D'Angelo Russell

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Rebuild, Russell, Dinwiddie

The Knicks kicked off the second half with a 120-113 win over the Magic in Orlando. As planned, the trio of Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Trey Burke shared the backcourt duties with veteran Jarrett Jack taking a DNP. Burke contributed 26 points in 29 minutes while Ntilikina (29 minutes) and Mudiay (22 minutes) also tallied significant time.

While the acquisition of Mudiay at the deadline signaled the Knicks’ plan to acquire young talent, the 19-year-old Ntilikina should not worry about his standing with the team, Al Iannozzone of Newsday writes.

“You look at Frank right now and he’s a great defender for a 19-year-old kid,” Hornacek said. “The offense will come — his speed and strength, all that stuff. You can’t expect a lot more from a 19-year-old kid. So he’s been great.”

The Knicks have made it clear that the second half of the season will revolve around young players and essentially auditioning for the future. Ntilikina is as strong a part of that future as anybody on the roster.

Check out other NBA news out of New York:

  • A solid early start to the season fooled many into thinking the Knicks could make a run at the playoffs. With 22 games left, the postseason is all but ruled out and the team must now focus on the future, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes. Sloppy play on the road and numerous injuries stalled what looked to be a promising season in the first two months. “You still go back to, ‘It’s kind of a long-term plan.’ We got off to a good start, maybe changed everyone’s thoughts. But they were home games, we knew we had a long way to go,” Hornacek said.
  • D’Angelo Russell made his first start for the Nets since mid-November on Thursday and the plan to have him and Spencer Dinwiddie share the backcourt is in full-swing, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. “We’ve started to do it more, get a sample size. It’s something similar to Jeremy [Lin] and D’Angelo in the beginning,” Atkinson said. “I do like that. I do like having two guards that can really handle the ball.”
  • Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) takes a look at Sean Marks‘ reign as Nets general manager and the organization’s transformation in two years under Marks’ watch.

New York Notes: Mudiay, Kornet, Russell, Dinwiddie

Acquiring Emmanuel Mudiay at the deadline on Thursday was not a shot at Frank Ntilikina but part of a plan to acquire young talent, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. General manager Scott Perry said the addition of Mudiay, a former lottery pick, gives the Knicks another talented player, which can only help Ntilikina.

“The organization is not down on Frank,” Perry said. “I’ve spoken to Frank today. We’ll continue to speak. He’s excited about it. Everyone’s committed to getting better. If you want to become a good team, you got to be resigned to adding players to our mix that will help our cause. He’s going to be fine. It’s not in any way a negative reflection on him and who we think he’s going to be. He’s a 19-year-old kid with very good tools and a lot of upside. This will help his learning process.”

The plan for Mudiay is for him to see time at both guard spots. Jared Jeffries, an ex-Knick and former scouting director for the Nuggets, commended the acquisition of Mudiay, Berman writes in a separate story. Jeffries does not agree with the consensus that Mudiay is a bad shooter — instead, he feels the former seventh overall pick is a bad finisher. If he can improve his shots closer to the rim, Mudiay can be successful, per Jeffries.

Check out other news coming out of New York:

  • Luke Kornet, who has spent the season in the G League, made his NBA debut against the Raptors on Friday, Berman writes. Taking the spot vacated by the departed Willy Hernangomez, Kornet became the second Knick ever to debut with a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds). The 22-year-old Vanderbilt project is currently on a two-way deal that allows him 45 days in the NBA before he must be added to the 15-man roster — and the Knicks have an open roster spot.
  • A knee injury sidelined Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell for two months, putting some ice cold water on a hot start to his first season in Brooklyn. Since his return, Russell has come off the bench and hasn’t seen consistent playing time. Both Russell and head coach Kenny Atkinson want to see the former second overall pick play more minutes and get reacclimated, writes Newsday’s Greg Logan.
  • While the Nets did make some moves ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, both DeMarre Carroll and Spencer Dinwiddie stayed put. Dinwiddie, who has burst on the scene as a productive asset this season, is so coveted by the Nets, the team turned down a first-round pick from the Cavaliers, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post details.

Rudy Gobert, D’Angelo Russell Set To Return Friday

Two players who have yet to play in 2018 are expected to return to the court on Friday, with one playing in Utah and one in Brooklyn. According to reports, both Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell are set to play tonight.

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder confirmed today to reporters that Gobert will be back against the Knicks, as Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News notes (via Twitter). Gobert is expected to be on a minutes restriction for now, as he works his way back to full strength.

Gobert had been on the shelf since December 15 due to a knee injury, having missed Utah’s last 15 games. The Jazz have been using some smaller lineups in Gobert’s absence, with Derrick Favors spending more time at center. With Gobert back, the club will have some additional lineup flexibility, and may start to seriously consider possible Favors trades.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Russell told reporters, including Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link), that he expects to suit up and get back on the court tonight for the Nets, who are hosting the Heat. Russell, the Nets’ major offseason acquisition, hasn’t played since November 11 due to a knee injury of his own.

It will be interesting to see how Russell’s return impacts Spencer Dinwiddie, who has assumed starting point guard duties and has been enjoying a breakout season with both Russell and Jeremy Lin sidelined. Dinwiddie has struggled with his shot lately, but is still posting solid overall numbers — he has averaged 14.4 PPG and 7.2 APG since Russell went down, and figures to continue playing a key role even with the former second overall pick back in the lineup.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Nets, DeRozan, Burke, Knicks

Markelle Fultz has missed almost 40 games this season as he’s battled a phantom shoulder injury that has taken away his ability to shoot the ball. While Fultz is practicing with the team, he is still a long way from making a return and the situation has head coach Brett Brown confused, per ESPN.

Fultz shot 50% from the field in his lone college season; he impressed the Sixers so much that the team traded up to draft him first overall in last year’s draft. However, a muscular imbalance in the shoulder hampered Fultz’s shot so much that he did not even attempt a three-point shot while healthy. Brown said he has “never experienced anything like this” but that Philadelphia is dedicated to helping Fultz find his stroke.

“It’s reclaiming the shot that he used to have,” Brown said. “The timeline of when that happens, none of us know. But I feel like there is discomfort in his shoulder and it does affect his shot.”

In four games this season, Fultz averaged 6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.8 APG while shooting 33% from the field.

Check out other Atlantic Division notes below:

  • Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell, two of the first three overall picks in the 2015 NBA Draft, are with the Nets organization now and general manager Sean Marks is impressed with their maturity. As Net Income at NetsDaily writes, Marks spoke to WFAN recently gave a glowing review of the organization and how it has helped its young players get acclimated.
  • Raptors star DeMar DeRozan was fined $15,000 for public criticism of the league’s officiating, the NBA announced on Tuesday.
  • Trey Burke played just eight minutes of the Knicks‘ win over the Nets on Monday but his impact was noticeable, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Burke lit up the G League with the Knicks’ affiliate and showed glimpses of the player who was the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
  • In a separate story, Berman of the New York Post examines the Knicks‘ potential strategy as the trade deadline nears. At 20-24, the Knicks are currently three games out of the eighth playoff spot. A strong run could put the team in playoff position but head coach Jeff Hornacek has repeatedly stated the developing the young players comes before worrying about the playoffs. Berman notes that if the Knicks sell, their main priority will be clearing up the logjam at center that features four capable players (Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, Willy Hernangomez, and Joakim Noah).

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/15/18

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

3:50pm:

  • First-year forward Guerschon Yabusele has been assigned to the G League by the Celtics, the team announced today (via Twitter). The Maine Red Claws will host Austin in the only game on Monday’s G League slate, so Yabusele figures to suit up for that contest.
  • The Jazz assigned rookie center Tony Bradley to the G League this morning so he could practice with the Salt Lake City Stars, and have since recalled him to the NBA, per the team (Twitter link).

2:18pm:

  • As he continues to rehab his injured knee, D’Angelo Russell has been sent to the G League, the Nets announced today in a press release. Russell will practice with the Long Island Nets and will be recalled to the NBA later today, according to the club.
  • Another former top pick will continue his rehab in the G League today as well, with the Bucks announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve assigned Jabari Parker to the Wisconsin Herd. Parker will practice with the Herd again as he works his way back from his ACL tear.
  • The Magic have recalled rookie big man Khem Birch from the G League, the team announced today (Twitter link). Birch is coming off a 15-point, five-block performance on Saturday for the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s affiliate.
  • Rookie forward Tyler Lydon has been recalled from the G League by the Nuggets, according to the team (Twitter link). Since Denver doesn’t have a G League affiliate of its own, Lydon had been playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He has averaged 13.4 PPG and 9.1 RPG in 14 G League games this season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/8/18

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

3:50pm:

  • The Celtics have recalled Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele from the G League, according to the team (Twitter link). Nader and Yabusele played for the Maine Red Claws during Sunday’s loss to the Raptors 905.
  • The Hornets have assigned Dwayne Bacon to the G League for the third time this season, the team announced today in a press release. Bacon has played two games for the Greensboro Swarm so far this season, averaging an eye-popping 38.5 PPG.

3:12pm:

  • The Nets have assigned injured guard D’Angelo Russell to the G League, the club announced today in a press release. As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Russell is practicing with Brooklyn’s affiliate today as he rehabs the knee issue that his kept him out of action for several weeks. He’ll be recalled to the NBA after that practice.
  • Rookie guard Davon Reed has been re-assigned to the G League by the Suns, according to an announcement from the team. Reed, who recently made his G League debut after recovering from a torn meniscus, has yet to appear in an NBA game.
  • The Kings have recalled Justin Jackson and Georgios Papagiannis from the Reno Bighorns, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports California. The two youngsters have yo-yo’d back and forth between Sacramento and Reno over the last few days, appearing in a pair of games for the Bighorns since Friday.

New York Notes: Hornacek, Baker, Point Guards, Allen, Russell, Okafor

The Knicks entered last season with high expectations but a midseason collapse partnered with a veteran team was the root of the team’s demise. With a younger team in place this season, head coach Jeff Hornacek does not expect the current Knicks to quit on the season if things get tough, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes.

Ball-dominant players such as Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose were not conducive to the Knicks’ offensive strategy. Free agency acquisitions Courtney Lee (who has been solid this season) and Joakim Noah did not perform to expectations. This season, however, Hornacek has a different vibe.

“Usually when you have an older team — veteran guys — and the losses start piling up guys have a tendency to go, ‘Okay, the season (is over),'” Hornacek said. “These guys are going to fight until the end of the season no matter what our record is. A lot of young guys, they know we’re working not just for this year, but for the next couple of years to get better at certain things. So there won’t be any quit in these guys.”

After back-to-back losses, the Knicks are 17-16, good for an eighth-place tie in the Eastern Conference with the Heat. Injuries to Tim Hardaway Jr., Kristaps Porzingis, and Enes Kanter have hindered the team at times this season. Yet, Hornacek feels the current crop is hungry and willing to compete, even through difficult circumstances.

Check out other news from the New York NBA scene below:

  • The Knicks‘ uncertain point guard situation was exploited in the team’s Christmas loss to the Sixers on Monday, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Veteran Jarrett Jack went 0-for-5 from the field while rookie Frank Ntilikina struggled on both sides of the ball. Conversely, Sixers backup point guard T.J. McConnell provided Philadelphia with a major boost.
  • Knicks point guard Ron Baker has taken an unconventional path to the NBA, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders writes.  Baker was not heavily recruited out of high school and needed several productive seasons at Wichita State to get on several NBA teams’ radars. Then, Baker went undrafted and had to impress the Knicks in the summer league to earn an NBA opportunity.
  • Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen is trying to model his game after Rockets big man Clint Capela, Net Income at NetsDaily highlights. 
  • As both D’Angelo Russell (knee surgery) and Jahlil Okafor (conditioning) work to enter the Nets’ rotation, general manager Sean Marks’ remarks from last Wednesday put both men on track to return shortly after the New Year. Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets that Russell’s 7-to-8 weeks’ timetable after November 17 surgery puts him on track to return anywhere from January 5-12; Okafor was said to be about two weeks away, putting him on schedule to enter the rotation on the Nets’ upcoming homestand.

Atlantic Notes: Okafor, Russell, Hardaway Jr.

The Nets roster boasts two of the top-three 2015 draft picks but neither are currently in the lineup, nor are they expected to be in the near future. Brian Lewis of the New York Post confirms that while D’Angelo Russell is five weeks into his recovery from arthroscopic surgery last month, he’s still a couple of weeks away.

Jahlil Okafor, on the other hand, is out for a different reason. Prior to his acquisition on December 7, Okafor was seldom used by the Sixers, seeing action in just two games for Philly. The big man played for the Nets last week but has been held out since.

I’d hate to put an exact date on [when Okafor will play again]. Depending on how he feels, we’re going day-to-day,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said. “I’d assume he’s still probably a week-and-a-half or two weeks away from where he feels comfortable out there and be able to play at the pace in which coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff want to play at.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • While they still haven’t released a timetable for his return, Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has made progress in his recovery from a leg injury, Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes. The swingman can push off of his leg a little bit and will be re-evaluated again next week.
  • The versatile contributions of Delon Wright have served the Raptors well, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. The 25-year-old is long and athletic, capable of both running with the squad and being patient when they need him to be. Wright has averaged 7.7 points and 2.4 assists in just over 20 minutes per game this season.
  • The Celtics have been said to be interested in acquiring Anthony Davis. One C’s writer, however, doesn’t want the club to go all in on the Pelicans‘ superstar. D.J. Bean of NBC Sports Boston writes that giving up Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum may be too much, especially considering that the Warriors are going to be a formidable contender to seriously compete with over the next few seasons.

Atlantic Notes: Kanter, McConnell, Russell

Despite having missed the last two games with back spasms, Enes Kanter remains committed to trying to play Monday night, Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes. The 25-year-old wants to get back out on the court for the Knicks even if he’s not quite 100% ready.

I might not be a hundred percent, but I think I’m going to try and play,” the Knicks’ center said. “I play with pain probably 95 percent of the season every season. If they think it’s not going to affect me in the long run, I’ll play. It doesn’t matter.

Of course the Knicks won’t make any irresponsible decisions with their prized new big man. Kanter is averaging 13.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game so far this season.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • For the third straight year, Sixers guard T.J. McConnell is proving that he’s an overlooked – and underpaid – asset. Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes that the 25-year-old guard proved himself all over again as a substitute starter for the injured Ben Simmons this weekend. McConnell makes just $1.4MM this season.
  • Although he remains inactive without a timetable, injured guard D’Angelo Russell will join the Nets on their upcoming road trip, Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily writes. The offseason addition will be called upon to help lead from the sidelines and stay engaged with the group.
  • With some of the best length in the NBA, Kristaps Porzingis could be a nightmare for opposing teams in the paint. Per Marc Berman of the New York Post, legendary big man Hakeem Olajuwon would like to mentor the 7’3″ Knicks forward whose current Dream Shake leaves much to be desired.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Russell, VanVleet, Hardaway

Despite being in the midst of a 15-game win streak, the Celtics aren’t satisfied, reports Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com and Chris Forsberg of ESPN. While arguably sporting the league’s best defense, head coach Brad Stevens doesn’t believe his team’s offense is where it needs to be. “We got a lot to improve on [offensively],” Stevens said.

The Celtics shot only 32.9% from the field in their win against the Warriors, and while they have leaned on a league-leading defense giving up a mere 95.4 points per 100 possessions, the C’s are currently 27th in the NBA in FG%. We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid, in my opinion,” Stevens said. “We’ve figured out ways to win games (but) we’ve got to be better, and we know that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, one way the Celtics can create more offense is to play Marcus Morris more with the second unit. Morris scored 14 points in Saturday’s win against Atlanta.
  • The Nets are trying to remain positive and maintain a “next man up” mentality after losing D’Angelo Russell to a right knee injury for the foreseeable future, writes Anthony Puccio for NetsDaily.com. The Nets also lost Jeremy Lin to a right knee injury after he suffered a ruptured patella tendon in the season opener, but head coach Kenny Atkinson is confident in the players being called on to step up. “We have a good group of wings, and guards,” said Atkinson. “I think we’ve developed sufficiently enough to withstand injuries.”
  • After going undrafted following a successful four-year college career at Wichita State, second-year guard Fred VanVleet is finding his niche with the Raptors as a fighter on the defensive end of the floor, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star“He’s a grinder, he’s a survivor, he’s a worker, he’s had to fight for everything he’s ever gotten in his life,” says head coach Dwane Casey. “He gets into the guys, he’s a little pitbull from that standpoint. He brings everything to the table that you need.”
  • Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek believes that Tim Hardaway Jr. is suffering from something similar to plantar fasciitis in his left foot, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Hardaway Jr., who removed himself from last week’s loss to Toronto and sat out of yesterday’s practice, plans to play through the pain in spite of the risk. “It could help if he rests,” Hornacek said. “But Tim wants to play. He’s a tough kid. He’s a competitor. He feels that he’s got enough for us that he can go.”
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