Allonzo Trier

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.

Knicks Sign Trier To New Deal, Waive Baker

1:26pm: The Knicks’ new agreement with Trier is now official as well, the club confirmed in a press release. We went into more detail on Trier’s deal earlier today.

9:52am: The Knicks have officially waived Baker, the team announced in a press release.

8:55am: The Knicks and two-way player Allonzo Trier have reached an agreement on a new two-year contract that will give Trier a spot on the team’s 15-man roster, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). To create an opening on their roster, New York is expected to waive veteran guard Ron Baker, Charania adds.

A promotion to the 15-man squad had long been expected for Trier, who signed his two-way deal with the Knicks in early July after going undrafted out of Arizona. In 27 games (23.3 MPG), the rookie guard has averaged 11.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 1.9 APG with an impressive .470/.391/.816 shooting line. With his 45-day NBA limit fast approaching, Trier would have been relegated to the G League for the rest of the season if he had remained on his two-way contract.

The Knicks could have unilaterally converted Trier’s two-way deal into a standard NBA contract, but doing so would have made him a restricted free agent in 2019. Instead, New York will use its bi-annual exception to lock up the 22-year-old through the 2019/20 season, according to Charania (Twitter link).

[RELATED: How Teams Are Using 2018/19 Bi-Annual Exceptions]

The Knicks can offer a starting salary worth up to $3.382MM using the bi-annual exception, and it sounds like they did just that. Ian Begley of reports (via Twitter) that Trier will receive $7MM on his two-year contract, with a team option on the second season. Technically, a two-year BAE deal this year can have a maximum value of $6.93MM, so it appears that’ll be the exact amount of Trier’s new pact.

New York now won’t have its bi-annual exception available during the 2019 offseason, since it can only be used once in a two-year stretch. That shouldn’t be a big deal though, since the Knicks would lose it next summer anyway if they use cap room. That appears to be the plan, with Trier’s new salary for ’19/20 potentially cutting into that room a little.

Meanwhile, it looks like this will be the end of Baker’s time in New York. The former Wichita State standout joined the club back in 2016 and impressed the old regime enough in his rookie season to earn a two-year contract worth $8.87MM in 2017. That deal came as a shock at the time and doesn’t look any better in hindsight, as Baker has appeared in just 40 games for the Knicks since re-signing, averaging 2.1 PPG and 1.5 APG on .320/.286/.781 shooting in 12.3 minutes per contest.

Baker’s $4.54MM salary for 2018/19 is fully guaranteed, so it will remain on the Knicks’ cap. The team won’t have to carry any dead money in future seasons for the third-year guard.

New York will also create an open two-way contract slot as a result of Trier making the jump to the 15-man roster. Two-way players can be signed up until January 15, so there’s no rush to fill that opening immediately.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Allonzo Trier Sets New Benchmarks With Knicks Deal

Allonzo Trier isn’t the first two-way player to receive a new standard NBA contract this season — Gary Clark earned that honor when he signed a new deal with the Rockets last week. However, Trier’s new contract with the Knicks will establish some new benchmarks for undrafted free agents and two-way players.

As we outlined earlier today, the Knicks will use their entire bi-annual exception to lock up Trier for the next two years. The bi-annual exception for the 2018/19 season is worth $3,382,000, with a 5% raise resulting in a $3,551,100 salary for 2019/20. Even though that second-year salary isn’t yet guaranteed, it’s an impressive payday for Trier, who only has 27 NBA games under his belt.

Here are a few noteworthy details about Trier’s new deal:

Trier will earn a higher salary this season than 20 of 2018’s first-round picks.

As our breakdown of this season’s rookie scale salaries shows, the 11th overall pick, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, is earning $3,375,360 in his rookie season, which is less than Trier’s new salary (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). Trier’s $3,382,000 salary is worth more than double what the bottom four picks in the first round are making this season.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who has looked very impressive so far, may still do better in the long run than Trier, since his four-year rookie contract is worth nearly $17MM in total, but that’s not a lock — Trier will have the opportunity to reach restricted free agency two or three years earlier than SGA and other 2018 first-rounders. If he continues to impress, Trier’s next deal could very well be bigger than the one he agreed to today.

Trier will earn the largest first-year salary for a non-international undrafted free agent.

According to Ian Begley of (via Twitter), the highest first-year salary for a non-international undrafted rookie up until today was Malcolm Delaney‘s $2.5MM salary with the Hawks in 2016/17. Trier’s $3.382MM salary easily surpasses that figure. Most UDFAs, of course, are limited to the minimum salary, which is about $838K this season.

Trier will earn the largest salary for any player coming off a two-way contract.

Two-way contracts are fairly new to the NBA, having been introduced for the 2017/18 season, so we don’t have a ton of historical data to compare to Trier’s new contract. However, previously, the biggest two-way success story was probably Torrey Craig, who parlayed a two-way deal last season into a guaranteed two-year, $4MM contract with the Nuggets this year.

Craig technically secured a larger overall guarantee than Trier, but the $2MM first-year salary on his deal is well below Trier’s.

Trier’s new deal would be equivalent to a $5MM full-season salary for 2018/19:

Assuming his new contract is finalized today, Trier will earn $3.382MM for about two-thirds of the NBA season — 119 of 177 days. A $3.382MM salary over 119 days equates to $28,420 per day.

If a player on a full-season contract was earning that same per-day rate, his deal would be worth $5.03MM over 177 days. The Knicks will essentially be paying Trier like a player earning that salary the rest of the way.

Knicks Notes: Lee, Trier, Knox, Ntilikina

Courtney Lee will be getting more playing time, but not at the NBA level, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks are sending Lee, who has missed most of the season with a neck injury, to their G League affiliate in Westchester so he can rack up minutes in tomorrow night’s game against Lakeland.

The 33-year-year-old is averaging just 10.8 minutes in four games since returning to the lineup, stuck in a crowded backcourt on a team now committed to finding time for Frank Ntilikina. Lee admits he needs to work on conditioning and suggested the idea of spending time in the G League.

“It’s going to take a while to get reactivated to game-speed, game-like situations,” he said. “It’ll probably take couple of weeks to get back a rhythm and feel chemistry with the guys. I’ve been thrown out there with those guys and trying to play on the fly. Next couple of weeks, I’ll start to feel comfortable out there.”

Lee is scheduled to rejoin the Knicks following Wednesday night’s game. The team is hoping to build up his value in hopes of working out a deal before the February 7 deadline to get his $12.76MM salary for next season off the books.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Rookie guard Allonzo Trier strained his left hamstring and won’t be re-evaluated until next week, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Trier, who is getting close to the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way contract, will remain with the team while he rehabs the injury, but the time won’t add to his service days. Berman notes that it will give the front office more time to decide what to do once he reaches the limit, whether it involves waiving Ron Baker or Luke Kornet or trying to work out a trade (Twitter link).
  • Coach David Fizdale has been using Kevin Knox at power forward more often to boost his rebounding numbers, which paid off Sunday as he collected 11 boards, notes Peter Botte of The New York Post. It marked the first double-digit rebounding night for Knox. “I’ve really been stressing to him rebounding and getting in the trench,” Fizdale said. “We do a lot of block-out drills, just trying to get him used to the physicality of the league, trying to fast-track him that way. And so he’s taken it to heart, and he’s going to get the ball.”
  • Ntilikina’s 18-point explosion in the second half Sunday night is a sign that he will eventually reward the Knicks’ patience, contends Shlomo Sprung of Forbes.

Knicks’ Allonzo Trier To Get New Deal This Week?

The Knicks are expected to convert Allonzo Trier‘s two-way contract into a standard NBA contract at some point this week, a source tells Adam Zagoria of Trier is set to hit the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way deal soon, so New York would have to give him a spot on the 15-man roster to ensure he can keep playing at the NBA level.

Trier, who signed with the Knicks in early July after going undrafted out of Arizona, has impressed the team so far, averaging 11.3 PPG on .470/.391/.816 shooting in 27 games (23.3 MPG). The fact that he won’t have to return to the G League once he hits his 45-day limit is good news for the franchise.

Still, while Zagoria’s report provides an idea of when Trier might receive a new deal, there’s still some uncertainty about how exactly it’ll happen.

As I recently detailed, the Knicks could unilaterally convert Trier’s contract into a standard deal, but would have to give him a one-year pact in that scenario. If the team wants to secure Trier beyond the 2018/19 season, negotiations will be required, with the team using either its mid-level, bi-annual, or minimum-salary exception to complete a multiyear deal.

Additionally, the Knicks are currently carrying a full 15-man roster, so they’ll need to trade or release a player in order to create room for their standout rookie. Ron Baker and Luke Kornet are probably the most likely candidates to be waived, though there are plenty of trade candidates on New York’s roster too.

Knicks Notes: Walker, Knox, Ntilikina, Trier

Bronx native and current Hornets guard Kemba Walker is set to play at Madison Square Garden when his team takes on the Knicks Sunday, one of three games between the clubs this season.

His homecoming return to New York will commence just seven months before the 28-year-old reaches free agency.

“I’ve been hearing it for years now — the Knicks,” Walker said this past August, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Every time I come home, it’s, ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”

The Knicks will have the cap space to sign Walker on a maximum-salary contract if the two sides express interest in each other next summer, but Hornets owner Michael Jordan is said to seriously value Walker’s services.

Walker, a former University of Connecticut standout, has averaged a career-high 25.8 points, 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game this season. The Knicks currently have Frank Ntilikina as the only point guard under contract next season.

“What kid doesn’t want to play in MSG?” Walker said Friday, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play there many, many times during my basketball career. Every chance I get to play there, I try to embrace it. I just love playing there.”

“I will always have an attachment to and a love of that city,” Walker said. “That city made me who I am today.”

There’s more out of New York today:

  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari believes the critics of Kevin Knox need to be patient, Berman writes in a separate story. “He’s got to figure this stuff,” Calipari said. “I told the Knicks and everybody recruiting — they’re 19, 18, 20, not 25 years old. But what you have is a 6-9, 6-10 player who’s multi-dimensional, who can score and is just going to get better and better when he matures and physically fills out.”
  • David Fizdale‘s harsh message to Frank Ntilikina was delivered, and now it’s time for Ntilikina to see more playing time, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes. Ntilikina played 15 minutes against the Nets on Saturday, but was benched the previous three games. Fizdale has made it clear to Ntilikina that he must earn his playing time with the team.
  • Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes an in-depth story on Allonzo Trier‘s journey to the NBA, dating back to when the 22-year-old was in grade school. Trier has averaged 11.3 points in 27 games with the Knicks this season, providing solid play on both ends of the floor.

Deal With Allonzo Trier May Not Be Easy For Knicks

Allonzo Trier has been a standout among two-way players this season, but signing him to a more conventional deal might not be easy as it sounds for the Knicks, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

There’s no question that New York wants to keep Trier, who is averaging 11.8 points per game and shooting 45% from 3-point range. But that doesn’t mean negotiations won’t get tricky. The Knicks could convert Trier’s deal to a standard NBA contract without his consent, but that would make him a restricted free agent at the end of the season. If they negotiate a contract, they are limited to a league minimum offer for just two years because they’re over the salary cap. The Knicks still have their bi-annual exception available, worth $3.4MM per season, or they could dip into their mid-level exception.

However, any of those options might be less than what Trier could command on the open market. Because New York doesn’t own his Bird Rights, the organization could only offer Trier $200K over the league minimum without eating up valuable cap space.

Both sides have extreme options they could pursue if they don’t work out a deal. The Knicks could ship Trier back to the G League once he reaches his 45-day limit, which should happen within the next two weeks depending how off days are counted. However, that would rob them of an important scoring threat and a fan favorite for the rest of the season. Trier could also refuse to sign any deal and take his chances in free agency.

After going undrafted in June, Trier may not be in the mood to give the Knicks a discount if he still has hard feelings over what he perceives as a broken draft promise. He said the team offered a strong indication that it would pick him at No. 36, but went with center Mitchell Robinson instead.

“Even though I may have been their best available player and favorite player on the board they chose to go with something that would benefit them now or fill a need right now,” Trier said. “That ended up working for them too. They ended up getting me as well. Big win.”

Trier accepted a two-way offer from the Knicks on draft night and worked his way into a rotational slot. How long he remains with the team will depend on how much money the Knicks are willing to commit when they are trying to free up as much cap space as possible for free agency next summer.