Trey Burke

Knicks Looking For “Unquestioned Upgrade” If Drafting PG At No. 9

The Knicks didn’t move up in the lottery and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has the team selecting Collin Sexton in his post-lottery mock draft. However, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post that they have yet to decide whether the Alabama product is an “unquestioned upgrade” over the point guards already on the roster.

The team selected Frank Ntilikina with the No.8 overall pick last summer. “Frank’s a better defender,’’ one NBA personnel director said. “And Collin can struggle with his shot.’’

New York’s preference is to take a small forward, though Berman notes that’s only the case if prospects are seen as equal. The available prospect with the highest upside may be the pick regardless of the player’s position.

The Knicks also have Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke in-house. Neither appears to be the point guard of the future in New York, though both should be near-locks to make the roster next season.

The option of passing on Sexton might not even present itself, as Alabama coach Avery Johnson believes Sexton will rise in the draft after working out for teams. “Nine range?’’ the former NBA player and coach said. “If they saw what I have seen, I’m not trying to promote my player [because] my reputation is on the line also. But if they’ve seen what I’ve seen, I don’t see how he gets past five.’’

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Hernandez, Mudiay, Kanter

Building a productive relationship with Kristaps Porzingis and devising a plan for his three point guards are among the questions facing new Knicks coach David Fizdale, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Fizdale plans to travel to Latvia in the near future to meet with his franchise player, who is rehabbing his knee injury there.

Juggling the minutes of Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke will be a challenge for the ex-Grizzlies coach, Berman continues. Learning from his mistakes in Memphis, particularly in the way he dealt with veteran center Marc Gasol, is another thing Fizdale must do in order to be a success in New York, Berman adds.

In other Knicks-related news:

  • Former Magic assistant coach Jay Hernandez is a name to watch as Fizdale selects his staff, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. He has a solid reputation in player development and player relationships after working with several NBA players as a trainer, Scotto adds.
  • Mudiay said the coaching change has energized the team, as he told Berman in a separate story. “Nobody has played with him yet over here except Troy Williams. But I’m not the only one excited. Everyone else is, too,’’ he said. Mudiay believes Fizdale, a point guard during his playing days, can help with his development.
  • Center Enes Kanter, who exchanged barbs with LeBron James this season, playfully challenged the Cavaliers superstar to sign with the Knicks during a Twitter Q&A session, Ian Begley of ESPN relays. “You really want to be king of New York? Come and prove it. I’ll see you July 1st, brother,” Kanter said in the Twitter video. James is expected to opt out of his contract this summer but the Knicks are an extreme long shot, considering their salary-cap issues and their rebuilding status.

Lorenzo Brown Named 2017/18 G League MVP

Raptors 905 guard Lorenzo Brown has been named the NBA G League’s Most Valuable Player for the 2017/18 season, the league announced today in a press release. The NBAGL’s 26 head coaches and general managers voted on the award.

Brown, 27, has played for various G League teams since the 2013/14 campaign, having been named an All-Star twice. However, 2017/18 was arguably his most successful overall season in the G League. In 32 games for Toronto’s G League affiliate, the veteran guard averaged 18.8 PPG, 8.8 APG, and 5.2 RPG, making 46.8% of his shots from the floor.

Brown is currently on a two-way contract with the Raptors, appearing in 14 games this season for the NBA club. According to Basketball Insiders’ data, Brown’s two-way deal is only for one year, meaning he’ll become a restricted free agent this summer.

The Raptors 905 are currently down 1-0 to the Austin Spurs in the G League’s best-of-three Finals, so Brown will have a chance to lead the club to a series comeback beginning on Tuesday night — he’ll also receive his MVP trophy before tonight’s game. If the Raptors’ affiliate can extend the series, the deciding game would take place on Friday.

Current Warriors guard Quinn Cook and current Knicks guard Trey Burke finished second and third, respectively, in G League MVP voting.

Knicks Notes: Burke, Jack, Ntilikina, Fizdale

Trey Burke has worked on shedding the “draft bust” label this season in the Knicks organization, starting with a strong G League season and now as the team’s primary point guard. In 34 games (7 starts), Burke has averaged 12.6 PPG and 4.5 APG while seeing the court for 20.9 minutes per contest.

Burke took part in a Q&A with Steve Serby of the New York Post to discuss his career rebirth, on-court mentality, and impressions of New York. Burke discussed his career at length, revealing that he lost confidence after the Jazz took Dante Exum in the 2014 NBA Draft, was frustrated by his scarce playing time in Washington, and took a two-week break from basketball that helped him rediscover his love for the game.

“No, no, I never thought about that,” Burke said of considering retirement. “I did start losing love for the game, which was scary, because it never really happened. That’s when I gave myself some time away from the game as well, gave myself about two weeks away from it, and I worked harder than I ever worked in my life last summer. And it feels good to be reaping some of the results right now. That’s how I know the best is yet to come, ’cause I plan on having another summer as great as last one.”

Check out more Knicks notes below:

  • Jarrett Jack, the Knicks‘ veteran point guard who has been on the bench since the All-Star break, has found his way back into some games recently. Fred Kerber of the New York Post relays Jack’s appreciation for losing streaks and how they shape a team. “But can you do that when stuff isn’t going your way and what shows where your true character lies?” Jack said. “People might think I’m crazy, but I love the losing streaks and the downside of the season because it really shows who you are, collectively, individually.”
  • The Knicks have stressed the importance of maintaining and building strength to rookie Frank Ntilikina. Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that head coach Jeff Hornacek is pleased with Ntilikina’s physical progression and how it is positively helping his performance.
  • As we relayed earlier, Heat guard Dwyane Wade advocated for David Fizdale as a potential head coaching candidate for the Knicks if the organization parts ways with Hornacek.

Knicks Notes: Van Gundy, Hernangomez, Thomas, Burke

Jeff Van Gundy has been mentioned as a possible candidate if the Knicks make a coaching change, but his brother wonders how serious their interest is, relays Al Iannazzone of Newsday.

After his Pistons defeated New York Saturday, head coach Stan Van Gundy noted that the organization has only recently begun to acknowledge Jeff on the jumbotron when he comes to town to broadcast its games. He coached the Knicks for nearly seven seasons and took them to the NBA Finals in 1999. Stan compares Jeff’s situation to Patrick Ewing‘s.

“I used to walk in here and Patrick would be sitting next to me on the bench [as an assistant in Orlando] and they would put him up on the jumbotron and everyone would clap and then he could never get an interview for any freakin’ job they had,” Stan said. “That’s sort of fake appreciation in my opinion. I don’t know what it is in Jeff’s case. If it’s genuine appreciation then that’s great. If it’s just a way for them to appease their fans, a little bit different.”

There’s more today out of New York:

  • The Knicks will regret trading young center Willy Hernangomez for a pair of second-round picks, Iannazzone writes in a separate story. Hernangomez got a measure of revenge this week with 12 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes against his former team. “He’s been so much better,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “What I’ve talked to him about is the team part. Everybody views player development as the shot, the post move, the one-on-one ‘iso’ play. None of that matters if the team can’t function when you’re out there.”
  • Another 50-loss season is taking its toll on Lance Thomas, notes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Thomas, who was acquired in a January 2015 trade, has been with the Knicks longer than anyone on the current roster. He’s also a native New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn. “I hate losing,’’ he said after Saturday’s game. “Anyone who has God-given ability to make it to this level hates losing. Myself being the long-tenured Knick here, I’ve been part of some losing teams and it doesn’t sit well with me. I want to find a way to turn it around. I lose sleep when we lose.”
  • Trey Burke‘s connections with Knicks GM Scott Perry helped him earn another shot at the NBA, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Perry is a Detroit native and former assistant coach at the University of Michigan, where Burke played two seasons. They bonded over their Michigan connections while Burke was preparing for the 2013 draft and Perry was an executive in Orlando, so Burke reached out to him earlier this season when he was looking for a G League contract. “I knew that he would give me a fair shot, fair opportunity to reinvent myself,” Burke said, “to come in and go through a process where I would have an opportunity to play consistent minutes at the highest level.”

Knicks Notes: Burke, O’Quinn, Kanter, Baker

In his second start with the Knicks on Monday night, Trey Burke did something no Knicks point guard has done in nearly 13 years. The former lottery pick posted 42 points and 12 assists, the first Knick to post at least 40 points and 10 assists in one game since Stephon Marbury on March 29, 2005.

Burke has played well for New York since he was plucked from the G League, averaging 11.1 PPG and 3.7 APG. The 25-year-old, whose deal with the Knicks includes a non-guaranteed salary for 2018/19, feels he has been provided with an opportunity to showcase his ability this year in a way that has not been available since his rookie campaign, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

“I think this is the first time since my rookie season where I’m in a situation where I can play extended minutes, I can play through mistakes,” Burke said. “I don’t make one or two mistakes and I’m snatched out of the game.” 

Marc Berman of the New York Post relays that Burke, who changed his hairstyle to braids, resembles his hero, Allen Iverson, both aesthetically and on the court. Burke admits he patterns himself after the Hall-of-Famer but knows he has more work to do.

“I got a long way to go,” Burke said. “I know that. AI is a goal. Pound for pound, one of the greatest to ever play. I want to get there one day. I believe it.”

Check out more Knicks notes below:

  • Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn was caught on camera yelling at head coach Jeff Hornacek during the team’s matchup against the Wolves last Friday. Hornacek has downplayed the incident and O’Quinn said he overreacted, per ESPN. “I’d be the first one to say that my wrong reaction was the wrong one,” O’Quinn said. “I shouldn’t have come back. Just because somebody is yelling at me, I shouldn’t yell back. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
  • With a player option decision and possible foray into free agency looming, Knicks center Enes Kanter will hire new representation, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. The agent in question, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, is highly regarded and Kanter said he wants to make more money off the court, which has been an issue due to his highly publicized international conflict with his native Turkey.
  • As we relayed last week, Knicks point guard Ron Baker is out of his sling and is progressing with his rehab.

Knicks Notes: O’Quinn, Ntilikina, Mudiay, Burke

Kyle O’Quinn is the latest Knicks center to have a dispute with coach Jeff Hornacek, although the reason hasn’t been explained, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks canceled Saturday’s practice, so reporters weren’t able to find out more about the incident, which happened when O’Quinn was removed from Friday’s game. Q’Quinn appeared to be making angry comments toward Hornacek on the bench, possibly related to a defensive mistake.

Veteran center Joakim Noah got into a heated exchange with Hornacek at a practice in February and has been on a leave of absence ever since. Berman notes that Q’Quinn should be grateful to Hornacek, who played a large role in New York’s decision to keep him and trade Willy Hernangomez to Charlotte. O’Quinn can opt out of his nearly $4.26MM contract for next season and test the free agent market this summer.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • It’s time to insert rookie Frank Ntilikina into the starting lineup and see if he can handle the responsibilities that come with it, contends Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Hornacek may have been considering that move on Friday when he used Ntilikina and Trey Burke to start the third quarter in place of Emmanuel Mudiay and Courtney Lee, who started the game. “The coach knows that’s his job to do all that stuff,” Ntilikina said when asked about being a starter. “Us as players, our job is just to be ready when he calls our name.”
  • Mudiay may be squandering his chance in New York, Iannazzone adds in the same story. The seventh player taken in the 2015 draft was considered a bust in Denver, but got a second chance with the Knicks after a deadline-day trade. He was handed the starting point guard job, but is falling out of favor and played less than five minutes Friday. Mudiay said Hornacek didn’t provide an explanation about his reduced role. “That’s on him,” Mudiay said. “Whatever he wants to do. That’s out of my control.”
  • Burke credits the time he spent as a backup to John Wall in Washington last season with helping him revive his career, Iannazzone relays in a separate piece. Burke was able to watch one of the NBA’s top point guards up close and adopted much of Wall’s approach to the game. “His motor, the way he attacked each and every game, it was like he never gasped for air,” Burke said. “His approach night in and night out and just the way he took it to every guard. It didn’t matter if it was a lower-tier guard or if it was a superstar guard, he played the same way.”

Knicks Notes: Mudiay, Porzingis, Jackson, Knox

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek pulled struggling point guard Emmanuel Mudiay from Friday night’s game against the Timberwolves, citing his performance. In Mudiay’s place, Hornacek tried an all point guard backcourt with Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina, which worked out well.

Earlier this week, Hornacek said he was hesitant to pull Mudiay from the starting lineup, despite his struggles since the All-Star break. While no permanent decision has been made, the Hornacek liked how the Burke and Ntilikina lineup played, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

“We haven’t thought about that game yet,’’ Hornacek said. “I liked what those two guys [Burke and Ntilikina] did tonight. Emmanuel may not have had it tonight, but we’ll see.’’

Mudiay admitted that sitting for the most of the game was surprising but he was happy to see his teammates play well.

“Yeah [I was surprised], but at the same time I wasn’t going to be a sore loser about it,’’ Mudiay said. “I was going to cheer my teammates on. Frank, Trey and Tim had it going. We got back in the game after starting out a little slow.”

Check out more Knicks notes below:

  • In a separate story, Berman caught up with Dr. Carlon Colker, who is working with injured big man Kristaps Porzingis, said the 7’3″ Latvian will be better than ever once he returns. “He’ll be better than ever. He’s going to blow people away,” Colker said. “If you’re around people who know what they’re doing, it’s not the end of the world. It’s the end of the world if you have the wrong people around you.”
  • Berman also caught up with Knicks veteran Jarrett Jack, who feels that his former coach with the Warriors, Mark Jackson, deserves to be considered for any head coaching role. Jackson’s name has come up as a possibility for the Knicks if the team decides to move on from Hornacek. “I do believe and I am surprised he hasn’t been back in the league,’’ Jack said. “I think one thing you judge people on is the body of work in front of them. If you look at the body of work — what he did three years there — I think he matches up with any coach anywhere. I’m not saying you should hire him here, but he should be considered for any job. I think he’s got the wherewithal to execute no matter what the situation.”
  • Hornacek told reporters earlier this week that small forward is a position of need for the Knicks this offseason. With that said, sources within the organization view Kentucky’s Kevin Knox as a potential draft target, ESPN’s Ian Begley tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Casey, Smart, Fultz

Emmanuel Mudiay, who turned 22 on Monday, has struggled in his last two games as the Knicks‘ starting point guard, making just two of 16 shots in losses to the Clippers and Kings. Nonetheless, head coach Jeff Hornacek plans to keep Mudiay in the starting lineup for now, per Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Mudiay was benched down the stretch on Monday in favor of Trey Burke, but the Knicks don’t intend to insert Burke – or rookie Frank Ntilikina – into the starting five. While that may change in the coming weeks, it doesn’t sound like Hornacek views it as a priority to get Ntilikina some starting experience down the stretch.

“I’m not sure it matters a whole lot,” said the Knicks’ head coach. “I think the more minutes is helpful. Just because we start someone this year at the end doesn’t mean that’s who’s starting next year. That’s meaningless. It’s the summer of work, what we see the rest of the year, how the guys go in the summer and come back the next year and what they work on. As long as we get [Ntilikina] minutes and keep getting him experiences, I think that’s good.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • With the Raptors holding the top spot in the Eastern Conference after overhauling their offense in the offseason, Dwane Casey is receiving some buzz for Coach of the Year. Seerat Sohi of SBNation.com describes how the franchise put its trust in Casey to remake the Raptors without a rebuild, while Lee Jenkins of SI.com delivers an in-depth profile of the veteran coach.
  • The NBA announced today that Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been fined $15K for publicly criticizing the officiating following Saturday’s loss to Houston. Smart – whose comments were fairly tame as far as criticisms go – turns 24 today, making that $15K fine the strong favorite to be his worst birthday gift this year.
  • While the Sixers have had a solid season, the team could use Markelle Fultz‘s playmaking and ball-handling ability, writes David Murphy of Philly.com. A team source tells Jon Johnson of 94WIP (Twitter link) that there’s still no plan for Fultz to return to the lineup anytime soon, unsurprisingly.

Knicks Notes: Burke, Williams, Noah, Kanter

Knicks guard Trey Burke is crediting renewed religious faith not only for his improved play, but for the path that led him to New York, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Burke, who scored 26 points for the second straight game Saturday, said he had an offer from the Thunder this summer, but opted for a G League contract with the Knicks’ Westchester affiliate.

“I bumped heads with my agent this summer because he didn’t understand [the decision to sign a G-League deal with the Knicks],” Burke recalled. “He pretty much called me and said, ‘OKC tomorrow for training camp. I’m going to call them back right now and say yeah, right?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘I want to go to New York. And I wanted to do that for the Lord. … I wanted to come to New York because I feel like this is a city where I can help a lot of people.”

His spiritual commitment also led Burke to make lifestyle changes that he says have helped him on the court. He got married over the summer, cut out frequent partying and has become more focused on basketball than ever before. He has a minimum-salary contract for next year with a $100K guarantee effective July 10 and a $400K guarantee on the first day of the season.

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • Troy Williams is doing his best to make the Knicks want to keep him on their roster, notes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Signed Wednesday to a 10-day contract, Williams had 14 points in 12 minutes Saturday. Williams said seven teams contacted his agent after he was waived by the Rockets last week, and the final choice came down to the Knicks or Trail Blazers.
  • As Joakim Noah‘s leave of absence drags on, a former college teammate is coming to his defense, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Celtics big man Al Horford hasn’t lost faith in Noah, who has played just seven games this season and hasn’t been with the team since an altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek at a January 24 practice. “I think Joakim can help any team,” Horford said. “I know he’s had a rough patch with injuries and things like that, but when he’s healthy, he’s as good as they come. And just his presence on a team, and what he brings defensively, he’s just about the right things.”
  • Enes Kanter hasn’t decided whether to exercise his option on an $18.6MM salary for next season, but he repeated his desire to stay in New York after Saturday’s game, relays Al Iannazzone of Newsday. The seventh-year center is averaging 14.2 points and 10.7 rebounds in his first season with the Knicks. “I’m not saying I’m opting in or opting out,” Kanter said. “I’m going to focus on this season, finish this season. I don’t even have an agent yet. I’ll get an agent first and talk to him about [it]. My thing right now it would be selfish for me to just say I’ll do this, I’ll do that. I’m going to finish this season right, have fun with my teammates and start thinking about the contract stuff.”