Allonzo Trier

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.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Sixers, T. Harris, Nets

The Knicks find themselves in an interesting cap situation this summer as they mull a possible run at Anthony Davis, as well as the pursuit of multiple elite free agents. As Ian Begley of SNY.tv explains, it’s possible for New York to sign a pair of star free agents and then acquire Davis by sending out just enough salary to match his cap figure. However, matching salaries in that scenario could be complicated by Davis’ trade bonus and by which players the Knicks have at their disposal to move.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, the Knicks’ flexibility could actually increase if they exercise some combination of options on players like Allonzo Trier, John Jenkins, Henry Ellenson, and Billy Garrett. Picking up some of those options could still leave New York with two max slots, and would give the team additional salaries to send out for matching purposes in a Davis offer.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • If the Sixers re-sign both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to lucrative long-term deals and also make a maximum-salary commitment to Ben Simmons, they won’t necessarily be a taxpayer in 2019/20, but it’d be virtually impossible to avoid the tax in future seasons, Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes in an in-depth cap breakdown.
  • With Tobias Harris’ list of suitors continuing to grow, Net Income of NetsDaily explores whether it would be worth it for the Nets to offer the free agent forward a maximum-salary contract.
  • Performances like the one Kawhi Leonard turned in on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals were what Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri envisioned when he pulled the trigger on the Leonard blockbuster with San Antonio last July, writes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.
  • Kansas guard Devon Dotson was among the draft-eligible prospects to work out for the Celtics on Thursday, tweets Sean Deveney of Sporting News. According to Deveney, Dotson is still mulling the possibility of returning to the Jayhawks and will make his decision next week before the NCAA’s May 29 withdrawal deadline.

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.