Dennis Smith Jr.

Knicks Notes: Ball, Smith Jr., Playoffs, Aller

LaMelo Ball tops the Knicks‘ wish list for this year’s draft, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. A 6’7″ playmaker who spent this season with the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL, Ball would solve New York’s long search for a point guard. However, unless they get some lottery luck, the Knicks would have to trade up to land Ball, who is expected to be among the first players selected.

Berman notes that new team president Leon Rose has experience in dealing with Ball’s controversial father LaVar during his time with Creative Artists Agency. League insiders told Berman that LaVar likes the idea of his son playing in a big market and will attempt to work behind the scenes to get him to New York.

If the Knicks’ pick remains in the 6-10 range, Berman expects Cole AnthonyTyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes and Tyrese Maxey to all be considered, along with trading down to target RJ Hampton or Kira Lewis.

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks would like to part with Dennis Smith Jr.‘s $5.7MM salary for next season if they can put together a trade involving Chris Paul, Berman adds in the same story. The Thunder guard will make $41.36MM in 2020/21, so accommodating his salary would require sending out some contracts. Berman suggests that Kevin Knox ($4.6MM), whom Rose hasn’t committed to keeping, and Frank Ntilikina ($6.2MM) could also be included.
  • A “playoffs plus” scenario being considered in a survey of general managers could leave the Knicks out in the cold, Berman observes in a separate story. New York currently ranks 12th in the East, so it wouldn’t be included if seeds seven through 10 are involved in play-in games for postseason spots.
  • Plenty of people around the league believe Brock Aller will make a difference in the Knicks’ front office, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Aller left the Cavaliers last month to become VP of strategy in New York. “He’s a big-picture guy who is also a diabolical genius from a cap standpoint,” said David Griffin, VP of basketball operations for the Pelicans, who formerly served as general manager in Cleveland.

Knicks Notes: Perry, Rose, Smith Jr., Coaching Search

The Knicks are bringing back general manager Scott Perry for another season, but the fate of his staff won’t be determined until this summer, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Perry and the team had a May 1 deadline on their mutual option, so new president of basketball operations Leon Rose had to make a decision this week. However, Perry’s staff all have contracts that run through August, so Rose will take more time to evaluate each of them.

Those staff members include personnel director Harold Ellis, assistant GM Gerald Madkins, scout Fred Cofield and capologist Michael Arcieri, and Berman notes that none of them are guaranteed to remain with the team. He adds that Perry will have input into Rose’s future hires for the scouting department.

Perry has a long relationship with NBA mogul William Wesley, who Berman believes is providing behind-the-scenes advice to Rose. Perry’s new contract runs for one season, and he will likely get the chance to earn a longer deal based on his decisions going forward.

There’s more from New York:

  • Keeping Perry around will provide continuity for the Knicks heading into the draft and the offseason, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Perry has spent the past three years with the organization and worked closely with former team president Steve Mills before he was fired in early February.
  • The decision to dismiss Mills right before the trade deadline probably postponed plans to trade Dennis Smith Jr., Ian Begley of SNY.tv states in a mailbag column. A source tells Begley that some people in the organization thought it was a “near certainty” Smith was going to be moved. Begley believes injuries and the death of a family member led to Smith’s regression this year and suggests he might be better off with another team, possibly the Magic, who reportedly expressed interest before the deadline.
  • Begley expects Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy to get consideration in the upcoming coaching search. Several agents and coaches told Begley they believe Rose will hire Tom Thibodeau if he doesn’t keep interim coach Mike Miller in place. Begley adds that Kentucky’s John Calipari shouldn’t be dismissed as a candidate, even though he has stated that he’s not interested in the job.

Knicks Notes: DSJ, Trier, Free Agent Targets

Last year’s Kristaps Porzingis trade was ultimately the “undoing” for Steve Mills in New York, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who notes that Dennis Smith Jr.‘s inconsistent play for the Knicks didn’t help keep Mills off the hot seat leading up to his February ouster.

As Berman writes, former head coach David Fizdale and assistant Keith Smart were among Smith’s “key allies” within the franchise, and their departures – along with Mills’ – significantly reduce the odds that DSJ has a long-term future with the Knicks. Berman suggests Smith will be a trade candidate during the 2020 offseason, with the Magic among the teams that could have interest. Some teams still believe the former lottery pick can evolve into a solid pro, per Berman.

“He thinks too much about his shot and trying to score the ball,” one NBA scout said of Smith. “He needs to be more of lead pass-first guard and score second. Dennis also need a coach who shows him love and gives him confidence. The quickness and ability to dribble-drive is always there, but he wants to always be the highlight play with traffic dunks.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While Fizdale was fond of Allonzo Trier, interim head coach Mike Miller preferred to play stronger defenders with more experience, Berman writes in a separate New York Post story. Given Trier’s lack of a regular role in 2019/20, he seems unlikely to stick with the Knicks as a restricted free agent this offseason, according to Berman.
  • Mike Vorkunov and John Hollinger of The Athletic take an in-depth look at the Knicks’ future, breaking down the upcoming head coaching search, identifying possible free agent targets, and discussing which of the club’s current players are long-term keepers. Fred VanVleet is one free-agent-to-be singled out by Holliner as a potentially nice fit for the Knicks.
  • 2020’s free agent class isn’t a particularly strong one, but there will be some intriguing players available if the Knicks want to try to make a splash, writes Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Rafael Canton of SNY.tv explores whether the Knicks’ financial flexibility could give them a chance to be in better position that the Nets three years from now.

First World Problems: Knicks’ Point Guard Situation

The Knicks‘ point guard situation appears to be an evergreen problem. New team president Leon Rose inherits a stable of underwhelming options just as Steve Mills and Phil Jackson did entering their respective regimes. Like his predecessors, Rose is expected to look for upgrades at the position this offseason.

What are some potential options? Prior to the Rose hire, the team had interest in trading for Terry Rozier, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv details. According to Begley, there was some support internally to send a package of Julius Randle, Dennis Smith Jr., and a future first-rounder to the Hornets in exchange for a return that included Rozier and Malik Monk.

While Rozier isn’t the All-Star point guard that New York’s fan base hopes for, he’s an upgrade on the current options. Elfrid Payton and Smith have had up-and-down results in the Big Apple. Frank Ntilikina, who has one more year left on his rookie deal, finally showed some progress but his long-term future with the club is uncertain.

Fred VanVleet will likely be the top point guard available on the free-agent market, though it’s hard to envision Toronto not doing all it can to retain the 2019 Finals hero. Chris Paul could be an option, but his contract gave teams pause last summer and that was before factoring in any sort of coronavirus-related basketball income woes that could suppress the league’s salary cap.

The franchise selecting a point guard atop the 2020 NBA draft might the best option for a brighter future at the position. The Knicks entered the NBA’s hiatus with the sixth-worst record in the league, which would give the team a 9% chance at the No. 1 overall selection, as we detailed earlier this month.

New York Notes: Coronavirus, Knicks’ Future, Chandler, Nets

The Knicks aren’t among the eight teams that have been ordered by the NBA to undergo coronavirus testing, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday. Madison Square Garden released a statement today explaining the status of the team and the NHL’s Rangers.

“We have been following the recommendations of local and national health officials and continue to monitor our players closely,” the statement reads. “As of now, with our players remaining asymptomatic, none of them have been tested for COVID-19. We will remain in close contact with health officials and the NBA and NHL.” (Twitter link).

It was revealed yesterday that four members of the cross-town Nets tested positive for the coronavirus, with Kevin Durant the only one who has been identified. As of this morning, 1,339 people in New York City have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.

There’s more from New York City:

  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic expects a lot of turnover on the Knicks‘ roster during the next three seasons, with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson the only players likely to remain in New York the entire time. Vorkunov expects Dennis Smith Jr. to be traded during the offseason, possibly for a second-round pick, just to get rid of his contract. The draft lottery will be filled with point guards, so a prospect may be the long-term answer, rather than Frank Ntilikina. An extensive roster turnover could come by the summer of 2021 as the Knicks have four first-round picks over the next two drafts.
  • In the wake of the Nets’ positive tests, Wilson Chandler tweeted that the manager of the building where he lives has asked him to keep away from common areas. “Building manager called me saying ‘Oh, I seen Nets players had the virus. We would like to know your status. And if you could possibly stay out of the lobby etc. We can’t afford to lose our staff,’” Chandler wrote. He adds that she didn’t ask specifically if he had been tested.
  • In case you missed it earlier, the Nets are defending their decision to have the entire team tested for coronavirus, saying some players were showing symptoms and all the testing was done through a private facility.

Injury Updates: Aldridge, DSJ, Celtics, Sixers, Bagley

A pair of players who have missed some time with injuries are on track to return to action tonight. One of those players is Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who has been sidelined since February 23 due to a right shoulder strain. Head coach Gregg Popovich said today that Aldridge will be back in action on Tuesday night against Dallas, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, Dennis Smith Jr., who has missed the Knicks‘ last five games, has been cleared from the NBA’s concussion protocol and will be active on Tuesday night in Washington, head coach Mike Miller told reporters this evening (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv).

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said today that Jaylen Brown (hamstring), who will miss his fourth straight game tonight, also seems unlikely to play on Thursday. Stevens added that Kemba Walker‘s left knee is feeling good, though the point guard will remain limited to about 30-32 minutes per game (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN).
  • Both Joel Embiid (shoulder) and Josh Richardson (concussion) returned to practice today for the Sixers, per Bontemps (Twitter link). Embiid is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Detroit, while Richardson should be good to go, tweets Jon Johnson of SportsRadio 94WIP.
  • As the Kings continue to push for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, there’s no indication that Marvin Bagley‘s return is imminent. The team issued a press release today announcing that Bagley continues to recover from a left midfoot sprain and is doing some on-court running and skill work. Sacramento provided no specific timeline for the big man, simply saying that updates will be provided “as appropriate.”

Knicks Notes: Coaching Job, Smith, Paul, Spike Lee

The Knicks would be wise to strike quickly regarding their head coach position, Steve Popper of Newsday opines. The Nets will also be seeking a head coach and several other franchises with better reputations than the dysfunctional Knicks could be in the market as well. Interim replacement Mike Miller has done an admirable job but if they’re interested in a coach not currently under contract, such as Kenny Atkinson, Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, they’ll need to beat other teams to that candidate.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Dennis Smith Jr. is close to returning from a concussion, Greg Joyce of the New York Post relays. Smith suffered the head injury on February 27 and has missed five games. He practiced on Saturday but did not play against Detroit on Sunday. In 34 games, the third-year guard is averaging 5.5 PPG and 2.9 APG. Smith is signed through next season.
  • Thunder point guard Chris Paul calls trade rumors regarding the Knicks “crazy,” according to an NBA Central video post. Frank Isola reported last week that New York has been “gathering intel” on Paul and might seek a trade for the veteran point guard, whose former agent is new Knicks president Leon Rose. Some members of the organization believe CP3 could provide strong leadership for the Knicks’ young roster and help to instill a winning culture, sources tell SNY.tv. Paul’s onerous contract would wreck the team’s cap sheet for the summer of 2021 when high-profile free agents are expected to be on the market but the team’s need at point guard could override that, Popper notes.
  • Paul was disappointed Spike Lee wasn’t at the Thunder-Knicks last week due to Lee’s rift with owner James Dolan, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “I’ve known Spike for a while. I had spoken to him a couple of days ago and looked forward to him being at the game to watch me play because I hadn’t played (at Madison Square Garden) the last two years,” Paul said.

Knicks Notes: Miller, Barrett, Rose, Dinwiddie

The Knicks should be focused on the future, but interim coach Mike Miller doesn’t appear ready to give more minutes to the team’s younger players, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman suggests Miller is more concerned with his own future in the organization. His 13-20 record is a marked improvement over David Fizdale’s 4-18 start, but there’s no guarantee Miller will be brought back next season, especially after comments this week from consultant Steve Stoute.

Miller’s philosophy is doing nothing to help 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox or Dennis Smith Jr., who was among the keys to the Kristaps Porzingis deal. Knox played just 10 minutes Wednesday in the team’s final game before the break and hardly had any role in the offense. Smith played six minutes and committed four turnovers.

“As we approach this, this is all about development,’’ Miller said. “That will never change. It’s about how these guys get better just if they get 10 more minutes in a game. There are a lot of things that go into the development to make these guys better. Just having minutes isn’t the end-all. I think there are other ways and other factors.’’

There’s more from New York:

  • Before posting a game-high 27 points last night in the Rising Stars Challenge, RJ Barrett assessed the Rookie of the Year race and said he should be a contender, Berman adds in a separate story“A lot of people deserve [Rookie of the Year], a lot of people work hard for it,” Barrett said. “I don’t know. It’s kind of hard not to vote for myself.” The third pick in last year’s draft, Barrett is averaging 13.6 PPG in 44 games and shooting 38.8% from the field.
  • As he prepares to take over as head of basketball operations for the Knicks, Leon Rose is keeping a characteristically low profile at All-Star Weekend, observes Steve Popper of Newsday. Rose hasn’t officially taken on his new duties and is still completing the paperwork to end his time as an agent. A source tells Popper that Rose plans to replace general manager Scott Perry, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie doesn’t expect his cross-town rivals to be a threat any time soon, relays Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “They’ll probably have a high draft pick,” Dinwiddie said of the Knicks. “Unless they do something via trade or via free agency, which I don’t know if this free agency class is that spectacular, they’re probably not going to be that good. We’ll see. I can’t tell the future. But more than likely, I mean Kevin Durant is coming back. And he’s Kevin Durant. He’s really good.”

Knicks Notes: Miller, JVG, DSJ, Front Office

Although Mike Miller‘s hold on the Knicks‘ head coaching job beyond this season looks tenuous, multiple people within the organization support the idea of keeping Miller around in some capacity even if the team hires a new head coach, says Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley and Marc Berman of The New York Post both point out that Miller is on good terms with Jeff Van Gundy, who is expected to receive consideration for the head coaching job from new president of basketball operations Leon Rose. Berman, who suggests Miller could stay on as an assistant coach if Van Gundy were to be hired, notes that JVG expressed support for the current interim coach during an appearance on NBA SiriusXM Radio.

“Mike Miller, to me, deserves every opportunity to finish this season out and win the job,” Van Gundy said. “And I think anybody plotting as a coach to try to undermine that opportunity is doing it wrong.”

Talk of Miller’s job security was reignited this week when brand consultant Steve Stoute suggested during an ESPN appearance that the Knicks will be looking to replace Miller this spring. The team and Stoute himself released statements hours later disavowing those comments. Interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry was among those “particularly bent out of shape” by Stoute’s comments on ESPN, a source tells Berman.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that Marcus Morris lobbied earlier this season for Dennis Smith Jr. – with whom he shares an agent – to receive more playing time. Smith, who lost an advocate when the Knicks traded Morris last week, has appeared in the team’s last eight contests, but logged fewer than eight minutes in each of the last two games.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday suggests (via Twitter) that Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas may be a name to watch as the Knicks seek an experienced basketball executive to work with Leon Rose in their new-look front office. However, Popper cautions (via Twitter) that Karnisovas signed an extension with Denver last year.
  • Before the Knicks decided on Rose for their president of basketball operations opening, there was speculation that Kevin Durant‘s manager Rich Kleiman could be a candidate for the job. That wasn’t the case, according to Kleiman, who tells Ian Begley of SNY.tv that he never heard from the club.
  • Tom Thibodeau has been cited as a potential head coaching candidate for the Knicks, and while Taj Gibson isn’t openly campaigning for his former coach, he believes Thibodeau can have success in today’s NBA. “He’s been misunderstood,” Gibson said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “A lot of players have different mindsets. His mindset is winning. To win games you got to go through a lot of hard work. Sometimes young players don’t understand it.”

Knicks Notes: Monk, DSJ, D-Lo, Rose, Payton, More

Before Steve Mills was removed from his position as the Knicks‘ president of basketball operations, there was some internal support for a potential trade with the Hornets that would have sent Malik Monk to New York, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley notes that Dennis Smith Jr. would’ve gone to Charlotte in the deal, though it’s not clear what other pieces would have been involved on either side. Both Smith and Monk were prospects the Knicks passed over in the 2017 draft for Frank Ntilikina.

Within his roundup of the Knicks’ deadline discussions, Begley also says that before Mills’ departure, there were members of the organization that felt as if they’d made “significant progress” toward a D’Angelo Russell trade with the Warriors.

We don’t know exactly how those talks played out, so it’s hard to say whether that confidence was warranted. But for what it’s worth, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Wednesday that none of New York’s offers had been “even remotely appealing” to Golden State. One of the Knicks’ proposals included Bobby Portis, Allonzo Trier, Ntilikina, and presumably some form of draft compensation, sources tell Begley.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a look at the Knicks’ impending hire of agent Leon Rose as their new head of basketball operations, citing one NBA executive who said, “MSG and CAA have been in bed for years. This shouldn’t be surprising.”
  • Berman notes in his article on Rose that the veteran agent is tight with Kentucky head coach John Calipari. However, Calipari said today that he has no plans to become the Knicks’ next coach, according to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic (Twitter link). Calipari said he’d help Rose in any way he can — “It just wouldn’t be to coach.”
  • One decision Rose will face this summer will be on Elfrid Payton‘s $8MM non-guaranteed salary for 2020/21. Berman examines the factors that will go into that decision, pointing out that Payton is a CAA client.
  • In an interview on Showtime’s “All the Smoke,” Kevin Durant was once again asked about his free agency decision last summer. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post details, Durant replied that he didn’t seriously consider any teams beside the Nets. “I looked at other places — the Clippers, I took a peek at the Knicks just to do my due diligence — but I really wanted to play for the black and white,” Durant said.