Allonzo Trier

Marcus Morris Draws Interest From Clippers, Sixers

The Clippers and Sixers both have interest in acquiring Knicks forward Marcus Morris, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Morris’ playoff experience and expiring $15MM contract make him an attractive addition for any playoff contender. He is among several veterans who signed short-term deals with New York over the summer that carry little to no guaranteed money beyond this season.

With the Knicks in Los Angeles for a game today, Morris was asked about the possibility of joining the Clippers.

“Rumors are rumors,” he said. “Look, I told you before I’m in New York and love being here. I’m excited to help to turn this around. I’m not paying that any mind. I’m focused on what we got going on in this locker room.’’

Morris would likely be more interested in winding up in his hometown of Philadelphia. He said in July that playing close to home was among his reasons for backing out of a deal with the Spurs to join the Knicks.

Berman notes that the Sixers don’t have a first-rounder to offer in the 2020 draft, but they have four second-round picks. He adds that a third team would probably be needed to facilitate a deal, such as the Hawks, who are under the salary cap.

A source tells Berman that the Knicks may also be able to land second-round selections in exchange for Allonzo Trier and Wayne Ellington, who have both fallen out of the rotation.

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Robinson, Bullock, Predictions

Carmelo Anthony received a hero’s welcome as he returned to Madison Square Garden with the Trail Blazers last night, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Anthony was cheered during pre-game introductions and every time he touched the ball. The cheers grew even louder when he scored, as the fans offered their thanks for his six and a half years of service to the Knicks.

“The love was definitely felt tonight,” Anthony said. “From the fans that were here, just the city as a whole, just being back. I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain. But for me to kind of get that ovation, I think I’ve always had the love from the city like that. But to be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight.”

It was only Anthony’s second trip back to Garden since being traded in 2017, and he celebrated with a season-high 26 points. He admitted to reporters that he’d like to see the Knicks retire his number some day.

“I did glance up at the rafters today during the national anthem,” Anthony said. “You know, they say in life you’ve got to envision, so I was envisioning seeing Anthony hanging up there.”

There’s more from New York this morning:

  • The difference in the fan reactions to Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis may have something to do with the return the Knicks got for each player, suggests Marc Berman of The New York Post. While the Porzingis deal brought back Dennis Smith Jr. and a ton of cap room that failed to deliver a star, the package for Anthony included a second-round pick that turned into Mitchell Robinson. The second-year center delivered one of his best performances Wednesday, making all 11 of his shots from the field in a 22-point, eight-rebound night. “I honestly think he’s getting better and better and better,” Anthony said of Robinson. “I don’t really think he understands how good he is or how good he can be and his ceiling. The way he plays is perfect for the way the Knicks play.”
  • Reggie Bullock made his Knicks debut last night, giving the team five healthy shooting guards for the first time this season, Berman notes in a separate story. Playing his first game since spinal fusion surgery in July, Bullock scored 11 points in 15 minutes as Wayne Ellington and Allonzo Trier both remained on the bench.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic offers several Knicks predictions for 2020, including no first-round pick in exchange for Marcus Morris, roster moves to get rid of Ellington and Bobby Portis by the end of February, and no Mark Jackson or Masai Ujiri in the team’s future.

Knicks Notes: Blatt, Trier, Ntilikina

David Blatt, who recently was hired by the Knicks as a consultant, says he’s happy to be with the team.

“I feel very fortunate,’’ Blatt said, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. “I’m happy to be here.’’

What exactly Blatt will be doing for the Knicks remains vague, though Berman hears that former coach will conduct some scouting in Europe for the Knicks among other duties. Evaluating talent on the team and giving input to interim coach Mike Miller will also be part of his responsibilities.

Here’s more from New York:

  • It wouldn’t be farfetched to think that if team president Steve Mills is retained, the executive would allow Blatt to have a say in the Knicks’ next head coach, Berman writes in the same piece. This is assuming the team moves on from Miller.
  • Allonzo Trier hasn’t seen meaningful action this season, but the team still views him as a valuable asset, Zach Braziller of the New York Post relays. “We’ve got confidence in Zo,” Miller said. “We know what he can do, and we’ve gotten into some situations where we need some scoring we’ve called his number. We went to him, he comes in does what he does, and makes some plays.”
  • Frank Ntilikina has no problem with being relegated to the bench, as Berman passes along in a separate piece. “I’m comfortable,’’ Ntilikina said of the switch. “It’s just a role change. When I’m on the court, I know it’s my job. I got to do my job and bring everything I can to the team.’’
  • Ntilikina would have been better served by spending at least one more season abroad in a league more competitive than the French one he played in, one NBA personnel man told Berman in that same piece. The Knicks drafted him with the No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft as a 19-year-old.

Knicks Notes: Trier, Payton, Ntilikina, Garnett

Allonzo Trier‘s future with the Knicks appears uncertain after being kept on the bench for eight of the past 10 games, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Trier saw his first game action outside of garbage time in nearly three weeks Monday in New York’s 44-point loss to the Bucks. He scored 10 points in 11 minutes in the first half, but wasn’t used at all after halftime.

Coach David Fizdale hasn’t provided a public explanation for why Trier has been demoted, other than citing the team’s depth at shooting guard with RJ Barrett, Wayne Ellington and Damyean Dotson. There are theories that Trier’s isolation-heavy game doesn’t fit with Fizdale’s emphasis on ball movement.

“You take it head on,’’ Trier said. “Be prepared whenever that time is, continue to work and get better and help this team if I’m playing or not. I got to accept that. They tell me to stay ready.’’

Opportunity could come later in the season if the Knicks start moving on from their veteran free agents. Ellington is among the players who could be moved by the February trade deadline or waived if a deal can’t be worked out.

There’s more from New York:

  • Elfrid Payton, who has played just four games since signing with the team this summer, may be ready to return tomorrow against the Nuggets, Berman tweets. Payton, who was briefly installed as the team’s point guard, has been sidelined since October 28 with a strained right hamstring. That role has been taken over by Frank Ntilikina, who missed Monday’s game with a back injury, but may also be ready for Thursday.
  • Roster flexibility is all the Knicks have left from what could have been a historic offseason, observes Steve Popper of Newsday. With enough cap space to offer two max contracts, the team missed all its top targets and wound up with seven free agents, six on expiring deals. Management can start moving those contracts on December 15, when most newly signed free agents become eligible to be traded.
  • Former NBA star Kevin Garnett is calling out Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for choosing the Nets instead of the Knicks in free agency, relays Neil Best of Newsday. Speaking at a roundtable to promote a new film, Garnett claimed they passed on a chance to breathe life into a historic franchise. “I’m not a Knicks fan by far,” he said. “But if they come to the city and dominate, man, the first superstar to hit New York and be vibing is going to be bigger than life. Remember I said that. Any piece of hope in this city is going to [soar]. People are waiting.”

Knicks Notes: Rebuilding, Trier, Knox, Robinson

The Knicks have started talking about player development again, and the organization will face important decisions in that area in about three weeks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman noticed a different tone from David Fizdale in his pre-game press conference yesterday as the head coach discussed the difficulties of building a young team and the model set by his cross-town rivals in Brooklyn.

“We have to grow our kids,’’ Fizdale said. “That’s the biggest thing. And be patient in free agency. It wasn’t that fast [for the Nets]. They didn’t go to it until the fourth year into it. It’s hard starting from a bunch of young guys.”

That’s a stark contrast to the Knicks, who were hoping for an instant turnaround this summer by pursuing free agents such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. Once they all signed elsewhere, New York loaded up on veterans with short-term contracts. That group becomes eligible to be traded on December 15, presenting the front office with a choice about how long they want to keep together the core of a team that has stumbled to a 4-13 start.

There’s more from New York:

  • The biggest concerns among the young players are Allonzo Trier and Kevin Knox, who have both fallen out of Fizdale’s rotation after promising rookie years, Berman adds in the same story. Trier sat for the sixth straight game yesterday, while Knox got a start because of RJ Barrett‘s illness, but delivered a 1-for-4 performance in 18 minutes and continued to struggle on defense. “I’m going to continue to hold his feet to the fire defensively,’’ Fizdale said of Knox. “We want to get him where he’s desperate to play. His defensive effort, focus, execution has got to be there for us to be a good basketball team.”
  • Some Knicks are insisting the current roster needs more time to develop after so many offseason changes, relays Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “We’ve got 10 new guys. How can you build chemistry with 10 new guys that you just met?” Mitchell Robinson said after Sunday’s loss. “… We played a lot of playoff teams (this season) and we’ve stayed in the game. Think about when we do get that connection? We’re going to be all right.”
  • The Knicks’ woes of the past six years can be traced back to James Dolan’s decision to bring in the McKinsey & Company consulting firm prior to the 2013/14 season, contends Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The team was coming off its best season of the Carmelo Anthony era with 54 wins and a second-round playoff exit, but the new firm proved to be disruptive and led to changes such as replacing general manager Glen Grunwald and coach Mike Woodson and installing Phil Jackson as team president.

Knicks Notes: Randle, Fizdale, Dotson, Barrett

Before putting up 30 points on Monday against Cleveland, Julius Randle had struggled in his first few weeks as a member of the Knicks, averaging 15.5 PPG on .423/.200/.623 shooting with 3.8 TOPG through 13 games. Randle was the team’s big free agent addition of the offseason, inking a three-year deal worth about $19MM per season. However, the big man told Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that the pressure of living up to that contract isn’t the reason for his slow start.

“No, the money is in the bank. So it’s not pressure for that,” Randle said. “Me and (head coach David Fizdale) joke about it all the time — the money is the bank, just go out and have fun. But moreso than the money, I have more responsibility.”

As Randle explained, he’s essentially the No. 1 offensive option for the Knicks, a role he didn’t have on his previous teams. As he continues to adjust to that new role, Randle is leaning on agent Aaron Mintz to help keep him focused and on the right track, as he told Bondy.

“I talk to (Mintz) every day. He talks me off a ledge every day. It’s like, I joke with him, it’s like my sane side — him and my wife,” Randle said. “Because I’m ready to blow up and they kind of talk me back to reality. He gives me a day just to chill out and then he talks me back to reality.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • David Fizdale dismissed concerns about his job security on Tuesday, telling reporters – including Ian Begley of SNY.tv – that he gets regular votes of confidence from team owner James Dolan. “Every game, every game. Jim Dolan comes in and gives me a vote of confidence, a pat on my back and really has just been incredibly encouraging over the last year and a half or whatever it’s been,” Fizdale said. “All we talk about is just sticking to the process of making these guys better and building for a future of sustainable winning.”
  • The Knicks have no shortage of options for their backup shooting guard job, but Damyean Dotson appears to be claiming that role for now, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details. Dotson has averaged 19.6 minutes per game over New York’s last five contests, while Allonzo Trier has played 21 total minutes during that stretch and Wayne Ellington has played just 18. Dotson and Trier will be eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end; Ellington has a non-guaranteed $8MM salary for 2020/21.
  • Mike Vornukov of The Athletic and Kevon Pelton of ESPN each take a look at RJ Barrett‘s early-season workload, exploring how closely that issue is worth monitoring.
  • As we relayed earlier today, Elfrid Payton will be sidelined for at least 10 more days due to a hamstring strain.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, Randle, Trier

As head coach David Fizdale promised, Frank Ntilikina is getting his chance to prove whether he can be the Knicks‘ solution at point guard, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. After barely being used in the first few games, Ntilikina made his first start of the season Friday night, playing 38 minutes in a narrow loss to the Celtics.

The third-year point guard’s strengths and weaknesses were both on display. He defended well against a variety of players, but only had two assists and his shot remains a concern. He was 4-of-9 for the game, but has made just 7-of-24 attempts from the field for the season and is only 3-of-10 beyond the arc.

“He’s learning,” former teammate Enes Kanter said. “Obviously, he was learning last year, but there was too much pressure on him. Now I feel he feels more comfortable and more confident out there. Obviously, I think he’s one of the best defenders out there and his vision on the court is amazing. I’m happy to see him grown because he’s an amazing dude on and off the court.”

Although Fizdale has vowed to give all the players in New York’s crowded backcourt a chance to prove themselves, Ntilikina’s start came largely because of circumstance with Elfrid Payton injured and Dennis Smith Jr. absent because of a death in the family. Even though the Knicks offered a show of confidence in their No. 8 pick from 2017 by picking up his fourth-year option last month, Ntilikina will eventually have to produce more on offense to earn consistent minutes.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Although Kanter had a contentious end to his time with the Knicks, he enjoyed a friendly reunion with the team Friday night, Vorkunov adds in the same story. Upset over a lack of playing time, Kanter asked for a trade and was eventually waived in February. All seems to be forgiven as he hugged team president Steve Mills on the court. “I like all these guys — even with Julius Randle, because we had this beef and everything,” Kanter said. “… I see there are a lot of good characters on the team. I’m really excited to see them grow together.”
  • Not having a play-making guard to rely on is affecting Randle’s game, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Randle took just seven shots Friday and had a season-low eight points. He turned the ball over six times, giving him 25 in the past five games, and is just 1-for-15 on 3-pointers for the season.
  • Opening-night starter Allonzo Trier has fallen completely out of the rotation, Berman notes in the same piece. Fizdale wouldn’t explain why Trier racked up his third straight DNP, but his time has gone to free agent addition Wayne Ellington. Another offseason signee, Taj Gibson, also wasn’t used against the Celtics.

Knicks Notes: Point Guards, Rabb, Morris, Robinson

Nobody in the three-way battle for the Knicks‘ starting point guard spot played well enough to earn a start in tonight’s season opener, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina were all on the bench for the beginning of the game in San Antonio as coach David Fizdale opted to use rookie RJ Barrett at the point alongside Allonzo Trier.

“I just like that combination of RJ and Allonzo Trier to be out there,’’ Fizdale told reporters before the game. “The competition is still on and I’m still searching for combinations that are going to fit. Coming into this, I want to see how that looks. I’m going to keep putting it on them to really have to earn it and really force me to play you. None of this is in stone, but at the same time the competition is on.”

Payton, Smith and Ntilikina all struggled in the preseason, especially with shooting, while Trier stood out with an improved jumper. Berman suggests the decision could be seen as a slight against the front office, which signed Payton this summer and picked up Ntilikina’s fourth-year option earlier this week.

There’s more from New York:

  • Fizdale has previous experience with Ivan Rabb, who was signed today to a two-way contract, Berman notes in a separate story. Fizdale was Rabb’s first coach as a rookie in Memphis, although he was fired after 19 games. “Good kid, hard worker,” he said of Rabb. “Really skilled big. Rebounds the ball well. A high-IQ player. It will be good to get back with him and develop him.”
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich remains bitter about Marcus Morris‘ decision to back out of a commitment to San Antonio this summer and sign with the Knicks instead (video link from RJ Marquez of KSAT in San Antonio). Morris verbally agreed to a two-year, $19MM deal with the Spurs before changing his mind when New York was able to offer $15MM for one season. As expected, the San Antonio crowd booed him loudly before tonight’s game.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic takes a look at how Mitchell Robinson was able to overcome a negative college experience and provide some hope for the future in New York.

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Trier, Rotation

Head coach David Fizdale can envision No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett playing some point guard for the Knicks this season, Steve Popper of Newsday writes.

“Yeah, I do [like what I’ve seen from him as a lead guard],” Fizdale said of Barrett playing the one. “He’s really poised. He looks comfortable. The kid likes having the ball in his hands. He’s unselfish. He finds people. He understands – he knows our plays from that position. I feel very comfortable if I have to throw him there.”

Here’s more from New York:

  • Allonzo Trier could struggle to make the Knicks’ rotation, Mike Vorkunov contends in a piece for The Athletic. New York’s backcourt is crowded with Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Elfrid Payton among the players also vying for minutes.
  • Fizdale insists that last summer’s crop of free agents was a success from a development standpoint, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays. Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh are among the players to improve while playing for the Knicks last season and find a new home this offseason.
  • Damyean Dotson is determined to prove that he deserves playing time in the Knicks’ crowded rotation, as Popper writes in a separate piece. “It’s been like that since I’ve been here,” Dotson said. “Tim [Hardaway Jr.], [Courtney] Lee. Ever since I’ve been here it’s always been stacked at the 2-guard, wing spot. Like I said, you’ve just to compete every day, bring it, be ready to play when your name is called, stay professional and stay ready.”

Knicks Exercise Team Option On Allonzo Trier

The Knicks have decided to exercise Allonzo Trier‘s option for next season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The rookie guard will make $3.5MM for 2019/20.

Trier had a surprisingly successful first season after going undrafted out of Arizona. He signed a two-way deal with New York shortly after the draft, then quickly proved he was ready for the NBA, averaging 10.9 PPG in 64 games while shooting .394 from 3-point range.

The decision will have little effect on the Knicks’ hopes of signing two elite free agents this summer, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Even with Trier’s salary in place, New York has $69.8MM in cap space, which is enough to add two players at 30% of the max and about $130K short of adding a 35% and a 30% player.

With his option decision out of the way, Trier can now be traded, Marks adds.