Elfrid Payton

New York Notes: Robinson, Irving, Nwaba, Ellenson, Payton

The past two seasons, one of the few bright spots on the Knicks‘ roster has been athletic center, Mitchell Robinson. As an elite shot-blocker and rebounder who has developing scoring ability, Robinson has cemented himself as a key part of New York’s future.

Offseason acquisition and NBA veteran Taj Gibson has taken on the role of mentor for the 21-year-old big man. In Gibson’s opinion, Robinson possesses talent that could make him an NBA All-Star, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

“This guy, a lot of players don’t have a niche. A lot of them don’t know where to start,” he said. “A lot of guys just come in and think it’s all about scoring and not defense. A lot of players are lost in the sauce with that. With Mitch, he already knows what he has to do. He’s a starting center and all he has to do is grow. If he pushes himself like he’s doing, he’ll be an All-Star. He doesn’t know how good he is.”

Check out more news from New York’s basketball teams:

  • Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will miss out on two additional bonuses, worth $125K each, for failing to play in at least 60 games this season, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (Twitter link). This brings the total money in incentives lost to $375K for the mercurial Brooklyn guard. We detailed Irving’s eight $125K incentives, totaling $1MM, right here.
  • Injuries and other roster needs forced the Nets to part with injured guard David Nwaba and Henry Ellenson in recent days. As Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes, Brooklyn is currently exploring options to upgrade the roster. “Obviously with all our injuries, we need the roster spot. We’re in discussions to see who we bring in,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said.
  • It was a life-changing and busy day for Knicks point guard Elfrid Payton, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. After his girlfriend gave birth to their son on Friday morning, Payton flew to Phoenix for the Knicks’ evening tilt against the Suns. Payton finished with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Knicks Notes: Payton, Ntilikina, Barrett, Fizdale

Interim coach Mike Miller made his first change to the Knicks‘ starting lineup last night, inserting Elfrid Payton at point guard in place of Frank Ntilikina, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. It’s a move that seemed inevitable, as Payton’s role has increased since Miller took over for David Fizdale seven games ago. Ntilikina provides better defense, but Payton speeds up the offense and gets everyone involved.

“Elfrid had 10 assists and two turnovers,” Miller said after the game. “The one thing we’ve seen him do consistently here as he’s come back from his injury is he’s helping other people and you have that facilitator and that guy that does it and he’s taken that role and he’s done a very good job with it. I’ll be repetitive, but we’ve continued, when we’ve needed it and when the game calls for it, we’ve used all the guards.”

Popper adds that giving Payton more minutes might be a strategy to drive up his trade value. He’s about to turn 26 and has no guaranteed money beyond this season. The Knicks’ future at point guard may still revolve around the 21-year-old Ntilikina and 22-year-old Dennis Smith Jr., who both need playing time to develop.

There’s more this morning from New York City:

  • Executives around the league tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that Ntilikina still has trade value and could bring back a late first-round pick if the Knicks decide to deal him. The organization appeared determined to move on from Ntilikina before the draft, but Begley believes that’s less certain now.
  • RJ Barrett may be the last chance for the current Knicks management team to have a success story, Popper adds in a separate piece. The third player selected in this year’s draft, Barrett has been through an up-and-down start to his rookie season, as this week demonstrated. His 27-point outburst Tuesday against the Hawks was sandwiched between a 3-for-12 shooting night in Denver and a 1-for-10 performance in Miami. “We’re looking at a rookie coming in,” Miller said. “He is really mature. Mentally, he is very mature. He’s prepared for this, handles these things. Physically, he puts the work in, handles himself. From teammates to staff, everyone knows what he can do. It’s part of the learning.”
  • The Knicks’ treatment of Fizdale will make it more difficult for the team to attract a big-name coach in the future, contends George Willis of The New York Post. Numerous coaches around the league have spoken up in defense of Fizdale, who was fired after less than a season and a half.

Knicks Notes: Payton, Miller, Bullock

Elfrid Payton is finally healthy again after battling hamstring woes and the point guard is impressing during his first season with the Knicks.

“He’s played so well. He’s had such a good command,” coach Mike Miller said (via Peter Botte of the New York Post. “I think I might have said this [Wednesday] and the day before, but he’s helping his teammates a lot.”

Here’s more from New York:

  • Payton started in three of the Knicks’ first four games before going down with his injury. Former coach David Fizdale believed Payton could be a difference-maker for the club, as Taj Gibson explains. “Fiz always said [Payton is] the type of guy who thinks when he plays the game and he can be a coach one day,” Gibson said (via Botte in the same piece). “It’s good to have him out there. He’s still getting a little bit of rust off him, but he’s one of those guards that you want to have on your side.”
  • The Knicks interviewed four of their assistants after firing Fizdale, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. The team ended up selecting Miller because of his stoic personality and previous coaching experience, Berman adds.
  • Reggie Bullock, who signed with the Knicks this offseason, is nearing a return, as Botte passes along in a separate article. “To see that I’ve made up so much time over the time and worked hard to be able to get back out here, to be able to play with my guys playing with the Knicks. It was a long journey but I’m right here almost at the finish line so just continue to keep pushing,” Bullock said.

Knicks Notes: Trades, Morris, Payton, Ntilikina

Today marks the unofficial start of the NBA’s trading season, but the Knicks won’t be in a hurry to make any deals, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. December 15 is the date that most free agents who signed during the summer are eligible to be traded. New York has seven of those, with six on expiring contracts, but several factors make any quick deals unlikely.

A team executive tells Berman that the Knicks want to wait until closer to the February 7 deadline to sort out their assets, especially since interim coach Mike Miller just took over last week. The Knicks are 2-2 under Miller, and management believes the players’ trade value will rise if the team continues to succeed. Another consideration is the shaky status of team president Steve Mills, which may delay any major decisions until after the season.

The Knicks will continue to emphasize cap flexibility heading into the summer, Berman adds, which means it’s unlikely they’ll take on any expensive, long-term contracts. The 2020 free agent class is considered weak, but the organization wants to have cap room available for any offseason trade opportunities that might arise.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • The Knicks believe they can get a late first-round pick from a contender in exchange for Marcus Morris, Berman relays in the same piece. Figuring out the point guard situation remains a priority, with Elfrid Payton apparently back in the lead role. Berman notes that Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina have both been on the trade block before.
  • The Knicks have been much better since Payton returned after missing 17 games with a strained hamstring, Berman observes in a separate story. Payton has been closing out games under Miller and sparked a comeback in Friday’s win at Sacramento. “When he’s playing like that, he’s a monster and tough to deal with, pushing the pace,” Julius Randle said. “… He got it done on both ends. I’m extremely proud of him how he competes.’’ A source tells Berman that Randle believes his adjustment to joining a new team would have been much easier if Payton hadn’t been injured.
  • Ntilikina made progress under former coach David Fizdale, but finds himself in a different situation since Miller took over, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Ntilikina remains in the starting lineup, but he’s not the type of “downhill” point guard that Miller envisions. “My goal is to stay the same, go out here and play hard for the team, give everything I can bring to this team,” Ntilikina said. “So of course, being in that situation is tough. Losing a lot of games, losing a coach, is tough. However, we’ve got to focus on the future.”

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Mills, Payton, More

More than 48 hours after news broke that the Knicks had parted ways with head coach David Fizdale, the team released a formal statement on Sunday night that expanded on its initial, bare-bones announcement from Friday — albeit not by much.

“The New York Knicks organization would like to thank David Fizdale for his leadership and professionalism over the past two seasons,” the new statement read. “He represented the organization with nothing but class. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Sunday’s press release included a longer statement from Fizdale himself, who thanked team president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry, and owner James Dolan for the opportunity to coach the Knicks, and expressed gratitude to Knicks fans for their “passion and commitment.”

Typically, when a team issues a statement like the one New York did on Sunday, it’s attributed to the team’s head of basketball operations or owner. However, the Knicks’ press release on Fizdale notably didn’t mention Mills, as Marc Berman of The New York Post points out, which may be another signal that the team president is on shaky ground.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News explores potential replacements for Mills if the Knicks decide to make a front office change. The right move would be to hire an accomplished executive and grant him full autonomy, Bondy opines.
  • Sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that the Knicks have been keeping an eye out for potential moves that would improve the current roster. While New York may be doing its due diligence, it’s hard to imagine the team would become a buyer in advance of the trade deadline. The front office’s uncertain future also complicates matters, as Begley observes.
  • Elfrid Payton, who is back from a hamstring strain, is on a minutes restriction for now, but looked like the Knicks’ best point guard on Saturday, Berman writes for The New York Post, noting that it may just be a matter of time before Payton reclaims the starting job.
  • Westchester Knicks GM Allan Houston pushed hard to have Mike Miller considered for the Knicks’ interim head coaching job once Fizdale was fired, according to Berman. Miller previously coached New York’s G League affiliate in Westchester.
  • Knicks fans deserved a better explanation from the team’s decision-makers for their head coaching change, argues Barbara Barker of Newsday. Mills and Perry didn’t hold a news conference over the weekend to discuss Fizdale’s dismissal.
  • Former Knick Carmelo Anthony addressed Fizdale’s firing and the perception that stars don’t want to play for the franchise. Steve Popper of Newsday has the details and the quotes from Anthony.

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’ Elfrid Payton Out At Least 10 More Days

Knicks point guard Elfrid Payton, who hasn’t played since October 28 due to a strained right hamstring, still hasn’t fully recovered from that injury and will remain sidelined for the time being, the team announced today (via Twitter).

Head coach David Fizdale said today that Payton has started jogging again (Twitter link via Marc Berman of The New York Post). However, according to the Knicks, he’ll be out for at least another week and a half, and will be re-evaluated in 10 days.

While it’s a rough break for Payton, who has been plagued by injuries over the last couple years, his absence makes some rotation decisions simpler for the Knicks. Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. will continue to receive opportunities at the point while Payton sits, with RJ Barrett taking on some ball-handling duties as well.

Ntilikina, Smith, and Payton are looking to make strong impressions on the Knicks this year, as the 2020 offseason figures to be important for all three players. Ntilikina and Smith will become extension-eligible next July, while Payton could return to the unrestricted free agent market if New York opts not to fully guarantee his $8MM salary for 2020/21. Currently, just $1MM of that figure is guaranteed.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Ntilikina, Payton, Garland

Despite the stance taken by the front office since the Kristaps Porzingis trade, the Knicks weren’t forced to deal their 24-year-old star last winter, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Porzingis may have made a trade request, but he had limited leverage for getting out of New York. A restricted free agent over the summer, Porzingis could have signed an offer sheet with another team that the Knicks would have had the option to match or he could have accepted New York’s one-year qualifying offer, a risky proposition considering his injury history.

Either choice would given management more time to make the changes in team culture that they have been discussing. Plus, they had the advantage of giving him more money and a longer contract than anyone else could have offered.

The Knicks’ return makes the deal look especially bad. The $70MM in cap space that the trade opened up was used on short-term contracts for complementary players after the top targets signed elsewhere. Dennis Smith Jr. has been in and out of the point guard rotation and doesn’t look like a future star. DeAndre Jordan, whom the Knicks hoped would help attract his close friend, Kevin Durant, wound up joining Durant in Brooklyn. That leaves New York with two future first-rounders as the payment for dealing what was supposed to be their foundation player.

Porzingis, who will make his first trip back to Madison Square Garden this week after facing his former team Friday, told reporters that the situation could have ended differently. “Of course, of course. Of course,” he said. “As I said, I have nothing negative to say, it’s in the past. I’m grateful for those years that I spent in New York. It’s a great experience.”

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Frank Ntilikina seems firmly established as the team’s top point guard after a breakthrough performance in Dallas, observes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The 2017 lottery pick had 14 points, six rebounds, four steals and three blocks as the Knicks grabbed a rare road victory. “Frank looked great,” Porzingis said. “… I know his work ethic, his mindset. I’m happy to see him play and play well and show the things he’s been capable of doing.
  • Ntilikina’s emergence leaves the future of the team’s other point guards in doubt, notes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Elfrid Payton, who will miss his sixth straight game today with a hamstring issue, is looking like a questionable signing considering his history of health problems. Smith, who rejoined the team Friday after being away 11 days following the death of his stepmother, has shot a combined 1 of 11 in his last three games.
  • With the Cavaliers in town today, the Knicks will get a look at Darius Garland, whom they were considering taking if they had been able to find a deal to move back in the draft, Berman adds in a separate story.

Knicks Notes: Point Guards, Fizdale, Irving, Trier

Two games into the season, the Knicks‘ point guard situation remains as confused as ever, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. Elfrid Payton earned a start Friday night after a strong performance in the season opener, but rookie RJ Barrett was used in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. Barrett posted 16 points and six steals to help lead a comeback, but finished the night with five turnovers and only three assists.

“It was good. I feel like I can do that,” Barrett said of handling the point. “Coach trusts me. He has a lot of faith in me.”

Dennis Smith Jr., who appeared to be the point guard of the future when he was acquired from the Mavericks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade nine months ago, played just 4:31. Frank Ntilikina wasn’t used at all.

“(Smith’s) still in a struggle,” coach David Fizdale said. “I just gotta figure out how to get him out of it. I think he’s just overthinking things a little bit, but we’ll figure it out.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Fizdale continues to work through different combinations, which should be expected on a team with nine new players, observes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. The lack of cohesion was especially apparent on defense Friday as lapses enabled the Nets to hit 15 of their first 30 shots from beyond the arc. “We have depth, we’ve just got to get them all to play on the same night and get them clicking on the same night,” Fizdale said. “But that’s going to take time obviously. We’ve had three weeks together. But the fact we have the kind of grit that doesn’t lay down, those are two playoff teams we lost to on the road that we had a chance to win those games.”
  • The Knicks-Nets rivalry appeared more heated than ever after a pivotal free agency summer for both franchises, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who were thought to be New York’s top targets, both wound up in Brooklyn, and the Nets gave away Irving jerseys last night to emphasize the point.
  • Allonzo Trier doesn’t believe Irving’s comments about taking over New York City were meant to be inflammatory, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It wasn’t about the Knicks. It wasn’t about anything like that,” Trier said. “I didn’t take anything personally. Kyrie is a really good friend of mine. We spent a lot of time (together) in the summer. Great guy.’’

Knicks Notes: Popovich, Morris, Irving, Rotation, Payton

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t just upset at Marcus Morris. He was also ticked off at the Knicks organization concerning Morris’ free agent odyssey, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports. Morris backed out of a verbal agreement with San Antonio and inked a one-year, $15MM contract with New York. “Who signed him? I thought it was the Knicks that signed him,” Popovich said. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

However, Popovich has made peace with Morris, as the two embraced after the teams played each other on Wednesday. “That meant a lot. I didn’t know how he felt,” Morris said. “I spoke to him after I made my decision. So it was good to clear the air.”

We have more on the Knicks:

  • While the organization may have been disheartened by Kyrie Irving‘s decision to join the Nets, coach David Fizdale wasn’t caught off-guard by the All-Star point guard’s decision, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. “Nothing surprises me anymore,” Fizdale said. “Guys are going to go where they feel is best for them,” he said. “He felt that that was best for him. I’m happy with the guys that we got.”
  • Fizdale admits he’s still a long way from settling on a rotation, Begley notes in the same story. “I’m sure it’s tough for them (not) being set in a rotation. At the same time, we’re not there yet,” he said. “Some teams have the luxury to know here’s my starting five, here’s my backups. Everybody can just dial into when they’re going to play every single night. But right now we don’t have that luxury.”
  • Elfrid Payton has apparently taken the lead in the starting point guard race after the opener, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Payton posted 11 points, eight assists and five steals with no turnovers as Dennis Smith and Frank Ntilikina struggled. Rookie RJ Barrett got the start in game one, but that experiment may be over, Berman writes. “By no means is this an indictment on anybody or stuck in stone,” Fizdale said. “I still want these guys to be fighting for that top spot.”