Emmanuel Mudiay

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Burke, Knox, Cap Room

Frank Ntilikina‘s versatility may help him earn more minutes during his second NBA season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks showed a lot of faith in Ntilikina when they drafted him ahead of Dennis Smith last season, and it may be paying off. Berman calls him a bright spot in a difficult preseason, looking more powerful on his drives to the basket and more active on defense.

Ntilikina has been locked in a three-way battle for minutes at point guard, but new coach David Fizdale seems willing to use him at shooting guard and small forward as well. Trey Burke is expected to be the starter at the point, with Emmanuel Mudiay and Ron Baker battling for leftover playing time.

“They all showed the ability to run the team and guard their position well,’’ Fizdale said of the point guard contenders. “They’ve made it tough on me — which is good.’’

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Knicks fans were thrilled about the prospects for rookie forward Kevin Knox, but the preseason showed he still has a lot to learn, Berman adds in the same story. Knox got into foul trouble Friday against the Nets and only played 12 minutes. It was his third straight poor game, but Fizdale remains committed to him as the starting small forward. “This is all learning for me,’’ Knox said. “Like he says all the time, I’m going to get my butt kicked a lot and I’m going to have a lot of mistakes. It’s part of a rookie year, you’re going to have ups and downs. It just shows how much confidence he has in me keeping me in the starting lineup.”
  • Even with today’s decision to waive and stretch Joakim Noah, the Knicks have some work to do before they can offer a max contract to a 10-year veteran like Kevin Durant, notes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. New York will have more than $57MM in committed salary next summer, and the team can subtract a non-guaranteed $7.6MM deal for Lance Thomas. However, Kristaps Porzingis will have a $17.1MM cap hold as a restricted free agent, and a likely lottery pick will reduce the cap by about another $6MM. That brings the Knicks’ cap space down to $32.5MM, short of the estimated maximum salary of $38.15MM that Durant can receive.
  • The Knicks were 28th in the league in 3-point attempts in the preseason and Fizdale says it’s a matter of personnel, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. “The way we’re shooting it, I don’t think that’s a great shot for us,” he said.

New York Notes: Knicks, Butler, Kanter, Nets

Jimmy Butler‘s trade request was made public just two days after Knicks president of basketball operations Steve Mills spoke to fans about building the roster “the right way” and hanging onto the team’s future first-round picks. Since Butler’s initial short list of preferred destinations included the Knicks, there was some initial uncertainty about whether Mills would stick to his public stance or whether the club would get involved in the Butler sweepstakes.

Nearly three weeks later, we appear to have our answer. Within his latest report on the Butler saga, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that the Knicks “never called” the Timberwolves about the All-Star swingman. Reports have suggested that upwards of 25 teams have at least inquired on Butler, so the fact that the Knicks never even made a call is a clear indication that they’re sticking to their guns on building the team “the right way.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • As Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Frank Ntilikina vie for the Knicks‘ starting point guard job, no player has separated himself from his competition during the preseason, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. As a result, head coach David Fizdale has yet to finalize any lineup decisions. “What ends up coming out of it is what fits the best,” Fizdale said. “All these guys are competing and nobody is flying out in front. Ultimately the final decider may be what combinations work the best.”
  • Enes Kanter is just 26 years old and has only played in New York for a single season, but the big man is already something of an “elder statesman” in the Knicks‘ locker room, according to Steve Popper of Newsday, who explores Kanter’s role as a leader.
  • The Nets‘ odds of landing Kyrie Irving and/or Jimmy Butler in 2019 free agency appear to be dwindling significantly, prompting Brian Lewis of The New York Post to explore the team’s potential Plan B.
  • In an interesting piece, NetsDaily outlines the impact that a corporate decision by Spanish club Barcelona had on a pair of Nets draftees.

Knicks Notes: Vonleh, Ntilikina, Preseason, Durant

Power forward Noah Vonleh may be angling his way onto the Knicks’ opening-night roster, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. V0nleh posted a double-double in a preseason game against the Pelicans on Friday and coach David Fizdale said Vonleh brings a unique skill set. “You can the see guy’s an animal, a lot like Enes [Kanter], but more bouncy. … He’s a beast on the offensive glass,” Fizdale said. “I really think he’s an underrated passer. He really settles us down offensively with the way he can control the game when you throw the ball to him. He really gives us a unique element.” Vonleh signed a one-year, $1.5MM non-guaranteed contract in July and received $100K prior to camp. The contract doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January 10th.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Fizdale plans to use Frank Ntilikina more at shooting guard with Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke sharing the point, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post writes. The 6’6” Ntilikina gives Fizdale more options at both ends of the floor. “I just think that he brings so much value with his length and his size, and the fact that he can play some point,” Fizdale said. “It’s nice to have him out there with multiple handlers because I can put him on a ‘three’ and feel very comfortable with that, and that’s just a luxury to me.”
  • The team has won all three of its preseason games and Fizdale sees value in that, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets“We’re building habits right now. Winning is a habit. I don’t care … if they decide to play checkers together, pool, ping pong, I want them competing,” Fizdale said.
  • The Knicks’ best hope of landing Kevin Durant in free agency is to sell him on the dream of bringing their downtrodden franchise a championship, Frank Isola of The Athletic opines. Durant still seems unsatisfied with winning back-to-back titles and Finals MVP awards, Isola continues. He also remains sensitive to criticism and could be convinced that he would stand alone from his peers by bringing a title to New York, Isola adds.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Mudiay, Hayward, Kurucs

After Kyrie Irving‘s verbal long-term commitment to the Celtics, it appears the free agent class of 2019 became a little less lucrative. Irving was reportedly one of the Knicks’ prime targets next summer and now, New York’s free agency hopes may be Kevin Durant or bust, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News opines.

Beyond Durant and Irving, the remaining top free agents do not appear to be realistic hopes for the Knicks. Kawhi Leonard reportedly prefers to play in his native Los Angeles, Jimmy Butler wants to sign a long-term extension and Kevin Love has already signed an extension with Cleveland. That leaves Durant as the biggest target and a realistic one, as we relayed earlier this week.

“The New York Knicks have a very good shot at luring KD away from the Bay Area,” Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said during an appearance on FS1’s Undisputed (video link). “His business partner, Rich Kleiman is based in New York, huge New York Knicks fan. Their business is located and based in New York. KD’s dad is a big New York Knicks fan. The same allure that LeBron [James] had toward the Los Angeles Lakers – just the building, the culture – is the same thing, the same way, I know, that KD feels about the Knicks.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • The Knicks acquired Emmanuel Mudiay from the Nuggets last season as a former top pick who fell out of favor in Denver. Through the first two preseason games, Mudiay has not performed well for the Knicks, but head coach David Fizdale remains committed to seeing improvement from the point guard, Steve Popper of Newsday writes.
  • One of the lone bright spots for the Nets during a preseason loss to the Knicks was the performance of Latvian Rodions Kurucs, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Kurucs posted 13 points, four rebounds and four steals, all of which came in the fourth quarter of a 107-102 loss. “I was very pleased with Rodi,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I love his energy. He’s a talented guy.”
  • In a well-written, in-depth piece, Zach Lowe of ESPN chronicles the obstacles and difficulties Gordon Hayward has overcome as he completes his return from a broken ankle he suffered five minutes into his Celtics career last season.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Mudiay, Fizdale

Kristaps Porzingis has been part of the Knicks training camp despite the fact that he continues rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered last February. Despite his physical limitations, Porzingis remains an involved presence for New York, Steve Popper of Newsday writes.

“He’s on our staff now,” head coach David Fizdale said jokingly. “He’s helping put stuff in. I mean the guy is so engaged and helping the big guys. He gets it. He sees exactly what I’m trying to do. He’s doing a good job of grabbing Mitchell [Robinson], grabbing Luke [Kornet], our young bigs: ‘Hey, look at it this way.’ ‘Do this way.’ And when he’s not doing that, he’s passing for somebody. If he’s not doing that, he’s shooting or ballhandling or doing something on his own, where he can still be working on his skill set. But he’s staying very active and engaged.”

Porzingis, 23, was in the midst of his best season to date in 2017/18, averaging 22.7 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 48 games before the injury. While there’s no timetable for his return this season — and missing the entire campaign is a distinct possibility — Porzingis is making the effort to get acclimated to a new system in New York.

Check out more Knicks notes below:

  • The Knicks are encouraged by point guard Emmanuel Mudiay‘s recent weight loss and improved ball handling, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.  “I’m going out there and being aggressive and I know you have to take care of the ball,” Mudiay said. “He’s already said if you make a turnover, it’s on to the next play. Don’t really dwell on it.”
  • David Fizdale is entering his first season as Knicks coach and he’s already emphasizing a faster approach to the game, Berman writes in a separate story. Fizdale’s system is a stark contrast to the triangle system implemented by former team president Phil Jackson. “I really do think we can put a fast team on the floor,’’ Fizdale said. “We’re really athletic, just looking at the roster. We just have a very athletic team. We plan to play fast, but we’re going to share the game. There’s not going to be anybody that dominates the ball for us.’’
  • In a recent edition of Knicks notes, we relayed Porzingis’ ACL recovery, Allonzo Trier‘s impressive start to camp and more.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Kornet, Hicks, Trier

The Knicks’ decision to draft Mitchell Robinson in the second round Thursday night could signal an end to Luke Kornet‘s time in New York, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The team extended a qualifying offer to Kornet, who was on a two-way contract last season, but if he receives even a minimum contract offer [$1.2MM for a second-year player] from another organization, the Knicks may refuse to match it.

A source tells Berman that a handful of teams have interest in Kornet, who displayed an effective shooting touch during his 20 games at the NBA level. Kornet, who went undrafted out of Vanderbilt in 2017, averaged 6.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while shooting 35% from 3-point range. His performance contributed to the decision to trade Willy Hernangomez, but Berman states that management may view him as a leftover from the Phil Jackson years.

The decision on Kornet will be impacted by how Robinson performs during summer league, Berman adds. The 20-year-old 7-footer is an unknown quantity after opting to leave Western Kentucky without playing a game.

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Isaiah Hicks, the Knicks’ other two-way player last season, also received a qualifying offer, but the team isn’t likely to bring both Hicks and Kornet back, Berman writes in the same story. New York will likely withdraw one of those QOs in favor of signing Arizona’s Allonzo Trier, who reportedly reached agreement on a two-way deal on draft night. Hicks got into 18 NBA games last season and averaged 4.4 points per night.
  • Robinson may have trouble adjusting to the summer league after not playing a five-on-five game in 14 months, Berman adds in a separate story. However, his high school coach, Butch Stockton, believes the 36th pick will eventually make an impact with his all-around talents. “I see him stepping in and helping right away,” said Stockton, who attended Friday’s introductory press conference. “When he starts playing, the Knicks fans, they’re going to see what kind of talent he is. The media people say he’s not ready physically or basketball-wise, but he runs the floor extremely well, protects the rim and finishes around the rim.”
  • Emmanuel Mudiay, who hosted a youth camp today in New York, expressed confidence that new coach David Fizdale will be able to turn the Knicks around, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now“We’re all kind of starting from scratch,” Mudiay said. “But it’s a positive scratch. It’s big to see that people are actually loving what the front office is doing, loving what the coaching staff is doing. Everybody’s supportive. So that’s a good thing.” 

Knicks Looking For “Unquestioned Upgrade” If Drafting PG At No. 9

The Knicks didn’t move up in the lottery and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has the team selecting Collin Sexton in his post-lottery mock draft. However, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post that they have yet to decide whether the Alabama product is an “unquestioned upgrade” over the point guards already on the roster.

The team selected Frank Ntilikina with the No.8 overall pick last summer. “Frank’s a better defender,’’ one NBA personnel director said. “And Collin can struggle with his shot.’’

New York’s preference is to take a small forward, though Berman notes that’s only the case if prospects are seen as equal. The available prospect with the highest upside may be the pick regardless of the player’s position.

The Knicks also have Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke in-house. Neither appears to be the point guard of the future in New York, though both should be near-locks to make the roster next season.

The option of passing on Sexton might not even present itself, as Alabama coach Avery Johnson believes Sexton will rise in the draft after working out for teams. “Nine range?’’ the former NBA player and coach said. “If they saw what I have seen, I’m not trying to promote my player [because] my reputation is on the line also. But if they’ve seen what I’ve seen, I don’t see how he gets past five.’’

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Woodson, Ntilikina, M. Bridges

Knicks coach David Fizdale is confident he can make New York a popular free agent destination again, but he knows it will take time and success, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Fizdale isn’t addressing questions about the top free agent on the market, LeBron James, whom he worked with for four years as an assistant coach in Miami, but he knows the city can be a strong selling point if the Knicks get competitive again.

“[Free agents] are not just going to go there to live in New York City,’’ Fizdale said. “You’re going there to be in a culture. When you start showing that through action, players are going to come. New York is a special place.”

During a series of media appearances, Fizdale promised that once that culture is instilled, the team will be able to attract “the right players here to take us to another level.’’

There’s more tonight out of New York:

  • During an appearance on MSG Network, Fizdale singled out Clippers assistant Mike Woodson as one of his most important influences, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. Woodson, who hired Fizdale as an assistant in Atlanta, has expressed interest in joining Fizdale’s staff if Doc Rivers isn’t retained in L.A. “Mike Woodson was really the person who instilled a work ethic,” Fizdale said. “Understanding that no matter what’s going on around you, you have to bring a certain work ethic and really check your ego at the door because when you’re going through 13-win seasons, 26-win seasons [in Atlanta] and getting to places like that, there’s no room for ego.”
  • Fizdale is excited to begin working with last year’s first-rounder, Frank Ntilikina, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Ntilikina saw time at both backcourt positions last season, which isn’t an issue for Fizdale, who envisions “positionless basketball” with Ntilikina possibly sharing the court with fellow point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke.
  • Fizdale made a couple of eye-opening comparisons during an appearance today on WFAN, Bondy tweets. He said he coached players like Mudiay before, citing Dwyane Wade and Tyreke Evans as examples, then compared Lance Thomas with Draymond Green.
  • Villanova’s Mikal Bridges would enjoy having Madison Square Garden as his home court if he gets drafted by the Knicks. In an interview tweeted by DraftExpressContent, Bridges says he enjoyed the surroundings during the Wildcats’ frequent trips to the Garden. “Great atmosphere, great venue, lot of great things happening here,” he said.

Knicks Rumors: Howard, Blatt, Leonard, Mudiay

Juwan Howard, the latest name to emerge in the Knicks’ coaching search, has a powerful connection in the team’s front office, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. GM Scott Perry is a former assistant at the University of Michigan, and his first year with the Wolverines was Howard’s last season there.

Howard will be the 10th candidate to talk to Perry and team president Steve Mills, who were in Europe this week to interview former Cavaliers coach David Blatt and to scout Luka Doncic, along with other prospects. Despite the long list of interviewees, Bondy hears that the Knicks’ next coach may be someone not yet mentioned by the media.

There’s more news from New York:

  • Howard has a long list of former teammates with coaching experience who could potentially fill out his staff if he gets the Knicks job, notes Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. The list includes Adrian GriffinNick Van ExelDavid VanterpoolJames PoseyDarvin HamJamaal MagloireGod ShammgodRafer Alston and John Lucas III.
  • If the Spurs make Kawhi Leonard available in trade the summer, the Knicks should go all in, even if it costs them Kristaps Porzingis and this year’s first-rounder, contends Tommy Beer of Forbes. Leonard’s scoring ability, defensive prowess and record of big-game performances make him a player that a franchise can be built around, Beer argues. He adds that the Knicks are hoping to construct a contender by surrounding Porzingis with top-level free agents, but their recent record in free agency casts doubt on that plan. He cautions that New York should make the deal with the Spurs only if team doctors determine that Leonard’s quad injury won’t be a long-term issue and he agrees to a four-year extension.
  • One-time Knicks coach Larry Brown remains optimistic about Emmanuel Mudiay‘s prospects in New York, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Brown tried to recruit Mudiay to SMU before he opted for China, and he believes the 22-year-old can excel by getting into top physical condition. “I don’t think Emmanuel has ever been in the greatest shape of his life,” Brown said. “That position you have to be an elite athlete and in unbelievable shape. I don’t know until he got to the NBA if he has ever been coached the way he needed to be coached.” Mudiay was placed in the league’s concussion protocol after hitting his head late in the season and was just cleared for basketball activities last week.

Atlantic Notes: Lin, Fultz, Mudiay

Sidelined Nets point guard Jeremy Lin has been making progress in his recovery from a knee injury suffered in the first game of the season. Head coach Kenny Atkinson recently told Bryan Fonseca of Nets Daily that the 29-year-old is thrilled to be where he is at this point.

While Lin has been rehabbing his ruptured patella tendon in British Columbia, he’s been in touch with the Nets bench boss, a connection he’s had since his first taste of consistent NBA action with the Knicks back in 2011 (Atkinson was an assistant coach there from 2008-2012).

He’s so involved. He’s not just sitting there doing his own thing,” Atkinson said of Lin back in February. “He’s always hitting me with stuff after the game; ‘you could’ve done this, you could’ve done that’, it’s great. And I know [the Nets] medical team is all over him. He’s in a really good place, he’s happy with how he’s progressing.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers are happy that Markelle Fultz has regained his shooting form but another area where he could have an impact for the team is on defense, David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “He’s better than I thought,” head coach Brett Brown said. “He’s got an amazing basketball body. His hips are somewhere near my shoulders. He uncoils and he’s 7-foot-6; he’s got size-15 feet. He just is long.
  • The Knicks opted to bring Emmanuel Mudiay off the bench in favor of Trey Burke this week and the move is already paying dividends, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.
  • After his exit from Los Angeles, D’Angelo Russell has fit right in as a member of the Nets. It doesn’t hurt that he’s appreciating the city as well, Tom Dowd of the team’s official site writes. “It’s cool,” said Russell of Brooklyn. “It’s different. The whole culture is different. I feel like there’s a lot of different crowds out here. You can fit in wherever you want to fit in. It’s great.