Kevin Knox

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Randolph, Fizdale, Thomas

A reported Enes Kanter for Zach Randolph swap with the Kings would fulfill the Knicks‘ desire to move the veteran center without taking back a contract that runs past this season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

The trade makes sense on several levels, Berman notes. Kanter is unhappy with his reduced playing time in New York and should welcome a deal to a contender. Knicks GM Scott Perry formerly worked in Sacramento and signed Randolph to his current deal. Randolph, who hasn’t played all season, might be bought out to free up a roster spot or he could return to action under David Fizdale, his former coach in Memphis.

Berman adds that the Knicks were surprised by Kanter’s comments last week about his ongoing feud with Turkish leaders as an explanation for his decision not to accompany the team on its upcoming trip to London. A team official said Kanter was having visa issues, but he later denied that was the reason for staying home.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Team owner James Dolan supports Kanter’s decision to skip the London trip, Berman adds in the same piece. The Kings and Knicks aren’t close to a deal yet, a source tells Berman, with Sacramento appearing to be more reluctant.
  • The Knicks finished the first half of the season with just 10 victories, but Fizdale remains confident that better things are coming, Berman writes in a separate story“Individually, I think guys are getting better,’’ Fizdale said after last night’s loss at Golden State. “Small areas of the game we’re getting better. It’s not all collective and not showing in a full game. I do see great strides in our young guys. I see Emmanuel [Mudiay] constantly gaining confidence, and [Noah] Vonleh continues to grow in his evolution. Kevin Knox over the course of the first half has shown great strides. Him and Damyean Dotson.” Draft lottery concerns may work against Fizdale’s prediction of more wins in the second half. The league’s three worst teams will share the best odds at the No. 1 pick, and the Knicks rank third in our latest Reverse Standings.
  • Lance Thomas has signed with CAA and agents Leon Rose and Rich Felder, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. His $7.58MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Thomas, Durant, Knox

The Knicks will wait until February to make a decision on Kristaps Porzingis‘ playing status, but teammate Lance Thomas tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that the Latvian star can’t wait to get back on the court. Porzingis is still recovering from an ACL tear last February, and Thomas offers behind-the-scenes insight into his rehab efforts.

“He’s working really hard, man,’’ Thomas said. “He’s in there before everybody. He’s there when everybody leaves. While we practice, he just has that itch. You can just tell — seeing us compete so hard in practice. He comes to me and says, ‘Man, I can’t wait. I got the itch.’ He grabs a basketball on the side and starts dribbling it. He’s working really hard. I know he’s very anxious getting back on the court.”

Team president Steve Mills provided an update on Porzingis’ condition Friday, explaining that he has started doing 45-minute, one-on-one drills with coaches. The team plans to gradually increase his activity level until he can participate in full practices, hopefully before re-examining him in mid-February. He is expected to have a minutes restriction of about 20 per game if he does return.

“I would love to [play with him this season],’’ Thomas said. “He’s been [my] teammate since he’s been in the NBA. I would love nothing more than to be able to lace it up with him again. He also needs to do what’s best for him. It’s an injury you don’t want to mess around with, especially the type of year he had right before it, an All-Star caliber year. We want to make sure he comes back and he’s confident with all his movements and mentally carefree.”

There’s more today from New York:

  • The Knicks are preparing to make an aggressive run at Kevin Durant next summer, according to Frank Isola of The Athletic. Isola states that Durant will be the team’s top target in free agency, and several league executives at last week’s G League Showcase believe New York will be in the running to sign him. Isola’s comments come as part of an examination of Mills and how he has been able to survive with the organization.
  • Kevin Knox appears to have worked through his first experience with the “rookie wall,” writes Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press. Knox has rediscovered his scoring touch, pouring in 20.3 PPG over the past seven games. “I knew at some point it was going to kick back in for him, I just didn’t know when, and now we’re seeing the kid that we thought we had,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “The kid’s talented. He’ll hit some more pitfalls this year, that’s just part of the deal, but the one thing that’s encouraging is that he’s starting to see things a lot more clear and do some things that can be determined as big-time.”
  • The Knicks are the latest franchise to emphasize the importance of players getting enough sleep, relays Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

Knicks Notes: Free Agency, Porzingis, Knox, Burke

The Knicks don’t see an urgency to sign an elite free agent next summer and believe their rebuilding plan will be fine if they have to wait another year, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The organization’s priorities are landing a top-five draft pick, getting Kristaps Porzingis healthy again and developing rookies Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier, along with Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay.

The summer of 2019 has long been considered pivotal for the Knicks, who will have the cap space to compete on the free agent market for the first time in several years. There are plans in place to open up $38MM — enough to sign a 10-year veteran like Kevin Durant — if the opportunity becomes available, although Berman isn’t sure if those plans include a trade of Tim Hardaway Jr. But a source says the team won’t go that route unless it can land a “dramatic difference maker.”

President Steve Mills seemed to confirm that approach at a press conference Friday when he talked about saving cap room for 2020 and retaining the flexibility to acquire a star through trade. Berman adds that the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis has interest in playing in New York.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • The Knicks are hoping Porziginis can return sometime after the All-Star break so he can start to build chemistry with his younger teammates, Berman relays in the same story. However, the final decision will be based on his physical condition as he recovers from last season’s ACL injury. “The most important thing for us is to have Kristaps on the court when he feels comfortable being on the court and we feel comfortable he should be out there,’’ Mills said. “That’s more important than any timetable this season — or some point in the summer.” Team doctors plan to re-evaluate Porzingis’ condition in February.
  • Knox continued a troubling pattern in Friday’s loss to the Hawks, Berman notes in a separate piece. He made seven of eight shots in the first quarter, but none in the second half, which has been a familiar theme this season. “I expect him to be a big-time scorer, [but it’s] a real conditioning requirement to be a great scorer in this league,” coach David Fizdale said. “He has to learn as he gets stronger and in more physical shape to adapt to scouting reports and adjustments during the game.’’
  • Trey Burke is expected to return to the lineup for the Christmas Day game, but back-to-back DNPs this week suggest he’s not part of the Knicks’ plan for the future, Berman adds.

Knicks Notes: Lee, Trier, Knox, Ntilikina

Courtney Lee will be getting more playing time, but not at the NBA level, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks are sending Lee, who has missed most of the season with a neck injury, to their G League affiliate in Westchester so he can rack up minutes in tomorrow night’s game against Lakeland.

The 33-year-year-old is averaging just 10.8 minutes in four games since returning to the lineup, stuck in a crowded backcourt on a team now committed to finding time for Frank Ntilikina. Lee admits he needs to work on conditioning and suggested the idea of spending time in the G League.

“It’s going to take a while to get reactivated to game-speed, game-like situations,” he said. “It’ll probably take couple of weeks to get back a rhythm and feel chemistry with the guys. I’ve been thrown out there with those guys and trying to play on the fly. Next couple of weeks, I’ll start to feel comfortable out there.”

Lee is scheduled to rejoin the Knicks following Wednesday night’s game. The team is hoping to build up his value in hopes of working out a deal before the February 7 deadline to get his $12.76MM salary for next season off the books.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Rookie guard Allonzo Trier strained his left hamstring and won’t be re-evaluated until next week, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Trier, who is getting close to the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way contract, will remain with the team while he rehabs the injury, but the time won’t add to his service days. Berman notes that it will give the front office more time to decide what to do once he reaches the limit, whether it involves waiving Ron Baker or Luke Kornet or trying to work out a trade (Twitter link).
  • Coach David Fizdale has been using Kevin Knox at power forward more often to boost his rebounding numbers, which paid off Sunday as he collected 11 boards, notes Peter Botte of The New York Post. It marked the first double-digit rebounding night for Knox. “I’ve really been stressing to him rebounding and getting in the trench,” Fizdale said. “We do a lot of block-out drills, just trying to get him used to the physicality of the league, trying to fast-track him that way. And so he’s taken it to heart, and he’s going to get the ball.”
  • Ntilikina’s 18-point explosion in the second half Sunday night is a sign that he will eventually reward the Knicks’ patience, contends Shlomo Sprung of Forbes.

Knicks Notes: Walker, Knox, Ntilikina, Trier

Bronx native and current Hornets guard Kemba Walker is set to play at Madison Square Garden when his team takes on the Knicks Sunday, one of three games between the clubs this season.

His homecoming return to New York will commence just seven months before the 28-year-old reaches free agency.

“I’ve been hearing it for years now — the Knicks,” Walker said this past August, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Every time I come home, it’s, ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”

The Knicks will have the cap space to sign Walker on a maximum-salary contract if the two sides express interest in each other next summer, but Hornets owner Michael Jordan is said to seriously value Walker’s services.

Walker, a former University of Connecticut standout, has averaged a career-high 25.8 points, 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game this season. The Knicks currently have Frank Ntilikina as the only point guard under contract next season.

“What kid doesn’t want to play in MSG?” Walker said Friday, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play there many, many times during my basketball career. Every chance I get to play there, I try to embrace it. I just love playing there.”

“I will always have an attachment to and a love of that city,” Walker said. “That city made me who I am today.”

There’s more out of New York today:

  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari believes the critics of Kevin Knox need to be patient, Berman writes in a separate story. “He’s got to figure this stuff,” Calipari said. “I told the Knicks and everybody recruiting — they’re 19, 18, 20, not 25 years old. But what you have is a 6-9, 6-10 player who’s multi-dimensional, who can score and is just going to get better and better when he matures and physically fills out.”
  • David Fizdale‘s harsh message to Frank Ntilikina was delivered, and now it’s time for Ntilikina to see more playing time, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes. Ntilikina played 15 minutes against the Nets on Saturday, but was benched the previous three games. Fizdale has made it clear to Ntilikina that he must earn his playing time with the team.
  • Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes an in-depth story on Allonzo Trier‘s journey to the NBA, dating back to when the 22-year-old was in grade school. Trier has averaged 11.3 points in 27 games with the Knicks this season, providing solid play on both ends of the floor.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Knox, Robinson, Vonleh

Frank Ntilikina is the latest victim of coach David Fizdale’s changing rotation, never leaving the bench in Saturday night’s win over the Bucks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. The Knicks were down a guard after Trey Burke sprained his right knee in the first minute of the game, but Fizdale never turned to Ntilikina, making it the first DNP-CD of his brief NBA career.

“It’s not frustration,” Ntilikina said after the game. “I think it’s motivation because as a competitor, you want to be out there on the court to help your team. My job and my mindset is to keep working harder to be able to get back on the court.”

Ntilikina has started 14 games this season, but has seen his playing time reduced while suffering through a shooting slump. Fizdale has remained supportive and issued a reminder that other players have found themselves in the same situation.

“As you could see with these guys, none of them are ever in the dungeon,” Fizdale said. “He was the example of my postgame speech because if you watch our bench tonight, he was the most energetic, the first one up, the first one rooting guys on, the one making sure people knew what they were supposed to do coming out of timeouts. And that’s not easy when you’re getting a DNP. But as you know and as they know, I will come back to him in no time. [Damyean Dotson] is a perfect testament of that.”

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Kevin Knox responded to league-wide questions about his ability with a career-best performance Saturday, notes Kevin Kernan of The New York Post. Knox scored 26 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as New York knocked off one of the league’s best teams. “Fiz is always going to have confidence in me,” the rookie forward said. “He just wants me to keep playing hard. He talked to me about that the other day. It shows how much confidence in me to keep me out there the whole game.”
  • Fizdale is willing to endure the growing pains for Knox and Mitchell Robinson and won’t consider a trip to the G League for either one, Popper relays in a separate story“I’ve got a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old trying to figure out the NBA, the league that’s full of the absolute best players in the world, the best coaches in the world, doing it in the absolute toughest market in America,” Fizdale said. “Give them a break. These guys are learning on the fly.”
  • In an interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post, Noah Vonleh explains why he chose the Knicks in free agency.

Knicks Notes: Knox, Ntilikina, Porzingis, Robinson, Lee

The Knicks’ lottery picks over the last two years, point guard Frank Ntilikina and wing Kevin Knox, have been called soft by rival scouts and other league personnel interviewed by the New York Post’s Marc Berman. Knox was also labelled as selfish offensively, settling for long-range jumpers and refusing to move the ball. Ntilikina was knocked for lacking of acumen expected of a floor leader. Coach David Fizdale bristled at the criticism, according to tweet from Newsday’s Steve Popper. “Give them a break,” he said. “These guys are learning on the fly.” Knox said he’ll take the knocks in a constructive way, as Popper relays. “I love the criticism because that’s just going to help me go watch film and make sure I can get better at that,” Knox said.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Knox is eager to establish chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis, Berman reports in a separate story. Porzingis could return in late December from the ACL tear he suffered last season. “It will be great to get him on the court and get the connection going a bit see how it is to play with an All-Star,” he said. “It will be pretty fun when he gets back. Hopefully, we’ll connect.”
  • Fizdale said there’s no talk of sending Knox and fellow rookie Mitchell Robinson to the G League’s Westchester Knicks, Berman writes in another piece. “I’m keeping both of them with us,’’ Fizdale said. “Through whatever tough times we go through, that’s what we have to go through with them right now. But I want them with our guys, playing with our guys, interacting with our guys, having successes and suffering with our guys.”
  • Courtney Lee could make his season debut against the Bucks on Saturday, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets. Fizdale said the veteran shooting guard is probable to play, Vorkunov adds. Lee has been sidelined with a neck injury.

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: Knox, Lee, Burke, Jenkins

The Knicks had some concerns about Kevin Knox‘s motor heading into the 2018 NBA draft, and while they were thrilled to land the young forward with the ninth overall pick, those concerns continue to linger 10 games into his NBA career, writes Mike Mazzeo of The New York Post.

According to head coach David Fizdale, the Knicks are working on that aspect of Knox’s game, showing him moments on film where he could have made a cut, run harder, or done something else with his athleticism. For his part, Knox agrees that there’s room for improvement in that area.

“That’s something I’m working on,” Knox said of his motor, per Mazzeo. “A lot of people told me that coming out of college, but that’s not something that’s going to fix overnight. I have to get in shape, get conditioning, compete every day in practice. I think most of it is just competing offensively and defensively. But there’s games when my motor is good, I just got to get it consistent and play at a high level.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Fizdale hasn’t hesitated to shake up his starting lineup in the early going this season, having already gone through five different lineups in 17 games. With the Knicks mired in a five-game losing streak, more changes may be coming to the starting lineup soon, writes Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Courtney Lee, who continues to recover from a neck issue, started doing contact drills this week and is getting closer to returning to action, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Lee figures to be a prime candidate this winter if he’s healthy.
  • Knicks point guard Trey Burke has changed agents, having hired Sam Permut of Roc Nation Sports for representation, per Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Burke, who is playing on a minimum salary contract this season, will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
  • John Jenkins was waived by New York last month after spending training camp with the club, but he has looked great in the G League for the Westchester Knicks, averaging 29.6 PPG with a scorching .526/.528/.949 shooting line. He’d love to get a shot to join the Knicks’ NBA roster, as he tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Anywhere I can get a real opportunity and chance to play at this stage of my career,” Jenkins said. “It would be great to be in the Knicks uniform and play at Madison Square Garden. That’s a dream come true for a lot of kids. They’re the team I want to play for. Hopefully I can make that happen.”

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.