Mikal Bridges

Atlantic Notes: Ivey, DiVincenzo, Lin, Bridges

In some similar news for two different franchises from the Atlantic Division, both the Knicks and the Sixers are reportedly interested in hiring Royal Ivey as an assistant coach, reports Michael Scotto of The Athletic and Ian Begley of ESPN.

Ivey, who is from New York City, has been an assistant coach for the Thunder for the last two seasons after starting his post-playing career as a coach for their G League team, the Blue, but could perhaps be looking for an opportunity closer to home.

Per Begley, Ivey has already interviewed with the Knicks for a position of new coach David Fizdale’s staff, while the Sixers are reported to simply have interest in the 36 year old at this time.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is apparently interested in combine standout and Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo, as the former NBA guard and the current Wildcat went to lunch together after DiVincenzo’s workout in Boston, reports Adam Zagoria of SportsNet New York.
  • In a wide-ranging piece for The Athletic, Mike Vorkunov details the return from injury for Nets’ point guard Jeremy Lin, who signed a three-year, $36 million contract in 2016 but has been unable to play very often since signing the deal, appearing in only 37 games in the past two seasons. Lin now says he is nearly ready to play and “pretty much at that point where everything is good to go.”
  • One target and/or option for the Knicks at No. 9 in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft is Villanova swingman Mikal Bridges. Per Ian Begley of ESPN, team president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry, and director of scouting Kristian Petesi were all at his pro day today in New York.

Knicks Notes: No. 9 Pick, Bridges, Porzingis

The Knicks stayed put at No. 9 after Tuesday night’s lottery, but general manager Scott Perry isn’t ruling out the possibility of landing a potential star in next month’s draft. Despite not having a top-three pick, Perry pointed to last year’s 13th overall pick Donovan Mitchell as a prime example of how impact players can slip into the second half of the lottery, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“You never know. You look around and Utah had good success where they were,” Perry said. “A lot of times in the draft everybody has to be careful. A lot of it is fit, too. Some guys may get drafted in a particular place where it’s not a great fit initially or it is a great fit. … I think that’s the important thing for us — finding the personality whose game is the closest fit to how we want to play and what we want to be.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges have frequently been mentioned as potential Knicks targets, given the team’s need for a wing. As Berman relays, Perry offered his first comments on the pair of Bridges on Tuesday: “We’re going to dive into both of those guys as we move forward. Both are very good basketball players who put themselves in position to be in consideration by a number of teams in the lottery. I can’t wait to meet both of those young guys to really get a feel for who they are and how they may and may not fit.”
  • Perry said the Knicks were happy to get a new head coach in place before the 2018 draft combine got underway. David Fizdale will participate in the club’s interviews with prospects in Chicago this week. “I think it’s extremely important to have the coach in house because the more we spend time with David and the more he gets a chance to spend with these guys we bring in to work out and see what players may or may not fit with how he’s going to coach the team and his personality,” Perry said, according to Berman.
  • Berman reported on Tuesday night that the Knicks would only seriously consider drafting a point guard at No. 9 if they felt their target was an “unquestioned upgrade” over their current options. Perry essentially confirmed as much when asked directly about the possibility, per Berman: “It would only make sense if you feel that guard is far and away better than what you have on the roster. And we haven’t been able to make that determination yet.”
  • Perry said the Knicks will have a better idea of Kristaps Porzingis‘ return date by August, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Meanwhile, Berman hears from multiple sources that Porzingis has actually been doing much of his ACL rehab work with Real Madrid in Spain, rather than in his home country of Latvia as previously believed.

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.

Bulls’ Paxson Talks Roster, Hoiberg, Lopez, Draft

With the Bulls’ 2017/18 season officially over, executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson spoke today to reporters about a handful of topics in his end-of-season press conference. Notably, while Paxson called the coming offseason “as important a summer as we’ve had in a long time,” he said he expects the majority of the current roster to be back, since the team is “headed in the right direction” (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune).

The Bulls don’t have any unrestricted free agents on the roster, and none of their players have the ability to opt out this summer, so Paxson’s comments about roster continuity don’t come as a surprise. The most important free agent decisions for the Bulls figure to come in restricted free agency — Zach LaVine, David Nwaba, and Noah Vonleh can all become RFAs.

Let’s round up a few more of Paxson’s noteworthy comments from today’s presser:

  • Head coach Fred Hoiberg will “absolutely” be back with the Bulls next season, per Paxson (Twitter link via Johnson). Unlike fellow Eastern lottery coaches Frank Vogel and Jeff Hornacek, Hoiberg was always considered very likely to return, but Paxson’s public confirmation makes it official.
  • Although Robin Lopez doesn’t necessarily fit the development timeline of core pieces like Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and LaVine, the Bulls continue to talk about him as a potential fixture. Paxson said today that the veteran center is “an important part of our future” (Twitter link via Johnson). Lopez is under contract for one more year at a cost of about $14.36MM, so it’s not clear if Chicago envisions keeping him beyond the summer of 2019.
  • After finishing in a tie for the sixth spot in the lottery standings, the Bulls are assured of a top-10 pick in the 2018 draft. Paxson said today that the club may target a wing with that lottery selection. “That would be an ideal spot,” Paxson said, per Johnson (Twitter link). “Size and length and a shooting and defensive component at the wing.” Villanova’s Mikal Bridges is one potential option who would fit that description.

Mikal Bridges Entering 2018 NBA Draft

Villanova forward Mikal Bridges has decided to forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility and enter this year’s draft, he tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski notes, Bridges is considered a probable lottery pick this year, and is viewed as one of the most talented two-way players in the 2018 class. A 6’7″ small forward, Bridges has the ability to defend multiple positions and to knock down three-pointers, making him an ideal NBA prospect on the wing.

“There’s space in the NBA on the floor, and there’s this move toward position-less basketball that I fit into,” Bridges told Wojnarowski. “I can shoot the ball. I can defend. I can move without the ball. I’m progressing in my game, getting better through work every day.”

Bridges took a major step forward during his junior year at Villanova, increasing his PPG from 9.8 in 2016/17 to 17.7 in 2017/18, en route to a second championship in three years. He also contributed 5.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.1 BPG for the Wildcats this season, with a very efficient shooting line of .514/.435/.851.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Bridges coming off the board at No. 10 to the Sixers, though Givony observes that the 21-year-old’s versatility makes him “an easy player to slot on almost any NBA roster.”

New York Notes: Hornacek, Hicks, Crabbe

The Knicks will conclude their fourth consecutive 45+ loss season next month and the future of the team remains unclear. Outside of Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis — who is recovering from a torn ACL — it appears there are no locks for the roster or coaching staff after this season.

As Marc Stein of the New York Times writes in his newsletter (via CBS Sports), it’s likely that head coach Jeff Hornacek does not return next season despite having one year left on his deal. The organization has moved swiftly to distance itself from almost anything related to former president Phil Jackson, which could include Hornacek.

“It’s difficult to fault Hornacek for much of the chaos that has engulfed the Knicks during his two seasons in charge,” Stein writes. “But there’s no avoiding the fact he was a Phil Jackson selection, which could well doom him now that the organization seems intent on cutting every non-Porzingian tie to the Phil era as possible.”

The Knicks have gone 57-96 under Hornacek since last season, but injuries, poor roster creation, and a rebuilding effort hindered both the head coach and the team from being competitive. Early possible candidates to replace Hornacek are Mark Jackson and David Blatt, Stein notes.

Check out more notes coming out of New York:

  • Whether or not Hornacek is the head coach next season, he feels the Knicks should seek depth at small forward, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. Sources tell Bondy that the Knicks have scouted both Miles Bridges and Mikal Bridges as possible draft targets, which would echo Hornacek’s suggestion. “I think if you look around at the top teams that are in the league they have multiple guys that are in the 6’7″, 6’8″ range with length. We had a lot of guys that are in the 6’5″ ish range,” Hornacek said. “I think the longer guys you get, it gives you more opportunities to switch on defense, which if you look at the league today, the best teams are switching all the time.”
  • With the Knicks eliminated from playoff contention, the goal for the rest of the season will be auditioning young talent, which includes 23-year-old Isaiah Hicks. In nine games, Hicks is averaging just 4.4 PPG and 2.6 RPG, but he has impressed with his basketball IQ and athleticism, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Hicks is on a two-way deal and the Knicks will have to decide whether they want to re-sign him.
  • The Nets‘ record has hovered near the bottom of the league in recent seasons, but the organization has bought into the mantra of building a positive culture with promising talent. Allen Crabbe, who is finishing up a strong first season in Brooklyn, said he is willing to recruit free agents this offseason, Bryan Fonseca and Net Income of NetsDaily relay. “Oh yeah. Whatever I can do, just getting guys on board and looking at the vision that Sean Marks and coach (Kenny) Atkinson have for this organization moving forward, I think guys will buy in,” Crabbe said.