Knicks Notes: Free Agency, Knox, Ntilikina, Robinson

Today’s game with the Clippers barely mattered to the Knicks; it’s the summer battle over free agents that’s going to be important, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. There have been whispers around the league that New York is in good position to land Kevin Durant and another elite free agent after clearing tons of cap room with the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

However, the Clippers could be the toughest obstacle in the Knicks’ way. They can already offer one maximum contract and might have plans to unload enough salary to hand out another. Plus, as Berman notes, they have a playoff team already in place, while New York is at the bottom of the league standings. The battle of owners — the gregarious Steve Ballmer vs. the enigmatic James Dolan — may be the biggest mismatch of all.

“I’m not going to give you my spiel, man,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said when reporters asked how he would sell free agents on L.A. over New York. “Come on. Other than the weather, we’re going to stop there. No, I don’t talk about free agency a lot.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Getting their 60th loss wasn’t the worst thing that happened to the Knicks this afternoon, Berman adds in a separate story. Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, lottery picks from the past two seasons, left the game with injuries a few minutes apart. Ntilikina aggravated a groin strain that kept him out for 24 games before he returned Friday. It could mark the end of his time in New York, as the Knicks are expected to make him available in trades this summer. Knox suffered a sprained right ankle, but coach David Fizdale called it “day to day” and said he’s optimistic that it won’t be a long-term issue.
  • The Knicks’ lack of a veteran core has exposed Knox’s weaknesses as a main option for the offense, observes Steve Popper of Newsday. Fizdale contrasts his situation with Tayshaun Prince‘s, who had limited skills as a rookie but was surrounded by veterans in Detroit. “Kevin’s warts show, because everybody else is screwing up, too,” Fizdale said. “So we can’t tuck him away and hide those things right now. But I think going through this is as good as going through it with veterans, because this fast-tracks you.”
  • Mitchell Robinson has already set a Knicks’ rookie record with 137 blocks, and Fizdale believes he can develop into a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, relays Peter Botte of The New York Post.
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