Emmanuel Mudiay

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.

Knicks Notes: O’Quinn, Ntilikina, Mudiay, Burke

Kyle O’Quinn is the latest Knicks center to have a dispute with coach Jeff Hornacek, although the reason hasn’t been explained, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks canceled Saturday’s practice, so reporters weren’t able to find out more about the incident, which happened when O’Quinn was removed from Friday’s game. Q’Quinn appeared to be making angry comments toward Hornacek on the bench, possibly related to a defensive mistake.

Veteran center Joakim Noah got into a heated exchange with Hornacek at a practice in February and has been on a leave of absence ever since. Berman notes that Q’Quinn should be grateful to Hornacek, who played a large role in New York’s decision to keep him and trade Willy Hernangomez to Charlotte. O’Quinn can opt out of his nearly $4.26MM contract for next season and test the free agent market this summer.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • It’s time to insert rookie Frank Ntilikina into the starting lineup and see if he can handle the responsibilities that come with it, contends Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Hornacek may have been considering that move on Friday when he used Ntilikina and Trey Burke to start the third quarter in place of Emmanuel Mudiay and Courtney Lee, who started the game. “The coach knows that’s his job to do all that stuff,” Ntilikina said when asked about being a starter. “Us as players, our job is just to be ready when he calls our name.”
  • Mudiay may be squandering his chance in New York, Iannazzone adds in the same story. The seventh player taken in the 2015 draft was considered a bust in Denver, but got a second chance with the Knicks after a deadline-day trade. He was handed the starting point guard job, but is falling out of favor and played less than five minutes Friday. Mudiay said Hornacek didn’t provide an explanation about his reduced role. “That’s on him,” Mudiay said. “Whatever he wants to do. That’s out of my control.”
  • Burke credits the time he spent as a backup to John Wall in Washington last season with helping him revive his career, Iannazzone relays in a separate piece. Burke was able to watch one of the NBA’s top point guards up close and adopted much of Wall’s approach to the game. “His motor, the way he attacked each and every game, it was like he never gasped for air,” Burke said. “His approach night in and night out and just the way he took it to every guard. It didn’t matter if it was a lower-tier guard or if it was a superstar guard, he played the same way.”

Knicks Notes: Mudiay, Porzingis, Jackson, Knox

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek pulled struggling point guard Emmanuel Mudiay from Friday night’s game against the Timberwolves, citing his performance. In Mudiay’s place, Hornacek tried an all point guard backcourt with Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina, which worked out well.

Earlier this week, Hornacek said he was hesitant to pull Mudiay from the starting lineup, despite his struggles since the All-Star break. While no permanent decision has been made, the Hornacek liked how the Burke and Ntilikina lineup played, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

“We haven’t thought about that game yet,’’ Hornacek said. “I liked what those two guys [Burke and Ntilikina] did tonight. Emmanuel may not have had it tonight, but we’ll see.’’

Mudiay admitted that sitting for the most of the game was surprising but he was happy to see his teammates play well.

“Yeah [I was surprised], but at the same time I wasn’t going to be a sore loser about it,’’ Mudiay said. “I was going to cheer my teammates on. Frank, Trey and Tim had it going. We got back in the game after starting out a little slow.”

Check out more Knicks notes below:

  • In a separate story, Berman caught up with Dr. Carlon Colker, who is working with injured big man Kristaps Porzingis, said the 7’3″ Latvian will be better than ever once he returns. “He’ll be better than ever. He’s going to blow people away,” Colker said. “If you’re around people who know what they’re doing, it’s not the end of the world. It’s the end of the world if you have the wrong people around you.”
  • Berman also caught up with Knicks veteran Jarrett Jack, who feels that his former coach with the Warriors, Mark Jackson, deserves to be considered for any head coaching role. Jackson’s name has come up as a possibility for the Knicks if the team decides to move on from Hornacek. “I do believe and I am surprised he hasn’t been back in the league,’’ Jack said. “I think one thing you judge people on is the body of work in front of them. If you look at the body of work — what he did three years there — I think he matches up with any coach anywhere. I’m not saying you should hire him here, but he should be considered for any job. I think he’s got the wherewithal to execute no matter what the situation.”
  • Hornacek told reporters earlier this week that small forward is a position of need for the Knicks this offseason. With that said, sources within the organization view Kentucky’s Kevin Knox as a potential draft target, ESPN’s Ian Begley tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Postseason, McCarty, Mudiay

Joel Embiids extensive injury history forced the Sixers to get creative with his playing schedule, which included not playing in back-to-backs for much of this season. But as the 76ers gear up for the postseason, Embiid wants no part of resting and wants to play in every game, Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays.

“We didn’t come this far to rest me,” Embiid said. “I mean, I was always complaining about playing every game and playing back-to-backs. I’m sure the fans were, too. Now that we’re here, I can understand maybe the last game before we get ready for the playoffs, but other than that, I want to play every game because that’s my first time I get the chance to do that.”

Embiid is averaging over 31 minutes per contest as the Sixers occupy the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. A healthy Embiid is imperative if Philadelphia wants a deep postseason run. Head coach Brett Brown indicated that the team will look to give its young center rest whenever possible, despite his competitive nature.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • The Sixers have played well down the stretch and are in a prime spot entering the postseason. In Brett Brown‘s own words, the Sixers hope to maintain this pace for the 11 games the team has left after Thursday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “We respect the journey,” Brown said, “and we don’t intend on letting what we built so far go easily. We are of where we’re at. We want to hold on to where we’re at. And we want to play good basketball.”
  • Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty will assume the role as head coach of the NCAA’s Evansville Purple Aces, sources tell Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports. McCarty spent most of his NBA career as a player with the Celtics but he is an Evansville, Indiana native. Adam Himmelsbach‏ of the Boston Globe tweets that the Celtics will not look to immediately replace McCarty.
  • Emmanuel Mudiay has been the Knicks‘ starting point guard since the All-Star break but he has struggled with all facets of the game. A visibly frustrated Jeff Hornacek said the team needs to see what Mudiay is capable of over a prolonged stretch, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. “We’re not just going to have (13 games with Mudiay starting) and make a judgment call on a guy,” Hornacek said. “We’ve seen the other guys. The other guys are coming off the bench. Trey continues to prove that he’s a guy that can really give us something. We’re trying to see and see if he can get used to our guys and we just go that way.”

New York Notes: Hornacek, Jack, Tsai, Lin

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek may not have a long-term future in New York, but at least two of his players are coming to his defense, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter both offered support for Hornacek after the team’s latest loss, which is part of a 1-13 string.

“He’s doing a great job in a tough situation,” Hardaway said of his coach. “Coaches are in a tough situation too. It’s easy for him to fold as well. He’s continuing to develop us as ballplayers, continuing to encourage us on both ends of the floor, especially in practice, continuing to have that killer instinct and mentality to instill in the ball club. We appreciate that and we’ll keep on fighting for him.”

Hornacek’s job was considered to be in jeopardy even before the latest slide. He has one year left on his contract and is a holdover from the Phil Jackson regime. Team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are believed to want to put their own candidate on the bench.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • With the Emmanuel Mudiay/Frank Ntilikina backcourt duo struggling recently for the Knicks, Hornacek admitted this week that he’s “talked about” going back to Jarrett Jack at point guard to restore order, Berman writes for The New York Post. Jack, who was the Knicks’ starter up until the All-Star break, was considered a buyout candidate, but stayed in New York through March 1 to help mentor the club’s young point guards.
  • The NBA has yet to officially confirm Joe Tsai‘s purchase of a 49% stake in the Nets, but Tsai is already making his presence felt, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Tsai, who sat courtside during the Nets’ game this week in Golden State, will have the option to take over the franchise as the majority owner within three years, once the paperwork is finalized.
  • Jeremy Lin, Tsai’s favorite player, continues to rehab his season-ending knee injury as he aims to be ready for the start of the 2018/19 season. Lin, who has already exercised his player option to return to the Nets next year, spoke to Alex Labidou of BrooklynNets.com about his recovery process and how he’s tried to stay involved with the team since suffering his injury.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Casey, Smart, Fultz

Emmanuel Mudiay, who turned 22 on Monday, has struggled in his last two games as the Knicks‘ starting point guard, making just two of 16 shots in losses to the Clippers and Kings. Nonetheless, head coach Jeff Hornacek plans to keep Mudiay in the starting lineup for now, per Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Mudiay was benched down the stretch on Monday in favor of Trey Burke, but the Knicks don’t intend to insert Burke – or rookie Frank Ntilikina – into the starting five. While that may change in the coming weeks, it doesn’t sound like Hornacek views it as a priority to get Ntilikina some starting experience down the stretch.

“I’m not sure it matters a whole lot,” said the Knicks’ head coach. “I think the more minutes is helpful. Just because we start someone this year at the end doesn’t mean that’s who’s starting next year. That’s meaningless. It’s the summer of work, what we see the rest of the year, how the guys go in the summer and come back the next year and what they work on. As long as we get [Ntilikina] minutes and keep getting him experiences, I think that’s good.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • With the Raptors holding the top spot in the Eastern Conference after overhauling their offense in the offseason, Dwane Casey is receiving some buzz for Coach of the Year. Seerat Sohi of SBNation.com describes how the franchise put its trust in Casey to remake the Raptors without a rebuild, while Lee Jenkins of SI.com delivers an in-depth profile of the veteran coach.
  • The NBA announced today that Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been fined $15K for publicly criticizing the officiating following Saturday’s loss to Houston. Smart – whose comments were fairly tame as far as criticisms go – turns 24 today, making that $15K fine the strong favorite to be his worst birthday gift this year.
  • While the Sixers have had a solid season, the team could use Markelle Fultz‘s playmaking and ball-handling ability, writes David Murphy of Philly.com. A team source tells Jon Johnson of 94WIP (Twitter link) that there’s still no plan for Fultz to return to the lineup anytime soon, unsurprisingly.

Knicks Notes: Hornacek, Ntilikina, Hardaway, Mudiay

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek was visibly upset at the team’s defensive effort in Friday’s loss to the Clippers, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. In particular, Hornacek was frustrated the Knicks’ lack of physicality against Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and guard Austin Rivers.

“It was terrible,” Hornacek said. “It was a terrible defensive effort. Defensively, it’s disappointing. The (Clippers) just kind of line it up. You saw (Austin) Rivers just made two 3s (in the third quarter) and we’re just going let him line it up and shoot another one. You get all over guys. That’s a pride thing.”

The Knicks are in the midst of another disappointing season, sporting a 24-39 record. New York has also dropped 11 of their last 12 games. With the head coach openly questioning the team’s effort, it’s plausible to question whether or not the team’s remaining games are part of Hornacek’s farewell tour.

Check out other Knicks news and notes below:

  • The Knicks were playing well and seemed to be headed in the right direction before Tim Hardaway Jr. suffered a stress injury that sidelined him for 20 games. Bondy relays in a separate story that Hardaway wants to use the rest of the year to prove his worth. “I had a solid preseason, struggled the first four games of the regular season and then was just cruising after that,” Hardaway said. “We were winning. We had a winning streak here and there. I felt confident, I felt great — and then, the injury. The injury I think was a blow to the team. I was very disappointed. I really felt like if I didn’t have that injury we wouldn’t be in the position we’d be in right now. And it sucks. But it’s life.”
  • The Knicks drafted Frank Ntilikina as their hopeful point guard of the future but his play since the All-Star break indicates he may be playing the wrong position, Bondy writes in another article. In his increased minutes, Ntilikina has played off the ball and seen his assists decrease and that could signal his future being more of a shooting guard than a true playmaker, Bondy notes.
  • Emmanuel Mudiay is adjusting to a new system with the Knicks but he is also looking to improve his physical conditioning, Newsday’s Al Iannazzone writes.