Knicks Notes: G League, Hezonja, Dotson, Lee

As was reported last week, the G League is creating a new opportunity for NBA prospects over 18 years of age to sign a contract worth $125K as an alternative to the one-and-done route in college basketball. And per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, at least two current Knicks players, both of whom had to wait a season out of high school before entering the NBA Draft, would have taken advantage of this new program if it had been offered when they were getting ready for college.

Big man Enes Kanter, who attempted to play his freshman season at Kentucky before being ruled ineligible, and his current backup, rookie big man Mitchell Robinson, both told Bondy that despite skepticism surrounding the new program (e.g. salary too low, missing out on benefits of big-time college basketball, etc.), they like the new option for young prospects.

Kanter, who turned down millions to play in his native Turkey to play at Kentucky, said in his typical brash fashion, “I turned (millions of dollars) down to play NCAA and then they say no college basketball. Are you kidding me? The NCAA rules are terrible. Write that.”

Robinson, who enrolled at Western Kentucky but quickly withdrew to take the year off to  prepare for the draft through individualized workouts, was a bit more measured, saying “I probably would (go that route) because the G League helps you get developed to play at the next level. I don’t see how it would hurt. You can get all the reps you want but you also need to be on the court. A lot people think that school won’t help them so this would be the best thing for them.”

Meanwhile, both Emmanuel Mudiay and head coach David Fizdale also support the new G League initiative, with Fizdale going as far as to support the end of the ban on high schoolers jumping straight to the NBA. “Most of them aren’t (ready for the NBA). But… I’ve always looked at this issue as a regular working human being would be able to make millions of dollars when they’re 18… so how do you tell an 18-year-old who can dunk and shoot 3s that he can’t go to the league?”

Marc Berman of the New York Post has more out the Big Apple this evening:

  • Mario Hezonja appears to have maybe taken it personally after being ripped on social media by former team executive Clarence Gaines Jr., the right-hand man to Phil Jackson during a forgettable era of Knicks basketball from 2014-2017. Hezonja scored 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting and was physical on defense in a loss to the Bucks one day after Gaines’ tweet went viral.
  • A potential silver lining to the ankle injury suffered by prized rookie Kevin Knox is the emergence of the otherwise seldom-used Damyean Dotson, who finished with 14 points in 31 minutes on 4-of-8 shooting from long range.
  • The neck injury to Courtney Lee that has sidelined the veteran since the beginning of training camp remains a mystery, with Lee planning to undergo more tests to find a remedy or the cause of the neck spasms. It remains to be seen whether the effects of the injury are in any way related to the Knicks’ efforts to trade Lee.
View Comments (11)