Emmanuel Mudiay

Eastern Notes: Bledsoe, Cavaliers, Ross

The Knicks are expected to target superstar free agents this summer with Kevin Durant atop their wish list. Yet, they could be looking at the second tier of free agents if they miss out on one of the top stars and, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the team’s front office likes Eric Bledsoe‘s game.

The 28-year-old point guard is enjoying a career year for the Bucks and he would fill a major void for the Knicks should he sign with them in the offseason. New York has lacked stability at the position over the last few years.

Emmanuel Mudiay has shown flashes of potential this season, averaging 14.1 points per contest since becoming the starter 11 games ago. Still, the 22-year-old has flashed potential before, leading him to become the No. 7 overall pick in 2015, and it’s likely New York will at least consider upgrades once the season ends.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference.

  • The Cavaliers aren’t interested in trading Kevin Love unless they are blown away by an offer, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. The franchise wants Love around for the long-haul when Collin Sexton is more seasoned and the team adds other young prospects.
  • Cedi Osman is still viewed as part of the Cavaliers‘ future, Fedor relays in the same piece. Osman has started 20 games for Cleveland this year and is averaging 11.2 points per game. However, he is shooting just 36.6% from the field.
  • Terrence Ross, who will be a free agent after the season, has evolved into a consistent threat for the Magic, John Denton of NBA.com details. Steady production has always been the shooting guard’s weakness, though this season, he’s been able to contribute on a nightly basis.

Trey Burke Discusses Upcoming Free Agency

Facing unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2018/19 season, Trey Burke would like to remain with the Knicks, but knows he might not have that option depending on which direction the club goes at point guard. Burke acknowledged as much during a conversation with Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

“I know how the business goes and if that is not an option, you’re always auditioning for other teams. But personally, on record, I want to be here in New York City,” Burke said. “You just never know, man. You never know in this league. Try not to put all your eggs in one basket because it is a business at the end of the day.”

Burke, who is currently sidelined with a knee sprain, has started five games for the Knicks this season, but has recently settled into a backup role behind Emmanuel Mudiay. Even coming off the bench, the former Michigan standout has been impressive, averaging 25.8 points per game in 28.1 MPG during one four-game stretch a couple weeks ago.

While he’s a few years older than fellow point guards Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina, Burke tells Bondy that he doesn’t feel like he has a ton of mileage on his body at age 26, pointing to a couple seasons where he “didn’t play much.” Burke, who says he’s making an effort to become a better defender this year, also acknowledges that he’s trying to “stay in the moment” rather than looking ahead to his free agency. However, he’s curious about what next summer will bring.

“Obviously, it is on my mind,” Burke said. “It’s an exciting time, but at the same time I’m just trying to first of all just get back on the court and second of all be the best version I can be to help this team win. I think when you win and when you are personally excelling in your role, I think that’s a plus. But I think when you win, teams look at that more than anything.”

Over at The New York Post, Marc Berman observes that Mudiay is making a case to receive consideration as part of the Knicks’ long-term plans at point guard, given his recent play. However, as both Bondy and Berman note, Mudiay would have a sizable cap hold ($12.88MM) as a restricted free agent at season’s end, which could complicate the Knicks’ offseason salary cap situation. Burke’s minimum-salary cap hold would be much easier to keep on the books during free agency if New York wants to go after Kevin Durant or other big-name targets.

Of course, the Knicks’ long-term decision at point guard won’t just come down to Mudiay vs. Burke. Ntilikina remains under team control for multiple seasons, and it’s possible the club will use its cap flexibility to fortify the position with an established veteran, via trade or free agency. Berman writes that some people around the NBA believe the Knicks are stocking up assets to make a play for Wizards guard John Wall, though Wall doesn’t seem like an ideal target for the franchise, given his unfavorable contract.

Atlantic Notes: Trier, Mudiay, Butler

With the Knicks focused on player development and youth in this rebuilding season without Kristaps Porzingis, one bright spot in the first quarter of the team’s season has been the play of Allonzo Trier. As Tommy Beer writes for Forbes, Trier has showcased his elite scoring abilities and has proven that he belongs in the league, despite going undrafted last summer.

Trier has played nearly 500 minutes so far this season and has provided a consistent scoring threat off the bench, averaging 11.5 points per game while knocking down 47.2% of his 3-pointers.

While a lot of attention has been on Kevin Knox and the surprising play of second-round pick Mitchell Robinson, Beer points out that fans shouldn’t overlook Trier and his place in the team’s young core, especially given the consistency he has provided this season.

As Porzingis works on recovering from his torn ACL and the Knicks have plans to spend in free agency, it will be interesting to see what the team’s young core looks like moving froward.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

New York Notes: Lee, Burke, Knox, Dinwiddie

Knicks shooting guard Courtney Lee expects to be cleared for full practice this weekend, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Lee has yet to make his season debut after straining his neck during training camp. He participated in limited contact drills last Friday. Getting Lee back on the court would allow the Knicks to showcase him for a potential trade. They have been exploring trades for Lee but he has drawn very little interest. Lee, who is making $12,253,780 this season, is signed through next season.

We have more on the Knicks and Nets:

  • Trey Burke‘s hot streak off the bench has clouded the Knicks’ point guard outlook while enhancing his trade value, Marc Berman of the New York Post notes. Burke has averaged 25.8 PPG over the past four games, forcing his way into the rotation after being benched three of the previous four games. Burke is competing with Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina for minutes. His $1.8MM contract doesn’t even become fully guaranteed until January 10th and he’ll be a free agent after the season. He could be moved for a draft pick if the team’s brass doesn’t view him as part of its future, Berman adds.
  • Draft picks Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson are coming off the bench at the moment but coach David Fizdale said he’s still searching for the right combination in the starting five, Berman relays in a separate story. Knox would prefer to start and Robinson was in the starting five until Fizdale went back to veteran center Enes Kanter this week. “We have so many young guys and we’re trying to find out strengths and tendencies and the suffering that comes with it because you’re doing that when you’re losing, figuring it out,’’ Fizdale said. “We’re trying to get to know these guys. Hopefully in the next week or two, we’ll start to get to know them better and settle in and maybe that will help us.”
  • Spencer Dinwiddie bristled at coming off the bench during the second half of last season, but the Nets point guard settled into that role this season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. Dinwiddie, a free agent next summer, is averaging 14.9 PPG and 4.8 APG and could be a candidate for the Sixth Man award. “Any time your role changes drastically during the season, you have to adjust,” Dinwiddie told Lewis. “I knew what it was coming into [this] season, so it’s easy when you’ve got all summer and all that other stuff to know what your role is going to be. There wasn’t an adjustment; I already knew what time it was.”

Knicks Notes: Lineup, Hezonja, Porzingis, Lee

The Knicks are making a couple changes to their starting lineup, as Marc Berman of The New York Post tweets. Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox are set to replace Frank Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson in the club’s starting five.

According to Berman (via Twitter), head coach David Fizdale referred to Mudiay today as the Knicks’ “best passer.” While Ntilikina has been effective as a defender this season, he has struggled to produce on the offensive end, and Fizdale is looking for more creation from the point guard spot, Berman notes.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Mario Hezonja represented the Knicks’ most significant free agent addition this past offseason, but he has struggled to hit his stride in New York — he’s shooting a career-worst 29.2% on three-pointers so far. Zach Braziller of The New York Post explores how the Knicks are trying to find the right role for Hezonja and get him going. “I think I’m falling into the same things that other coaches have tried to find: What is he?” Fizdale said. “What spot is best on the floor for him? Can he handle playing the four and the two from a position-less standpoint? Or does he just need to be slotted?”
  • In a separate article for The Post, Braziller relays comments Kristaps Porzingis made to GQ and observes that Porzingis sounds like someone who plans to return to the court well before the end of the season. “Now that it’s getting closer, I can taste it,” Porzingis, who continues to recover from last season’s ACL tear, told Alex Shultz of GQ. “I’m trying to stay patient. The day will come.”
  • The Knicks provided an update on Courtney Lee‘s health following a re-evaluation on Tuesday, tweeting that the veteran wing is progressing well and will begin running on the court this week. Lee is expected to be a prime trade chip for New York at this season’s deadline if gets healthy.

Atlantic Rumors: Rozier, Dudley, Chandler, Knicks

Unless Kyrie Irving has a change of heart about staying in Boston, the Knicks won’t have a shot at signing the Celtics’ starting point guard. They might have a chance at Boston’s other talent point man, Marc Berman of New York Post speculates. Terry Rozier would be a good fit for them, since they’re still trying to choose among Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke. Ntilikina, Noah Vonleh, Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson are some of the young players New York could dangle as trade bait for Rozier, Berman opines. Rozier will be a restricted free agent in July.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Veteran forward Jared Dudley has been a pleasant surprise on and off the court for the Nets, Chris Milholen of Nets Daily writes. Dudley, acquired from the Suns in an offseason deal, has posted modest numbers but he’s started every game and he’s served as a mentor to the team’s younger players. “He’s doing it in the locker room and he’s also doing it with his play, because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. Dudley’s $9.53MM salary comes off the books at the end of the season.
  • Sixers forward Wilson Chandler will remain on a minutes restriction as he works his way back from a hamstring injury, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Chandler will play approximately 15 minutes until coach Brett Brown is satisfied that he can handle a back-to-back situation. “I think the minute restriction won’t be long, a couple weeks or so, it’s not long term, I’m not worried about that at all,” Chandler told Todd.
  • The Knicks’ trio of president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and coach David Fizdale have put a plan into action designed for the long-term health of the franchise, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. They are focused on player development and building through the draft rather than the quick-fix solution that have dragged down the franchise for so long.

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, Dudley, LeVert

Frank Ntilikina scored a career-high 17 points Friday in his first NBA start at point guard, leaving the Knicks with some decisions to make, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New coach David Fizdale adjusted his lineup, replacing Trey Burke with Ntilikina and starting rookie Mitchell Robinson along with Noah Vonleh up front and Damyean Dotson at the wing.

“He ran the show, picked his spots,’’ Fizdale said of Ntilikina’s performance. “He didn’t pass up much. I really thought he got after it defensively and competed hard. The guy was playing against one of those special, once-in-a-lifetime talents [Warriors guard Stephen Curry]. I thought he really did a solid job against that.”

Burke started the season’s first five games, but prompted the change with a 1-for-10 shooting night Wednesday. The point guard picture should become more crowded next week when Emmanuel Mudiay is expected to make his season debut after recovering from a sprained ankle. Berman suggests that the Knicks may be realizing that they won’t get a top point guard in free agency and are revisiting the idea of developing Ntilikina at that position.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Enes Kanter doesn’t seem to be on board with the Knicks‘ new lineup, Berman adds in a separate story. Kanter is normally talkative with the media, but he didn’t have much to say after losing his starting job Friday. It marked Kanter’s first appearance in a reserve role since being traded to New York before the start of last season. “Coach said he wants me to lead the second unit,” he told reporters. “I’m just leading the second unit.’’ Kanter had a chance to leave the Knicks over the summer, but elected to opt in for the final year of his contract.
  • The Nets traded for Jared Dudley to help mentor their young players, but coach Kenny Atkinson says he’s learning things from the 12-year veteran as well, relays Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. “And for the coach too, right,” Atkinson responded when asked about Dudley’s impact on the team. “The young coach, he’s been in the league longer than I have. I learn things from him every day … his spirit and his enthusiasm and he’s a positive dude.”
  • Caris LeVert promises better times are ahead for long-suffering Nets fans. In an interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post, LeVert expressed confidence that the team has turned the corner. “I think in years past, a lot of people were kind of mocking Nets fans, and Nets players and things like that, but I think those days are over,” he said. “We’re becoming a good team, somebody that people have to respect.”

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.