Allonzo Trier

Knicks Notes: Durant, Davis, Draft, Ntilikina

The possibility of Kevin Durant signing with the Knicks overshadowed all other topics as NBA executives gathered this week for the annual combine, relays Steve Popper of Newsday. He states that most of those in attendance consider it a “fait accompli” that the Warriors’ star will be coming to New York when free agency begins in July.

The combine was peppered with talk of a secret meeting between the Knicks and Durant and rumors that a “handshake deal” is already in place, along with endorsement opportunities. That would be a blatant violation of NBA rules and a huge risk for the team to take when the opportunity to legally negotiate with Durant is just six weeks away. However, even those who don’t buy into such conspiracy talk seem convinced that a move is on the way.

Explaining why Durant might be willing to leave a potential three-time champion, one unidentified front office executive speculates that he is tired of constant “prodding” from Warriors coach Steve Kerr and believes he will never replace Stephen Curry as the team’s most important player. That opportunity would come instantly in New York, where Knicks fans have been clamoring for a star for years.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Knicks president Steve Mills wouldn’t discuss the possibility of including the No. 3 pick in a deal for Anthony Davis, but he insists the team is happy about its position coming out of Tuesday’s lottery, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Trade talks for Davis remain on hold as Pelicans executive David Griffin tries to convince his star big man to stay with the team, a source tells Berman. Any trade offer for Davis would have to include the two first-rounders from Dallas that were acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis deal, along with two young prospects from a group that includes Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina.
  • Berman considers it a”virtual certainty” that New York will take Duke’s R.J. Barrett if the draft proceeds as expected. The Knicks rate Murray State’s Ja Morant slightly higher, but Memphis is likely to grab him with the second pick. New York’s front office met with both players Wednesday at the combine. The Knicks also own the 55th pick and could target a power forward in the second round.
  • The Knicks are willing to part with Ntilikina in exchange for another late first round or early second round selection, Berman adds. That would open more cap room to pick up the options on Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson without jeopardizing the ability to offer to max deals in free agency.

Knicks Notes: Zion, Kyrie, Kemba, Young Players

While Knicks head coach David Fizdale didn’t name the Duke forward specifically, he made it clear during an appearance this week on The Dan Patrick Show that if his team lands the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s draft lottery, Zion Williamson will be the choice.

“If we win the lottery, do we know who we’re taking?” Fizdale said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Yes.”

Of course, if the Knicks do land that first overall selection, speculation about a possible Anthony Davis trade would only increase during the weeks leading up to the draft. Fizdale wasn’t asked about that scenario during his appearance on Patrick’s show, but ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider-only link) took a look this week at whether or not it would make sense to seriously consider moving Williamson if the Knicks grab that No. 1 spot.

In Pelton’s view, trading Williamson in a package for Davis would give the Knicks the best chance to win in the short term, but it’s unclear how well-suited the rest of the roster will be to contending immediately. Since Zion could be a part of a contending team in New York for years to come, Pelton would be inclined to hang onto him if the Knicks are lucky enough to draft him.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Now that Kyrie Irving‘s Celtics have been officially eliminated from the postseason, the Knicks are poised to be a part of the July conversation about the point guard’s potential free agent destinations, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details.
  • Sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that some members of the Knicks’ organization on high on another free agent point guard, Kemba Walker. However, that interest likely wouldn’t matter much if Kevin Durant commits to New York and wants to team up with Irving, says Begley. According to Begley, some opposing executives believe that the Knicks will be willing to pursue any player Durant wants to play with if it ensures that KD will choose New York.
  • The Knicks will send their assistant coaches on the road in the coming days to work out with young players like Allonzo Trier, Mitchell Robinson, and Dennis Smith Jr., sources tell Begley. Kevin Knox and head coach David Fizdale have already met up for some offseason work, as the team has exhibited an increased focus on developing its prospects.

Allonzo Trier’s Playing Style Viewed As Cancerous?

Allonzo Trier showed promise as a scorer for the Knicks, and early in the season, the franchise converted his deal from a two-way contract to a two-year pact with a team option for the 2019/20 campaign. It’s unclear how the Knicks will approach his option, with rumblings that his stay in New York was problematic.

“His play on the court was cancerous,” a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. “A lot of guys didn’t like the way he didn’t play team ball. He cared about himself too much. He looked guys off who were open.’’

The 23-year-old shooting guard, who was in the running for our 2018/19 two-way contract MVP, played 64 games for New York and recorded just 1.9 assists per contest. Trier’s 17.1 shots per 100 possessions ranked fourth on the team behind Emmanuel Mudiay, Kevin Knox and Mario Hezonja, per Basketball-Reference. The results weren’t bad, as Trier (44.8%) only trailed Kadeem Allen (46.1%) in field goal percentage among all non-bigs on the team. Still, his iso-centric game apparently may have rubbed veteran teammates the wrong way, with Berman relaying that Trier was often picked last in team pickup games.

Where he ranks with current teammates may not ultimately matter, as New York could see a slew of new additions this offseason. Coach David Fizdale hinted that Mudiay won’t be back. The team will attempt to shop Frank Ntilikina, and while Hezonja would like to return to New York, there’s no word that mutual interest exists — especially if the former lottery pick sees his stock rise after his promising late-season point guard stint. New faces on the team could make Trier adapt his game.

Kevin Durant adamantly denies that he’s made a decision on his future, though those declarations won’t silence the Knicks rumors. Durant mentored Trier during Trier’s time in high school and the shooting guard previously said he’s “absolutely” hoping that Durant signs with the franchise.

The Knicks have a clear path to two-max level contract openings and Trier alluded that he won’t find out about any potential July news in the same way that most of the basketball world will.

“I don’t have to watch social media,’’ Trier previously said. “I’ll speak to [Durant] directly. Whatever he decides to do, it’s on him.

Berman writes that when Trier was recently speaking with reporters, a member of the Knicks’ PR reminded him to be careful of crossing the tampering line. Trier said that he doesn’t bother Durant during the season but that KD sometimes sends words of encouragement via text.

“When we talk he says if I ever need advice, I should talk to him. He’s grown. I’m not a young man [any more,] I don’t want to be a burden. He’s a good family friend to have. He’s like a brother to me,” Trier said.

The University of Arizona product admits that he has to work on his game. He may get that chance to improve with the Knicks next season, or the team could look to decline his option with an eye on maximizing cap space.

“We’ll see how, I guess,’’ Trier said about improving his game. “Everything pointed toward me being here.”

Knicks Notes: Roster, Robinson, Durant, Ewing

Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Damyean Dotson are the only current Knicks who should definitely be on the roster next season, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Knox showed enough promise at age 19 to hold onto, Robinson was a second-round surprise who became the league’s second-best shot blocker and Dotson is a part-time starter with an affordable contract.

Popper lists Dennis Smith Jr., who was acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, as a question mark, noting that his fate could depend on whether the Knicks are in position to draft Ja Morant or sign Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker in free agency. Also questionable to return, according to Popper, are Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier, Lance Thomas and Luke Kornet. Popper expects the rest of the roster to be overturned, including DeAndre Jordan, whom he speculates will be too pricey to re-sign as a back-up center.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Coach David Fizdale believes Robinson would be a lottery pick if last year’s draft were redone, relays Chris Iseman of NorthJersey.com. Fizdale admits he didn’t know much about Robinson when the Knicks grabbed him with the 36th pick, but he quickly blossomed into a force in the middle, swatting 2.44 shots per game. “I think we can all agree if we had to restructure the draft right now, I don’t think he’ll go 36,” Fizdale said. “I think he’d be in that top 10 pretty easily.”
  • LeBron James‘ disappointing first year with the Lakers should make Kevin Durant think twice about whether he wants join the Knicks, states Frank Isola of The Athletic. For all of Durant’s talent, he has a reputation as a highly sensitive player who might not adjust well to the atmosphere in New York. Isola suggests that he will only consider the Knicks if he can find another top-level free agent to join him.
  • Fizdale played a pivotal role in easing tensions between Patrick Ewing and the Knicks after years of a strained relationship, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Ewing will represent the team at next month’s draft lottery.

Knicks Notes: Dolan, Free Agents, Trier, Draft

Knicks owner James Dolan had an altercation with another fan today, according to Joseph Staszewski of The New York Post. Late in this afternoon’s loss to the Kings, a fan yelled “Sell the team!” to Dolan as he left his courtside seat. In a TMZ video, Dolan stops, calls the fan rude and allegedly threatens to ban him from Madison Square Garden. When the fan says he was just giving an opinion, Dolan responds, “No, it’s not an opinion, and you know what, enjoy watching them on TV.”

Dolan summoned security to handle the fan, who was questioned and instructed to leave. However, it’s not clear if he has been banned. The Garden released a statement explaining the incident that reads, “Our policy is and will continue to be that if you are disrespectful to anyone in our venues, we will ask you not to return.”

There’s more news out of New York:

  • An uncertain future has contributed to the Knicks posting the league’s worst record at 13-53, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina and rookies Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson are the only players on the roster under contract beyond this season, and David Fizdale says the instability has made coaching difficult. “When you’re dealing with guys fighting for their contractual life, you’re always going to have an element of where a guy can be more focused on trying to get his,” Fizdale said. “Not that we’ve had a lot of that, but it’s just a natural thing that when you’re fighting for your life, you got nine guys out there [unsigned], to get all of those guys to say, ‘Hey, team first, every play, every time,’ is part of the trust building you have to have.”
  • Rookie guard Allonzo Trier is among those who are playing for a contract next year, although his recent performance should make it an easier choice for the Knicks to pick up his $3.55MM team option, Botte adds in a separate story. Heading into today, Trier was averaging 19.4 PPG over his past five games.
  • Knicks fans are counting on a high lottery pick as a consolation prize for the season, but Steve Popper of Newsday notes that the organization hasn’t gotten much out of its recent lottery selections. The most successful one has been Kristaps Porzingis, who was traded to the Mavericks, while the past two lottery picks, Ntilikina and Knox, have struggled to establish themselves as reliable players.

Knicks Make Tim Hardaway, Courtney Lee Available

In an unsurprising development, the Knicks have made Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee available via trade in advance of the February 7 deadline, three sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times. The decision is largely financially motivated, Stein adds.

We’ve assumed for months that Hardaway and Lee would be on the trade block this season, since the’re both owed pricey salaries for 2019/20 and the Knicks would like to be players this summer for a group of free agents that includes Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker. A report earlier this week from Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic indicated that rival teams have inquired on Hardaway and Lee.

From the Knicks’ perspective, an ideal trade involving Hardaway or Lee would see New York acquire an expiring contract without having to attach an asset to either veteran to sweeten the deal. Stein suggests it’s unclear whether the Knicks will be able to find a suitable trade without attaching an additional asset — Vokunov said in his report that the front office has been averse to adding a sweetener.

Here are a few more Knicks-related notes and rumors:

  • Howard Beck of Bleacher Report says he gets the impression the Knicks would be willing to trade “just about everyone not named Kristaps (Porzingis) or Kevin (Knox)” if it helps clear the team’s books for this summer (Twitter link).
  • After Enes Kanter told the Knicks to play him or “get me out of here,” head coach David Fizdale responded to his veteran center and downplayed the idea that the situation will cause any distractions for the team. Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic has the full quotes from Fizdale.
  • Vorkunov also relays the latest comments from Kanter, who took exception with being grouped in with veterans like Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas when Fizdale informed those players – and Trey Burke – that their minutes would be cut. “I mean, Courtney and Lance, they’re 33, 34, whatever years old. I’m 26 years old. It’s not like I am old. You know what I mean?” Kanter said. “They treat me like I’m old. I’m not old. I’m 26 years old.” In Marc Stein’s report (linked above), he wrote that Kanter is expected to seek a buyout if he’s not moved by the trade deadline.
  • Tim Hardaway didn’t seem to love being thrown under the bus by Allonzo Trier in a Twitter direct message Trier sent to a fan. Responding to criticism from the fan for a defensive miscue vs. Houston, Trier retorted that Hardaway was supposed to have switched onto his man. “Oh, so he blaming other people, basically?” Hardaway said, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “At the end of the day I think it all falls down on the team. Team defense, you learn from it.” Trier apologized for the message today after it leaked.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Burke, Jackson, Trier

Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina suffered a strained tendon in his left ankle Friday night that could lead to a prolonged absence, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. X-rays were negative, but Ntilikina was in a walking boot after the game. Berman adds that an MRI is being considered to determine the full extent of the damage.

The injury occurred in the first quarter on a steal by the Lakers’ Josh Hart. Ntilikina explained that his foot “rolled” as he was stepping backward and trying to protect the ball.

“I’m trying to be positive and get that ankle to be OK real quick,” he said. “We’re going to see day-to-day. Thankfully the X-rays of the bones were OK. Now we’re going to see and do the best to get back on the court real quick.’’

While Ntilikina is sidelined, Trey Burke is expected to return to the rotation as the backup point guard. He had barely played since returning from a sprained knee eight games ago, but scored 16 points in 19 minutes against L.A.

There’s more today from New York:

  • The crowd at the Staples Center last night included Knicks owner James Dolan, who doesn’t usually accompany his team on the road, Berman notes in a separate story. Dolan was seated next to entertainment executive Irving Azoff, who encouraged him to hire Phil Jackson as team president five years ago. “He came in [the locker room] and gave everybody ‘dab’ like the coaching staff would do after a game,’’ Tim Hardaway Jr. said of Dolan. “He brought it in with us. He was just happy how we competed on both ends of the floor and said, ‘get the next one.’”
  • Jackson has stayed out of the spotlight since being dismissed in 2017, and former Knicks associate coach Kurt Rambis explained why in a radio interview, Berman relays in another piece. Rambis said Jackson, who is serving as a special adviser for the Lakers, is having trouble moving after knee and hip replacements. Jackson remains on the Knicks’ payroll through March, and sources tell Berman he plans to speak out about his experience in New York once his connections are completely severed.
  • The Knicks hold a team option on Allonzo Trier for next season and must exercise it by June 20, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Trier started the season on a two-way contract before agreeing to a two-year deal last month. He will make $3.55MM next season if the Knicks keep him on the roster.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Siakam, Trier

A pair of closed-door meetings have helped the Celtics snap a funk that cost them three straight games earlier this week. Since re-committing to communicating effectively, the club has won big against the Hornets and again against the Sixers on Christmas Day.

A. Sherrod Blakeley of NBC Sports Boston wrote about the process that resulted in the Celtics deciding they needed to do a better job of keeping on the same page as one another.

We’re just looking to help one another out, pick each other up. When we’re playing like that, we’re a tough team to beat,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said.

The Celtics currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 20-13 record.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

Knicks Notes: Free Agency, Porzingis, Knox, Burke

The Knicks don’t see an urgency to sign an elite free agent next summer and believe their rebuilding plan will be fine if they have to wait another year, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The organization’s priorities are landing a top-five draft pick, getting Kristaps Porzingis healthy again and developing rookies Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier, along with Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay.

The summer of 2019 has long been considered pivotal for the Knicks, who will have the cap space to compete on the free agent market for the first time in several years. There are plans in place to open up $38MM — enough to sign a 10-year veteran like Kevin Durant — if the opportunity becomes available, although Berman isn’t sure if those plans include a trade of Tim Hardaway Jr. But a source says the team won’t go that route unless it can land a “dramatic difference maker.”

President Steve Mills seemed to confirm that approach at a press conference Friday when he talked about saving cap room for 2020 and retaining the flexibility to acquire a star through trade. Berman adds that the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis has interest in playing in New York.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • The Knicks are hoping Porziginis can return sometime after the All-Star break so he can start to build chemistry with his younger teammates, Berman relays in the same story. However, the final decision will be based on his physical condition as he recovers from last season’s ACL injury. “The most important thing for us is to have Kristaps on the court when he feels comfortable being on the court and we feel comfortable he should be out there,’’ Mills said. “That’s more important than any timetable this season — or some point in the summer.” Team doctors plan to re-evaluate Porzingis’ condition in February.
  • Knox continued a troubling pattern in Friday’s loss to the Hawks, Berman notes in a separate piece. He made seven of eight shots in the first quarter, but none in the second half, which has been a familiar theme this season. “I expect him to be a big-time scorer, [but it’s] a real conditioning requirement to be a great scorer in this league,” coach David Fizdale said. “He has to learn as he gets stronger and in more physical shape to adapt to scouting reports and adjustments during the game.’’
  • Trey Burke is expected to return to the lineup for the Christmas Day game, but back-to-back DNPs this week suggest he’s not part of the Knicks’ plan for the future, Berman adds.

Knicks Notes: Baker, Kornet, Lee, Trier

It wasn’t easy for Knicks coach David Fizdale to part with Ron Baker, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Baker was waived yesterday to open a roster spot so that Allonzo Trier‘s two-way contract could be converted to a standard NBA deal.

“This was the hardest one I’ve ever been a part of,’’ Fizdale said. “Cutting Ron Baker was really rough. I talked to him today. He was fantastic. He’s Ron Baker. He’s a pro. He totally understood where we were. Obviously it goes without saying we’re resources to him. If anyone ever calls me on him I’ll have nothing but incredible things to say about him. I even joked to him a little bit when he’s finally done, spend some time with me and I may have a coach on my hands there.”

Baker spent more than two seasons in New York after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2016. When Steve Mills took over as Knicks president last year, his first move was to use the room exception to give Baker a two-year, $9MM deal, but despite the team’s confidence Baker never developed into a consistent rotation player. He was averaging just 1.3 points and 9.7 minutes in 11 games this season.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Luke Kornet not only kept his roster spot Thursday, he received a promise from Fizdale for more playing time, Berman relays in a separate story. Kornet was considered a possibility to be released, but the Knicks want to see if the second-year power forward can develop into a reliable shooter from the perimeter. That potential was part of the reason they traded Willy Hernangomez last year. “I kept my mind set on doing what I could do — playing in the G League, getting better there,” Kornet said of the rumors that he might be let go. “There’s nothing you can control other than what you do on the court. I was completely committed to letting whatever happened happen.”
  • Courtney Lee is back after one game in the G League and might see an increase in playing time while Damyean Dotson deals with a sore shoulder, Berman adds. The Knicks would like to boost Lee’s trade value and unload his $12.76MM salary for next season.
  • The new deal with Trier may have at least slightly improved the Knicks’ prospects to land Kevin Durant, Berman notes in another piece. Durant became somewhat of a mentor to Trier when he was in high school in Oklahoma City and they have remained friends. Trier’s two-year contract is non-guaranteed for next season — and it could take away valuable cap space New York will need to make a full max offer — but Berman states that the front office intends to keep Trier as long as he continues to perform at his current level.