Knicks Notes: Smith, Ntilikina, Morris, Barrett

Dennis Smith Jr. has become the scapegoat for Knicks‘ fans in an 0-3 start, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Smith turned in his third straight ugly performance last night in the team’s home opener, missing all three of his shots in 11 minutes and falling to 1-of-11 for the season. He was 3-of-17 in two preseason games after returning from a back issue. Fans booed loudly when he was in the game and started a “We want Frank” chant in the second half, referring to little-used guard Frank Ntilikina.

Smith is being singled out because he was the key piece the team received in the January trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas. Porzingis has recovered from a torn ACL and is averaging 23.5 PPG in his first two games with the Mavericks. The trade also gave the Knicks enough cap room to sign two max-level free agents, but they missed on their top targets, further angering their fans.

“Our fans are passionate. I get it,’’ Fizdale said of the reaction to Smith. “The kid is obviously struggling. We’ll look at the situation and continue to adjust. (The fans) know what they like and what they want. It doesn’t do anything to my mindset. I’m going to coach this team.’’

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Fizdale told reporters that Ntilikina will eventually get a chance to earn playing time and hinted that a shooting slump is keeping him out of the lineup, Berman adds in the same piece. The 2017 lottery pick has been on the court for three total minutes this season. “It’s three games in,’’ Fizdale said. “It’s not like 20 games into the season. But other guys will get opportunities. That’s how it will work. You either perform and get it done or you’re not. (Ntilikina is) overthinking it and pressing it. He’s mentally tough and he’s struggling right now, but he’ll find his way out of it.’’
  • Marcus Morris had an unusual free agent experience this summer, verbally committing to the Spurs before switching to the Knicks when they made a better offer. However, that could have been avoided if the Celtics had tried to keep him, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. “I guess that’s the business,” Morris said. “I thought I at least deserved a phone call, but it is what it is.”
  • At age 19, RJ Barrett looks ready for any challenge, including a game-deciding battle with Kyrie Irving, observes Steve Popper of Newsday.
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19 thoughts on “Knicks Notes: Smith, Ntilikina, Morris, Barrett

  1. bknowledge

    I was in the keep KP camp. I’d have pursued Malcolm Brogdon or D’Angelo Russell with the 1 max spot the Knicks had before the KP trade. I’d have kept Vonleh and Mudiay.

  2. metsie1

    Unfair of Berman to say Knicks fans are scapegoating DSJ. His performance was ridiculously bad. It wasn’t just how bad his shot looked it was also the shot selection itself. Amazing that he got to this level playing and shooting like that.

    • Exactly. His body language says he doesn’t care. Aside from his poor shooting, the only thing consistent is him continuously getting beat on defense. His negative points given up exceeds his minutes played.

  3. bknowledge

    Knicks should never have traded KP. KP plus RJ Barrett would be dynamic. Plus Mitchell Robinson, Knox, and Ntilikina are with excellent potential to become at least strong role players.

  4. Jason Lancaster

    It’s never Fizdale’s fault the way his point guards perform. He’s had a bunch of talented young guys on his team, none of them have played well, but that’s just a coincidence?

  5. natsfan3437

    I guess knicks fans forgot when they thought DSJ was a great return for KP, and hated Phil for not drafting him. Also seems they have forgotten that they wanted Frank released before the World Cup because he was “trash”.

  6. I think the main pieces of the trade for the Knicks was the cap relief (which didn’t work out in their favor this past offseason) and two first rounders – one unprotected. Never thought DSJ was the main piece.

    • emac22

      It works out for me every years we arent paying Porzingis max dollars to be a complimentary piece.

      • andremets

        Or every year that KP pulls a Stoudimre with a knee injury or bad back on a max contract….

  7. emac22

    The problem is 100% Fizdale at this point. DSJR very obviously wasn’t ready and shouldn’t have been pushed. His health alone should have given Frank the back up job to start.

    You can’t play DSJR and then tell fans Frank can’t play because he’s in a shooting slump.

    But most of all? You cant tell fans you care about defense all the time and then simply ignore defense when determining playing time. You got me ready to watch something you aren’t trying to deliver.

    As for Porzingis. I think the media and a few clueless fans care about DSJR due to the Porzingis deal but any fan that understands the game could care less about past players who didn’t want to be here.

    The idea that Knicks fans are mad because of trading Porzingis instead of because they aren’t prepared and ready for the season is a perfect example of NY media thinking they represent fans and set the mood.

  8. buzz_meeks

    ^padam is right, the writer should update the article to include the two first round picks

  9. The Knick fan base’s frustration is with the team’s FO & HC, generally. Their actions (including those with KP6, ending with the idiotic trade), for sure. But, as much, their ever changing, though consistently inexplicable, narratives about their actions and the team’s direction.

    DSJ isn’t being “singled out”. The comical situation at PG is being singled out – as right now its the clearest reflection of the Stooges’ dysfunction. But, no worries, as the season goes, other situations will rise to the challenge.

  10. Feel bad for DSJ, I still rate him and think he could be really good but NY is hard to play. Not only did they get him by giving up the teams best player they also failed in FA and all this frustration from the fans seems to be affecting him.

    He should get traded away for a fresh start and the Knicks fans can then lay off him. He still holds decent value. I’ve said he should go to the Pistons with Portis for Reggie Jackson and Thon Maker. He could also go to the Wizards for Brown Jr and Ish Smith.

  11. @nbabrothers

    Dsj is thinking too much and needs to just let the game come to him. Frank should come off the bench for defensive purposes. He’s not a shooting guard

  12. formerlyz

    Fizdale is fighting a losing battle, trying to build winning players, and a winning culture, in front of fans that dont know what it looks like

    • IslandFlava

      Fiz don’t know what it looks like neither… I mean his time in Memphis wasn’t particularly glorious, right?

  13. NativeNYker

    The problem is Fizdale and Scott Perry,they never liked Frank and Fizdale seems to be bending over backwards to please Perry every time he brings in one of his failed draft pick from his previous team as reclamation projects and pays them big dollars. How the he’ll can you say Frank has a shooting slump with only 3 minutes of playing time. They’re mentally destroying this kid’s psyche, and it seems to be true as to the rumors that Mark Gasol says that Fizdale don’t like European players. I hope they stop punishing this kid and trade him because he wasn’t a pick of theirs so he can and I bet will flourish elsewhere. Then I will be pushing for Perry and Fizdale’s firing!!!

  14. gammaraze

    Yeah, I know I’m a week late to the conversation, but how bad do you have to be that in your 8 min/game YOU are somehow the reason the team is losing?? The Knicks are a train wreck, from ownership to the coaching staff. Kyrie, KD, and DeAndre Jordan chose the other NY team because they aren’t a train wreck, but, hey, I guess that’s all DSJ’s fault, right?

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