Julius Randle

Knicks Notes: Rebuilding, Development, Davis, Smith Jr.

Following their failure to land a star on the free agent market last summer, the Knicks are in the midst of another long rebuild, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Their young players have not shown signs of future stardom and the seven veteran free agents signed over the summer have failed to lift the franchise from the bottom of the standings, Popper continues. Most of the young players, as well as the veterans, are on the trading block. That includes Julius Randle, the only free agent who received a full guarantee on the second year of his contract.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • The club is struggling with the dilemma of improving its chances of winning by playing veterans and devoting more time to toward developing young players, as Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic details. The Knicks have doled approximately 40% of their minutes to players 22 years old or younger, second in the NBA behind only the Hawks, but have relied on their veterans in recent games.
  • The home game against the Lakers on Wednesday provided the only opportunity this season for fans to show some love for potential free agent Anthony Davis, Marc Berman of the New York Post notes. Signing with the woeful Knicks doesn’t appear to be on Davis’ radar but the Knicks will have plenty of cap room and Berman, citing sources, claims Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, would one day like to bring his superstar client to New York.
  • Guard Dennis Smith Jr. was available to play on Wednesday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. Smith missed the last 13 games due to an oblique strain.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Rose, Jackson, Wood

Trading Andre Drummond may be more difficult than expected, writes Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. The Pistons are hoping to get a young player or a draft pick in return for their star center. But because Drummond intends to opt out of his contract this summer, teams would be taking a chance by giving up future assets for what could be a short-term rental.

Although the Knicks are the latest team to be mentioned in a possible Drummond deal, a source tells Ellis, “there’s nothing there.” The Pistons reportedly reached out to New York, offering Drummond and another player in exchange for Julius Randle and Frank Ntilikina, whom they have tried to obtain before.

Ellis compares Drummond’s situation to Kemba Walker‘s last season, noting that teams weren’t willing to make significant offers to Charlotte at the deadline, even though Walker is a better player. Ellis suggests the Pistons may elect to unload Drummond for a package of expiring deals, if only to eliminate the risk that he will opt into a $28.7MM salary for next season when the team hopes to be under the salary cap.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • In an interview with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Derrick Rose talks about possibly taking part in the skills competition during All-Star Weekend and discusses how he has responded to an increase in his minutes limitation. “I feel healthy. And I’m just trying to play with grace out there,” Rose said. “Trying to take shots that they’re giving me, be smart with my opportunities. It’s been a year since I’ve been at the point guard spot. I came back in the league at small forward with Thibs (then-Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau). And then I went to shooting guard with Minnesota after that. This year, it’s the first year I’m back at point guard.”
  • The Pistons are optimistic that Reggie Jackson may return to the lineup soon, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Jackson, who hasn’t played since the first two games of the season, received encouraging news when he met with a back specialist in Los Angeles last week.
  • Now that Christian Wood‘s $1.6MM contract is officially guaranteed, he has a chance to play a full season for one team for the first time since entering the league in 2015, Beard adds in the same story. “The transition for me has been good. It’s something I hadn’t really thought about,” Wood said. “I didn’t really kind of know the (guarantee) dates, but now it’s something I’m proud of. I’m happy and I think I deserve it.”

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, Covington, Randle

The Lakers‘ trade options this winter may be somewhat limited, given their lack of mid-level contracts and the fact that three of their players have the ability to veto deals. However, if they’re willing to move Kyle Kuzma, it could open up some doors.

In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks explore the Lakers’ trade possibilities, noting that packaging Kuzma with both Quinn Cook and DeMarcus Cousins would be enough for the team to bring back a player earning up to $13.5MM.

While ESPN’s duo offers a few ideas for potential targets, Pelton and Marks agree that Timberwolves forward Robert Covington should be “Option A” for L.A in that scenario. According to Marks, Minnesota will likely have the ability to create a bidding war for Covington if he’s shopped leading up to the deadline, so the Lakers’ package wouldn’t necessarily be enough — especially since the Wolves may prioritize acquiring a point guard.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Within that same ESPN Insider article, Marks questions Kuzma’s overall trade value, while Pelton argues the young forward would be more valuable to another team that could benefit more from his shot creation. While there were reports during last year’s Anthony Davis trade talks with the Pelicans that the Lakers insisted on keeping Kuzma, Marks says he heard from reliable sources that New Orleans was actually focused on Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball anyway.
  • Within a mailbag article, Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register looks at some of the potential factors involved in a Kuzma trade with the Kings or another team, while also addressing LeBron James‘ groin issue and Rajon Rondo‘s up-and-down play.
  • With the Lakers set to host the Knicks on Tuesday night, Julius Randle revisited the end of his tenure in Los Angeles in 2018, suggesting that it “wasn’t the right situation” for him, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “Do I wish it would’ve worked out differently? I don’t get into what-ifs,” Randle said. “It worked out how it was supposed to. I’m happy where I’m at now. Everything in life happens for a reason. Highs and lows of life happens for a reason. It made me the person I am today and I’m extremely happy to be a Knick.”

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Stevens, Temple, Robinson

The improved play of 2019 Knicks free agent signee Julius Randle since Mike Miller became the team’s interim head coach can be attributed to several factors, The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov observes.

“I’m just playing with confidence,” Randle said. “I try to take things on a game-by-game focus, not really worried about the big picture of things when it comes to that.” Randle’s jump-shooting accuracy has improved for the Knicks lately. He has been less prone to on-court mistakes, and has been penetrating inside more instead of settling.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

New York Notes: Randle, Knicks, LeVert, TLC

While the Knicks‘ front office has talked a lot about player development over the last year or two, that’s not what Julius Randle is prioritizing on the court, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. Randle stressed this week that he won’t be satisfied with moral victories unless they come along with actual victories.

“Winning is all that mattered. It’s always mattered. Development or not — we didn’t come here to develop,” Randle said. “We want to bring the younger guys along and help them, but at the same time we want to win. That’s our expectation. That’s the only thing that matters. And from my end, that’s the only thing that matters.”

Despite the fact that the Knicks are looking to develop young players like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Kevin Knox, Bondy suggests that Randle’s attitude should be welcomed, since the team’s locker room has too often “been a cheerful place following defeats.” And, of course, winning games and developing prospects don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.

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

  • Injured Nets guard Caris LeVert has one more hurdle to clear before he returns from thumb surgery, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who suggests that LeVert could be cleared to play if he participates in a full practice on Wednesday. Although LeVert has done some 5-on-5 work already, Brooklyn wants to make sure he gets a little more practice time in before he returns. “I personally don’t feel comfortable just rolling a guy out there without the proper build-up and game simulations,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I think it’s important we want when guys step in the lineup that they’re ready to go.”
  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, one of the Nets‘ two-way players, has become a regular contributor in recent weeks as a result of the team’s injuries woes. He may return to the G League when Brooklyn’s roster gets healthier, but Luwawu-Cabarrot’s solid play has given the team something to think about, says Net Income of NetsDaily.
  • In case you missed it on Monday, Jared Dudley shared one reason why Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan may have chosen the Nets over the Knicks in free agency this past summer.

Knicks Open To Trading Julius Randle?

On Sunday, seven of the Knicks‘ offseason signees became trade-eligible and with the team in the midst of another woeful season, New York could look to ship out some of its veterans.

Steve Popper of Newsday hears from an NBA source that the Knicks are believed to be open to trading Julius Randle. The big man inked a three-year, $57MM deal with the club back in July and he’s had an uneven first couple months in New York, as he’s making just 44.5% of his shots from the field. Randle is the only one of the team’s offseason free agent signees that received multiple fully guaranteed years.

Marcus Morris is likely the team’s best trade chip right now. He’s averaging 48.2% from downtown in his point-forward role for the club and his one-year, $15MM deal won’t hinder any team’s long-term future (it’s probably safe to assume the Spurs won’t be the team trading for Morris).

The Knicks are balancing playing their veterans with getting their young core experience and it would be surprising if the team doesn’t make at least one deal before the trade deadline.

Knicks Notes: Trades, Morris, Payton, Ntilikina

Today marks the unofficial start of the NBA’s trading season, but the Knicks won’t be in a hurry to make any deals, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. December 15 is the date that most free agents who signed during the summer are eligible to be traded. New York has seven of those, with six on expiring contracts, but several factors make any quick deals unlikely.

A team executive tells Berman that the Knicks want to wait until closer to the February 7 deadline to sort out their assets, especially since interim coach Mike Miller just took over last week. The Knicks are 2-2 under Miller, and management believes the players’ trade value will rise if the team continues to succeed. Another consideration is the shaky status of team president Steve Mills, which may delay any major decisions until after the season.

The Knicks will continue to emphasize cap flexibility heading into the summer, Berman adds, which means it’s unlikely they’ll take on any expensive, long-term contracts. The 2020 free agent class is considered weak, but the organization wants to have cap room available for any offseason trade opportunities that might arise.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • The Knicks believe they can get a late first-round pick from a contender in exchange for Marcus Morris, Berman relays in the same piece. Figuring out the point guard situation remains a priority, with Elfrid Payton apparently back in the lead role. Berman notes that Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina have both been on the trade block before.
  • The Knicks have been much better since Payton returned after missing 17 games with a strained hamstring, Berman observes in a separate story. Payton has been closing out games under Miller and sparked a comeback in Friday’s win at Sacramento. “When he’s playing like that, he’s a monster and tough to deal with, pushing the pace,” Julius Randle said. “… He got it done on both ends. I’m extremely proud of him how he competes.’’ A source tells Berman that Randle believes his adjustment to joining a new team would have been much easier if Payton hadn’t been injured.
  • Ntilikina made progress under former coach David Fizdale, but finds himself in a different situation since Miller took over, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Ntilikina remains in the starting lineup, but he’s not the type of “downhill” point guard that Miller envisions. “My goal is to stay the same, go out here and play hard for the team, give everything I can bring to this team,” Ntilikina said. “So of course, being in that situation is tough. Losing a lot of games, losing a coach, is tough. However, we’ve got to focus on the future.”

Knicks Notes: Randle, Fizdale, Dotson, Barrett

Before putting up 30 points on Monday against Cleveland, Julius Randle had struggled in his first few weeks as a member of the Knicks, averaging 15.5 PPG on .423/.200/.623 shooting with 3.8 TOPG through 13 games. Randle was the team’s big free agent addition of the offseason, inking a three-year deal worth about $19MM per season. However, the big man told Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that the pressure of living up to that contract isn’t the reason for his slow start.

“No, the money is in the bank. So it’s not pressure for that,” Randle said. “Me and (head coach David Fizdale) joke about it all the time — the money is the bank, just go out and have fun. But moreso than the money, I have more responsibility.”

As Randle explained, he’s essentially the No. 1 offensive option for the Knicks, a role he didn’t have on his previous teams. As he continues to adjust to that new role, Randle is leaning on agent Aaron Mintz to help keep him focused and on the right track, as he told Bondy.

“I talk to (Mintz) every day. He talks me off a ledge every day. It’s like, I joke with him, it’s like my sane side — him and my wife,” Randle said. “Because I’m ready to blow up and they kind of talk me back to reality. He gives me a day just to chill out and then he talks me back to reality.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • David Fizdale dismissed concerns about his job security on Tuesday, telling reporters – including Ian Begley of SNY.tv – that he gets regular votes of confidence from team owner James Dolan. “Every game, every game. Jim Dolan comes in and gives me a vote of confidence, a pat on my back and really has just been incredibly encouraging over the last year and a half or whatever it’s been,” Fizdale said. “All we talk about is just sticking to the process of making these guys better and building for a future of sustainable winning.”
  • The Knicks have no shortage of options for their backup shooting guard job, but Damyean Dotson appears to be claiming that role for now, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details. Dotson has averaged 19.6 minutes per game over New York’s last five contests, while Allonzo Trier has played 21 total minutes during that stretch and Wayne Ellington has played just 18. Dotson and Trier will be eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end; Ellington has a non-guaranteed $8MM salary for 2020/21.
  • Mike Vornukov of The Athletic and Kevon Pelton of ESPN each take a look at RJ Barrett‘s early-season workload, exploring how closely that issue is worth monitoring.
  • As we relayed earlier today, Elfrid Payton will be sidelined for at least 10 more days due to a hamstring strain.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Randle, Smith, Bullock

The vultures are circling in New York. After a blowout 120-102 defeat to the lowly Bulls, the 2-9 Knicks are still reeling from press conference comments made by president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry on Sunday. Head coach David Fizdale‘s days in New York appear to be numbered.

On ESPN’s SportsCenter today, Adrian Wojnarowski speculated to Stephen A. Smith that a Fizdale firing felt like a fait accompli. Wojnarowski elaborated, noting that Fizdale could be the first member of the New York brain trust to be shown the door by owner James Dolan amidst this disastrous — though hardly surprising — start to the Knicks’ season.

Marc Berman of the New York Post postulates that Fizdale could be gone within the Knicks’ next 10 games if they don’t make a drastic improvement in the win column. ESPN Insider scribe Kevin Pelton suggests that the Knicks front office leaders, who were so quick to blame Fizdale for stumbling out of the gate, need to recognize the limitations of the team’s disjointed roster.

There’s more from New York:

  • About that roster — one of the Knicks’ best backcourt prospects, Dennis Smith Jr., has missed seven of the team’s past eight games due to the death of his stepmother. He returned to action yesterday, scoring zero points on 0-for-3 shooting from the floor. Once Smith settles in, the Post’s Greg Joyce thinks that his presence could positively affect the team’s dire point guard situation. Frank Ntilikina remained the starter yesterday in Chicago, but Smith could be a helpful scorer and facilitator in a bench capacity. Elfrid Payton, the starting point guard when the season began, remains out of commission with a hamstring injury.
  • An NBA personnel man who spoke to Marc Berman believes the Knicks are making a tactical mistake in treating Julius Randle like a No. 1 option. Berman observes that Randle, a good scorer and the team’s highest-paid player, lacks the chops to be a good team’s lead ball-handler. Fizdale himself addressed the big man’s decision-making, as Ian Begley of SNY reports. “For him, we’re just trying to build that habit of having more balance and when you decide to go and when you decide to work with getting someone else involved,” Fizdale said.
  • The Knicks’ depleted backcourt could eventually get some more help in the form of shooting guard Reggie Bullock, whom the team signed to a two-year, $8.2MM contract over the summer. According to Chris Iseman of NorthJersey.com (Twitter link), Bullock has been progressing in his rehabilitation enough to partake in non-contact drills in team practice. He will be re-evaluated in early December. Bullock, a career 39.4% three-point shooter, underwent surgery for a cervical disc herniation in July.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Robinson, Barrett, Ownership

Knicks coach David Fizdale is already feeling the heat after a 1-5 start, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post writes. “Fire Fizdale” chants were heard from the home crowd as the team was getting blown out by Sacramento on Sunday. While the team plays hard, its interior defense is lacking and there are long stretches of inefficiency on both ends, Vaccaro adds. However, a coaching move would be costly. Fizdale has two more years remaining on his contract after this season.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Fizdale is making a mistake by prioritizing free agent signee Julius Randle over second-year center Mitchell Robinson, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News argues. Robinson is averaging just 19.2 MPG through six games, more than 10 minutes fewer than he averaged in the final 11 games of last season, Bondy notes. Fizdale moved Bobby Portis into the lineup at Robinson’s expense on Sunday in an effort to get the slumping Randle going offensively.
  • Fizdale bristled when reporters questioned why lottery pick RJ Barrett played 41 minutes in the blowout loss to the Kings, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. “We’ve got to get off this load-management (nonsense),” he said.Latrell Sprewell averaged 42 minutes for a season. This kid is 19. Drop it already.” Barrett has quickly established himself as a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year award by averaging 18.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.3 APG in 35.7 MPG.
  • Silver Lake Partners — a firm known for its investments in Tesla and Alibaba — is seeking a big stake in the Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers before they’re spun off into a publicly-traded company, Josh Kosman of the New York Post reports.  Silver Lake owns close to 10% of Madison Square Garden and wants a bigger stake but only in its sports teams, Kosman continues. James Dolan will continue to control both teams for the foreseeable future, even as MSG spins off a majority of the teams’ value to current shareholders.