Frank Ntilikina

Knicks Notes: Burke, Jack, Ntilikina, Fizdale

Trey Burke has worked on shedding the “draft bust” label this season in the Knicks organization, starting with a strong G League season and now as the team’s primary point guard. In 34 games (7 starts), Burke has averaged 12.6 PPG and 4.5 APG while seeing the court for 20.9 minutes per contest.

Burke took part in a Q&A with Steve Serby of the New York Post to discuss his career rebirth, on-court mentality, and impressions of New York. Burke discussed his career at length, revealing that he lost confidence after the Jazz took Dante Exum in the 2014 NBA Draft, was frustrated by his scarce playing time in Washington, and took a two-week break from basketball that helped him rediscover his love for the game.

“No, no, I never thought about that,” Burke said of considering retirement. “I did start losing love for the game, which was scary, because it never really happened. That’s when I gave myself some time away from the game as well, gave myself about two weeks away from it, and I worked harder than I ever worked in my life last summer. And it feels good to be reaping some of the results right now. That’s how I know the best is yet to come, ’cause I plan on having another summer as great as last one.”

Check out more Knicks notes below:

  • Jarrett Jack, the Knicks‘ veteran point guard who has been on the bench since the All-Star break, has found his way back into some games recently. Fred Kerber of the New York Post relays Jack’s appreciation for losing streaks and how they shape a team. “But can you do that when stuff isn’t going your way and what shows where your true character lies?” Jack said. “People might think I’m crazy, but I love the losing streaks and the downside of the season because it really shows who you are, collectively, individually.”
  • The Knicks have stressed the importance of maintaining and building strength to rookie Frank Ntilikina. Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that head coach Jeff Hornacek is pleased with Ntilikina’s physical progression and how it is positively helping his performance.
  • As we relayed earlier, Heat guard Dwyane Wade advocated for David Fizdale as a potential head coaching candidate for the Knicks if the organization parts ways with Hornacek.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Redick, Ntilikina, Nets

First overall pick Markelle Fultz missed 68 games due to injury and at one point, it seemed that his entire rookie year would be lost to a phantom shoulder ailment. Instead, Fultz has returned and given a spark to the Sixers the last seven games.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays that Fultz was “hurt” with the situation because he was not able to play.

“It wasn’t anything about expectations or anything,” Fultz said. “I just felt like something I loved doing I couldn’t do anymore, and it hurt for a little while.”

The 19-year-old has now appeared in 11 games this season and posted modest numbers of 6.8 PPG and 3.4 APG. However, simply being part of the team — which sits in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 49-30 record — has Fultz excited for the remainder of the regular season and beyond.

“I feel like I can help them hopefully by picking up the energy and, when they come out and feel down, just picking them up,” Fultz said. “And for me, when I’m not feeling good, they are doing the same thing for me.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • In a separate story, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that having a healthy Fultz play alongside Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons presents an interesting lineup scenario for the Sixers. While the duo has shared the backcourt for small increments since Fultz’s return, coach Brett Brown has liked what he has seen in a small sample.
  • J.J. Redick has been part of playoff teams every season in his career but now his focus is on winning a championship, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The Sixers are in third place and Redick thinks the team is good enough to go far in the postseason. “I don’t want to put a ceiling on our team this year,” Redic said.  “I think this group has the potential to win the Eastern Conference. Whether that’s this year or three years from now, having guys like Ben [Simmons] and Jo [Embiid], you have a chance. Those guys are that good.”
  • Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina has gained eight pounds over the course of the season and it has reflected well in his play, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.
  • Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that Nets coach Kenny Atkinson sees the Sixers rebuilding model as a point of reference for the Nets. In the lengthy read, Scotto breaks down Atkinson’s view of Philadelphia and how Brooklyn views some of its young players as de facto lottery picks.

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.

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.

Knicks Notes: Jack, Noah, Ntilikina, O’Quinn

With his role in New York essentially eliminated and an informal buyout deadline looming, Knicks point guard Jarrett Jack admitted earlier this week that he may have to consider his options. However, we’re just a few hours away from turning the calendar to March 2 – at which point waived players no longer retain their playoff eligibility – and it doesn’t sound like Jack is packing his bags to leave the Knicks, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.

“[Sam Goldfeder, Jack’s agent] called me and did his job,” Jack said. “‘Hey, what do you think about possible destinations on playoff teams?’ If something unbelievable comes up that makes sense, we’ll take a look at it. But I’m not pressing the envelope. If nothing shakes out of it, I’m cool here.”

While Jack would prefer to see the sort of role he did in the first half, when he was the Knicks’ starting point guard, he also doesn’t mind sticking in New York and mentoring the club’s young point guards, says Berman. Even with Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, and Trey Burke sharing his minutes, Jack doesn’t want to bail on the team.

“It feels weird leaving guys to go to another situation,” Jack said. “I understand selfishly how it makes sense, but I’d like to finish with who I started. The responsible thing to do is listen to it or look at it, but I’m cool here.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Within the same article, Berman cites sources who say that Joakim Noah also isn’t likely to be bought out by the Knicks today. The next big date to watch, according to Berman, may be September 1. At that point, if New York were to waive and stretch Noah, the size and structure of his cap hits would look a little different. We’ve previously identified September 1 as a date of interest for Noah’s situation; back in December, we took a closer look at how stretching him before or after that date would impact the Knicks’ cap charges.
  • Frank Ntilikina has shown some unexpected versatility in the Knicks’ backcourt, according to Fred Kerber of The New York Post, who suggests that the team has confidence in the rookie’s ability to play the two. While we shouldn’t pencil in Ntilikina as the Knicks’ shooting guard of the future quite yet, his versatility could create some interesting lineup possibilities going forward.
  • Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn isn’t sure yet whether or not he’ll opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, but he made it clear today that he loves playing in New York, as Al Iannazzone of Newsday relays. “I would love to be here for the rest of my career if I can,” O’Quinn said. Whether that translates into a hometown discount for the Knicks remains to be seen.
  • Be sure to check out our Knicks team page for more Knicks-related news and notes.

New York Notes: Noah, Ntilikina, Okafor, Nets

Although March 1 isn’t an official deadline for the Knicks to make a decision on Joakim Noah, the team will have to waive him on or before that day if he wants to retain his postseason eligibility. That makes it a date worth watching, and according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the National Basketball Players Association will have an eye on the situation.

Berman hears from sources that the NBPA will “intensify its interest” in the Noah situation if he remains on the Knicks’ roster – but not with the team – beyond March 1. If the veteran center wants to return to the Knicks at that point and the club wants him to remain in exile, things “could get ugly,” per Berman.

Sources tell Berman that the Knicks were within their right to suspend Noah for insubordination after he cursed out head coach Jeff Hornacek last month, but chose not to do so — Noah continues to receive his full salary during his absence. If the big man isn’t released this week, one potential scenario, Berman suggests, would see the Knicks brass telling him to sit tight and prepare for the 2018/19 season, when Hornacek may no longer be the club’s head coach.

While we wait to see what happens with Noah, let’s round up a few more items from out of New York City…

  • In a separate article for The New York Post, Berman examines the upcoming summer for Frank Ntilikina. The rookie point guard has suggested he’ll spend much of his offseason in his home country of France, but the Knicks will likely want him to play for their Summer League team in July.
  • Jahlil Okafor hasn’t seen any action for the Nets since February 12, but still believes he’s capable of fitting in with Brooklyn’s fast-paced style of play, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. “I wish we’d had him since training camp,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of Okafor. “It makes it easier. We’re scrambling here trying to find a lineup so he’s a little bit of a victim of that.”
  • Speaking of the Nets‘ lineup, it got a boost on Monday, as both Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned from injuries. Tom Dowd has the details at the club’s official site.

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Rebuild, Russell, Dinwiddie

The Knicks kicked off the second half with a 120-113 win over the Magic in Orlando. As planned, the trio of Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Trey Burke shared the backcourt duties with veteran Jarrett Jack taking a DNP. Burke contributed 26 points in 29 minutes while Ntilikina (29 minutes) and Mudiay (22 minutes) also tallied significant time.

While the acquisition of Mudiay at the deadline signaled the Knicks’ plan to acquire young talent, the 19-year-old Ntilikina should not worry about his standing with the team, Al Iannozzone of Newsday writes.

“You look at Frank right now and he’s a great defender for a 19-year-old kid,” Hornacek said. “The offense will come — his speed and strength, all that stuff. You can’t expect a lot more from a 19-year-old kid. So he’s been great.”

The Knicks have made it clear that the second half of the season will revolve around young players and essentially auditioning for the future. Ntilikina is as strong a part of that future as anybody on the roster.

Check out other NBA news out of New York:

  • A solid early start to the season fooled many into thinking the Knicks could make a run at the playoffs. With 22 games left, the postseason is all but ruled out and the team must now focus on the future, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes. Sloppy play on the road and numerous injuries stalled what looked to be a promising season in the first two months. “You still go back to, ‘It’s kind of a long-term plan.’ We got off to a good start, maybe changed everyone’s thoughts. But they were home games, we knew we had a long way to go,” Hornacek said.
  • D’Angelo Russell made his first start for the Nets since mid-November on Thursday and the plan to have him and Spencer Dinwiddie share the backcourt is in full-swing, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. “We’ve started to do it more, get a sample size. It’s something similar to Jeremy [Lin] and D’Angelo in the beginning,” Atkinson said. “I do like that. I do like having two guards that can really handle the ball.”
  • Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) takes a look at Sean Marks‘ reign as Nets general manager and the organization’s transformation in two years under Marks’ watch.