Mitchell Robinson

Fizdale Believes Knicks Need To Add Power Forward With Range

Although they did win two of three before the NBA suspended the season, the Knicks weren’t having the best 2019/20 campaign. Former coach David Fizdale, who New York fired back in December, believes the team can improve via free agency this offseason by targeting a point guard and a power forward with range.

“I think that if the Knicks can find those pieces in free agency,” Fizdale said on ESPN Radio recently (h/t Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News). “So the next year or two years from now, that big free agent comes through says, ‘Wait a minute, they got these pieces in place, these guys are now starting to get into the playoffs, eighth seed, seventh seed.

That’s the team I want to join in New York City, in the Garden, that could take us to another level.’”

Three-point shooting has been an issue for the club this entire season. Only three teams, the Hawks, Warriors, and Timberwolves, shot a worse percentage from three-point land than the Knicks this year.

“Just looking at the roster where they’re at — I love Elfrid (Payton), Frank (Ntilikina), and Dennis Smith Jr. — but all of them have something in common in that they’re not consistent 3-point shooters coming off the pick-and-roll,”

The coach added that he believes Mitchell Robinson can reach great heights if he continues to develop.

“And if you have a super talent like Mitchell — and I think Mitchell can end up being one of the best centers over the next ten years — you have to have a guy coming off that pick and if you have to fight over that pick and roll,” Fizdale said. “And if you do that, all of a sudden Mitchell Robinson looks totally different. And his production goes up big time.

“The other piece to that puzzle is a 4-man who can really rope that 3… Like I’ve always said, the key to player development is spacing. You want to see players look better on the court, spread the floor.”

New York Notes: Coronavirus, Knicks’ Future, Chandler, Nets

The Knicks aren’t among the eight teams that have been ordered by the NBA to undergo coronavirus testing, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday. Madison Square Garden released a statement today explaining the status of the team and the NHL’s Rangers.

“We have been following the recommendations of local and national health officials and continue to monitor our players closely,” the statement reads. “As of now, with our players remaining asymptomatic, none of them have been tested for COVID-19. We will remain in close contact with health officials and the NBA and NHL.” (Twitter link).

It was revealed yesterday that four members of the cross-town Nets tested positive for the coronavirus, with Kevin Durant the only one who has been identified. As of this morning, 1,339 people in New York City have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.

There’s more from New York City:

  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic expects a lot of turnover on the Knicks‘ roster during the next three seasons, with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson the only players likely to remain in New York the entire time. Vorkunov expects Dennis Smith Jr. to be traded during the offseason, possibly for a second-round pick, just to get rid of his contract. The draft lottery will be filled with point guards, so a prospect may be the long-term answer, rather than Frank Ntilikina. An extensive roster turnover could come by the summer of 2021 as the Knicks have four first-round picks over the next two drafts.
  • In the wake of the Nets’ positive tests, Wilson Chandler tweeted that the manager of the building where he lives has asked him to keep away from common areas. “Building manager called me saying ‘Oh, I seen Nets players had the virus. We would like to know your status. And if you could possibly stay out of the lobby etc. We can’t afford to lose our staff,’” Chandler wrote. He adds that she didn’t ask specifically if he had been tested.
  • In case you missed it earlier, the Nets are defending their decision to have the entire team tested for coronavirus, saying some players were showing symptoms and all the testing was done through a private facility.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Front Office, Anthony, Robinson

Leon Rose will be faced with plenty of important decisions as he takes over as president of basketball operations for the Knicks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. The first priority will be to sort out the front office. Many of the executives and scouts brought in by general manager Scott Perry and former team president Steve Mills are expected to be replaced, Popper states. Even though Rose has relationships with several of them through his time as an agent, a source tells Popper that a “house-cleaning” could be on the way.

Perry’s future is also in doubt, even though he has been running the team since Mills was fired four weeks ago. Popper notes that Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas has been mentioned as a possible target for the new front office, with the Raptors‘ Bobby Webster and the ClippersMike Winger also among the potential executives of interest. Members of Rose’s CAA agency might be brought in to help with scouting ahead of the draft.

In the coaching search, Popper expects Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy to be among the biggest names under consideration. Interim coach Mike Miller may be offered a chance to remain with the team as an assistant. The Knicks could also be active on the trade market with six free agents who signed last summer holding small guarantees for 2020/21.

There’s more from New York:

  • A report on Wednesday indicated that today would officially be Rose’s first day on the job in New York, but Frank Isola of The Athletic says (via Twitter) that will actually happen on Monday. Isola contends (via Twitter) that Rose will have to get the front office under control, since the “jockeying, maneuvering and backstabbing is at an all-time high.”
  • The hiring of Rose provides a perfect opportunity to bring Carmelo Anthony back to the organization, contends George Willis of The New York Post. Anthony remains popular in New York and could provide a valuable veteran presence for the team’s young core, Willis states. Rose served as Carmelo’s agent at CAA.
  • Although Mitchell Robinson is putting up the best numbers of his career, the Knicks have no plans to move him into the starting lineup, relays Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Robinson is averaging 14.0 PPG and shooting 81% over his last seven games. Still, Miller wants to keep him in a reserve role behind Taj GibsonTaj has gotten us off to great starts,” Miller said. “Sometimes it’s a matchup… But for the most part it’s because Mitchell is so effective in the role that he’s playing. We just haven’t been put in a situation where we think it’s time to change it.”
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic examines the Knicks’ unusual philosophy on player development and questions whether it’s wise to continue, considering the results.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Houston, Wooten, Robinson

Nearly three weeks after reportedly reaching an agreement to bring him aboard, the Knicks still haven’t made it official with incoming president of basketball operations Leon Rose. However, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that an official announcement confirming the hiring of the veteran agent is expected to happen next week.

The official arrival of Rose, who has been tying up loose ends at his longtime agency CAA, could bring about some changes, according to Berman, who notes that the new president of basketball operations may encourage interim head coach Mike Miller to increase Knicks youngsters’ playing time. As Berman notes, Miller said on Monday that he speaks frequently with interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry, but hasn’t yet had a conversation with Rose.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Following up on a recent report that executive Allan Houston is expected to receive a promotion, Berman says that Houston already received one unreported promotion late last season, having been named special assistant to the GM. A source tells Berman that Houston is tight with Rose and William Wesley (“World Wide Wes”), who figures to become an unofficial advisor.
  • A torn ligament in his left thumb is expected to sideline Knicks two-way player Kenny Wooten for at least six weeks, Berman writes in a separate New York Post story. As such, it remains to be seen whether the shot-blocking rookie will get an opportunity to make his NBA debut this season. If he doesn’t, that’s probably fine with the Knicks — sources tell Berman the club signed him to his two-way deal last month primarily to prevent another team from poaching him from New York’s G League affiliate.
  • Miller is happy with what he has seen from second-year center Mitchell Robinson, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “He’s very important,” Miller said of Robinson. “… He’s a high-energy guy. That’s a skill. He can play at high energy now. He’s matured and grown more, extended those minutes where he is impacting the game at a high level.”
  • In case you missed it on Monday, we passed along a report indicating that the Knicks aren’t planning on buying out any of their veteran players.

Eastern Conference Notes: Thompson, Sixers, Horford, Knicks

Kevin Love doesn’t want to see long-time teammate Tristan Thompson get traded, but he understands it might be the best move for both him and the organization, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers are reportedly seeking a first-round pick in return for Thompson, who will be a free agent this summer. If Cleveland can’t find an acceptable deal, management still has interest in re-signing the 28-year-old center or possibly working out a sign-and-trade.

“That’s my brother, man,” Love said. “I would always go to war with him. I would run through a wall for him. He’s the best. Just the type of guy he is, he’s a lifelong friend of mine, so it would be tough to see him go. I would like to have him around selfishly, but if there’s a better situation out there for him, going to make him happier, have a chance to win a championship, then so be it. I only know Tristan Thompson as a Cavalier and I like it that way.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference as the trade deadline draws nearer:

  • Trey Burke, Kyle O’Quinn and Jonah Bolden were all absent from the Sixers‘ shootaround this morning, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Philadelphia has to trim two players from its roster by 3pm Eastern to complete a trade that will bring Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III from the Warriors in exchange for three second-round draft picks.
  • Al Horford hinted at trouble in the Sixers‘ locker room in comments after Wednesday’s practice, relays Jon Johnson of KYW Radio (Twitter link). “There’s some stuff going on in our locker room,” Horford said, “and we’ll keep that internal.”
  • A pair of Knicks youngsters have signed with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports for representation. Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports (via Twitter) that Mitchell Robinson is one of Paul’s newest clients, while Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) says Allonzo Trier has joined Klutch Sports too.

Warriors Notes: Trades, Russell, Looney

Draymond Green admits that the vibe in the locker room in Golden State is different this year because of the trade deadline. There’s a bit of angst among the Warriors‘ players, as he told Hoops Rumors and other media members recently.

“It’s not something that we focus on but we’re all realistic,” Green said. “We understand this business and what could possibly happen.”

D’Angelo Russell, who is being pursued by the Timberwolves,  and Alec Burks, who has drawn interest from the Mavericks, are among the Warriors who could be dealt prior to the trade deadline. Here’s more from Golden State:

  • Russell hears the trade chatter and isn’t letting it faze him, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic relays. “It bothered me when we were further away from [the deadline],” Russell said. “But when we’re closer to it really happening, I’m numb to it. I’m just expecting a phone call. Let me know. … I’m just ready for whatever happens.”
  • The Warriors turned down a Kevin Knox-based package for Russell from the Knicks, according to Brandon Robinson of Heavy.com (Twitter link). Golden State would have wanted Mitchell Robinson and a future unprotected first-rounder for the former All-Star.
  • Kevon Looney, who returned to the court on the Warriors’ current road trip, says he just wants to “get back to feeling like an athlete again” after an injury-plagued season, as Slater relays in a separate piece. While he could be traded before Thursday, Looney hopes to be part of Golden State’s future and prove that he’s worth the three-year, $15MM contract that he inked during the offseason. “You get paid and you want to prove your worth,” Looney said. “You want to show the team they made a smart investment in you.”

 

Knicks Notes: Morris, Perry, Schroder, Robinson

Marcus Morris is confident that he’ll sign a multi-year contract with the Knicks if he remains with the organization past the trade deadline, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. This comes after a report earlier this week that he and the team have “strong mutual interest” in reaching a new deal this summer. Morris likes playing in New York and enjoys being so close to his family in Philadelphia.

Morris risked some security last year when he reneged on a two-year offer with the Spurs to accept a one-year arrangement with the Knicks. He recently hired a new agent in Raymond Brothers, who has a close relationship with New York general manager Scott Perry.

While it’s not a sure thing that Perry will remain with the organization after another disappointing season, some sources believe owner James Dolan’s desire to have Masai Ujiri run the team could work in Perry’s favor. Dolan may not be able to land Ujiri while he’s still under contract with the Raptors, so Mills may be able to convince Dolan to give him another season while he waits. Thunder president Sam Presti could be another target, Bondy adds.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • A source tells Bondy the Knicks are in the market for a point guard and have interest in acquiring Dennis Schroder from the Thunder. Schroder is making $15.5MM this year and is signed for the same amount for next season.
  • The Clippers are believed to be interested in Morris, and a source suggests to Steve Popper of Newsday that the Knicks might accept Maurice Harkless in return, along with a first-round pick, Landry Shamet or possibly both. Harkless has an $11MM expiring contract. Popper also states that New York may be willing to trade for Pistons center Andre Drummond as a way to unload Julius Randle, who will make $18.9MM next season. Drummond is expected to opt out of his $28MM salary, which would provide a huge amount of cap room. The Knicks have also received calls about Kevin Knox, Popper adds.
  • The Knicks are surprised that Mitchell Robinson was passed over for the Rising Stars Challenge, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. The second-year center has been one of the bright spots of the team, averaging 9.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. “It’s not something that’s going to hurt my feelings,’’ Robinson said. “I’m still going to come out here and play. I’m still going to move on and continue to play ball. I’m still in the NBA, so I really don’t care.”

New York Notes: Robinson, Irving, Nwaba, Ellenson, Payton

The past two seasons, one of the few bright spots on the Knicks‘ roster has been athletic center, Mitchell Robinson. As an elite shot-blocker and rebounder who has developing scoring ability, Robinson has cemented himself as a key part of New York’s future.

Offseason acquisition and NBA veteran Taj Gibson has taken on the role of mentor for the 21-year-old big man. In Gibson’s opinion, Robinson possesses talent that could make him an NBA All-Star, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

“This guy, a lot of players don’t have a niche. A lot of them don’t know where to start,” he said. “A lot of guys just come in and think it’s all about scoring and not defense. A lot of players are lost in the sauce with that. With Mitch, he already knows what he has to do. He’s a starting center and all he has to do is grow. If he pushes himself like he’s doing, he’ll be an All-Star. He doesn’t know how good he is.”

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

  • Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will miss out on two additional bonuses, worth $125K each, for failing to play in at least 60 games this season, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (Twitter link). This brings the total money in incentives lost to $375K for the mercurial Brooklyn guard. We detailed Irving’s eight $125K incentives, totaling $1MM, right here.
  • Injuries and other roster needs forced the Nets to part with injured guard David Nwaba and Henry Ellenson in recent days. As Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes, Brooklyn is currently exploring options to upgrade the roster. “Obviously with all our injuries, we need the roster spot. We’re in discussions to see who we bring in,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said.
  • It was a life-changing and busy day for Knicks point guard Elfrid Payton, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. After his girlfriend gave birth to their son on Friday morning, Payton flew to Phoenix for the Knicks’ evening tilt against the Suns. Payton finished with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Stevens, Temple, Robinson

The improved play of 2019 Knicks free agent signee Julius Randle since Mike Miller became the team’s interim head coach can be attributed to several factors, The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov observes.

“I’m just playing with confidence,” Randle said. “I try to take things on a game-by-game focus, not really worried about the big picture of things when it comes to that.” Randle’s jump-shooting accuracy has improved for the Knicks lately. He has been less prone to on-court mistakes, and has been penetrating inside more instead of settling.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Robinson, Bullock, Predictions

Carmelo Anthony received a hero’s welcome as he returned to Madison Square Garden with the Trail Blazers last night, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Anthony was cheered during pre-game introductions and every time he touched the ball. The cheers grew even louder when he scored, as the fans offered their thanks for his six and a half years of service to the Knicks.

“The love was definitely felt tonight,” Anthony said. “From the fans that were here, just the city as a whole, just being back. I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain. But for me to kind of get that ovation, I think I’ve always had the love from the city like that. But to be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight.”

It was only Anthony’s second trip back to Garden since being traded in 2017, and he celebrated with a season-high 26 points. He admitted to reporters that he’d like to see the Knicks retire his number some day.

“I did glance up at the rafters today during the national anthem,” Anthony said. “You know, they say in life you’ve got to envision, so I was envisioning seeing Anthony hanging up there.”

There’s more from New York this morning:

  • The difference in the fan reactions to Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis may have something to do with the return the Knicks got for each player, suggests Marc Berman of The New York Post. While the Porzingis deal brought back Dennis Smith Jr. and a ton of cap room that failed to deliver a star, the package for Anthony included a second-round pick that turned into Mitchell Robinson. The second-year center delivered one of his best performances Wednesday, making all 11 of his shots from the field in a 22-point, eight-rebound night. “I honestly think he’s getting better and better and better,” Anthony said of Robinson. “I don’t really think he understands how good he is or how good he can be and his ceiling. The way he plays is perfect for the way the Knicks play.”
  • Reggie Bullock made his Knicks debut last night, giving the team five healthy shooting guards for the first time this season, Berman notes in a separate story. Playing his first game since spinal fusion surgery in July, Bullock scored 11 points in 15 minutes as Wayne Ellington and Allonzo Trier both remained on the bench.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic offers several Knicks predictions for 2020, including no first-round pick in exchange for Marcus Morris, roster moves to get rid of Ellington and Bobby Portis by the end of February, and no Mark Jackson or Masai Ujiri in the team’s future.