Julius Randle

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.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, Randle, Trier

As head coach David Fizdale promised, Frank Ntilikina is getting his chance to prove whether he can be the Knicks‘ solution at point guard, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. After barely being used in the first few games, Ntilikina made his first start of the season Friday night, playing 38 minutes in a narrow loss to the Celtics.

The third-year point guard’s strengths and weaknesses were both on display. He defended well against a variety of players, but only had two assists and his shot remains a concern. He was 4-of-9 for the game, but has made just 7-of-24 attempts from the field for the season and is only 3-of-10 beyond the arc.

“He’s learning,” former teammate Enes Kanter said. “Obviously, he was learning last year, but there was too much pressure on him. Now I feel he feels more comfortable and more confident out there. Obviously, I think he’s one of the best defenders out there and his vision on the court is amazing. I’m happy to see him grown because he’s an amazing dude on and off the court.”

Although Fizdale has vowed to give all the players in New York’s crowded backcourt a chance to prove themselves, Ntilikina’s start came largely because of circumstance with Elfrid Payton injured and Dennis Smith Jr. absent because of a death in the family. Even though the Knicks offered a show of confidence in their No. 8 pick from 2017 by picking up his fourth-year option last month, Ntilikina will eventually have to produce more on offense to earn consistent minutes.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Although Kanter had a contentious end to his time with the Knicks, he enjoyed a friendly reunion with the team Friday night, Vorkunov adds in the same story. Upset over a lack of playing time, Kanter asked for a trade and was eventually waived in February. All seems to be forgiven as he hugged team president Steve Mills on the court. “I like all these guys — even with Julius Randle, because we had this beef and everything,” Kanter said. “… I see there are a lot of good characters on the team. I’m really excited to see them grow together.”
  • Not having a play-making guard to rely on is affecting Randle’s game, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Randle took just seven shots Friday and had a season-low eight points. He turned the ball over six times, giving him 25 in the past five games, and is just 1-for-15 on 3-pointers for the season.
  • Opening-night starter Allonzo Trier has fallen completely out of the rotation, Berman notes in the same piece. Fizdale wouldn’t explain why Trier racked up his third straight DNP, but his time has gone to free agent addition Wayne Ellington. Another offseason signee, Taj Gibson, also wasn’t used against the Celtics.

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Randle, Smith Jr., Dinwiddie

Kyle Lowry‘s contract extension includes a base salary of $30MM that’s fully guaranteed, plus a $500K bonus if he makes the All-Star team, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The Raptors guard officially signed his extension on Monday. Lowry will make approximately $35MM this season. He’s the first player 33 or older to sign an extension worth $30MM or more as a base salary.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Julius Randle, who signed a lucrative three-year contract with the Knicks this summer, has All-Star aspirations, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. He’ll be looked upon as a go-to scorer and facilitator as a point forward in the offensive scheme. New York hasn’t had an All-Star since Carmelo Anthony, but Randle believes he can end that drought. “I just feel like situation and opportunity. Everything I’ve been through in the past, all the work I’ve put in in the past has prepared me for this opportunity now,” Randle said. “So it’s just a goal of mine. Eventually you feel like you have an opportunity. I feel like I do.”
  • Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. wants to prove he’s a floor leader and not just a scorer, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Smith is one of several players vying for the point guard job. “I got better at it,” Smith said. “What’s so funny is I don’t even know where the story came from that I’m trying to score all the time. I never got where that came from. I feel like this year we got some really good pieces around us for our team, some guys that can really score the ball, so I feel like it’s easy to set these guys up.”
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie still plans to use his contract as an investment tool despite league objections, but he’s pushed back the launch date, as he detailed on his Twitter account. His original launch date was Monday but he’ll wait until opening night since he still hopes to form a partnership with the league and the NBA is preoccupied with the China controversy. Having been on the ground in China, we are sensitive to what the NBA has been dealing with,” he said. Dinwiddie wants to enable investors to essentially buy shares of his three-year, $34.4MM contract.

New York Notes: Knicks, Allen, Jordan, LeVert

After a spending spree in free agency that saw them invest in four veteran power forwards, the Knicks aren’t opposed to the idea of using some bigger lineups this season, head coach David Fizdale said on the first day of training camp, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

“When you start talking about Kevin Knox and Marcus Morris at the small forward, right there that makes you pretty big,” Fizdale said. “You can see the pecking order down the line. I can put a lot of different guys on the floor. I can play Bobby [Portis] and Mitchell [Robinson] together with Marcus Morris, that’s a really big lineup. And R.J. Barrett is no small guy at the two or three either.”

In addition to using a bigger forward like Morris at the three, Fizdale is also open to making sure his power forwards get minutes by using some of them at the five. According to Begley, the Knicks’ head coach pointed specifically to Julius Randle as one strong candidate for a role at center: I can put him out there with Marcus Morris at the four and put a lot of pressure on a defense that way.”

As we wait to see how Fizdale balances his roster, let’s round up a few more notes on New York’s two teams:

  • After the Knicks struck out on star players in free agency this offseason, Frank Isola of The Athletic wonders if the most logical future free agent target for the franchise might be an executive – Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri – rather than a player.
  • There’s no animosity between Jarrett Allen and newly-added big man DeAndre Jordan, who are embracing their battle for the Nets‘ starting center job, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. “It’s going great. Jarrett’s a great young player. He’s proven to be a great rim protector and he’s getting better each year,” Jordan said. “We’re definitely challenging him every day in practice. For us, being able to battle against each other every day is going to be good not only for us individually but great for our team.”
  • After signing a new long-term extension with the Nets this summer, Caris LeVert is looking to take his game to another level in 2019/20, writes Howie Kussoy of The New York Post. “I think [his ceiling’s] really high,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of LeVert, pointing to the guard’s strong start to the 2018/19 season. “He was really dominating, and in the playoffs, he was starting to hit his stride. You could argue he was our best player in the playoffs. … There’s guys that want to be great and guys who are desperate to be great, and he’s in that desperate category. There’s only a few guys like that.”

Contract Bonus Notes: Nene, KCP, Randle, Jones

Veteran big man Nene officially signed his new contract with the Rockets back on September 6, but the NBA has yet to formally approve the deal, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link). Sources tell Marks that the league has been discussing internally whether it should disapprove of the incentives in the agreement, which create a $10MM trade chip despite the fact that Nene will likely only be paid about $2.56MM.

The NBA has the right to challenge deals that it believes violate the spirit of rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, even if those deals are technically legal based on what’s written in the CBA. While it seems unlikely that Nene’s deal would be nixed, it wouldn’t be surprising if the league looked to adjust the rules related to bonuses and incentives in the future to prevent teams from manipulating a player’s cap hit to such a significant extent.

In the meantime, Nene’s deal is hardly the only one signed this offseason heavy on bonus money. We’ve gone into detail on the incentives included in a handful of other contracts, such as the ones signed by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, but Marks has even more details on bonuses available to players around the NBA this year.

We won’t pass along every single note included in Marks’ article, but here are a few of the noteworthy new bonuses worth watching in 2019/20:

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can earn three separate $350K bonuses if he averages 1.85 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game this season with the Lakers. Caldwell-Pope’s new deal also includes a $163K bonus for being named to either All-Defensive team and a $50K bonus if the Lakers reach the Western Finals.
  • Julius Randle‘s contract with the Knicks includes three separate $900K unlikely bonuses that he could earn if he makes the All-Star team, is named to an All-Defensive team, or makes the playoffs (and appears in at least 65 games).
  • Tyus Jones‘ $9.258MM cap hit with the Grizzlies in 2019/20 includes an $858K bonus that has been deemed likely. Jones will earn the bonus if Memphis wins 33 games. If the rebuilding Grizzlies fall short of that mark, Jones’ cap hit for the season will dip to $8.4MM.
  • Maxi Kleber‘s new contract with the Mavericks features a set of four unlikely bonuses that could be worth up to $475K in total. To earn them all, Kleber must make an All-Defensive team ($150K), make at least 80% of his free throws ($75K), make at least 40% of his three-pointers ($150K), and average more than nine rebounds per 36 minutes ($100K).
  • Again, if you’re an ESPN Insider, be sure to check out Marks’ full story for more details on some of the more unusual incentives around the league.

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Dudley, Scott, Nets

The KnicksJulius Randle got a head start on building chemistry with his new teammates during workouts last month in Los Angeles, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Randle, who signed a three-year, $63MM contract, is among seven free agent additions in New York, along with rookies RJ Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikis.

“It’s important for us to get to know each other, spend time together on the court before training camp starts,” Randle said. “There’s a lot of new pieces. Everyone’s going to be trying to figure out their role. Coach (David Fizdale) is going to do a great job of helping us through that. If we want to be a good team and have a chance, we have to jump-start that process ourselves.”

From an individual standpoint, Randle is working this summer on becoming a more efficient scorer and is watching a lot of tape to try to improve defensively. He believes people who are expecting another losing season in New York are undervaluing the team.

“It’s easy to do that because the last couple of seasons have been hard,’’ Randle said. “It’s easy to underestimate us. But we’re a deep team. We’re a very deep 1-to-15 with guys who can play. If they underestimate us, I don’t care.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Jared Dudley was interested in signing with the Celtics, but the team believed it already had enough wings and wanted to keep a roster spot open, reports Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The Boston College alum wound up joining the Lakers on a one-year deal.
  • Sixers forward Mike Scott is looking forward to having Al Horford as a teammate again, writes Lauren Rosen of NBA.com. Scott broke into the league with the Hawks in 2012/13 when Horford was one of the stars in Atlanta. “Not only is he a great player, he’s a great person,” Scott said. “You love to play with people like that. He’s humble, he’s grateful, he knows his role.”
  • The NBA Board of Governors is expected to address Joe Tsai’s purchase of the Nets next month, according to a NetsDaily article. The sale shouldn’t affect any of the basketball operations, but changes may be coming on the business side of the organization.

Julius Randle Out Of World Cup; Torrey Craig Joining Select Team

Team USA lost another star today as Julius Randle announced that he won’t be competing for a spot on the FIBA World Cup squad, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN. He cited an unspecified family issue for the decision.

Randle, who signed with the Knicks last month, was a late addition to camp, receiving an invitation 11 days ago along with the CelticsJaylen Brown after several high-profile players declined the opportunity. With competition for 12 roster spots to begin Monday, it’s not clear if there’s time to find a replacement for Randle.

A move was also made to the Select Team that will scrimmage against those players in Las Vegas. Torrey Craig of the Nuggets was chosen to replace Landry Shamet of the Clippers, who announced yesterday that he won’t be participating.

Players will report to camp tomorrow and the battle for roster spots will run through Thursday. The World Cup will take place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

Jaylen Brown, Julius Randle Invited To Team USA Camp

Jaylen Brown of the Celtics and Julius Randle of the Knicks are the latest additions to the USA Basketball training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

They will help to restock the camp after a series of high-profile withdrawals in the past week. Tobias Harris was the latest big name to turn down a shot at making the World Cup team, joining Anthony Davis, James HardenBradley BealCJ McCollum and Eric Gordon. Decisions are expected soon from Damian Lillard and Kevin Love.

Brown struggled somewhat while adjusting to a reserve role last season, but still put up numbers similar to his breakthrough campaign of 2017/18, averaging 13.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in 74 games. At 22, he is part of the young foundation in Boston.

Randle signed with New York after posting a career-high 21.4 PPG in his lone season with New Orleans. The 24-year-old is also a reliable rebounder, averaging 8.7 per night with the Pelicans.

The changes are transforming Team USA from a star-filled squad into a younger group similar to the team that captured the World Cup gold medal in 2010, Charania notes.

Harris Withdraws From Team USA This Summer

Add Tobias Harris‘ name to the growing list of USA Basketball players pulling out of consideration for this year’s FIBA World Cup. Harris, who re-signed with the Sixers for five years and $180MM this summer, has decided to focus on the upcoming NBA season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal, CJ McCollum and Eric Gordon have also withdrawn from Team USA participation this summer, starting with training camp in Las Vegas early next month. Two other players, Damian Lillard and Kevin Love, are also undecided and will announce their decisions in the next few days, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports.

Team USA will bring 12 players to the FIBA tournament. Among the players under consideration to replace the stars who have withdrawn, according to Vardon, include Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, D’Angelo Russell, Mike ConleyJosh Richardson, Thaddeus Young and Julius Randle. Select Team members could also be considered for the final 12-man roster, including Trae Young, Vardon adds. Top pick Zion Williamson has withdrawn from the Select Team this summer.

The original list of 20 invitees to the USA Basketball camp can be found here.

Knicks Notes: Morris, Bullock, Vonleh

After officially announcing their deals with Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock today, the Knicks appear to be just about done with free agency. Damyean Dotson‘s salary for 2019/20 became fully guaranteed because he remained on the roster through Monday, so New York is now carrying 15 players on guaranteed deals. The team has also exhausted its cap room and appears to have used a portion of the room exception to sign Bullock.

Here are a few Knicks-related notes on Morris, Bullock, and more:

  • Morris’ agent Rich Paul wasn’t directly involved in his client breaking his verbal agreement with the Spurs, and preferred that Morris stick to that agreement, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, Morris and the Knicks worked together to strike a deal. As for Morris and Paul, they’re reportedly parting ways after the forward’s tumultuous free agency.
  • A source tells Berman that Bullock is out “indefinitely” and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports that Bullock will likely miss at least a month of the season. The details on the veteran guard’s health issue remain a mystery, but that issue helped scuttle the initial two-year deal between the two sides — that $21MM agreement would have been worth more than double the value of their new contract.
  • The Knicks’ goal is to win – not tank – in 2019/20, according to Berman, who speculates that Morris and Julius Randle may end up being the team’s starting forward tandem, with 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox moving to the bench.
  • After leaving the Knicks for the Timberwolves in free agency, Noah Vonleh told Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic that he had a “great” time in New York last season. “It was a great opportunity,” Vonleh said. “They gave me some playing time, let me be the 4-man, just grow as a player and change the narrative that was on me that was in the league and gave myself another a chance to give myself a new life in the league.”