Dennis Smith Jr.

New York Notes: Knicks, DSJ, Irving, Dinwiddie

Two people in touch with the Knicks within the last few days have said that the team remains opposed to moving a future first-round pick in any trade scenario, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley cautions that the stance could be posturing on the Knicks’ part, but I’d personally be pretty surprised to see New York trade a first-rounder in the coming weeks. The only scenario in which it would make sense would be if the club could land a player who is under contract for multiple years and projects to be a long-term building block.

The Knicks were recently linked to Andre Drummond. Reports since then have downplayed those talks, but Begley has suggested they were more than just exploratory discussions. Even if they were serious about a Drummond scenario, it’s not clear if the Knicks would have to give up a first-round pick, given the big man’s uncertain contract status beyond this season.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed his ninth straight game due to a oblique strain on Sunday and there’s still no clear timetable for his return, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. However, Smith is enthusiastic about the progress he has made. “It’s actually faster (than I expected),” Smith said. “I heard with oblique strains, it can be two months. I’m actually coming along fast. I’m going through the process. I’m feeling better.”
  • Kyrie Irving looked good on Sunday in his return for the Nets, making 10-of-11 shots from the floor in 20 minutes and helping lead the team to a blowout win. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, Irving said it was “good to be back” on the court. “It was a long road back, man,” Irving said. “A lot of questions I had to answer; just health for my shoulder, longevity, what would’ve been the best option for my health long term.”
  • Spencer Dinwiddie played a starring role for the Nets in Irving’s absence, but is happy to give up some of his scoring and play-making responsibilities now that his backcourt mate is healthy. “I’d rather average 21 and win at a high level [compared to] 25 and getting my head cracked every night,” Dinwiddie told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “I don’t view his coming back as, ‘Now I’m gonna average two points a game.’ I’ll still be productive. It gives our group a chance to win a lot more games.”
  • Nets forward Rodions Kurucs acknowledged that his legal issues have impacted his performance on the court this season, Lewis writes for The New York Post. Kurucs, who was accused of domestic assault, has had a reduced role in 2019/20 and has been up and down when he’s played.

Knicks May Not Be Sellers At Trade Deadline

Given the state of the Knicks, one would assume the team will look to trade away its veterans before the trade deadline and accumulate assets for the future. However, Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears that rival clubs are getting the impression that New York isn’t solely focused on being sellers and accumulating draft picks and young players.

Opposing front offices believe that the Knicks have veterans that could help round out a playoff team, both this season and in future years. Teams have previously expressed interest in Dennis Smith Jr., Marcus Morris, and Bobby Portis and Begley notes that the team has likely had conversations about other players as well.

What happens with Morris will be particularly interesting. The forward signed a one-year, $15MM contract with New York this offseason after spurning San Antonio, and the franchise believes he could have long-term value to the club. The Knicks have been impressed by his play and his leadership so far this season.

The organization is 10-27 on the season and is on its second coach of the campaign.

Dennis Smith Jr. Responds To Trade Rumors

Dennis Smith Jr. insisted today that he wants to remain in New York, but rumors persist that he wouldn’t object to a trade, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Asked about that possibility at this morning’s shootaround, Smith responded, “I like playing for the Knicks. So whatever I’ve got to do, I’m going to take care of that.’’

When pressed on the topic, Smith said, “I want to be here” and “My thing is to take care of what I got going on now. I’m with the New York Knicks, so I try to be the best version of me with this team.”

Berman notes that Smith became concerned about his future in New York when the Knicks signed free agent Elfrid Payton in July and virtually promised him the starting point guard role. Smith’s camp considered asking for a trade at that point, but decided against it. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported this week that executives from several teams have contacted the Knicks about trading for Smith, and they believe he would welcome a fresh start.

“The way I look at it, of course, you come in and you want to play,’’ Smith said. “I don’t know how much you’re supposed to feed into it. You want to see (Payton) do well. You want to do well yourself. That’s what it’s really about.’’

Smith, Payton and Frank Ntilikina have been staging a three-way battle for playing time at point guard since training camp. Smith is currently at the back of the line, averaging just 16.1 minutes per night, and will miss his second straight game tonight with a strained oblique. He was slowed by a back injury in training camp and left the team for two weeks after his stepmother died.

The injuries and the lack of playing time are driving down Smith’s trade value, creating a difficult situation for team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry, who are already on shaky ground. Smith was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks in January, and it would be embarrassing for the front office to ship him off now without getting something significant in return.

Charania’s Latest: Holiday, Zion, Nuggets, Knicks

Earlier today, we passed along Shams Charania’s report of Dewayne Dedmon wanting out of Sacramento. The big man hasn’t played in eight of the last 10 games for the Kings and both sides believe that the situation is unsalvagable.

Charania also passed along other tidbits from around the league in his latest piece on The Athletic. Here are the highlights:

  • One of Jrue Holiday‘s priorities is being in a winning situation, a source tells Charania, and that’s not something the Pelicans are currently providing him. Rival teams believe that Holiday is the type of piece who would help lift a team to a new level. The Nuggets and Heat are believed to be possible destinations should David Griffin trade the point guard, Charania notes.
  • Zion Williamson is expected to begin contract drills and practices within the next week or two and the Pelicans want the No. 1 overall pick to continue to get leaner prior to his return. The franchise has focused on refining his eating habits as well. Charania adds the Pelicans “fully anticipate” Williamson playing this season.
  • The Nuggets are open to dealing Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley, though both players have high asking prices. Some rival executives expect the team to move both Hernangomez and Beasley, as each restricted free agent is expected to garner a lucrative deal in free agency.
  • The Heat have not closed the door on Dion Waiters playing for the team again. Pat Riley recently met with Waiters and James Johnson, making it clear to each that Miami would like to reintegrate both players into team activities.
  • Rival teams believe Dennis Smith Jr. would prefer a trade from the Knicks and several clubs have inquired about the point guard.
  • We’ve seen several G-League call ups this season and James Palmer Jr., who is playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers, could be next, Charania writes.

Knicks Notes: Trade Rumors, Bullock, Ellington, Smith Jr.

Another rocky start in New York has led several Knicks to begin seeking a way out, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Sources tell Begley a few players have said privately that they hope to be dealt before the February 6 trade deadline arrives.

That was always a danger for a team that signed so many players to short-term contracts this summer. Of the seven free agents who came to New York, only Julius Randle has any money guaranteed beyond this season. Management has admitted that it prioritized roster flexibility and future cap room after missing out on its top targets in the free agent market.

Begley expects the team to explore trading options on everyone except rookie guard RJ Barrett and possibly second-year center Mitchell Robinson. He notes that several teams, including the Timberwolves, have expressed interest in Dennis Smith Jr.

There’s more from New York:

  • Two much-needed shooters are expected back in the lineup soon, Begley adds in the same story. Reggie Bullock practiced yesterday with the Knicks’ G League team and is close to making his season debut after having cervical disc herniation surgery in July. Wayne Ellington, who has missed the past 10 games with an Achilles issue, may be ready for Saturday’s game at Washington.
  • Efforts to trade Smith will be complicated by an oblique injury that could sideline him for several games, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Smith started feeling discomfort during an extra workout after playing just seven minutes Monday. There’s no word on how much time he might miss with the injury, which is more common among baseball players. “He pulled something in his oblique while he was playing,’’ interim coach Mike Miller said. “It wasn’t a collision. It was just some kind of movement when he did something, it pulled something. … He’s been testing it and going through treatment as best he can. We’ll just have to see day-to-day how he feels.”
  • Robinson credits an agreement he made with former coach David Fizdale for turning his season around, relays Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Any time Robinson commits a reach-in foul during a game, he has to run laps during practice as punishment. “Who wants to keep running all day in practice?” Robinson said. “Why not jump vertical? It worked out pretty great.”

Wolves Among Teams With Interest In Dennis Smith Jr.

While many Knicks trade rumors this season have focused on frontcourt players like Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson, several teams that have been in touch with the Knicks recently believe they’re open to moving a point guard, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton certainly won’t be untouchable, but Begley singles out Dennis Smith Jr. as one player who has drawn interest from multiple teams. Sources tell Begley that the Timberwolves are among the clubs with interest in Smith.

Minnesota has been seeking a long-term answer at point guard, and while Smith may not be that answer, he could represent a low-cost flier for the Wolves. DSJ’s stock has slipped since he was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Mavericks. He’s averaging just 17.0 minutes per game in New York this season, and has received multiple DNP-CDs since Mike Miller took over for David Fizdale.

Still, Smith is only 22 years old and showed on Tuesday vs. Atlanta that he’s still capable of filling up a box score. In just 13 minutes, he recorded eight points, five rebounds, and five assists.

It’s unclear what sort of return the Knicks would want back in a trade involving Smith. Begley hears from one executive that the club probably can’t realistically demand a first-round pick in exchange for the third-year guard, which doesn’t come as a surprise.

Atlantic Notes: Shumpert, Embiid, Smith Jr., Harris

Veteran guard Iman Shumpert became a victim of league rules when the Nets were forced to make a tough decision last week, waiving the 29-year-old after having him on the roster for less than a month.

Brooklyn was required to create an open roster spot with forward Wilson Chandler set to return from a 25-game suspension, leaving the team with the choice of waiving a player or working to find a suitable trade. Chandler was suspended at the start of the season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy.

“I think we understand the circumstances,” coach Kenny Atkinson said of waiving Shumpert, as relayed by Mollie Walker of the New York Post. “Everybody understands the circumstances. I know this: That guy [Shumpert] belongs in the league. He proved that in the time he was with us. But circumstances just dictated with Wilson coming back. It’s just how it is.”

Shumpert provided a spark off the bench in 13 games, particularly on the defensive end, but he struggled in limited time offensively by averaging 4.2 points on 33% shooting from the floor and 24% from deep.

Following the news of his waiving, Shumpert took to social media and thanked the Nets for his brief opportunity with the franchise.

“The Brooklyn Nets are a first class organization from top to bottom,” he wrote. “It was great to be with you guys even for the short stay! I’m around.”

For teams seeking a veteran defender at the wing position, Shumpert remains available on the free-agent market. He holds several years of experience and was part of the 2015/16 Cavaliers team that won an NBA championship, making other stops with New York, Sacramento and Houston in his career.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Sixers center Joel Embiid hears the outside criticism and knows how to deal with it, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe writes. Embiid was challenged by the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley to provide more of a consistent effort going forward, responding by tallying 38 points, 13 rebounds and six assists against the Celtics on Thursday.
  • Interim Knicks coach Mike Miller opted not to use Dennis Smith Jr. in the team’s game against Sacramento on Friday, giving the young guard a DNP-CD, Marc Berman details for the New York Post. Miller utilized guards Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton, pulling away with a 103-101 victory despite Ntilikina’s struggles.
  • Sixers forward Tobias Harris is making a strong case for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Harris has averaged 19.8 points and seven rebounds in 27 games this season, shooting 49% from the floor. He has yet to make an All-Star team during his nine-year career.

New York Notes: Chandler, Smith, Barrett

Nets forward Wilson Chandler will be eligible to return to action for Brooklyn after Saturday’s matchup against the Raptors as his 25-game suspension for violating the NBA’s drug program will conclude. However, in the months leading up to his impending return, the veteran wasn’t sure it would ever happen.

In a detailed feature, ESPN’s Malika Andrews spoke to Chandler about his time on the sidelines, serving his suspension. Chandler, 32, admitted that he considered retirement.

“You start to think about, ‘Is it really worth it?'” Chandler said. “Not because you don’t want to play, but because you’re in a dark place.”

Chandler explained the process of finding out about his suspension and immediately reaching out to management, teammates, family and friends. At times, the well-traveled veteran secluded himself. But the Nets always saw him as part of the team and waived veteran Iman Shumpert this week to open up the necessary roster spot. Now, Chandler is preparing for his season debut and that’s his focus.

“You know,” Chandler said, “I’m a little nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve played.”

Check out more notes involving New York’s basketball teams:

  • Speaking of Chandler, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is excited to use the forward upon his return, Mollie Walker of the New York Post writes. “He has a tremendously simple game and that’s a good thing, and understands the system,” Atkinson said. “He was playing with us today, and it’s like seamless. He’s one of those 4, 3, 2s, doesn’t matter, he can play any of those positions. Last thing is defense. We talk about losing Shump, but we’re gaining a guy that is a really good defender in this league.” 
  • With the dismissal of Knicks head coach David Fizdale, Mike Miller‘s presence as head coach has given Dennis Smith Jr. new lease on life at point guard, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina are also in the point guard mix, but Smith will see regular action, Miller said. “Dennis is a downhill player,” Miller said. “He’s good at it. We want guys to see that and continue playing aggressively.’’
  • While there have been flashes of brilliance, RJ Barrett‘s rookie season with the Knicks has been something of a roller coaster. But as interim coach Miller put it, if Barrett is going, so are the Knicks, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. “I’m feeling good,” he said. “As long as RJ is RJ we can compete.”

Knicks Notes: Mills, Ujiri, Smith Jr., Fizdale

Steve Mills’ absence from the media in the wake of David Fizdale’s firing is a sign of his own uncertain future with the organization, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Neither Mills nor general manager Scott Perry addressed reporters Saturday, leaving that task to interim coach Mike Miller. There have been no comments from management explaining why Fizdale was let go, except for a two-sentence press release issued Friday to announce the move.

Choosing Fizdale over 11 other candidates — including reigning Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer — and giving him a four-year contract were Mills’ most recent mistakes since rejoining the team in 2012/13, Berman notes. The Knicks are on their way to their seventh straight losing season in that time.

Berman is the latest to report that the Knicks plan to make a run at Raptors executive Masai Ujiri after the season ends. Owner James Dolan considered trying to lure Ujiri two years ago before promoting Mills to president, Berman states, but decided the price in draft compensation would be too steep. Sources tell Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that Ujiri is “intrigued” at the challenge of fixing the Knicks, but people close to him are warning against it. Ujiri turned down a lucrative extension offer last summer, according to Beck, and has an out clause in his contract that allows him to leave the Raptors under certain circumstances.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Knicks players have been told not to share the reasons for Fizdale’s ouster, Berman adds in the same story. “They gave us the reasoning,’’ Dennis Smith Jr. said. “You’ve got to appreciate them giving a reason, too, because they didn’t have to do that. So they gave us a reason, told us what they expect moving forward. I think everyone has to (keep it) private.’’
  • Fizdale’s fate was sealed when Mills and Perry held a post-game press conference on November 11, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN. That surprise session with the media followed a halftime meeting with Dolan during a blowout loss to the Cavaliers. It was determined at that point that a coaching change was coming, a source tells Andrews, and the only question was when.
  • Fizdale is receiving support from his fellow coaches in the wake of his dismissal. “I’m happy for Fizdale to be out of that terrible mess that he had nothing to do with,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni suggested something is missing in the organization, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “I hate it for Fizdale,” he said. “Good coach. Did a good job. It just didn’t work out and they can’t quite seem to get all the elements together.”

Knicks Notes: Knox, Fizdale, Smith Jr., Randle

After leading the Knicks in minutes as a rookie last season, Kevin Knox is finding playing time harder to earn, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. His starting job has gone to veteran Marcus Morris, who signed a one-year contract this summer and needs plenty of court time to earn his next one. In addition, Knox’s defensive issues have eroded some of coach David Fizdale’s confidence.

“I let him know why,” Fizdale said of the reduced minutes. “We got candid relationships around here. No one’s got thin skin. He and I have been through a lot together already. He knows where I’m coming from. He knows I want the best for him and I’m going to continue to challenge him. He can accept the challenge. … Like I said, his offense has taken that step forward, now I’m pushing his defense to take that step forward.”

Knox was on the court for less than nine minutes last night and about 10 minutes Wednesday. It’s a difficult adjustment for a player who seemed to be part of the foundation for the future after being selected with the ninth pick last year.

“It was tough, but it was something that had to be done,” Knox said at Friday’s practice. “Fiz made the decision so I just made sure I was the best teammate on the bench, made sure I was cheering my guys on, keeping my guys up. I didn’t want to sit at the end of the bench and sulk and cry and just have an attitude because I wasn’t playing. So I had the right mindset going in. Came in the next day, got my work in, watched film on what I need to get better at so when my opportunity comes next time I can be able to produce.”

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Last night’s debacle against the Spurs won’t help Fizdale keep his job, observes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Fans booed loudly as the team left the court with a 25-point halftime deficit in the worst performance since Fizdale was put on an apparent 10-game alert at a post-game press conference by president of basketball operations Steve Mills on Nov. 10.
  • Expectations have fallen for Dennis Smith Jr. since he was acquired from the Mavericks in January, but he is still struggling to meet them, Berman adds in a separate story. A preseason back injury and a two-week absence from the team for a funeral have slowed his progress.
  • Watching free agent addition Julius Randle wear No. 30 is a reminder that the Knicks should have retired Bernard King‘s number a long time ago, contends Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post.