David Fizdale

New York Notes: Knicks, Nets, Dinwiddie, Irving

The Knicks aren’t focused on contending this season, but that doesn’t mean that coach David Fizdale doesn’t have concerns about how his young team is playing. As Zach Braziller writes for The New York Post, Fizdale is frustrated with the lack of defense he is seeing on a nightly basis, and with good reason.

As Braziller points out, the Knicks have allowed at least 109 points in 21 straight games and currently rank 29th in the league with a defensive rating of 113.5, ahead of only the struggling Cavaliers.

Fizdale voiced his concerns regarding the team’s lack of weak side defense and the struggles to adjust defensive schemes. The Knicks may not be focused on the win-loss column, but Fizdale would surely love to see more effort and execution on the defensive end from his young players.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

  • While the Nets currently sit in seventh in the Eastern Conference, Brian Lewis of The New York Post points out that they will have to go through a tough stretch of the schedule in the near future, which will test their playoff chances.
  • Speaking of the Nets, they would surely love to see Spencer Dinwiddie snap out of his slump as they enter this stretch of the schedule. As Brian Lewis points out, Dinwiddie is averaging just 11.5 points and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 35.1% and 16.7% from deep in the past four games, far cries from his season averages.
  • Hopeful Knicks fans have certainly enjoyed seeing the frustration being expressed by Kyrie Irving recently. Marc Berman of The New York Post wrote about how the Knicks may be able to take advantage of Irving’s frustrations and the Celtics underachieving so far this season.

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Ntilikina, Knox

Enes Kanter has been promised a place in the Knicks‘ rotation, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Coach David Fizdale assured Kanter he’ll be in games and suggested the team will use two-center alignments in the future.

“I want to pull off combinations like that because I want to give them all a taste out there,” Fizdale said of playing two centers at the same time.

Fizdale replaced the Turkish big man with Luke Kornet after the team’s Christmas day loss to the Bucks. Mitchell Robinson has been out with an ankle injury that predated the lineup change, leaving Kanter to see minutes off the bench over the last four contests. Robinson isn’t quite ready to see the court, though the rookie won’t take all of Kanter’s minutes once he returns.

Kanter won’t play in the team’s January 17 tilt against the Wizards in London. Kanter, who has been outspoken about the Turkish Government, said he wouldn’t travel with the team because of safety concerns. “I could get killed pretty easy,” he previously said, alluding to his feud with Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the possibility of a Turkish presence in London.

The Knicks then attempted to clarify the center’s response by announcing that Kanter would not make the trip because of visa issues. However, Kanter refuted the claim today, posting a photo of his travel document on his Twitter feed.

New York could trade Kanter, in addition to some of their other veterans, before the trade deadline, as the franchise is fully committed to a youth movement.  As we wait to see what moves the 10-29 Knicks make, let’s take a look at some more notes from the Big Apple:

  • The Knicks‘ team doctors have changed their diagnosis on Frank Ntilikina‘s ankle from a strained left tendon to sprained ligaments, which is an upgrade in terms of predicted recovery time, Berman passes along in the same piece. The team doesn’t expect Ntilikina to miss as much time as Robinson has. “With the Mitchell thing, we’re being overly cautious because he’s had multiple [sprains],” Fizdale said. “It’s different with Frank, and these kids heal differently. I don’t see Frank being out too long.”
  • Kevin Knox is only 19 years old and the 6’9″ rookie says he isn’t done growing yet, Berman passes along in a separate piece. “Doctors said I have a half-inch or an inch left in the tank,” Knox said. “You never know — hopefully, I have an inch [left]. Maybe 6-10, 6-10½. If not, I’m perfectly fine with where I’m at.”
  • While tanking may be the best path for the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. is not a fan of the strategy and the losses are wearing him down, Berman adds in a separate piece. “It’s obviously a tough pill to swallow. You definitely want to try to win as many games as possible.”

Frank Ntilikina Unhappy About Christmas Benching

Whatever plans Frank Ntilikina had for Christmas Day, they didn’t include spending 48 minutes on the Knicks‘ bench. Ntilikina found himself back out of coach David Fizdale’s revolving lineup and he doesn’t sound happy about the move, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“Did I know that I would not play today?” Ntilikina said after the game. “Coach makes his decision during the game. So you don’t know. You know that, right?”

Ntilikina hasn’t played well lately, posting a 3.6/2.2/2.4 line over his past five games while shooting 21.4% from the field and 18.2% from 3-point range. Still, the timing of Fizdale’s decision was odd considering team president Steve Mills just spoke last Friday about the need to raise Ntilikina’s confidence on offense.

Yesterday’s benching was particularly tough for Ntilikina because his mother flew in from France to watch him play on Christmas. The Knicks’ other options at point guard weren’t playing well, Berman notes, as Emmanuel Mudiay committed five turnovers and Trey Burke hit just one of seven shots.

This is the second absence from the lineup for Ntilikina, who had three DNPs earlier this month, and he seems to be growing frustrated about Fizdale’s approach to allocating minutes.

“I don’t know how long it will be [this time],” Ntilikina said. “I can’t predict each and every game in the future. One thing I can do is get ready for each and every one — which I will do. Practice hard, get ready physically and mentally for the next game.”

Fizdale explained to reporters that Ntilikina had been “struggling” and he wanted to give more time to Burke, who has been working his way back from a knee strain.

While none of the Knicks’ point guards has been outstanding, Ntilikina is the only one under contract for next season. Burke’s $1.795MM deal for this season won’t be fully guaranteed until next month, while Mudiay is headed for restricted free agency.

James Dolan Won’t Rule Out Possibility Of Selling Knicks

While there are no indications that Knicks owner James Dolan plans to sell the franchise anytime soon, he didn’t entirely rule out the possibility during a recent discussion with Ian O’Connor of ESPN.com. Noting that his family has no interest in selling the Knicks, Dolan told O’Connor that he has a responsibility to his shareholders to keep that option open in case the right offer comes along.

“You have a responsibility as the guy who runs the place to deliver on that for them, that’s being open and transparent. And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks,” Dolan said. “Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote.

“As a majority owner, I don’t want to sell, either,” Dolan continued. “As the head of the public company, you can’t say you can’t sell, because then you’re telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won’t invest with you if you do that.”

When Forbes released its NBA franchise valuations early in 2018, the Knicks were once again viewed as the league’s most valuable team, with an estimated value of $3.6 billion. In his discussion with O’Connor, Dolan acknowledged that there have been some “feelers” of offers that would far exceed that number. However, those feelers never led to any concrete offers for the franchise.

“You hear numbers all the time,” Dolan told O’Connor. “… I think people have sent feelers out, but never any that were pursued. Yeah, [the feelers are] around that number [$5 billion], but those things, it’s like a stock price. It’s only important if you’re going to buy or sell.”

Dolan also addressed a handful of other topics during his wide-ranging conversation with O’Connor, so the piece is worth checking out in full for Knicks fans.

Here are some of the other notable comments from the Knicks’ owner:

On Phil Jackson’s unsuccessful stint as the Knicks’ president of basketball operations:

“I think it was much more about this triangle thing. It was much more about his philosophy, that he couldn’t get the group to buy into it. And I think he got ‘yessed’ a lot. I think they’d be underneath their breath going, ‘This is not a great idea,’ and he got into conflict with some players over it. But I think he tried hard to get his system in. I just don’t think he ever got it in.”

On Jeff Van Gundy telling ESPN that he had interest in the Knicks’ head coaching job this past spring:

“I never heard that. He wanted the job? Look, I’ll do whatever’s necessary to help the team. If [GM] Scott [Perry] and [president of basketball operations] Steve [Mills] said Jeff’s the right guy, fine, but it was really their call. I didn’t meet anybody else other than [David Fizdale]. They said, ‘Look, he’s our pick, I want you to meet him.’ So I did. I wasn’t involved in the selection process at all.”

On whether he has any regrets about having Charles Oakley ejected from Madison Square Garden during a 2017 game:

“He was out of control. Anybody else who went even half the way that he went would have been ejected from the venue. It just got too bad. He had to be taken out.”

Atlantic Notes: Fizdale, Butler, Raptors, Kornet

David Fizdale was asked to give his thoughts on Bulls players threatening to revolt against coach Jim Boylen after a series of harsh practices, and the new Knicks coach gave a response about his players that should bring confidence to fans in New York.

Since being hired as head coach, Fizdale has preached the importance of keeping a healthy culture. The Knicks’ poor culture before Fizdale’s arrival is well-documented and in the past, but it’s something he’ll vigorously work to keep his team away from. When asked if he’d ever consider running a Boylen-style practice, however, Fizdale laughed.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. “I wouldn’t rule it out. But at the end of the day, I can’t even think about what’s going on in Chicago. I’ve got a house full of young ’uns that I’ve got to take care of. But you know every coach has got to handle their situation the way that they see fit. I can only speak for my group. I feel like I’ve established a good trust with these guys so they know if I do pull something, it’s probably worthwhile and that they deserve it. So that’s how I view when I really want to crack down on them, I’m hoping that I’ve gotten to a place with these guys that they know it’s coming from the right place.”

Fizdale’s last job as an assistant was with the Heat, a team with one of the proudest, hard-working atmospheres in the NBA. He quickly learned the importance of keeping a team together both on the hardwood and off, and has brought those principles to his new job with the Knicks this season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Jimmy Butler has positively impacted the Sixers despite not playing in the past two games, Brian Seltzer of NBA.com writes. Butler has encouraged and assisted his teammates from the sidelines when needed, becoming a vocal leader for the team. “He just is an incredible example of professionalism to our guys,” coach Brett Brown said. “His resume speaks for itself, and that’s all under the fact that, as I see it, he loves his job. He loves basketball.”
  • The Raptors have their core for the future regardless of what Kawhi Leonard chooses to do in free agency, Shams Charania explains in a video for Stadium. Leonard will become a free agent on July 1, and could consider joining the Clippers if he leaves Toronto. Outside of Leonard, the Raptors currently sport a core group of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas.
  • Knicks center Luke Kornet has a golden opportunity to prove he deserves to be in New York past this season, Marc Berman of the New York post writes. Kornet is expected to receive more playing time in the coming games as Mitchell Robinson copes with an ankle injury. He recorded 13 points, six rebounds, two steals and three blocks in the team’s overtime victory against the Hornets on Friday.

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.

Fizdale: Knicks Will Be Attractive Destination For Free Agents

Speaking today to reporters, including Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Knicks head coach David Fizdale expressed a belief that the franchise will be an attractive destination for 2019 free agents. As Fizdale explains, he and the current management group have worked hard to change the idea that the Knicks are a toxic or poorly-run organization.

“What I think we’ve done together with (president) Steve Mills and (GM) Scott Perry and (owner) Mr. (James) Dolan and myself and all our staff, is we changed the perception of how we operate and treat each other and what’s important,” Fizdale said. “That’s the first step in getting people to come to New York. When they see we have a really tight ship, really take care of our guys, our guys get better and get a lot of attention.

“Hopefully all of those things, with the combination of the understanding we have Kristaps Porzingis there, too, this team isn’t necessarily what our record is when you put him in the mix,” Fizdale continued. “We have something free agents will like.”

The Knicks should have the flexibility to open up enough cap space for a maximum-salary free agent in 2019, and are expected to pursue Kevin Durant and other stars. While Fizdale, who said that Dolan is “on board with everything we’re doing,” didn’t identify any specific targets, he suggested that the Knicks should be in a “good position” to make strong pitches by the time the free agent market opens next July.

Enes Kanter, who has expressed a desire to remain with the Knicks beyond his current contract, agrees with head coach that Fizdale, Perry, and Mills have helped improve the culture in New York.

“There was this thing that people don’t want to come here or they were just scared,” Kanter said, per Bondy. “With all this new front office, with the coach and everything, it definitely changes. If you see the moves, see the pieces have changed, you see all the young guys have come in and everything, I think it’s definitely changing. It’s definitely going to a good destination.”

Although the Knicks certainly appear to be on the right track, with Fizdale making a positive impact early in his tenure and the front office avoiding short-sighted roster decisions, they’ll face plenty of competition in 2019 free agency. The Lakers, Clippers, Sixers, Bulls, and Nets are among the other big-market clubs expected to have significant cap room.

Knicks Notes: Knox, Ntilikina, Porzingis, Robinson, Lee

The Knicks’ lottery picks over the last two years, point guard Frank Ntilikina and wing Kevin Knox, have been called soft by rival scouts and other league personnel interviewed by the New York Post’s Marc Berman. Knox was also labelled as selfish offensively, settling for long-range jumpers and refusing to move the ball. Ntilikina was knocked for lacking of acumen expected of a floor leader. Coach David Fizdale bristled at the criticism, according to tweet from Newsday’s Steve Popper. “Give them a break,” he said. “These guys are learning on the fly.” Knox said he’ll take the knocks in a constructive way, as Popper relays. “I love the criticism because that’s just going to help me go watch film and make sure I can get better at that,” Knox said.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Knox is eager to establish chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis, Berman reports in a separate story. Porzingis could return in late December from the ACL tear he suffered last season. “It will be great to get him on the court and get the connection going a bit see how it is to play with an All-Star,” he said. “It will be pretty fun when he gets back. Hopefully, we’ll connect.”
  • Fizdale said there’s no talk of sending Knox and fellow rookie Mitchell Robinson to the G League’s Westchester Knicks, Berman writes in another piece. “I’m keeping both of them with us,’’ Fizdale said. “Through whatever tough times we go through, that’s what we have to go through with them right now. But I want them with our guys, playing with our guys, interacting with our guys, having successes and suffering with our guys.”
  • Courtney Lee could make his season debut against the Bucks on Saturday, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets. Fizdale said the veteran shooting guard is probable to play, Vorkunov adds. Lee has been sidelined with a neck injury.

Atlantic Notes: Trier, Mudiay, Butler

With the Knicks focused on player development and youth in this rebuilding season without Kristaps Porzingis, one bright spot in the first quarter of the team’s season has been the play of Allonzo Trier. As Tommy Beer writes for Forbes, Trier has showcased his elite scoring abilities and has proven that he belongs in the league, despite going undrafted last summer.

Trier has played nearly 500 minutes so far this season and has provided a consistent scoring threat off the bench, averaging 11.5 points per game while knocking down 47.2% of his 3-pointers.

While a lot of attention has been on Kevin Knox and the surprising play of second-round pick Mitchell Robinson, Beer points out that fans shouldn’t overlook Trier and his place in the team’s young core, especially given the consistency he has provided this season.

As Porzingis works on recovering from his torn ACL and the Knicks have plans to spend in free agency, it will be interesting to see what the team’s young core looks like moving froward.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

Atlantic Notes: Fizdale, Leonard, Celtics, Brown

Knicks coach David Fizdale plans to keep his emotions in check today as he returns to Memphis to face the team that fired him after 19 games last season, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Fizdale took the Grizzlies to the playoffs during his first season with the organization, but was discarded last year as the team got off to a rough start highlighted by an early-season injury to Mike Conley and Fizdale’s feud with Marc Gasol.

Fizdale became one of the hottest free agents on the coaching market, interviewing with several teams before accepting the job in New York. He insists he’s not bitter about the experience in Memphis, saying it taught him lessons that made him a better coach.

“Probably the emotional part will be me remembering the good part of it,” he said. “I got a standing ovation in that building from a great fan base, and that’s the moment I’m going to remember, in the playoffs when we fought our butts off against the Spurs, and those guys being able to give me that moment as a young coach, and to share that moment with them. I’ll never forget that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Heat forward James Johnson, who spent three and a half seasons in Toronto, believes Kawhi Leonard will find a lot to like about the city, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Leonard is averaging 24.4 points per game and has propelled the Raptors to a 16-4 start, the best record in the league. “I think guys are more focused on winning now and getting to a team that can get to those Eastern Conference finals or can get to the championship series,” Johnson said. “So I don’t think it’s about place anymore. It’s about building the right team.”
  • The slumping Celtics are having trouble finding the right roles for the younger players who helped them reach the Eastern Conference finals last season, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Terry Rozier has struggled in his return to a reserve role, Jaylen Brown‘s shot has been off all season and Jayson Tatum is settling too often for long two-point shots.
  • X-rays were negative after Brown landed hard on his back late in last night’s game, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.
  • The Celtics were counting on a draft pick bonanza in June with picks possibly coming from the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers, but based on the current standings all of those would be later than Boston’s selection, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.