Kevin Knox

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.

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Knox, Trier, Kornet

Knicks center Enes Kanter hasn’t had much to say since being demoted to the second team, but he expressed his feelings about the move on social media last night, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Kanter’s tweet was just a period symbol, which is evidently his way of expressing his speechlessness over losing his starting job to second-round pick Mitchell Robinson.

Kanter had 18 points and 14 rebounds in about 24 minutes off the bench Sunday against the Wizards, but was still replaced by Robinson with 5:36 left to play and the Knicks down six points. Washington pulled away as the rookie committed multiple fouls and drew a technical.

New coach David Fizdale has said the team is not “chasing wins” and will prioritize player development over its record. Kanter had been a locker room leader, but Berman notes that he has become more detached since the lineup change. He suggests it may be an ongoing “soap opera” as long as Robinson remains the starter.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Fizdale promised a five-game run for his current starting lineup and doesn’t plan any changes now that the trial period is up, Berman adds in the same piece. Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., Damyean Dotson and Noah Vonleh have joined Robinson as starters, and Fizdale likes the energy that group brings. Rookie Allonzo Trier has been helping to close out games because of his ability to create his own shots.
  • Kevin Knox, who is expected to eventually join that starting unit, is listed as a “game-time decision” tonight against the Bulls, Berman relays in a separate story. Knox has missed seven games with a sprained left ankle and Fizdale would like to see him in a five-on-five scrimmage before he returns to the lineup. Knox went through a three-on-three session with contact on Saturday. “My 19-year-old pro right now,” Fizdale said. “We’ll see how it goes. I told you I wanted him to play five-on-five. I know he feels great. At the same time, we have to make sure with that deal.”
  • The decision to assign Luke Kornet to the G League today could lead to an eventual roster move, Berman tweets. There’s speculation that Trier, a two-way player, will have his contract converted to a standard NBA deal when his 45 days are used up in December, while Kornet will be waived and re-signed to a two-way contract.

Knicks Notes: Rookies, Lee, Rebuild

The Knicks are sticking to their plan so far this season, focusing on player development over wins as they continue to rebuild ahead of Kristaps Porzingis‘ return and 2019 free agency. As Marc Berman writes for The New York Post, the Knicks may have found some diamonds from the 2018 NBA Draft, as Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier have all had their fair share of standout moments this season.

As Berman points out, the Knicks’ 2018 rookie class has grabbed a lot of attention for their highlight plays and impressive performances. Trier went undrafted out of the University of Arizona and is averaging nearly 11 points per game on 53.1% shooting from the field. Meanwhile, second-round pick Mitchell Robinson is averaging 5.4 points and 4 rebounds per game while hitting 66.7% of his shots.

Before going down with an injury, Knox was averaging 9.3 points per game and shooting 44.4 percent from beyond the arc as he projects to be a go-to scorer for years to come.

Having a successful rookie class is a key step in the Knicks’ plan to rebuild around Porzingis and a potential marquee free agency signing in 2019. So far, the 2018 rookies have been as good, if not better than advertised.

There’s more from the Knicks:

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Knox, Vonleh, Carmelo

Coach David Fizdale is committed to making rookie Mitchell Robinson his starting center, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Robinson has replaced Enes Kanter, who will enter the free agent market next summer, because Fizdale feels the second-round pick is a “superior natural defender” and he wants the whole team to have a defensive mindset. “He’s going to be our foundation, our anchor of our defense for the future,” Fizdale said. “Let’s get this guy going right now and really commit to the development of these guys and to what it’s going to take to get them to where they need to be for us to be the team we’re going to be later.”  By making an early commitment to a youth movement, Knicks appear to have gone into tanking mode early, sacrificing wins this season to improve their draft position.

We have more from the Knicks:

  • First-round pick Kevin Knox will likely return on Monday from a left ankle sprain, Berman writes in a separate story. Knox has only played three games and with Fizdale cancelling practice on Thursday, he won’t play against the Mavericks on Friday, according to Berman. Even if Knox practices on Saturday, he’ll likely be held out of playing Sunday against Washington because the team doesn’t want him playing back-to-backs right away, so he’ll return against Chicago on Monday.
  • Noah Vonleh has emerged as Kristaps Porzingis‘ fill-in as the starting power forward, Berman notes in another piece. Vonleh signed a partially guaranteed $1.6MM contract that doesn’t fully guaranteed until January 10th but he’s jumped ahead of Mario Hezonja, who signed a one-year, $6.5MM contract in the offseason, in the pecking order. Vonleh only has a cap hold of $1.62MM but he doesn’t want to look too far ahead. “I definitely want to be here in New York, but that’s up in the air,” he told Berman. “I have to focus on this season and go from there.”
  • Carmelo Anthony believes the franchise’s reputation scared away top-shelf free agents during his time with the team, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News“The perception of the organization. I think it probably scared a lot of people away,” he said. “Scared some people away. Not knowing the nuances and the ins and outs of kind of what was going on, who is in charge, who is not. So it was more than just basketball when it came to people making those decisions.”