Although Argentinian guard Luca Vildoza will join the Knicks soon, he may not start playing until next season, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The team signed Vildoza to a four-year, $13.6MM contract this week, but coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t have much to say about him during a session with the media before Friday’s game.
“It’s going to take some time for him to get over here,” Thibodeau said. “Our scouts really liked him. We’ll have time to evaluate him over the summer.” He later added, “There’s a whole process that he’s going to have to go through, so it’s going to be more of a summer thing.’’
Thibodeau’s statements seem to indicate that he will stick with Elfrid Payton as his starting point guard, Berman adds, even though Payton hasn’t been effective lately. He was a minus-23 in Friday’s loss to Phoenix and has posted negative ratings in seven of the past 12 games. Still, Thibodeau likes the size and agility Payton brings on defense and doesn’t want to damage his confidence heading into the playoffs.
Sources told Berman that Thibodeau’s attitude toward Vildoza is a show of support for his current players, who will each miss out on a $200K bonus because the Knicks reached the salary cap floor by signing Vildoza. It will take time for Vildoza to get immigration clearance because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s not certain when he will join the team.
There’s more from New York:
- In an interview with Gigantes del Basket, Vildoza said he has always dreamed of playing in the NBA, relays Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. “For me it’s like living a dream,” he said. “I don’t like leaving in the middle of the season. … (But) it’s a unique opportunity that may never happen again, I didn’t want to miss it.”
- RJ Barrett‘s improved shooting in his second NBA season has contributed to the Knicks’ turnaround, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Barrett spent the offseason focusing on his shot after being disappointed with his performance as a rookie. “You just have to keep working,” Barrett said. “If you can just get the results you want that easily, everybody would be where they want to be.”
- The strong defensive mentality that Thibodeau has installed is drawing comparisons to the best teams in Knicks’ history, states Steve Popper of Newsday.