Knicks Notes: Free Agency, Fizdale, Ntilikina, Morris, Injuries

After an underwhelming offseason finally came to an end on Monday, a long-standing silence was broken when president Steve Mills, general manager Scott Perry and head coach David Fizdale took the podium at Knicks media day to discuss the franchise’s outlook.

The Knicks, who entered last summer with hopes of pursuing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant after finishing with the league’s worst record at 17-65, lost both superstars to the rival Nets and were forced to execute Plan B as free agency began.

“Free agency is a process,” Mills said, as relayed by Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link). “There are certain parts of it you can’t control. We had a plan in place… It played out in a way we were prepared for it to go.”

New York opted to sign nine new players to its roster, including seven directly from free agency and two from the NBA Draft. When asked why the team once again failed to securing meetings with superstar free agents, Mills rejected the notion.

“There were a lot of max-type players that we could have met with, that were interested in coming here,” Mills said, according to Vorkunov (Twitter link). “We had a certain way that we wanted to build this team. This is how we chose to build it.”

As for why Durant and Irving chose Brooklyn over New York, with both teams having enough salary-cap space to acquire the duo in free agency, Mills’ response was blunt.

“You’ll have to talk to those players about why they made the decisions that they made,” he said, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

On the plus side, the Knicks sport a promising young core that consists of Dennis Smith Jr., RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson, one that stands out from the team’s group around this time last season.

Perry defended his decision to sign a glut of power forwards in free agency (Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson and Marcus Morris), noting the importance of maximizing his team’s chances at being successful this season.

“We only had one player in the frontcourt under contract [entering the summer] and that was Mitchell Robinson,” Perry said, according to Zagoria. “We were going to have to go out and stock our frontcourt and each and every one of those players plays multiple positions. These guys can move around. We’re in the era of positionless basketball. This really fits into how we want to play the game.”

There’s more out of New York on media day:

  • The Knicks’ young players will have to work hard in order to earn playing time in a rotation that includes several NBA veterans, Fizdale explained, as relayed by Vorkunov. “We’re in that next phase of development where guys will have to earn it,” said Fizdale.
  • Scott Perry wouldn’t commit to a decision on Frank Ntilikina’s fourth-year contract option for next season, tweets Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The team has until October 31 to make a final decision on whether to pick it up, with the option valued at roughly $6.17MM.
  • Marcus Morris decided to sign with the Knicks over the Spurs partially because he’d be closer to his hometown in Philadelphia, Vorkunov tweets. Morris originally committed to a deal with the Spurs but reneged on the agreement, choosing to join the Knicks and spurning those in San Antonio.
  • The team issued a medical update on Monday, stating that Damyean Dotson (right shoulder) likely won’t play in the preseason, though he could be ready for the start of the regular season. Reggie Bullock (cervical disc herniation) is making progress from his surgery and will be re-evaluated in early November.
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