Lance Thomas

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Woodson, Ntilikina, M. Bridges

Knicks coach David Fizdale is confident he can make New York a popular free agent destination again, but he knows it will take time and success, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Fizdale isn’t addressing questions about the top free agent on the market, LeBron James, whom he worked with for four years as an assistant coach in Miami, but he knows the city can be a strong selling point if the Knicks get competitive again.

“[Free agents] are not just going to go there to live in New York City,’’ Fizdale said. “You’re going there to be in a culture. When you start showing that through action, players are going to come. New York is a special place.”

During a series of media appearances, Fizdale promised that once that culture is instilled, the team will be able to attract “the right players here to take us to another level.’’

There’s more tonight out of New York:

  • During an appearance on MSG Network, Fizdale singled out Clippers assistant Mike Woodson as one of his most important influences, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. Woodson, who hired Fizdale as an assistant in Atlanta, has expressed interest in joining Fizdale’s staff if Doc Rivers isn’t retained in L.A. “Mike Woodson was really the person who instilled a work ethic,” Fizdale said. “Understanding that no matter what’s going on around you, you have to bring a certain work ethic and really check your ego at the door because when you’re going through 13-win seasons, 26-win seasons [in Atlanta] and getting to places like that, there’s no room for ego.”
  • Fizdale is excited to begin working with last year’s first-rounder, Frank Ntilikina, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Ntilikina saw time at both backcourt positions last season, which isn’t an issue for Fizdale, who envisions “positionless basketball” with Ntilikina possibly sharing the court with fellow point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke.
  • Fizdale made a couple of eye-opening comparisons during an appearance today on WFAN, Bondy tweets. He said he coached players like Mudiay before, citing Dwyane Wade and Tyreke Evans as examples, then compared Lance Thomas with Draymond Green.
  • Villanova’s Mikal Bridges would enjoy having Madison Square Garden as his home court if he gets drafted by the Knicks. In an interview tweeted by DraftExpressContent, Bridges says he enjoyed the surroundings during the Wildcats’ frequent trips to the Garden. “Great atmosphere, great venue, lot of great things happening here,” he said.

Knicks Notes: Van Gundy, Hernangomez, Thomas, Burke

Jeff Van Gundy has been mentioned as a possible candidate if the Knicks make a coaching change, but his brother wonders how serious their interest is, relays Al Iannazzone of Newsday.

After his Pistons defeated New York Saturday, head coach Stan Van Gundy noted that the organization has only recently begun to acknowledge Jeff on the jumbotron when he comes to town to broadcast its games. He coached the Knicks for nearly seven seasons and took them to the NBA Finals in 1999. Stan compares Jeff’s situation to Patrick Ewing‘s.

“I used to walk in here and Patrick would be sitting next to me on the bench [as an assistant in Orlando] and they would put him up on the jumbotron and everyone would clap and then he could never get an interview for any freakin’ job they had,” Stan said. “That’s sort of fake appreciation in my opinion. I don’t know what it is in Jeff’s case. If it’s genuine appreciation then that’s great. If it’s just a way for them to appease their fans, a little bit different.”

There’s more today out of New York:

  • The Knicks will regret trading young center Willy Hernangomez for a pair of second-round picks, Iannazzone writes in a separate story. Hernangomez got a measure of revenge this week with 12 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes against his former team. “He’s been so much better,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “What I’ve talked to him about is the team part. Everybody views player development as the shot, the post move, the one-on-one ‘iso’ play. None of that matters if the team can’t function when you’re out there.”
  • Another 50-loss season is taking its toll on Lance Thomas, notes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Thomas, who was acquired in a January 2015 trade, has been with the Knicks longer than anyone on the current roster. He’s also a native New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn. “I hate losing,’’ he said after Saturday’s game. “Anyone who has God-given ability to make it to this level hates losing. Myself being the long-tenured Knick here, I’ve been part of some losing teams and it doesn’t sit well with me. I want to find a way to turn it around. I lose sleep when we lose.”
  • Trey Burke‘s connections with Knicks GM Scott Perry helped him earn another shot at the NBA, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Perry is a Detroit native and former assistant coach at the University of Michigan, where Burke played two seasons. They bonded over their Michigan connections while Burke was preparing for the 2013 draft and Perry was an executive in Orlando, so Burke reached out to him earlier this season when he was looking for a G League contract. “I knew that he would give me a fair shot, fair opportunity to reinvent myself,” Burke said, “to come in and go through a process where I would have an opportunity to play consistent minutes at the highest level.”

New York Notes: Russell, Atkinson, Cunningham, Thomas

The Nets started D’Angelo Russell for the first time since mid-November in their second-half opener against the Hornets. Russell played 32 minutes, his most since November, and his recent play indicates he’s slowly shaking off the rust.

Bryan Fonseca of NetsDaily relays that starting Russell alongside Spencer Dinwiddie — an all-point-guard backcourt — was not so much planned as it was based on his instinct.

“I think it was a feel, kind of my feel,” Atkinson said. “Talking with the medical team and performance (team). I think it was mostly basketball, just him getting his rhythm, and I felt like that Indiana game he really showed me – I felt like he was getting there.”

Atkinson is unsure of when Russell will be back at full health, but feels the former second overall pick is trending in the right direction.

Check out more news and notes from New York’s basketball teams:

  • Under Atkinson’s watch, the Nets have been in rebuild mode and have stressed the future. While the team is improved from last year’s league-worst 20-62 record, Brooklyn has lost 12 of its last 13 and is trending downward, Fonseca writes in a separate piece. “I’ve said that, we’re better, that’s what’s frustrating,” Atkinson said. “We’re on pace for a 30-something win season and then we hit this skid and it’s like, man – I’m optimistic, I’m hungry to get back on track. Now, that being said, we’ve got a tough schedule coming up, we’re going to be on the road awhile, but it’s great.”
  • The longevity of Dante Cunningham‘s stint in Brooklyn is uncertain, but he’s enjoying his time with the Nets, Fonseca writes. The veteran was acquired by Brooklyn before the trade deadline and has played well thus far. “I’m old in here,” Cunningham said with a smile. “I look around the locker room and see a lot of young guys, but hungry guys and I love it. I love that I’m the older guy that they kind of look up to and kind of ask, ‘So what’s this like or what’s that like?’ So that’s kind of fun, it’s a different side.”
  • Lance Thomas‘ numbers in the box score will not merit much attention, but his visible defensive impact is a game-changer for the Knicks, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes. “He’s kind of that guy, it doesn’t matter if he’s on the 1, 2, 3 or 4. When he’s at the 4 spot, then we also have the ability to switch some too because you’re not afraid of Lance switching off on a point guard,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “You saw him pick up guys full court. He knocked one away and ended up ending the game with a steal. Lance is the guy that, if you read a stat line, you’re not going see his value. … He does his role.”

Begley’s Latest: Walker, Knicks, Warriors, Capela

The latest article from Ian Begley of ESPN.com ostensibly focuses on the Knicks as they consider their approach to the trade deadline. However, in the process of exploring potential trade partners for New York, Begley also slips in a couple tidbits of interest related to other teams around the NBA. Let’s dive in and round up a few highlights from the piece…

  • If the Hornets move Kemba Walker at the deadline, there’s an expectation that they’ll also look to move other players on long-term contracts, according to Begley, who identifies Jeremy Lamb as one such trade candidate.
  • Speaking of Walker, while the Knicks are viewed as a possible trade partner for the Hornets, Begley says opposing executives have gotten the impression that New York doesn’t want to trade draft picks or take on long-term salary unless it means acquiring a “transformative” player. It’s not clear if Walker qualifies.
  • Opposing execs think the Knicks will deal at least one of their four centers at the deadline. Enes Kanter, Willy Hernangomez, and Kyle O’Quinn have all received interest, with the Warriors among the teams inquiring on O’Quinn, sources tell Begley. League execs believe O’Quinn will turn down his player option for 2018/19 this summer, which may impact his trade value.
  • Members of the Clippers and Rockets discussed the possibility of a DeAndre Jordan deal. However, those talks went nowhere after Clint Capela‘s name came up, since Houston doesn’t want to move Capela, writes Begley.
  • Knicks forwards Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas continue to draw trade interest , but opposing execs have come away with the impression that New York would only move Lee if it results in a “significant” return. According to Begley, Lee has been a strong presence in the Knicks’ locker room, and the club views that sort of veteran as important for building a winning culture.

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Hernangomez, Dinwiddie

The Knicks are one of the teams that has been linked to Eric Bledsoe as the Suns explore trade options for their veteran point guard, with one report earlier today suggesting Phoenix would want both Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez in a deal with New York.

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Ian Begley confirms that the Knicks are one of the teams that have reached out to Phoenix and adds that the Suns have indeed asked about both Ntilikina and Hernangomez. However, New York has been opposed to trading either player, sources inform Begley. The Knicks found the Suns’ asking price “outrageous,” a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post.

According to Begley, players like Kyle O’Quinn, Lance Thomas, and Courtney Lee have drawn some trade interest in recent weeks, but it seems unlikely that those veterans would be of much interest to the Suns, who are believed to be seeking younger players. Hernangomez would seem to be a logical target, considering he isn’t currently in the Knicks’ rotation. But despite playing O’Quinn and Enes Kanter ahead of Hernangomez, the club isn’t currently looking to move the big man, says Begley.

Here’s more on the Knicks and their cross-town rivals in Brooklyn:

  • Although the Knicks aren’t interested in trading Ntilikina, they haven’t been able to get him on the floor early in the season either, as Fred Kerber of The New York Post writes. Currently, Ntilikina is being nagged by an ankle injury.
  • With Jeremy Lin out for the season, young guard Spencer Dinwiddie has earned the opportunity to step up and take on a larger role in Brooklyn, says Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Dinwiddie, who joined the Nets as a free agent last December, is under contract through 2018/19, though his contract isn’t guaranteed.
  • It has been five years since the Nets moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn, prompting CEO Brett Yormark to reflect on that move in an interview with Pollstar Pro. NetsDaily has rounded up the highlights of that interview, passing along several quotes from Yormark, who admits the franchise didn’t handle the transition period as well as it could have.

Atlantic Notes: Carmelo, Sixers, Raptors

Knicks president Phil Jackson has made it clear that his preference is to move Carmelo Anthony to another team this offseason, but if it were up to Lance Thomas, Anthony would be staying in New York. As Marc Berman of The New York Post writes, Thomas called Carmelo one of his “best friends” and a great teammate.

“I love him here,” Thomas said. “I love him as a teammate, love him as a competitor, love him as a person. Everything else is out of my control, but his approach has always been great. He’s an amazing professional. I’m not going to comment on what’s happening with him and the [Knicks] and trade rumors. I just know I love him as a teammate. I want it to work out.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

Knicks Notes: Rose, Anthony, Hornacek, Porzingis

Following brash remarks from Derrick Rose, the Knicks announced Carmelo Anthony (sore lower back), Lance Thomas (hip), and Rose would sit out tonight’s game against the Heat. Leading into Friday’s road match-up, D-Rose described the Knicks as a superior team to Miami.

“We’re more talented,” Rose told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “It shows basketball is a team sport. Any year in the league is about whoever catches a rhythm. No matter how your season is going… you can always catch a rhythm, they caught theirs at the right time, winning [13 in a row]. They have been playing great basketball ever since then. So we never caught that luck this year.”

More from The Mecca…

  • Jeff Hornacek sung a different tune than Rose, saying the Knicks have much to learn from Erik Spoelstra‘s Heat. “Use Miami as an example,’’ Hornacek told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “It’s old-school basketball. Bump and grab, and the referees are not going to call all of those. As long as they stay that aggressiveness all game long, they get away with those things. They have good stretches – get five, six, seven stops in a row and take the lead on you.’’
  • Kristaps Porzingis discussed the Knicks’ shortcomings in 2016/17, citing “consistency” as a major issue for the team. “We didn’t do it from the beginning the right way,” Porzingis told Fred Kerber of the New York Post“We didn’t have real fundamentals as a team and I think from the beginning it worked for us because we played based off our talent and based off good energy. Once things got a little tougher, we just didn’t have the fundamentals as a team.” Porzingis went on to say he had the team tabbed for a “six, seven, eight seed” finish.
  • Scottie Pippen aimed pointed criticism at Phil Jackson, saying his former coach should be pushed out of his job. “I just think he [Jackson] hasn’t put the right pieces on the floor,” Pippen said on ESPN program The Jump. “I give a lot of credit to Carmelo, who has been very professional in getting through this 82-game season, and now he’s being benched to some degree, they’ve taken a lot of his minutes away. This team really just hasn’t had it. They haven’t had it since Phil Jackson landed there. I’m sure the fans will love to see Carmelo in New York and Phil out.”
  • Stefan Bondy of the Daily News outlined ‘Melo’s dilemma: being too young for a mentor role, yet too old to be on a tanking team. “Anthony is only 32 years old, too young to serve as a mentor player/coach to the likes of Ron Baker, Maurice Ndour and Chasson Randle,” Bondy writes. “He knows that. There’s too much basketball left in his legs to take on a reduced role for the sake of a rebuild — for more losing and better lottery odds. To use Anthony’s words from Wednesday, “I see the writing on the wall.”

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Anderson, Nader

Now a vital part of a competitive Celtics rotation, Jaylen Brown is making a case for the Rookie of the Year award, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England. The 20-year-old swingman has gradually improved over the course of his first campaign making modifications to his game along the way.

It’s hard because most rookies who get Rookie of the Year are playing for bad teams,” Brown’s teammate Isaiah Thomas told reporters recently. “They play 35 minutes a game, take any shot [they] want. Bigger picture, it’s better for him to be on a playoff team, understand how to win games and he knows what he brings to the table. He’s a big part of what we got going. He definitely wants to win Rookie of the Year, but it’s hard going up against guys not really playing for nothing.”

Blakely adds that the media will have a refreshing choice when it comes time to submit their votes for the award. Rather than just choose which rookie is the most productive when it comes to filling the stat sheet, they’ll be able to factor in Brown’s impact on his team’s success.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • More than just a “throw in” in last months Nerlens Noel trade, Justin Anderson is a piece that could stick around in Philadelphia. In a recent podcast, Devon Given and Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer discuss, among other things, Anderson’s ability to play defense on the perimeter for the Sixers.
  • The Raptors bench is starting to take shape, Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun writes, and Delon Wright has done an admirable job filling in as the backup point guard while Cory Joseph shifts into Kyle Lowry‘s starting position.
  • The trade that sent him from the Suns to the Celtics back in 2015 was “a Christmas gift”, says Isaiah Thomas. A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSN New England spoke with the point guard upon his return to Phoenix. Thomas performed well with the Suns but wasn’t even close to the MVP discussion that he now finds himself in with Boston.
  • Despite being recently released by the Sixers, Knicks guard Chasson Randle understands that Philadelphia’s decision to let him go was based on numbers, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Randle was released so that Philly could take on Andrew Bogut and Justin Anderson in the Nerlens Noel trade.
  • When Knicks guard Lance Thomas sat for 14 games nursing a fractured orbital bone, it allowed a lingering foot injury to heal, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes. “Indirectly, this fracture in my face has been a blessing to help give me time to get my feet back under me,” Thomas said.
  • Second-round draft pick Abdel Nader could land a spot with the Celtics next season, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe speculates. Nader has flourished in the D-League and is being touted as the third best prospect in the league.

Knicks Notes: Point Guard Search, Rose, Thomas

The Knicks will have a hard time finding their next point guard either through the draft or free agency, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. With Derrick Rose unlikely to return next season, getting a replacement will be an offseason priority. However, Kerber notes that New York’s draft pick won’t be high enough to snag one of the elite point guards available, and the top free agents are likely to stay where they are.

The Knicks are currently in a three-way tie for eighth in our latest Reverse Standings, giving them just a remote shot at a top two pick that will probably be necessary to draft Washington’s Markelle Fultz or UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. That leaves lower-tier options such as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky or international standout Frank Ntilikina.

The problem is similar in free agency, where the Knicks will have about $25MM to spend, but the best available players — Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and George Hill — are all expected to remain with their current teams. Kerber says the Knicks might target Jrue Holiday or Jeff Teague, but the Pelicans and Pacers with both have Bird rights and the advantages of being able to offer more money and more years.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Rose is optimistic about reaching the playoffs despite the Knicks’ 25-36 record, and says he plans to unleash his 3-point shot in the postseason, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’m trying to put pieces of my game together,” Rose said. “I’m not shooting 3s yet. Hopefully I’ll start shooting them in the playoffs. It’s going to take a lot of sacrifice and dedication to get there. I’m just adding pieces to my game throughout the season.”
  • One positive for Rose this season has been his health, Berman notes in the same piece. Rose has appeared in 52 of the team’s 61 games, and if he plays 15 more it will be the most in a season since his ACL tear in 2012. “Two times, three times a day, the entire summer,” Rose said of his offseason workout schedule. “I worked on my game and body. That’s one of the reasons my body is holding up.”
  • The Knicks’ defense has improved significantly since Lance Thomas returned six games ago, Berman writes in a separate story. Thomas missed about a month after taking an elbow to the face in a January game and breaking the orbital bone. The time off also allowed Thomas to overcome plantar fasciitis that had been affecting him since training camp.

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Simmons, Thomas

The Knicks suffered a disappointing loss in Toronto on Sunday, at one point down 38 points. It was a fitting end to a chaotic week. To the chagrin of those looking for a drastic roster moves in the Big Apple, New York Daily News writer Frank Isola confirmed that Carmelo Anthony has not considered waiving his no-trade clause.

Anthony spoke to the media following the game. Per Isola: “If [the Knicks] feel like my time in New York is over, I guess that’s a conversation we should have.”

Earlier this weekend, Isola wrote about a reported tirade that Anthony is said to have gone on following a Wednesday night loss to the Sixers. At the time Isola reported that it wasn’t expected that Anthony would waive the clause either.

With three years left on his contract, Anthony could technically remain with the Knicks until he’s 35 years old. Whether recent events could change things, remains to be seen. If one thing is known, it’s that Anthony won’t be hastily moved without his permission.

There’s plenty more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Injured rookie Ben Simmons has been traveling with the Sixers, writes Brian Seltzer of the Sixers’ official website, and Brett Brown is a firm believer in the impact that can have on a young player. “It’s feeling the gyms, it’s feeling the preparation, it’s being a part of a scout tape as you go through game preparation, it’s being on a bench, and seeing referees, and seeing players, and watching how the different flow of the game is real.
  • After suffering a foot injury in October, Jared Sullinger has recently returned to practice for the Raptors. The forward is well aware of the long road ahead of him before he’s in game shape. “It feels great, but horrible at the same time,” Sullinger tells Ryan Wolstat of the National Post of his first week of on-court action, “I have no lungs.”
  • The Sixers are starting to win basketball games and play with confidence, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “This is the first time that we’ve had, no disrespect to other teams, but we have an actual team,” said big man Nerlens Noel, the most tenured player on the roster.
  • After leaving New York’s Sunday matchup, Knicks forward Lance Thomas is said to have suffered a “fracture to a bone in his cheek,” says ESPN’s Ian Begley over Twitter.