Emmanuel Mudiay

Knicks Notes: Durant, Thomas, Mudiay, Letter

Rich Kleiman is an NBA agent with only one client, but he’ll get plenty of attention this summer, especially in New York, writes Stefan Bondy of The Daily News. If Kleiman, a native New Yorker, can deliver Kevin Durant to the Knicks, he might be in line for a front office job as well, as a commission.

Kleiman and Durant go into detail about their relationship in newly released episodes of the ESPN series, “The Boardroom.” Durant says he was seeking guidance with his career in 2007 when he met Kleiman at a concert. They became friends, but their business partnership didn’t happen until 2013, making Kleiman his third agent in five NBA seasons. Durant also explains that he left the Thunder for the Warriors in 2016 because he wanted “another challenge,” possibly offering hope to the Knicks that he might view this offseason the same way.

“For us, it was stepping into a new chapter,” Durant said. “Let’s see how much we can conquer this totally, all the way around, not just on the basketball court, but as much as we can do in the community, as much as we can do for our businesses as well and obviously me as a basketball player.”

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks are two losses away from the worst season in franchise history, bringing back bad memories for Lance Thomas, who was part of the team that set that record in 2015, Bondy adds in a separate story. “Nobody in any competitive setting likes to lose,” Thomas said. “But it takes a tough-minded individual to keep focus and to make sure things are done the right way to change things around. Myself, I’ve just been constantly working and pushing the guys to have the mindset I have.”
  • Coach David Fizdale is dropping hints that Emmanuel Mudiay has played his last game for the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Fizdale kept Mudiay on the bench Friday with a sore shoulder and said afterward that he didn’t want to take the chance of Mudiay aggravating the injury with free agency upcoming. “I think about these guys’ careers from the standpoint of, we’re not going to the playoffs, this kid has now established himself and put himself in position to have an offseason where multiple teams are going to want to talk to him,’’ Fizdale said. “I don’t want to risk that after that he’s done so much to get to where he is.” The Knicks have other plans with more than $70MM in cap space, and Dennis Smith Jr. appears to be the point guard of the future unless Kyrie Irving comes to New York.
  • The letter the Knicks sent to season ticket holders touting the team’s free agent prospects was a mixture of optimism and caution, Steve Popper of Newsday.

Knicks Notes: Kornet, Allen, Mudiay, Oakley

Luke Kornet is making a strong push for a new contract during his late-season audition with the Knicks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Coach David Fizdale has benched veteran center DeAndre Jordan to take a longer look at rookie Mitchell Robinson alongside Kornet, who will be a free agent this summer. They will be starting for the rest of the season as management evaluates how well they fit together.

Kornet responded to the opportunity with 17 points against the Heat, followed by a career-high 24 against the Bulls. Fizdale has called him the smartest player on the team when it comes to ball movement and helping his teammates on defense.

“They have chemistry together,’’ Fizdale said of the Kornet-Robinson pairing. “Luke stretches the floor for us. Mitch puts pressure on the rim. Both when they get the ball in their hands, they’re looking to get down the floor and get other people involved.”

There’s more out of New York:

  • Two-way point guard Kadeem Allen would also be getting a chance to showcase his talents if he hadn’t suffered a concussion Monday, Berman notes in a separate story. Allen was a two-way player with the Celtics last season and reportedly turned down an offer to stay in Boston because he believed the Knicks provided a better opportunity. Berman states that scouts from other teams have shown up since the All-Star break to get a look at Allen. He adds that Fizdale has included Allen in discussions of the team’s future and seems to prefer him to Frank Ntilikina.
  • Emmanuel Mudiay started his 41st game Monday, meeting starter criteria and making him eligible for a $5.75MM qualifying offer, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Knicks have a June 29 deadline to make the offer. His $12.88MM cap hold will not change.
  • Former Knick Charles Oakley is predicting Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will be the next owner of the team, tweets Bill Simmons of the Ringer. Oakley, who has feuded with current owner James Dolan, made the surprising statement during the filming of a “Tough Chef” segment. Oakley also predicts New York will miss out on free agent targets Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and will sign Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler instead.

Knicks Hope To Get First-Rounder For Frank Ntilikina

The Knicks will make Frank Ntilikina available in trade talks and are willing to move him if they can get a first-round pick in return, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post“The Knicks will be active on draft night,” the source predicts.

Berman adds that New York would gladly include the second-year guard in a package to acquire Anthony Davis from New Orleans, but the prospect of any first-rounder may be enough to get a deal done as the Knicks look to remake their roster this summer.

However, it’s not certain that anyone will part with a first-round pick for Ntilikina, who was the seventh player selected just two years ago. He has played just 41 games this season because of injuries and hasn’t established whether he fits as a point guard, a shooting guard or a combination of the two.

Ntilikina wasn’t included in a conversation with Hall-of-Fame point guard Jason Kidd when he addressed the team Wednesday in Phoenix, Berman notes. Kidd talked at length with Dennis Smith Jr. and Emmanuel Mudiay while Ntilikina stood a few feet away.

Another source that Berman spoke with believes the Knicks would be giving up on Ntilikina too soon.

“Don’t they have to see what they have first?” the source said. “If he turns into a bust as a lottery pick, fine. But they do not know that yet.”

Ntilikina hasn’t played since late January because of a groin strain that was originally projected to take a week or two to heal. Three days after the injury, New York traded for Smith, who appears to have the starting point guard role wrapped up.

The Knicks are committed to Smith moving forward and are still debating whether to try to re-sign Mudiay, adds Berman, who states that the only way plans will change is if they can attract Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker in free agency. Fizdale plans to use Ntilikina as a wing when he returns and his future in New York remains very much in doubt.

Knicks Notes: Mudiay, Dotson, Ntilikina, Pitino

It’s too early to write off Emmanuel Mudiay as part of the Knicks‘ future, states Howie Kussoy of The New York Post. Playing for the first time since hurting his shoulder on January 23, Mudiay came off the bench to post 15 points, six rebounds and three steals Friday night.

He had been the starting point guard before the injury, but that was also before New York traded for Dennis Smith Jr., who has taken over that role. Mudiay wound up playing more than Smith did in a narrow loss to the Timberwolves, including the entire fourth quarter.

“I felt good,” Mudiay said. “I just gotta get my rhythm back. … Obviously, it’s a different team than I was playing with. Last time I played was with Tim [Hardaway Jr.] and them. This is the first time that I played with [DeAndre Jordan] and Dennis. It’s just about growing the chemistry.”

Mudiay’s future beyond this season remains uncertain as he is headed toward free agency. The Knicks will have to extend a qualifying offer expected to be worth about $4.5MM to keep him restricted and retain the right to match any offer, but they’ll have other priorities as they try to rebuild the franchise through the free agent market.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Damyean Dotson displayed why his role has increased with an early scoring explosion Friday, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. He notched 18 of the Knicks’ first 25 points, hitting five straight shots from 3-point range. “Versatility, he’s tough, he rebounds, and he can really shoot the ball,” coach David Fizdale said of Dotson, who has started seven of the past nine games. “And he plays with an incredible pace. That’s why I really like him. He doesn’t need the ball a lot to score.”
  • The Knicks still have no idea when Frank Ntilikina will return from a groin injury, Joyce adds in a separate story. The team expected it to be minor at first, but Ntilikina will miss his 12th straight game today. His absence complicates the organization’s effort to figure out a long-term plan for the backcourt.
  • The decision to trade Kristaps Porzingis and create two max contract slots to gamble in free agency has been endorsed by former Knicks coach Rick Pitino, relays Adam Zagoria in a story for Forbes“The rules have changed with the lottery,” Pitino said. “The Knicks have floundered the other way trying the opposite the last decade. It’s time to do it the right way [with] cap space [and a] decent draft. The other way had no chance of succeeding.”

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Giannis, Knicks, Mudiay, Irving

For D’Angelo Russell, getting traded from the Lakers to the Nets in 2017 was a blessing in disguise. Russell has excelled with the team this season, leading the Nets in points, assists and minutes played through 59 games so far.

“I came here with open arms,” Russell said, as relayed by Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report. “I always knew I could do what I’m doing, it’s just all about opportunity in this league. For [Nets GM] Sean Marks and those guys to come get me and make it happen here, give me the opportunity to help myself thrive, I think it was more than necessary.”

Russell, who has held averages of 20.3 points, 6.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game in his first All-Star season, then went on to call the trade the “best thing that happened” in his career.

The Lakers, of course, moved Russell to Brooklyn as part of a salary dump that included the contract of Timofey Mozgov, and saw several of their young players featured in rumors around the trade deadline this month.

“I can’t imagine what they’re trying to block out,” Russell said, later adding, “if [the Lakers] didn’t let me go then, they were gonna let me go now, and I’d be going through what they’re going through. Best thing that happened in my career.”

Russell understood why the Lakers made the move, but immediately became motivated to lead a team in Brooklyn. The Nets now hold the sixth-best record in the East at 30-29, surprising many league observers and fans with their success.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Every NBA team except the Knicks scouted Giannis Antetokounmpo as a prospect in Greece, according to Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “Scouts started flying to Greece,” Antetokounmpo’s agent Giorgos Panou said. “Every day at practice, at games, executives, GMs, assistant coaches — every team came. Twenty-nine teams, except the Knicks, New York Knicks.” The Knicks have since refuted this claim, as relayed by ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter link).
  • Speaking of the Knicks, Emmanuel Mudiay is unsure of his current role with the team’s new rotation, Marc Berman writes for The Post. New York traded for starting point guard Dennis Smith Jr. earlier in the month, likely taking minutes away from Mudiay. “That’s out of my control,’’ Mudiay said. “That’s something you have to ask [coach] Fiz. I’m going to support my teammates.”
  • Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will be joined by team physical therapist Brian Dolan and personal trainer Robin Pound during the All-Star break in Charlotte, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes. Irving will continue rehab from a strained right knee suffered against the Clippers last Saturday, but his status for Sunday’s All-Star Game with Team LeBron has yet to be announced.

Knicks Notes: Burke, Kanter, Ntilikina, Trade Deadline

Trey Burke is back in the Knicks‘ rotation, but it looks like a temporary situation until he either gets traded or Emmanuel Mudiay returns from a strained shoulder, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Burke, who began the season as the starting point guard, poured in 25 points Friday, but doesn’t appear to have a long-term future in New York.

The Knicks have committed to a youth movement and are looking to trade veterans Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter as well. Burke has an expiring $1.795MM contract and likely won’t be around next season no matter what happens at the deadline. A source tells Berman that Burke prefers to be dealt, but he insists he’ll be fine either way.

“As a basketball player, you look at other scenarios,” Burke said. “How I’d fit in other scenarios, in that system, in that situation. But I think the direction of this organization, I want to be part of that. I know that there’s still a lot I have to prove. That’s fine with me.”

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Kanter continues to seethe about being about not being used, even after an injury to starting center Luke Kornet, Berman relays in a separate story. Kanter sat out back-to-back games after Fizdale promised him a return to the rotation, with the coach explaining that he’s trying a versatile, switching style of defense that doesn’t fit Kanter’s game. “I was talking to one of my teammates … and I said I could get 30 and 30 (points and rebounds) tonight,” Kanter said after Friday’s loss to the Nets. “But I guess they didn’t want me to get 30 and 30.”
  • Mudiay’s injury provides Frank Ntilikina with a new opportunity to impress Knicks management, but foul trouble is getting in his way, Berman notes in another story. Ntilikina made his seventh start of the year at point guard Friday, but played just 18 minutes before fouling out. “I have to be smarter to avoid these fouls and know what moment when the refs are going to call it,’’ he said. “Fouls are going to come by being aggressive, but I have to control it.’’
  • The Knicks are in a tear-down phase with almost everyone on the roster available for trades, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. However, an Eastern Conference executive told him that recent additions such as Burke, Mudiay, Noah Vonleh and Mario Hezonja don’t carry much trade value.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics Trades, Mudiay, Fultz, Noah

The Celtics are unlikely to make a big move prior to this year’s trade deadline, NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh reports in a story relayed by NBC Sports Boston’s Darren Hartwell. With Indiana losing Victor Oladipo for the season, the Celtics have less incentive to make a drastic change. They’re hoping Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown bounce back during the second half of the season, then will look to trade for Anthony Davis during the offseason.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay will be sidelined at least two weeks with a left shoulder strain, the team’s PR department tweets. Mudiay suffered the injury against Houston on Wednesday and the original prognosis was confirmed by an MRI. Mudiay is averaging 14.7 PPG and 3.9 APG.
  • Markelle Fultz traveled with the Sixers on their current road trip but the second-year guard has not been cleared for basketball activity, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. It’s not anticipated that Fultz will be cleared during the trip and thus he’s limited to physical therapy as he works his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome.
  • Joakim Noah takes responsibility for flopping with the Knicks after signing a four-year, $72MM contract, as he told Frank Isola of The Athletic. Noah is playing for the Grizzlies after getting released by New York. “I think these are all life lessons. It was a tough time for me mentally,” he said. “Failing like that on a stage I really wanted to do well on. I take responsibility. It took me a while to digest that.”
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic runs down a wide variety of trade scenarios for the Raptors, though they’re also unlikely to make a big move.

Knicks Notes: Mudiay, Robinson, Sprewell, Fizdale

Knicks coach David Fizdale lamented the lack of “a closer” after Thursday’s one-point loss in London, but Emmanuel Mudiay is confident that he can eventually fill that role, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Despite battling illness, Mudiay put on a stellar performance with 25 points and seven rebounds against the Wizards. He has emerged from a three-way battle to establish himself as the team’s best point guard and now hopes to become the number one option in crunch time.

“I’m confident in that,” Mudiay said. “That’s one thing, I’m not afraid of the moment.”

The Knicks will have a decision to make this summer on Mudiay, who is headed for restricted free agency. He is averaging 14.8 points and 4.0 assists per game and has been the starter since November, but he still could become expendable as New York tries to preserve as much cap room as possible in its quest for an elite free agent.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • Rookie center Mitchell Robinson returned to the court Thursday for the first time in about a month after dealing with a groin injury, Berman adds in the same story. He only played 10 minutes, but his coach is happy to have him back. “We look different with him,” Fizdale said. “If you’re an avid fan watching the game, you see a huge difference in our athleticism. Is he screwing up stuff? Of course. Especially because he’s missed so much time. His timing is off and conditioning was a factor. But all that said, I thought he had a really good impact on this game today.”
  • Former Knick Latrell Sprewell represented the organization in London and would be interested in serving as a mentor if the team wants him to, relays Steve Popper of Newsday“If they ask me, I’m definitely open to it for sure,” Sprewell said. “Anything I can do to have these guys get better, I’m willing to do that for sure.”
  • The Knicks are mired near the bottom of the East with a 10-34 record, but Fizdale sees a much brighter future next season, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. “In the mix, improved,” he said this week of his vision for next year. “Obviously, we’ll get a good draft pick at some point. Obviously, free agency will be at a premium.”

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Randolph, Fizdale, Thomas

A reported Enes Kanter for Zach Randolph swap with the Kings would fulfill the Knicks‘ desire to move the veteran center without taking back a contract that runs past this season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

The trade makes sense on several levels, Berman notes. Kanter is unhappy with his reduced playing time in New York and should welcome a deal to a contender. Knicks GM Scott Perry formerly worked in Sacramento and signed Randolph to his current deal. Randolph, who hasn’t played all season, might be bought out to free up a roster spot or he could return to action under David Fizdale, his former coach in Memphis.

Berman adds that the Knicks were surprised by Kanter’s comments last week about his ongoing feud with Turkish leaders as an explanation for his decision not to accompany the team on its upcoming trip to London. A team official said Kanter was having visa issues, but he later denied that was the reason for staying home.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Team owner James Dolan supports Kanter’s decision to skip the London trip, Berman adds in the same piece. The Kings and Knicks aren’t close to a deal yet, a source tells Berman, with Sacramento appearing to be more reluctant.
  • The Knicks finished the first half of the season with just 10 victories, but Fizdale remains confident that better things are coming, Berman writes in a separate story“Individually, I think guys are getting better,’’ Fizdale said after last night’s loss at Golden State. “Small areas of the game we’re getting better. It’s not all collective and not showing in a full game. I do see great strides in our young guys. I see Emmanuel [Mudiay] constantly gaining confidence, and [Noah] Vonleh continues to grow in his evolution. Kevin Knox over the course of the first half has shown great strides. Him and Damyean Dotson.” Draft lottery concerns may work against Fizdale’s prediction of more wins in the second half. The league’s three worst teams will share the best odds at the No. 1 pick, and the Knicks rank third in our latest Reverse Standings.
  • Lance Thomas has signed with CAA and agents Leon Rose and Rich Felder, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. His $7.58MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Lee, Mudiay, Porter

The Knicks have treated the re-signing of Kristaps Porzingis as inevitable, given his pending restricted free agency, but the idea that Porzingis will have no leverage in the process is “bogus,” according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, who points out that star players can “maneuver themselves out of undesirable situations” even when they’re under contract.

Even if Porzingis doesn’t go the extreme route – accepting his one-year qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2020 – he could make things difficult on the Knicks by demanding a shorter-term deal (three years with a fourth-year player option) or signing an offer sheet with another club. In that scenario, the Nets would be a team to watch, per Bondy, who writes that GM Sean Marks is high on Porzingis and has a history of pursuing RFAs.

A five-year, maximum-salary deal with the Knicks would allow Porzingis to maximize his earnings and would give him long-term security. However, some people around the NBA believe the Knicks may try to include injury protection language in their offer, says Bondy. That way, if Porzingis has recurring issues related to his ACL recovery, the team would be protected to some extent. The youngster views himself as a max player though, according to Bondy, so New York could risk creating discord by offering less than that.

As we wait to see how Porzingis’ free agency plays out, here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While Enes Kanter has expressed frustration and met with GM Scott Perry about his reduced playing time, another veteran – Courtney Lee – has been taking his diminished role in stride, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Lee has been a DNP-CD in three of the Knicks’ last four games, but is keeping a positive outlook. “I believe in karma, man,” Lee said. “Not going to come in here and be negative. Not going to pout. Not going to be a distraction because you never know when something could happen, then I get out there and I just play miserable and that’s all because I wasn’t being a professional. Just stay positive and stay ready for whatever happens.”
  • In a separate Newsday story, Popper explores how Emmanuel Mudiay‘s confidence has increased since he was dealt from Denver to New York last year.
  • Within a story about Courtney Lee, Marc Berman of The New York Post provides a tidbit related to the 2018 draft, citing sources who say the Knicks passed on Michael Porter Jr. last June in part because they were told he wouldn’t play in 2018/19. However, Berman now hears there’s still a chance Porter will make his NBA debut for the Nuggets later this season.