomach it.

Actually, now that my nausea’s subsiding, I kinda like this lineup. Enough defense to hide Julius, I can run the offense through him and Payton, got Dot working off the ball for open jumpers, Prince coming off a World Cup run and some summer Instagram workouts…you know what? These Frankie lineups are interesting. Maybe I’ve had him all wrong. Maybe he belongs in the rotation. Maybe I need to rethink my starting lineup…

Group Project: How to Maximize RJ’s Summer League

Steve Mills: Professor, are you ready for us?

Yes, yes. Come in. I was just reviewing your grades from past projects, ummm…are we all here? Good, good. Take a seat.

Now, as you know, I’ve been meeting with every group to ensure we’re all headed in the right direction, but this one I’ve had marked on my calendar. I won’t sugarcoat it – the pressure’s on, folks.

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July 1st Roster Update

If you know a Knicks’ fan claiming they are happy we didn’t get Kevin Durant, it is your duty as a friend to get them help. Things did not go the way we wanted yesterday. It’s okay to be upset, to be frustrated, but let’s accelerate the mourning the way we hoped to accelerate the rebuild. Let’s stop lamenting what was or could have been and begin looking at what is and what’s on the horizon. Let’s start with a roster breakdown (with ’18-19 stats) as it stands right now.

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A Debate With Myself: The Kyrie Irving Conundrum

[Checks Voicemail]

Hi Mike,

It’s Scott Perry, General Manager of the New York Knickerbockers. Listen, I know we don’t know each other, and I know I’m infinitely more qualified than you in all things basketball, and I know I work in tandem with someone whose Princeton degree suggests he’s MUCH MUCH smarter than you, and I know I have plenty of people on my payroll whose opinions I trust, but look man: this one’s tough. All this talk that Kyrie’s coming; we’ve got a really good shot, I just…[sigh] Look, if KD says, “I want him,” done – end of conversation; and if Kevin falls through or Kyrie decides to go elsewhere, then it’s a non-issue of course, but…see, what if Kevin signs but doesn’t demand Kyrie? Should we still sign him? I’m conflicted. So do me favor: take some time to think it over, and hit me back.

—-

Yo, is he for real? What’s there to think about? It’s Kyrie f***ing Irving. One of the best players in the NBA. Top — 

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Contemplating Current and Future Knicks

Let’s pretend for a second that our luck is changing, that everything will fall into place the way it’s supposed to on May 14th, June 20th, and finally, July 1st.

A Top-3 player. A second superstar. A ROY candidate and potential franchise cornerstone. What more could you ask for?

And yet many Knicks fans are asking for more. They’re asking for Anthony Davis. And this isn’t some pipe dream, some deluded fantasy that the most hopeful among us typically conjure up.

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The Secret Meeting of Frank and Fiz

2018-19 was a strange season for the orange and blue. Stranger than usual – weird substitution patterns, sudden DNPs, the shocking trade of a homegrown All-Star. I, like many fans, thought it was simply the Knicks being the Knicks…until a contact at the CIA 3 gave me access to classified surveillance footage from inside the Westchester practice facility.

Exclusive to Knicks Film School, what follows is the shocking true account2 of a meeting that took place between Frank Ntilikina and David Fizdale only days before Ntilikina was shut down for the season.

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