Kevin Knox

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Burke, Knox, Cap Room

Frank Ntilikina‘s versatility may help him earn more minutes during his second NBA season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks showed a lot of faith in Ntilikina when they drafted him ahead of Dennis Smith last season, and it may be paying off. Berman calls him a bright spot in a difficult preseason, looking more powerful on his drives to the basket and more active on defense.

Ntilikina has been locked in a three-way battle for minutes at point guard, but new coach David Fizdale seems willing to use him at shooting guard and small forward as well. Trey Burke is expected to be the starter at the point, with Emmanuel Mudiay and Ron Baker battling for leftover playing time.

“They all showed the ability to run the team and guard their position well,’’ Fizdale said of the point guard contenders. “They’ve made it tough on me — which is good.’’

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Knicks fans were thrilled about the prospects for rookie forward Kevin Knox, but the preseason showed he still has a lot to learn, Berman adds in the same story. Knox got into foul trouble Friday against the Nets and only played 12 minutes. It was his third straight poor game, but Fizdale remains committed to him as the starting small forward. “This is all learning for me,’’ Knox said. “Like he says all the time, I’m going to get my butt kicked a lot and I’m going to have a lot of mistakes. It’s part of a rookie year, you’re going to have ups and downs. It just shows how much confidence he has in me keeping me in the starting lineup.”
  • Even with today’s decision to waive and stretch Joakim Noah, the Knicks have some work to do before they can offer a max contract to a 10-year veteran like Kevin Durant, notes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. New York will have more than $57MM in committed salary next summer, and the team can subtract a non-guaranteed $7.6MM deal for Lance Thomas. However, Kristaps Porzingis will have a $17.1MM cap hold as a restricted free agent, and a likely lottery pick will reduce the cap by about another $6MM. That brings the Knicks’ cap space down to $32.5MM, short of the estimated maximum salary of $38.15MM that Durant can receive.
  • The Knicks were 28th in the league in 3-point attempts in the preseason and Fizdale says it’s a matter of personnel, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. “The way we’re shooting it, I don’t think that’s a great shot for us,” he said.

Atlantic Notes: Knox, Noah, Irving, Green

First-round pick Kevin Knox put on a show for Knicks fans at today’s scrimmage, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox has gotten past the tentativeness he had when camp opened, with Berman estimating he hit seven of 14 shots this afternoon and went three for six from 3-point range.

Coach David Fizdale has emphasized to Knox that he needs to be aggressive on offense.

“He did exactly what I want,’’ Fizdale said. “He’s a natural scorer. He’s unselfish to a fault at times, but today was indication what I’ve been prodding him to do every day. That ball hits your hands, you’re live.’’

The day wasn’t as promising for center Mitchell Robinson, a second-round pick whom the Knicks are hoping can provide bench help in the middle. Robinson looked overmatched against Enes Kanter, and Berman suggested he might start the season in the G League to get used to the pro game.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Joakim Noah remains on the Knicks‘ roster as he continues to negotiate a buyout, Berman adds in the same story. Fizdale wouldn’t comment on the proceedings, but the amount of money Noah is willing to give back remains an issue. Berman adds that Noah expressed his frustration today when he posted, then quickly deleted, an Instagram message that read, “Let me go!!! What r u waiting for!!!! U don’t want me there so let me go!!!”
  • Kyrie Irving made headlines this week with comments indicating that he plans to stay in Boston beyond this season, but they were nothing new to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Irving, who is expected to opt out of his current deal next summer, has expressed similar sentiments to his boss before. “I’ve talked to Kyrie a lot,” Ainge said. “Maybe he’s changed his tune with you [media], but he has been very positive from the day he got here. I talk to Kyrie all the time, his representation. I think Kyrie is very happy here in Boston, always has been. That will hopefully make this a place he wants to stay much longer once the season ends.”
  • Danny Green may be an overlooked part of the Kawhi Leonard trade, but he brings valuable championship experience to a Raptors team that needs it, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Green, who won a title with the Spurs in 2014, has played in more than 100 playoff games and has shot better than 41% on 3-pointers in the postseason.

Atlantic Notes: Fizdale, Knox, Tatum, Sixers GM

The Knicks‘ new head coach, David Fizdale, has yet to coach a single game with the team, but he’s optimistic about the direction the organization is going. Fizdale spoke with NBC New York’s Bruce Beck and spoke glowingly of his relationship with Kristaps Porzingis and the team’s talent acquisitions in the NBA Draft (via the New York Post).

“It’s already happening,” Fizdale said about the Knicks’ franchise rebirth. “Kristaps will come back healthy. He was already having a big-time season last year when he got knocked down. We had an awesome draft with Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier — our two-way player. Scott [Perry] and these guys are sticking to an awesome plan, bringing in guys maybe that didn’t work out at a place before but are high draft picks. [With] good player development, good culture, they can turn into something they were expected to be. We’re doing it the right way.”

Fizdale was hired to replace Jeff Hornacek, who was relieved of his duties after the season. After a tumultuous exit from the Grizzlies last season, Fizdale himself is seeking a fresh start in New York.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • Former NBA player Jimmy Jackson spoke to Marc Berman of the New York Post ahead of Big3 Finals on Friday about the Knicks’ selection of Kevin Knox. Jackson spoke highly of Knox and compared to him to one budding NBA superstar. “He’s a bigger version of Devin Booker,’’ Jackson said. “He’s got all the same skills but he’s taller.”
  • The Celtics originally held the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but decided to trade down. Boston still got their target in Jayson Tatum, who joked that Danny Ainge‘s decision cost him some money due to the NBA’s rookie scale. “I joke with Danny all the time, he should’ve just took me No. 1,” Tatum said on The Bill Simmons Podcast at The Ringer. “I could’ve kept a few dollars of my paycheck. Tell (Ainge), ‘You owe me some money.'”
  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer appeared on Chris Mannix’s podcast at Yahoo Sports and discussed the Sixers‘ search for a general manager (via NBC Sports). Pompey said that Philadelphia’s search is focused on a person who will not necessarily have the final say on personnel decisions, but instead be part of a group decision. Pompey named David Heller – who worked with former GM Sam Hinkie and is part of the ownership group – as one voice in those collaborative decisions. Pompey has previously indicated the Sixers hope to hire someone who will be able to work together with other front office members to make decisions.

Atlantic Notes: Milton, Halas, Knox, Williams

Sixers rookie guard Shake Milton was recently cleared to resume limited basketball activities, according to an update on the team’s website. Milton was held out of summer-league action due to a stress fracture in his back. Another update on his status will be provided in approximately four weeks. The former SMU standout signed a two-way contract in late July. Another first-year guard, Landry Shamet, has resumed light basketball activities. The 26th overall pick suffered a right ankle sprain during summer league action.

In other developments from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks have a strong interest in former Magic scouting coordinator John Halas, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets. Halas worked with current GM Scott Perry in Orlando and would likely be added to the Knicks’ scouting department, Begley adds.
  • Kevin Knox doesn’t have his attention set on being Rookie of the Year, as he told Marc Berman of the New York Post. Knox was one of the most impressive rookies in Las Vegas but the Knicks’ first-round forward more concerned with team wins. “I’m pretty confident I can be one of the top rookies. But one of my goals this year is just to win in New York,” he said. “I’m not really worried about winning the rookie award. I just want to win as a team, take road games, play some of the top teams and beat them to make the playoffs.”
  • Robert Williams says his recovery from a knee injury is going well and the Celtics rookie big man expects to be 100% by training camp, Chris Forsberg of ESPN tweets. Williams’ summer league schedule was cut short by left knee soreness.

Atlantic Notes: Knox, Sixers, Vegas Odds

Former Knicks guard Charlie Ward, a Florida State football teammate of the father of rookie Kevin Knox in the early ’90s, believes New York’s 2018 first round pick has the mentality to become the Knicks’ next superstar, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“I’m grateful he’s a Knick,” Ward said. “I think he has the right mentality to be successful in New York. He seems to have a mature approach and great understanding of where he is in his development. The kid is well-balanced, with an inner confidence and swagger to him while having a quiet demeanor — which you need, especially being in New York.”

Ward, who now coaches high school basketball in Tallahassee, reiterated that in order to succeed in New York City, one must not only be mentally tough and hard-working, but also unassuming and humble.

“That’s the kind of superstar you want — a guy who will go about his business, not going to be talking much, but learning the ropes on how to get better each day. New York is a tough place to play, but you have to have thick skin. He’s willing to listen and be coached. His whole mentality and attitude is one that will help him become a superstar in the league at some point.”

In order to become that superstar, Knox will likely need to help lead the Knicks to the playoffs eventually. The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs for five straight seasons and have only won a single playoff series since 2001.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has set its initial win totals for NBA teams during the 2018/19 regular season. The Atlantic Division looks like this: Celtics – 57.5; Raptors/Sixers – 54.5; Nets – 32.5; Knicks – 29.5.
  • Despite still not have a general manager, the Sixers have made some changes in their scouting department, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers recently hired J. R. Holden as an international scout and are making a push to hire a female scout in the near future.
  • As we relayed last night, the Nets are cautiously optimistic that the injury suffered by forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in a Chinese charity game hosted by former teammate Jeremy Lin is not serious.

Eastern Notes: Marks, Thomas, Graham, Portis

Nets GM Sean Marks promised to season-ticket holders that the team is no longer interested in tanking, according to a Net Income story. “This is not a year we’re just going to sit there because we control our own pick and say let’s just hope that pick is as good as it possibly can be,” he said during the conference call. “It’s important for the fans to see the trajectory we’re on.” Brooklyn’s goal for the upcoming season is the postseason and Marks believes there are enough pieces to make it happen. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t make a push for the playoffs,” he said. “Isn’t that the objective here? We’re not sitting here trying to win 20 games, so let’s put our best foot forward and push each other and see where it goes.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Knicks forward Lance Thomas is very impressed with draft picks Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, Jordan Pandy of Newsday relays. Thomas expects both of them to make an impact in their rookie years. “You can just tell from the Summer League they were really going after it,” Thomas said. “Those guys were playing like they were playing for contracts even though they already have guarantees. I like to see that. I love the toughness, I love the grit, and that’s what it takes to survive in New York.”
  • The Nets’ signing of forward Treveon Graham could prove to be a huge bargain, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The undrafted Graham was a rotation player for the Hornets last season and is as a career 43.8% 3-point shooter, Lewis notes. If he develops into a 3-and-D wing and can also contribute as a stretch four, he will be a steal, Lewis adds. Graham signed a two-year, $3.15MM contract.
  • Bulls forward Bobby Portis said contract extension talks with the front office are ongoing, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports. Portis can sign a rookie scale extension before the start of the season, otherwise he’ll be restricted free agent next summer if he receives a qualifying offer. “We’ve been talking about it,” he told Johnson. “We’re going to talk more in the next week or so. Hopefully, we get things done. I’m not stressing about it.”

And-Ones: Age Limit, Summer League, Hibbert, Toupane

As we’ve relayed previously, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced during an NBA Board of Governors meetings in Las Vegas last week that the NBA is ready to make changes to its age limit, thereby potentially allowing high school seniors the opportunity to jump straight to the NBA once again.

However, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, teams have been told privately by league officials not to expect a change to the age limit until the 2022 NBA Draft at the earliest.

Assuming the 2022 NBA Draft allows high school players to jump directly to the NBA, players entering their freshman year of high school this fall will be the first ones to benefit from this potential rule change.

As for any trades that could be affected by this, no team has as yet traded an unprotected 2022 first-rounder, and the only one that could potentially change hands at this point was sent by the Mavericks to the Hawks in order to move up in this year’s draft and select Luka Doncic.

It will be interesting to see whether teams will be wary of trading draft picks in 2022 and beyond before a final ruling is made on this issue.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • In a Q&A piece for ESPN, several different writers spoke about who they believed to be the standouts and disappointments from this year’s NBA Summer League. Wendell Carter, Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Deandre Ayton were among the rookies recognized, while John Collins and Josh Hart were two players who were mentioned as probably too good to have even played in this year’s summer league.
  • In an interview with TMZ Sports, former NBA player Roy Hibbert says that he is done playing professional basketball, explaining that “It’s just time to move on.” Hibbert, 31, was named an All-Star as recently as 2014, but saw his impact dwindle over his last few years in the league as he got older and the game got smaller and quicker.
  • French forward Axel Toupane, who appeared in 25 total NBA regular season games in 2016 and 2017, has signed with EuroLeague club Olympiacos B.C. after helping lead Zalgiris Kaunas to the EuroLeague Final Four last season, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Fizdale, Porzingis, Knox

A disagreement over pre-draft strategy has resulted in an agent change for Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Robinson has signed with John Spencer, a former Knicks scout, after leaving Raymond Brothers.

Robinson was drafted at No. 36, but believed he had a chance to be taken late in the first round, which would have provided more guaranteed money. Robinson’s representatives pulled him out of the draft combine the day before it started, and he blames that decision for his slide on draft night. The Lakers were looking at him with their 25th pick and may have taken him at No. 39 had he still been available, a source tells Berman.

Robinson signed with the Knicks last week, getting a $6.4MM deal over four seasons that includes team options after the second and third year. Robinson, who dropped out of Western Kentucky and hasn’t played in 14 months, may have changed the Knicks’ plans for him with an impressive summer league performance, Berman adds. The organization originally had him ticketed for the G League, but will now consider keeping him on the NBA squad.

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • David Fizdale will travel to Latvia next week to meet with Kristaps Porzingis, Berman writes in a separate story. The first meeting between the new coach and his injured star will include a lot of film study. “It’s going to be a big part of the next step to show him the big picture,’’ Fizdale said. “How I want to utilize him, coach him, start building a relationship with him, a bond with him, a connection with him.”
  • First-round pick Kevin Knox is already dreaming about being on the court with Porzingis, Berman adds in the same piece. Both players can shoot from outside, and the Knicks view them as an effective combination to spread the floor in Fizdale’s offense. “I see they will complement each other very well,’’ Fizdale said. “That’s not a bad pick-and-roll to run — a KK-Porzingis pick-and-roll.’’
  • The Knicks weren’t major players in this year’s free agency, but things are shaping up great for next summer, notes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving, two potential 2019 targets, both turned down extension offers, and Kevin Durant has an option after one year.

Atlantic Rumors: Gaines, Nurse, Celtics, Knox

Clarence Gaines Jr. is no longer with the Knicks’ organization, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports. Gaines was the team’s VP of player personnel under former team president Phil Jackson, who credited Gaines for lobbying to select Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 lottery. Gaines did scouting for the current regime last season. Several newcomers have been hired by the front office and Gaines did not have strong ties to GM Scott Perry, Ian Begley of ESPN notes. Gaines’ contract expired after last season.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Challenging DeMar DeRozan to become a better defender is just one of the things new Raptors coach Nick Nurse has in mind for next season, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes. Nurse is trying to devise ways to play two smaller guards, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, together and still minimize the issues that it presents defending pick-and-rolls, Wolstat continues. Playing Serge Ibaka more often at center is another wrinkle Nurse plans to employ, Wolstat adds.
  • The Celtics are planning to hold onto their $8.641MM mid-level exception for the balance of the offseason, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets. Their priority is to re-sign restricted free agents Marcus Smart and Jabari Bird and see what develops during the season, Smith adds.
  • Strong summer-league showings by first-round pick Kevin Knox and second-rounder Mitchell Robinson have made the Knicks look wise in their selections, ESPN’s Andre Snellings writes. Knox should jump right into the Knicks’ starting lineup at small forward, while Robinson could eventually work his way into the rotation. While neither player shows superstar potential, they both have skill sets that should translate to the league, Snellings adds.
  • The Nets have positioned themselves to make a big splash next summer, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype notes. They can create enough salary-cap room to sign two first-tier free agents to go along with two first-round picks, provided that the protections on the pick the Nuggets sent them don’t kick in.
  • Knicks coach David Fizdale will head off to Latvia on July 22nd to visit with Porzingis and check on his progress from knee surgery, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Sixers, Fizdale

The Celtics extended their $6MM qualifying offer to Marcus Smart in the days leading up to free agency but haven’t been in touch since, Mark Murphy of The Boston Heralds writes. That’s left the 24-year-old guard feeling “hurt” and “disgusted.”

While the comments originating from a source close to Smart’s camp could be ripped straight from a Pre-MBA Negotiations 101 textbook, there could be truth to them considering that Smart just watched his significantly less accomplished draftmate Dante Exum net a three-year deal with the Jazz.

He’s just hurt and frustrated that Danny Ainge hasn’t reached out. That’s the most discouraging part of this whole thing. The last contact was a few days before free agency started,” the source said.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Sixers will be flush with cap space next summer, when a number of players signed to one-year deals come off their books. But, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes, they may not get a large window to use that $42MM of projected space. In 2020, the club will be forced to pay up for restricted free agents Ben Simmons and Dario Saric.
  • While he’s always been one to play footloose and fancy free with the concept of traditional player positions, a vision Knicks boss David Fizdale shared with Marc Berman of The New York Post could be one of the most innovative yet. The head coach talked about playing Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet – both seven footers – together, with Kristaps Porzingis at the three and 6’9″ rookie Kevin Knox at the two. “Obviously, I have a crush on wingspan,” Fizdale said.
  • It’s official, Jonah Bolden, a 2017 draft-and-stash Sixers prospect, is officially on Philadelphia’s summer league roster, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.