RJ Barrett

Some Knicks Were Frustrated By Randle’s Playing Style

Some Knicks players, including prized rookie RJ Barrett, were frustrated during the 2019/20 season by Julius Randle‘s approach on offense, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

As Berman explains, Barrett – who is accustomed to having the ball in his hands – was among the players put off by Randle’s tendency to hang onto the ball too long and overdribble. While Berman suggests that the chemistry between Barrett and Randle will be worth keeping an eye on going forward, he notes that 2019’s No. 3 overall pick wasn’t the only player who was irked by Randle’s playing style.

“A lot of players felt like that with the exception of Elfrid Payton,” one source told The Post.

Unlike every other free agent signed by the Knicks during the 2019 offseason, Randle received a guaranteed multiyear commitment. He’ll earn $18.9MM in 2020/21, so it’s safe to say he’ll be back with the team unless there’s an offseason trade.

Reports before February’s trade deadline indicated that the Knicks were willing to discuss Randle, with Ian Begley of SNY.tv writing this week that the club engaged with the Hornets on a potential swap that would have included Randle, Dennis Smith, Terry Rozier, and Malik Monk, among other assets.

Assuming Randle returns, one Eastern Conference personnel person who spoke to Berman thinks the Knicks would be wise to avoid tasking him with the lead scoring role, despite the fact that the big man put up a team-high 19.5 PPG in 2019/20 (Marcus Morris scored 19.6 PPG as a Knick, but was traded in February). Randle struggled when he found himself receiving the brunt of opposing defenses’ attention, turning the ball over frequently.

“He absolutely should not be your No. 1 or even No. 2 option, maybe not even No. 3 on a serious contender,” that personnel man told Berman. “He doesn’t have a good enough feel (and is) much too ball-dominant. I don’t trust his decisions with the ball. As sixth man, he would fit perfectly because I don’t think he gives you much defensively either. That’s more in line with a sixth-man role.”

Atlantic Notes: Van Gundy, Sixers, Smart, Barrett

Stan Van Gundy calls the Knicks organization “extremely dysfunctional” and has no interest in becoming their head coach, The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov tweets. However, he hinted that former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy might have some interest in a second stint. Speaking on ESPN radio, the former Miami, Orlando and Detroit head coach said, “I’m not really interested in the New York Knicks, no. If anyone would be interested in that — and I’m not sure he is either — it would be my brother.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The extended layoff will definitely help the Sixers, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines. Ben Simmons will have ample time to heal the lower back injury that sidelined him shortly after the All-Star break. Coach Brett Brown will have more time to solve the spacing issues created by playing Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Al Horford together. It also allows Josh Richardson time to rest his hamstring injuries and be further removed from the concussion he suffered, Pompey adds.
  • All of the other Celtics players and staff have tested negative for COVID-19, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Guard Marcus Smart is one of 14 NBA players/personnel who have tested positive. Smart revealed his test result on Thursday.
  • Despite mediocre efficiency ratings, Knicks guard RJ Barrett flashed All-Star potential in his rookie season, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Barrett, who has posted averages of 14.3 PPG and 5.2 RPG, has a knack for getting to the basket, a consistently high motor and a strong work ethic. NBA talent evaluators are confident Barrett can significantly improve his perimeter and free throw shooting.

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.

New York Notes: Trier, Barrett, Irving, Atkinson

Allonzo Trier continues to be dangerous from 3-point range, but the second-year guard isn’t seeing enough playing time for it to make a difference, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Trier was a pleasant surprise for the Knicks last season, earning a two-way contract after going undrafted and later having it converted to a standard deal.

He averaged 22.8 minutes per night as a rookie, but that figure has dropped to 12.0 this season and Trier has only gotten into 21 games. Berman calls Trier’s reduced role one of the season’s great mysteries, but there are some explanations. Drafting RJ Barrett added to an already crowded backcourt, and a source tells Berman that management isn’t pleased with Trier’s effort on defense.

“I’ve flipped onto a new year and new role,’’ he said. “I just have to accept it and continue to do my job. And even if I don’t play, I continue to come in and support my teammates.’’

The Knicks made an effort to trade Trier at the deadline, Berman adds, but teams weren’t willing to part with a future asset. Trier insists he would have been fine either way.

“I wasn’t nervous,’’ he said. “If it happened, it happened. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Nothing to be worried about.”

There’s more from New York City:

  • Barrett told reporters today that he’s more “ambidextrous” than fully left-handed, Berman relays in a separate story. Barrett revealed that shooting is one of the few things he does with his left hand, adding that scouts were incorrect when they feared he wouldn’t be effective going to his right. Barrett has been given more ball-handling duties with Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina both injured, and interim coach Mike Miller believes he may ultimately become a combo guard. “He likes the ball in his hands,” Miller said. “The hardest guys to guard are guys like Devin Booker. The ball is in his hands then he’s playing off the ball. He’s really difficult to defend. How do you game plan on him? He’s not in one spot. He’s all over the place, coming off handoffs, screens and initiating.’’
  • A date still hasn’t been set for Kyrie Irving‘s season-ending shoulder surgery, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Irving and Kevin Durant are both expected to start accompanying the team on road trips soon.
  • In the same story, Atkinson talks about being the longest-tenured active coach in the New York market, even though he has only had his job since 2016. “(The Nets) obviously stuck with me when we went through a lot of struggles,” he said. “We’ve had struggles this year. I just think that’s the real advantage too, of being on the same page with ownership.”

Knicks Notes: Miller, Barrett, Rose, Dinwiddie

The Knicks should be focused on the future, but interim coach Mike Miller doesn’t appear ready to give more minutes to the team’s younger players, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman suggests Miller is more concerned with his own future in the organization. His 13-20 record is a marked improvement over David Fizdale’s 4-18 start, but there’s no guarantee Miller will be brought back next season, especially after comments this week from consultant Steve Stoute.

Miller’s philosophy is doing nothing to help 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox or Dennis Smith Jr., who was among the keys to the Kristaps Porzingis deal. Knox played just 10 minutes Wednesday in the team’s final game before the break and hardly had any role in the offense. Smith played six minutes and committed four turnovers.

“As we approach this, this is all about development,’’ Miller said. “That will never change. It’s about how these guys get better just if they get 10 more minutes in a game. There are a lot of things that go into the development to make these guys better. Just having minutes isn’t the end-all. I think there are other ways and other factors.’’

There’s more from New York:

  • Before posting a game-high 27 points last night in the Rising Stars Challenge, RJ Barrett assessed the Rookie of the Year race and said he should be a contender, Berman adds in a separate story“A lot of people deserve [Rookie of the Year], a lot of people work hard for it,” Barrett said. “I don’t know. It’s kind of hard not to vote for myself.” The third pick in last year’s draft, Barrett is averaging 13.6 PPG in 44 games and shooting 38.8% from the field.
  • As he prepares to take over as head of basketball operations for the Knicks, Leon Rose is keeping a characteristically low profile at All-Star Weekend, observes Steve Popper of Newsday. Rose hasn’t officially taken on his new duties and is still completing the paperwork to end his time as an agent. A source tells Popper that Rose plans to replace general manager Scott Perry, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie doesn’t expect his cross-town rivals to be a threat any time soon, relays Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “They’ll probably have a high draft pick,” Dinwiddie said of the Knicks. “Unless they do something via trade or via free agency, which I don’t know if this free agency class is that spectacular, they’re probably not going to be that good. We’ll see. I can’t tell the future. But more than likely, I mean Kevin Durant is coming back. And he’s Kevin Durant. He’s really good.”

Doncic, Young, Zion Headline Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has officially announced the 20 rookies and sophomores who have been named to the league’s Rising Stars game for All-Star weekend. Those 20 players, selected by assistant coaches from around the league, will be divided into a U.S. Team and a World Team, as follows:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

Williamson’s inclusion is notable since he has appeared in just four games due to injuries. It’s not surprising that the NBA found a way to get him into the game, since he’s one of the most exciting prospects to enter the league in years, but it’s a tough break for youngsters who have been on the court since the fall for contenders, such as Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle. or Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

Snubbed players like Thybulle, Porter, and others could eventually make their way into the Rising Stars game if players have to pull out due to injuries, or if All-Stars like Doncic and Young opt not to play in both events.

The Rising Stars game will take place in Chicago on Friday, February 14.

RJ Barrett To Remain Sidelined At Least One More Week

Knicks rookie RJ Barrett, sidelined with a sprained right ankle, has transitioned from crutches to a walking boot, the team announced on Saturday (Twitter link). Barrett is set to be reevaluated in one week.

Barrett, 19, sprained his ankle last Thursday and was set for a reevaluation one week after sustaining the injury. In an otherwise abysmal 12-34 season, the Duke product has been a bright spot for the Knicks.

In 41 games this season, Barrett is averaging 14.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.5 APG. He has struggled to shoot at a consistent clip, making 39.3% of his attempts from the field at the time of the injury.

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Ivey, LaMelo, Morris

Steve Nash didn’t get to watch his godson, RJ Barrett, play last night because of an injury, but he has faith that Barrett will develop into a franchise cornerstone for the Knicks, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

“(Barrett’s) shown very much of what I thought he’d show. He’s an incredibly talented, well-rounded basketball player. He does a bit of everything. I think he will evolve into a great playmaker because that’s a natural ability for him that he doesn’t necessarily get to shine in at this stage of his career and on this stage of this team,” Nash said. “That’s exciting for Knicks fans that he still produces, he’s versatile, he can score. He’s growing defensively. And for me, he’s a natural playmaker and that hasn’t been a part of his upside yet that’s highlighted. So for the franchise, that’s exciting.”

Barrett was a primary ballhandler in college, but the Knicks quickly gave up on their experiment of using him at point guard, Bondy notes. Still, his usage rate is high at 23.2% and he is often utilized as a secondary initiator of the offense.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • The Sixers expressed interest in hiring New York assistant Royal Ivey after the end of last season, but the Knicks blocked the move because they thought Ivey might help attract Kevin Durant in free agency, Bondy adds in a separate story. Ivey is a close friend with Durant and was a former teammate in Oklahoma City. A source tells Bondy that the Knicks refused to allow the Sixers to interview Ivey, but did give him a pay raise.
  • The Knicks never made it to Australia to see LaMelo Ball in person before he was shut down for the season with a foot injury, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The front office was planning a trip this month, but Berman points out that it might not matter because president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry may not be with the team by draft time.
  • The Knicks will be wasting an opportunity if they don’t trade Marcus Morris by the deadline, contends Tommy Beer of Forbes. Morris is enjoying his best statistical season, averaging 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 3-pointers per game, but may not be a long-term fit at age 30. Not only would the Knicks be better off with whatever assets they can obtain in return, Beer adds, trading Morris takes away any chance they will overpay to re-sign him this summer.

RJ Barrett Sprains Ankle, Will Be Re-Evaluated In One Week

JANUARY 17: X-rays were negative on Barrett’s sprained right ankle, according to the Knicks, who announced today that the rookie will be re-evaluated in a week (Twitter link).

JANUARY 16: The Knicks’ season continues to go downhill. No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett left tonight’s contest against the Suns with a right ankle injury and did not return.

After the contest, coach Mike Miller said he didn’t know the severity of the injury, which was initially diagnosed as a sprain, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv tweets. Begley adds that the rookie had crutches in his locker.

Barrett’s development has been a bright spot for the 11-31 Knicks. The rookie was averaging 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per contest entering tonight’s tilt with the Suns. He has struggled with his efficiency, though over his prior six contests, he made 46.3% of his looks.

Knicks Notes: Trade Rumors, Bullock, Ellington, Smith Jr.

Another rocky start in New York has led several Knicks to begin seeking a way out, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Sources tell Begley a few players have said privately that they hope to be dealt before the February 6 trade deadline arrives.

That was always a danger for a team that signed so many players to short-term contracts this summer. Of the seven free agents who came to New York, only Julius Randle has any money guaranteed beyond this season. Management has admitted that it prioritized roster flexibility and future cap room after missing out on its top targets in the free agent market.

Begley expects the team to explore trading options on everyone except rookie guard RJ Barrett and possibly second-year center Mitchell Robinson. He notes that several teams, including the Timberwolves, have expressed interest in Dennis Smith Jr.

There’s more from New York:

  • Two much-needed shooters are expected back in the lineup soon, Begley adds in the same story. Reggie Bullock practiced yesterday with the Knicks’ G League team and is close to making his season debut after having cervical disc herniation surgery in July. Wayne Ellington, who has missed the past 10 games with an Achilles issue, may be ready for Saturday’s game at Washington.
  • Efforts to trade Smith will be complicated by an oblique injury that could sideline him for several games, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Smith started feeling discomfort during an extra workout after playing just seven minutes Monday. There’s no word on how much time he might miss with the injury, which is more common among baseball players. “He pulled something in his oblique while he was playing,’’ interim coach Mike Miller said. “It wasn’t a collision. It was just some kind of movement when he did something, it pulled something. … He’s been testing it and going through treatment as best he can. We’ll just have to see day-to-day how he feels.”
  • Robinson credits an agreement he made with former coach David Fizdale for turning his season around, relays Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Any time Robinson commits a reach-in foul during a game, he has to run laps during practice as punishment. “Who wants to keep running all day in practice?” Robinson said. “Why not jump vertical? It worked out pretty great.”