Knicks Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/11/18

As we detailed earlier today in a full story, the Knicks assigned veteran wing Courtney Lee to the G League to get in some minutes and improve his conditioning. Lee struggled a little with his shot for the Westchester Knicks on Tuesday night, scoring 16 points on 7-of-21 shooting (1-of-9 on threes).

Here are the rest of today’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Assignments:

  • The Jazz assigned Grayson Allen and Georges Niang to the Salt Lake City Stars in advance of the team’s game tonight against Austin, the team announced in a press release.
  • Rookie point guard Elie Okobo was assigned to the G League today by the Suns, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). Okobo, who has been in and out of Phoenix’s rotation this season, started at the point for Northern Arizona tonight.
  • The Bucks assigned D.J. Wilson to the G League in advance of the Wisconsin Herd’s two-game road trip this week, according to the club (Twitter link). A first-rounder in 2017, Wilson still isn’t part of Milwaukee’s rotation, having played just two games for the Bucks this season.
  • Sixers rookie Jonah Bolden was recalled from the G League this morning, then re-assigned several hours later, per Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter links). Bolden has averaged a double-double in four G League contests, posting 15.5 PPG and 12.3 RPG in Delaware.

Recalls:

  • After helping lead the Memphis Hustle to a Monday victory with 25 points and 10 boards, Ivan Rabb was recalled to the NBA today by the Grizzlies, according to the club (Twitter link).
  • The Hawks recalled Daniel Hamilton from Erie, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Hamilton posted back-to-back double-doubles for the BayHawks during his latest G League stint.
  • 2018 first-round pick Troy Brown was recalled to the NBA by the Wizards, the team announced today (via Twitter). Brown has averaged 18.3 PPG on 47.5% in four NBAGL games this season.
  • The Pelicans have recalled Frank Jackson from the G League, per a team press release. New Orleans doesn’t have its own affiliate, so Jackson had been with the Texas Legends, Dallas’ NBAGL squad.
  • The Bucks recalled Christian Wood from the Wisconsin Herd today, according to RealGM’s transactions log. Wood has appeared sparingly in just six games for Milwaukee in 2018/19.

Knicks Not Shopping Frank Ntilikina

Despite some recent chatter about teams with interest in second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina, Marc Stein of The New York Times gets the sense that the Knicks aren’t actively exploring the trade market for the 20-year-old. While New York will almost certainly be willing to field inquiries on Ntilikina, there’s a difference between listening and shopping, Stein observes.

While Ntilikina recently fell out of the Knicks’ rotation for three games and has struggled immensely on offense, he’s coming off one of the best games as a pro, as he scored a career-high 18 points in just 20 minutes on Sunday. If he can produce anywhere close to that level on a more consistent basis, he’ll likely secure his place as a long-term building block in New York.

Pistons' Interest In Dotson Confirmed

Following up on conflicting reports about the Pistons‘ apparent interest in Damyean Dotson, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News confirms (via Twitter) that Detroit has expressed interest in trading for the Knicks‘ swingman. It’s not clear how enthusiastic New York would be about moving Dotson, but both the Pistons and Nets have been linked to him within the last couple weeks.

Knicks Notes: Lee, Trier, Knox, Ntilikina

Courtney Lee will be getting more playing time, but not at the NBA level, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks are sending Lee, who has missed most of the season with a neck injury, to their G League affiliate in Westchester so he can rack up minutes in tomorrow night’s game against Lakeland.

The 33-year-year-old is averaging just 10.8 minutes in four games since returning to the lineup, stuck in a crowded backcourt on a team now committed to finding time for Frank Ntilikina. Lee admits he needs to work on conditioning and suggested the idea of spending time in the G League.

“It’s going to take a while to get reactivated to game-speed, game-like situations,” he said. “It’ll probably take couple of weeks to get back a rhythm and feel chemistry with the guys. I’ve been thrown out there with those guys and trying to play on the fly. Next couple of weeks, I’ll start to feel comfortable out there.”

Lee is scheduled to rejoin the Knicks following Wednesday night’s game. The team is hoping to build up his value in hopes of working out a deal before the February 7 deadline to get his $12.76MM salary for next season off the books.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Rookie guard Allonzo Trier strained his left hamstring and won’t be re-evaluated until next week, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Trier, who is getting close to the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way contract, will remain with the team while he rehabs the injury, but the time won’t add to his service days. Berman notes that it will give the front office more time to decide what to do once he reaches the limit, whether it involves waiving Ron Baker or Luke Kornet or trying to work out a trade (Twitter link).
  • Coach David Fizdale has been using Kevin Knox at power forward more often to boost his rebounding numbers, which paid off Sunday as he collected 11 boards, notes Peter Botte of The New York Post. It marked the first double-digit rebounding night for Knox. “I’ve really been stressing to him rebounding and getting in the trench,” Fizdale said. “We do a lot of block-out drills, just trying to get him used to the physicality of the league, trying to fast-track him that way. And so he’s taken it to heart, and he’s going to get the ball.”
  • Ntilikina’s 18-point explosion in the second half Sunday night is a sign that he will eventually reward the Knicks’ patience, contends Shlomo Sprung of Forbes.

LeBron Never Considered Joining Knicks

There was plenty of drama as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade faced each other for the final time last night, but James’ postgame comments led to speculation that his summer decision came down to the Lakers and Knicks.

As the longtime friends hugged after the game, Wade said “I appreciate you for letting it end here,” meaning at the Staples Center, and James responded, “It was either here or at (Madison Square) Garden, that’s it.”

Although many are taking that as an indication that James was considering signing with New York, multiple sources close to him tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic that isn’t true. The statement referred to the magnitude of their final game and how LeBron felt it deserved a special setting.

Vardon adds that apart from the Lakers, James gave serious consideration to staying with the Cavaliers or going to the Sixers, who were the only other team he met with before signing in L.A.

Although James heading to New York would have shaken up the NBA landscape just as much as joining the Lakers, the Knicks didn’t have the cap room available to offer anything close to a max contract. The team’s only significant free agent additions of the offseason were Mario Hezonja, who received a one-year, $6.5MM contract that came out of the Knicks’ mid-level exception, and Noah Vonleh, who got a partially guaranteed one-year deal.

On top of that, tweets ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, James wouldn’t have considered New York because of how the front office, especially former team president Phil Jackson, treated his friend, Carmelo Anthony in his final seasons with the team.

Hernangomez Clarifies Trade Request From Knicks

While Kemba Walker did not sound enthused about returning to his native New York and play for the Knicks, he did not shut the door on the possibility, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

“I’ve been hearing it for years now, the Knicks,” Walker said. “Every time I come home, it’s ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”

  • Former Knicks center Willy Hernangomez said he requested a trade last season after it became clear he was no longer in the team’s long-term plans, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Obviously with Phil [Jackson] out, he was the person who bought me here from Spain, who believed in me from the beginning,” Hernangomez said. “Him and Steve Mills. Summer, they made a change. I think that changed the mentality to the future. You see how many players from my first year are on the team now.”

Knicks’ Allonzo Trier To Get New Deal This Week?

The Knicks are expected to convert Allonzo Trier‘s two-way contract into a standard NBA contract at some point this week, a source tells Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Trier is set to hit the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way deal soon, so New York would have to give him a spot on the 15-man roster to ensure he can keep playing at the NBA level.

Trier, who signed with the Knicks in early July after going undrafted out of Arizona, has impressed the team so far, averaging 11.3 PPG on .470/.391/.816 shooting in 27 games (23.3 MPG). The fact that he won’t have to return to the G League once he hits his 45-day limit is good news for the franchise.

Still, while Zagoria’s report provides an idea of when Trier might receive a new deal, there’s still some uncertainty about how exactly it’ll happen.

As I recently detailed, the Knicks could unilaterally convert Trier’s contract into a standard deal, but would have to give him a one-year pact in that scenario. If the team wants to secure Trier beyond the 2018/19 season, negotiations will be required, with the team using either its mid-level, bi-annual, or minimum-salary exception to complete a multiyear deal.

Additionally, the Knicks are currently carrying a full 15-man roster, so they’ll need to trade or release a player in order to create room for their standout rookie. Ron Baker and Luke Kornet are probably the most likely candidates to be waived, though there are plenty of trade candidates on New York’s roster too.

Knicks Notes: Walker, Knox, Ntilikina, Trier

Bronx native and current Hornets guard Kemba Walker is set to play at Madison Square Garden when his team takes on the Knicks Sunday, one of three games between the clubs this season.

His homecoming return to New York will commence just seven months before the 28-year-old reaches free agency.

“I’ve been hearing it for years now — the Knicks,” Walker said this past August, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Every time I come home, it’s, ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”

The Knicks will have the cap space to sign Walker on a maximum-salary contract if the two sides express interest in each other next summer, but Hornets owner Michael Jordan is said to seriously value Walker’s services.

Walker, a former University of Connecticut standout, has averaged a career-high 25.8 points, 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game this season. The Knicks currently have Frank Ntilikina as the only point guard under contract next season.

“What kid doesn’t want to play in MSG?” Walker said Friday, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play there many, many times during my basketball career. Every chance I get to play there, I try to embrace it. I just love playing there.”

“I will always have an attachment to and a love of that city,” Walker said. “That city made me who I am today.”

There’s more out of New York today:

  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari believes the critics of Kevin Knox need to be patient, Berman writes in a separate story. “He’s got to figure this stuff,” Calipari said. “I told the Knicks and everybody recruiting — they’re 19, 18, 20, not 25 years old. But what you have is a 6-9, 6-10 player who’s multi-dimensional, who can score and is just going to get better and better when he matures and physically fills out.”
  • David Fizdale‘s harsh message to Frank Ntilikina was delivered, and now it’s time for Ntilikina to see more playing time, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes. Ntilikina played 15 minutes against the Nets on Saturday, but was benched the previous three games. Fizdale has made it clear to Ntilikina that he must earn his playing time with the team.
  • Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes an in-depth story on Allonzo Trier‘s journey to the NBA, dating back to when the 22-year-old was in grade school. Trier has averaged 11.3 points in 27 games with the Knicks this season, providing solid play on both ends of the floor.

New York Notes: Lee, Ntilikina, Crabbe, Fultz

Courtney Lee feels like he’s in training camp after missing the first 24 games of the season with a neck injury, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Lee showed obvious signs of rust in two games this week, making just two of seven shots from the field.

“It’s going to take a while to get reactivated to game-speed, game-like situations,’’ he said. “It’ll probably take couple of weeks to get back a rhythm and feel chemistry with the guys. I’ve been thrown out there with those guys and trying to play on the fly. Next couple of weeks, I’ll start to feel comfortable out there.”

Lee’s future with the Knicks remains uncertain as his age (33) and contract don’t fit in with the organization’s plans for the future. The Knicks are hoping to make an impact in free agency next summer and would like to unload Lee’s deal, which will pay him more than $12.76MM next season. Berman suggests the team may showcase him in the coming weeks in an effort to spark a trade.

There’s more from New York City:

  • After being held out of three straight games, Frank Ntilikina appears to be returning to the Knicks‘ rotation, Berman relays in the same story. Ntilikina will likely be used as the backup point guard while Trey Burke is sidelined with a sprained knee. “Frank’s a professional, he understands the game,’’ said coach David Fizdale. “He does a good job controlling what he can control. He’s doing extra work and supporting teammates and doing a great job at it. I wouldn’t say it’s a setback. It’s part of the NBA process. Frank’s handling it very well and learning how to be supportive of teammates.”
  • The pursuit of Allen Crabbe has been the only major mistake by Sean Marks since taking over as GM of the Nets, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Marks signed Crabbe to a four-year, $75MM offer sheet in 2016 that was matched by the Trail Blazers, then traded for him a year later. Crabbe’s scoring average has fallen under 10 PPG for the first time in four seasons and he is shooting just 25% on 2-point shots. Lowe notes that he’s not contributing enough in any other area to make up for his decline in offense.
  • The Nets‘ record on player development makes them a perfect environment for Markelle Fultz, contends Michael Smeltz of NetsDaily. Smeltz states that a trade for Fultz could speed up Brooklyn’s rebuilding process after mixed results on deals for D’Angelo Russell and Crabbe.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Hezonja, Wall, Dotson

Before getting his third consecutive DNP-CD on Thursday night, Frank Ntilikina offered some terse answers when asked about his role, perhaps conveying a little frustration, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. Meanwhile, head coach David Fizdale made some ominous comments when asked about his lineup decisions involving Ntilikina and other Knicks.

“I got a front office that supports me in that,” Fizdale said. “We have to know who’s moving forward out of this group. And it won’t be every single player on this roster, unfortunately. That’s the nature of the business. We have to come out of this year knowing who those guys it’s going to be moving forward with us.”

After Thursday’s game, in which the Knicks surrendered 128 points, Fizdale acknowledged that maybe he should’ve given a strong defender like Ntilikina the opportunity to play, per Steve Popper of Newsday.

“I can always look at him,” Fizdale said. “It ain’t like he’s out, though. Again, it’s going to be a long season. Frank will be getting his opportunities again.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Fizdale said on Thursday that Mario Hezonja is still in New York’s starting lineup because of his effort on defense, as Popper notes. Berman of The New York Post passes along a tweet from former Knicks executive Clarence Gaines Jr. questioning Fizdale’s explanation, while sources also told Berman that Hezonja was happier during his Orlando days when he was in the starting five.
  • Following up on a pair of reports from earlier this week, Ian Begley of ESPN.com says (via Twitter) that the Knicks haven’t had any internal discussions about a possible trade for John Wall and haven’t heard from the Nets or Pistons about Damyean Dotson. Berman previously reported that people around the league believed the Knicks were gearing up to make a push for Wall and said that Detroit and Brooklyn had shown the most interest in Dotson.
  • Lance Thomas is getting close to returning to action, but – like Courtney Lee before him – may have a hard time carving out major minutes in a crowded rotation, Berman writes for The New York Post. Thomas and Lee look like potential trade candidates this season, so New York may make an effort to showcase both players.
  • Ten months after Kristaps Porzingis suffered his ACL tear, there’s still no set timetable for his return to the court, according to Berman.