Knicks coach David Fizdale lamented the lack of “a closer” after Thursday’s one-point loss in London, but Emmanuel Mudiay is confident that he can eventually fill that role, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Despite battling illness, Mudiay put on a stellar performance with 25 points and seven rebounds against the Wizards. He has emerged from a three-way battle to establish himself as the team’s best point guard and now hopes to become the number one option in crunch time.
“I’m confident in that,” Mudiay said. “That’s one thing, I’m not afraid of the moment.”
The Knicks will have a decision to make this summer on Mudiay, who is headed for restricted free agency. He is averaging 14.8 points and 4.0 assists per game and has been the starter since November, but he still could become expendable as New York tries to preserve as much cap room as possible in its quest for an elite free agent.
There’s more Knicks news to pass along:
- Rookie center Mitchell Robinson returned to the court Thursday for the first time in about a month after dealing with a groin injury, Berman adds in the same story. He only played 10 minutes, but his coach is happy to have him back. “We look different with him,” Fizdale said. “If you’re an avid fan watching the game, you see a huge difference in our athleticism. Is he screwing up stuff? Of course. Especially because he’s missed so much time. His timing is off and conditioning was a factor. But all that said, I thought he had a really good impact on this game today.”
- Former Knick Latrell Sprewell represented the organization in London and would be interested in serving as a mentor if the team wants him to, relays Steve Popper of Newsday. “If they ask me, I’m definitely open to it for sure,” Sprewell said. “Anything I can do to have these guys get better, I’m willing to do that for sure.”
- The Knicks are mired near the bottom of the East with a 10-34 record, but Fizdale sees a much brighter future next season, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. “In the mix, improved,” he said this week of his vision for next year. “Obviously, we’ll get a good draft pick at some point. Obviously, free agency will be at a premium.”