Knicks Rumors

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Trier, Rotation

Head coach David Fizdale can envision No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett playing some point guard for the Knicks this season, Steve Popper of Newsday writes.

“Yeah, I do [like what I’ve seen from him as a lead guard],” Fizdale said of Barrett playing the one. “He’s really poised. He looks comfortable. The kid likes having the ball in his hands. He’s unselfish. He finds people. He understands – he knows our plays from that position. I feel very comfortable if I have to throw him there.”

Here’s more from New York:

  • Allonzo Trier could struggle to make the Knicks’ rotation, Mike Vorkunov contends in a piece for The Athletic. New York’s backcourt is crowded with Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Elfrid Payton among the players also vying for minutes.
  • Fizdale insists that last summer’s crop of free agents was a success from a development standpoint, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays. Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh are among the players to improve while playing for the Knicks last season and find a new home this offseason.
  • Damyean Dotson is determined to prove that he deserves playing time in the Knicks’ crowded rotation, as Popper writes in a separate piece. “It’s been like that since I’ve been here,” Dotson said. “Tim [Hardaway Jr.], [Courtney] Lee. Ever since I’ve been here it’s always been stacked at the 2-guard, wing spot. Like I said, you’ve just to compete every day, bring it, be ready to play when your name is called, stay professional and stay ready.”

Zak Irvin Signs With Knicks

The Knicks have signed Zak Irvin, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The 25-year-old swingman has spent the past two seasons with the team’s G League affiliate in Westchester.

Irvin went undrafted out of Michigan in 2017 and has played in the Dominican Republic and Mexico as well as the G League. He was among 80 players selected to participate in the G League Elite Camp in May.

The Knicks had a roster spot open after waiving Amir Hinton yesterday. They are now back to the league limit of 20 players, with 15 guaranteed contracts and one two-way slot open.

Knicks Release Amir Hinton

The Knicks have waived guard Amir Hinton, according to a release from the club. Hinton was signed to a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 deal, so the Knicks won’t be on the hook for any dead money.

Hinton, 22, declared for the 2019 NBA Draft after his junior season at Division II school Shaw University, where he led all Division II players with 29.4 points per game and earned CIAA Player of the Year honors.

Shortly after going undrafted, Hinton agreed to a training camp deal with the Knicks, which became official last month. Now that he’s been cut, it’s likely he’ll become an affiliate player for New York’s G League team, the Westchester Knicks.

The Knicks now have 19 players under contract, including one two-way player. Of the 18 guys on standard contracts, 15 have guaranteed deals, meaning it looks like it’ll be an uphill climb for V.J. King, Kenny Wooten, or Lamar Peters to earn a roster spot.

Smith Jr. Insists He Can Play The Point

  • Julius Randle, who signed a lucrative three-year contract with the Knicks this summer, has All-Star aspirations, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. He’ll be looked upon as a go-to scorer and facilitator as a point forward in the offensive scheme. New York hasn’t had an All-Star since Carmelo Anthony, but Randle believes he can end that drought. “I just feel like situation and opportunity. Everything I’ve been through in the past, all the work I’ve put in in the past has prepared me for this opportunity now,” Randle said. “So it’s just a goal of mine. Eventually you feel like you have an opportunity. I feel like I do.”
  • Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. wants to prove he’s a floor leader and not just a scorer, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Smith is one of several players vying for the point guard job. “I got better at it,” Smith said. “What’s so funny is I don’t even know where the story came from that I’m trying to score all the time. I never got where that came from. I feel like this year we got some really good pieces around us for our team, some guys that can really score the ball, so I feel like it’s easy to set these guys up.”

Knicks Notes: Brazdeikis, Morris, Smith Jr., Randle

The Knicks‘ Summer League star hasn’t found success yet in the preseason, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Ignas Brazdeikis was held out of the team’s first game, then went scoreless in six and a half minutes Friday night.

“He’s a second-round pick and 19 years old,’’ coach David Fizdale said. “He’s definitely a work in progress. But again, every minute he plays is important for him. The kid will find his way as he takes his lumps.’’

Brazdeikis looked like a potential steal in July, averaging 15.4 PPG in Las Vegas, including a 30-point game. The Knicks made a significant investment in Michigan’s leading scorer from last season, sending $1MM to the Kings to move up eight spots and snag him with the 47th pick, then using a portion of their cap room to give Brazdeikis a three-year contract.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Marcus Morris is the latest Knick to respond to Kevin Durant‘s comments on the team’s lack of coolness, relays Ian Begley of Morris, who signed with New York this summer, said his decisions aren’t based on what is perceived as cool. “I get what he was saying. I actually have a good relationship with KD,” Morris said. “But the cool part about playing somewhere. Playing in all cities – playing in Utah. Is it cool to play in Utah? It’s cool to play in other places. It’s cool. I just never was a fan of the cool thing. Making a decision off of what’s cool.”
  • Dennis Smith Jr. has two preseason games to make his case for the starting point guard role, Begley relays in the same story. Smith, who missed the first two games with a back strain, is battling for minutes with Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina. Smith concentrated on improving his outside shot during the offseason, but Fizdale wants to see how effective it can be under game conditions. “He put in so much work this summer and I don’t think it’s fair for him to keep the same eyes from last year on him. We want to get a fresh set of eyes,” Fizdale said. “He had a heck of a camp up to the point where he got sprained.”
  • Free agent addition Julius Randle tells Steve Popper of Newsday that averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds is “easy,” but he wants to contribute to the team in other ways. “I want to bring everybody along,” Randle said. “Guys like Frank, RJ [Barrett] and Mitch [Robinson] and those guys and help them develop, because those guys are key parts to our team. The faster they develop, the better we’ll be, the faster we’ll be better. I wanna help them out.”

Robinson Could Sign Extension In Summer

  • Center Mitchell Robinson has already outplayed his team-friendly four-year contract and an extension may be in the Knicks’ best interests, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News examines. Robinson is eligible next summer for a four-year extension in excess of $53MM. Robinson could sign that extension as early as July and would require the Knicks to tear up Robinson’s $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, Bondy adds.

Pistons Interested In Frank Ntilikina?

The Pistons may have some interest in Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

He’s the type of young talent on a cheap contract that could benefit from a change of scenery, Ellis notes.

The Knicks have a logjam at the point but the Pistons, who hope to go deeper in the postseason, have three veteran point guards so they’re not desperately seeking alternatives at the moment.

Reggie Jackson, who is making $18.1MM this season and is on an expiring contract, is the starter. Derrick Rose, who signed a two-year free agent deal, is projected to lead the second unit. The Pistons also added another point guard, Tim Frazier, via free agency this summer.

It’s feasible the Pistons could trade for Ntilikina and give him a one-season look to see if he’d fit their long-term plans once Jackson hits free agency.

Ntilikina is making $4.85MM this season and the team holds a $6.177MM option on his contract for next season. The deadline for exercising that option is the last day of this month. It’s unlikely New York will do so, which would push Ntilikina into free agency next summer.

Despite a strong showing in the FIBA World Cup, Ntilikina has an uncertain future in New York. The Knicks drafted RJ Barrett and also have Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. vying for minutes at the point. They shopped Ntilikina throughout the summer but couldn’t find a suitable deal.

Community Shootaround: Are The Knicks Cool?

For all the problems facing teams as they prepare for a new season, the Knicks suddenly have to wonder if they’re cool enough.

That was the issue raised by Kevin Durant yesterday in an interview with Ebro in the Morning on Hot 97 in New York. Durant said he briefly considered the Knicks in free agency, but not enough to conduct a “full analysis.” He also suggested that the franchise lacks a coolness factor with young players.

“I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players who, in their lifetime, don’t remember the Knicks being good,” Durant said. “I’ve seen the Knicks in the Finals, but kids coming up after me didn’t see that. So that whole brand of the Knicks is not as cool as let’s say the Golden State Warriors, or even the Lakers or the Nets now. You know what I’m saying; the cool thing now is not the Knicks.”

Those comments drew a response from a couple of newly-signed Knicks, who told Steve Popper of Newsday that their franchise is just as cool as anyone else in the league. After New York missed out on its top free agent targets, its first move was to add Julius Randle, who got $63MM over three years.

“I feel cool in blue and orange,” Randle said. “I don’t know about everybody else, but I feel pretty cool wearing my Knicks gear every day. It’s a dream come true for me. Everybody has their own opinion, and I know [Durant], I don’t think he meant it as a slight, honestly. I feel cool every day walking into this practice facility, and I know for sure I’m gonna feel cool walking into that Garden Friday night knowing that’s my home court.

“I know [Knicks history] just because I love basketball. I wasn’t old enough to see the Knicks when they were really good, guys like Pat [Ewing]. I don’t think he said it as a slight. I understand it to a certain point, but us as NBA players, it’s our job to know our history and the people that came before us. You walk into Madison Square Garden as an opposing player, the energy is different from any other arena you’re gonna walk into. Whether you know the history or not, you know it’s a big thing when you walk and play in that Garden.”

His comments were echoed by Taj Gibson, who grew up in Brooklyn as a Knicks fan.

“Even when I was in Chicago every time we came back here we always talked about how special it is to play in the Garden, how special it is to play the Knicks,” he said. “Even when [Carmelo Anthony] and J.R. [Smith] and guys were here we always watched Knicks games. I always watch the Knicks, so in my opinion I always liked the Knicks. That’s just my opinion.”

We want to get your opinion. Is it a lack of coolness that prevents the Knicks from attracting elite free agents? Or is there something else that causes star players to bypass New York?

Please leave your responses in the comments section.

Elfrid Payton Favorite To Start At PG For Knicks?

  • With Dennis Smith Jr. on the shelf due to a back strain, offseason free agent addition Elfrid Payton may be playing his way into the Knicks‘ starting point guard job, sources tell Ian Begley of No matter who starts, it will be a big year for all three Knicks point guards — Smith will be extension-eligible next summer, Payton has a non-guaranteed 2020/21 salary, and Frank Ntilikina will be eligible for restricted free agency.

Marcus Morris Won’t Face Suspension After Preseason Ejection

After earning a Flagrant 2 foul and an ejection from Monday’s preseason game against Washington, Knicks forward Marcus Morris won’t face a suspension to open the regular season, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Early in the third quarter of Monday’s exhibition contest vs. the Wizards, Morris was being guarded by Justin Anderson and aggressively swung his arms in an attempt to clear space, nearly hitting Anderson with an elbow. When the Wizards swingman didn’t back off, Morris intentionally struck him in the head with the ball, resulting in his ejection (video link via Bleacher Report).

Morris claimed he was provoked by something Anderson said, but acknowledged after the game that his play was “unprofessional.”

As Berman notes, the NBA automatically reviews all Flagrant 2 fouls to see if they warrant a suspension. If the league had issued a ban for Morris, he would have had to serve it to start the regular season, rather than in the preseason.

Morris, who signed a one-year, $15MM contract with New York this summer, completed that deal after reneging on an agreement to sign a two-year contract with the Spurs. The Knicks will open the season on October 23 in San Antonio, so while Morris will still be able to play in that game, he probably shouldn’t expect a warm welcome.