Knicks Notes: Payton, Smith Jr., Noel, Toppin

Even though he became a free agent when the Knicks turned down his $8MM option, Elfrid Payton was confident he would be returning to New York, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Speaking to reporters today via a Zoom call, Payton indicated that he never seriously considered any other team.

“From the beginning we always had intentions of me coming back, so I wasn’t really I guess worried,’’ he said.

Payton was part of a maligned trio of point guards, along with Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr., who shared time at the position last season. After listening to offseason speculation that the team would find a replacement through the draft or free agency, Payton believes all three will approach the season with something to prove.

“I feel like we’ve been counted out,’’ he said. “So just go out there and compete and show what we can do. That’s definitely something we want to use as motivation, as if we didn’t already have enough. But that’s definitely something we’ve spoken about in the locker room, even in these short days that we’ve been together.” 

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • Smith is looking forward to a fresh start after a difficult 2019/20 season that began with the death of his stepmother, Berman adds in the same piece. Injuries and poor play limited him to just 34 games and a career-low 15.8 minutes per night. “I would say just understanding that nothing happens to you, it happens for you,’’ Smith said. “And I had to go through a lot of different things mentally — not even physically — mentally I had to go through a lot of different things to kind of understand that. But smooth waters never made (skilled) sailors, so I take it all in stride, and I’m going to keep getting better.’’
  • Mitchell Robinson may be the team’s center of the future, but he’ll have to compete with free agent addition Nerlens Noel for the starting spot, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Regardless of how playing time shakes out, Noel expects to adopt a teaching role. “I just want to mentor him any way possible,” he said. “Whatever position we play throughout the season will play itself out. I want to be a big brother to him and give him a lot of advice throughout the season.”
  • Lottery pick Obi Toppin is already impressing teammates with his athletic gifts, writes Ian Begley of SNY.TV. The rookie forward has been setting franchise records in agility, conditioning and athleticism drills.
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24 thoughts on “Knicks Notes: Payton, Smith Jr., Noel, Toppin

  1. KnickerbockerAl

    This year is the time to show up for real. Randle has to be moved to bench and ready him to be traded. Robinson has to establish himself as the starting center. Has to stay out of foul trouble. Play a minimum of 30 mins a gm. RJ has to become the leader and the future. Toppin has to start. These three have to make their mark. They are the now and the future. Thibs is about the rebuild. But you play to win. That’s how you get better as a team. There is a good young core here. That now this yr has to make its mark. Looking forward to it.

    • Little_Dunker_45

      As they said in my CYO league you can start or you can fart. And it stinks to fart so focus on fundamentals…but dint leave the fun out or yoill go mental. A long winded way if saying I agree with you. Hope Knicks are competitive this year no reason they cant be

      • KnickerbockerAl

        This ain’t the CYO. This is a young team. That’s ready for the next step. With a few guys that have a shot at true talent. New coach new beginning. We got picks and cap space for next yr. Toppin can be ROY. But also has a good future. Future looks good for the rebuild. It’s Thibs first yr. They will make progress. Could challenge for 8th seed. But what we need is progress. Youngest team in League. We got 5 picks next yr. Last yr with Fizdale was a disaster. This is going to be a good yr with stability.With progress and a bright future in 2021 draft.

  2. Sillivan

    Those make $3 million to $7 million salary guys have to compete for wins not for stats
    otherwise Knicks will miss 5 more playoffs

    • Luckylefty2

      Exactly! Stats on a winless bad team results into career journeyman ask vonleh.

  3. Luckylefty2

    The only thing noel can mentor mitch on, is how to never turn down money.

    • x%sure

      Noel can say, don’t do it like Noel did. Who could say that better?
      TBH it’s too early for Noel to be mentoring. How about a career resurrection…

      • Luckylefty2

        Exactly! Like dude you’re literally a 1 year rental. If he doesn’t figure it out, he will turn out to become a poor mans javale McGhee.

  4. Simmons>Russ

    Surely trade Juilius Randle in order to give Obi Toppin more reps and minutes at the 4.

    Randle on a 1 year 20mil contract would be really easy to move and probably has decent value. He gives you numbers, is young ish and if you don’t like it then he’s expires anyways.

    I’d be looking at Terry Rozier, George Hill and Trevor Ariza, Harrison Barnes etc

    Imagine if you could do something like
    Randle, DSJ, Ntilikina and 2 future first for Barnes and Haliburton.

    1. Halliburton. Payton. Quickly
    2. Barrett. Burks
    3. Barnes. Knox
    4. Toppin. Spellman.
    5. Robinson. Noel


    • Simmons>Russ

      Even if they did get haliburton just Randle for Barnes would be a good move.

      But I was thinking Halliburton cause the kings obviously have Fox as the point guard for the next 10 years so haliburton doesn’t exactly have a clear pathway to really making it.
      So it was going to basically be DSJ plus ntilikina and two first for Haliburton. Haliburton could then see more playing time and have a clear pathway and the kings get a back up PG in DSJ and also get future compensation with the picks

  5. GabeOfThrones

    Randle for Hield is the move to make. Randle and Bagley would compliment each other, and Hield and Barrett would, too. Barrett, Hield, Toppin, Robinson, then add a killer point guard, and some role players with all those assets, and that’s a team.

    • x%sure

      SAC says: No, and anyway Holmes & Bjelica are the starters, so the Bagley-Randle pairing doesn’t matter much. Thanks for the offer, just ask us to throw in Haliburton so it’s really funny.

      • hiflew

        No way NY is doing that either. Why would they tie up their future cap space in someone like Buddy Hield? They are looking at a packed FA class next year when they would likely have the most available cap space open. It may not work out perfectly, but it’s better than tying up the money on a middling SG.

        • GabeOfThrones

          Yeah, I think due to the salary commitments Sacramento would jump on that deal…they’d try to swap Barnes for Hield on like the first 9 phone calls, but I think Knicks would end up getting another one of their favorite 2023 2nds thrown in, too. Both players on almost star contracts, so the shorter contract has more value, even if it comes with less control of an asset. I still like that move, mainly because it feels like it’s been since Allan Houston that the Knicks have had a lights out shooter at the Garden…Very few teams have cap room next year. Knicks have a lot of leverage in any deal where they take on salary for next season.

    • Simmons>Russ

      I think it’s a possiblity mainly due to saving money and getting a much shooter contract. Plus Heild has been in and out of starting and I’m pretty sure did request a trade in the past so I know the kings could probably get a better return but in a move to get money for FA it could make sense.
      I think Barnes would be easier and make more sense. He’s a 3 and D vet who can help take the pressure off both Barrett and Toppin. He can space the floor and he can match up defensively. Would be a Tom Thibs kinda player

  6. x%sure

    SAC says: No, and anyway Holmes & Bjelica are the starters, so the Bagley-Randle pairing doesn’t matter much. Thanks for the offer, just ask us to throw in Haliburton so it’s really funny.

      • x%sure

        Sorry for the duplicate. The Knicks would be better with a good Randle trade but it will likely be a lesser talent than Hield. Randle may be the center if Toppin is as good as I think… Randle per 36′: 11 rebs, 3 fouls, 52%2s, 18PER. His salary next year is the main problem.

        • GabeOfThrones

          His salary next year is non-guaranteed. Not only do I think Sacramento would strongly consider this, I think they might even have to throw in a sweetener because of the cap room it creates without sacrificing control of an asset for them. They could always resign Randle for the same money on his option next year, since I don’t think anyone will be in a position to give players like that kind of money is the cap stays relatively stagnant the next few years. Knicks basically get a player similar to Heyward, who they apparently really wanted this offseason. It makes sense. Just have to hope not having a point guard or other shooters spreading the floor combined with playing in a much bigger market with a lot more pressure doesn’t break Hield…

  7. KnickerbockerAl

    Thibs is here to get the young talent to play as a team. Randle is not the future here. We have 50 mill in expiring contracts. Plus plenty of draft picks. Next yr draft is deep. So I would try and keep both 1st rd picks. But rest are there for trade, future picks too. So that way we are able to make a splash by TD. There will be a FA to be that will be traded. Even a star or future star that will be traded. Rather than lose him to FA. Next yr is a big FA yr. Knicks are settling themselves up for a big yr next yr. Thru trade, FA, the draft, or all three. We will be able to pickup at least 2 nice players. So this yr is about establishing the young talent that stays on for the future. Things are looking up. The patience will pay off at end of yr or by next yrs draft. It’s going as planned lols.

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