Why the Knicks were winners at the trade deadline

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The NBA trade deadline officially came and went Thursday, and it certainly did not disappoint as there was a record amount of activity around the league, according to ESPN’s Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski:

Despite all these trades, the New York Knicks stayed relatively quiet during the trade deadline. They were involved in one minor three-team trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers that sent veteran point guard George Hill to Philadelphia. The Knicks parted ways with guard Austin Rivers, who was sent to Oklahoma City, and forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who was sent to Philadelphia, in exchange for guard Terrance Ferguson, 7-foot big man Vincent Poirier, and a pair of second-round picks.

Both players should not make much of an impact with the team and probably will rarely even seen the court barring injuries. It has also been reported by Wojnarowski that the Knicks are planning to waive Poirier, so that means they will have an open roster spot they need to fill.

So, all in all, it was a quiet trade deadline for the Knicks. They were interested in a number of players and even made offers to a few, but in the end, the asking prices were too much, and the front office did not want to ruin the strong chemistry of the current group.

Some Knicks fans are upset the team did not make more moves and felt like this was a missed opportunity to gain assets at the very least. I’m here to tell you why the approach that the team took is not a bad one and why they should be considered winners despite their lack of activity.

What has been one of the biggest reasons for the agony and pain that being a Knicks fan has come with for the better part of the last 20 years? It’s that the Knicks too often get desperate and throw away all their assets for a quick fix that ends up not fixing much of anything. Now, I’m not saying the Knicks were in position to make a move that big during this trade deadline, but apparently, teams were asking a lot for the players the Knicks were interested in acquiring.

The fact that the front office showed discipline and patience and did not rush to make any irrational decisions out of desperation is a huge positive. Who’s to say that the previous regimes would have done the same thing? Because history says otherwise. They were more likely to (over)pay up and sacrifice key parts of the future in order to bring in a guy who they think would take the team to the next level when really it ends up setting the team back. Knicks fans should be thrilled that the team has a front office in place that finally seems to get it.

Another reason to be satisfied with the Knicks’ approach is because of a fact I pointed out earlier, which is that they maintained the chemistry of the current rotation. There is no doubt that this team’s chemistry is at an all-time high, as they play hard, unselfish basketball every game and play for each other. We see the camaraderie and positive relationships that the players have with one another time and time again. It is clear that this group enjoys being around each other, and that is translating to winning basketball being played on the court.

Disrupting that by making a trade to acquire a star player could’ve negatively affected that chemistry in a big way, and it could’ve had real consequences on the court as well. That’s not to say the Knicks are set to win a championship with their current roster, but they are having fun and are very much in the playoff hunt, so why would you want to risk jeopardizing that? This season was supposed to be about establishing a culture and developing the young guys anyway, so continue to focus on that while seeing if you can get into the playoffs, then in the offseason, you can worry about plugging holes and improving the roster.

And finally, I understand the argument that the Knicks did not take advantage of their resources and add enough assets at the deadline. That is true, and it is the one area where I would’ve liked to see them maybe be more involved in, as they could have taken on bad contracts for young players and/or more draft picks. But the fact that they didn’t is not the end of the world. The Knicks did add a pair of second-round picks, which is something, but this wasn’t the only chance they had to add assets.

The Knicks will be entering this offseason with loads of cap space, and as usual, there will be plenty of teams looking to get out of bad contracts. The Knicks will have lots more opportunities to gain assets over the summer if they so choose. Plus, if they brought in a guy before the deadline, once again, they would’ve had to worry about fitting them into the rotation somehow.

This trade deadline may have been disappointing for some Knicks fans who wanted to see a guy like Lonzo Ball in orange and blue, but take a deep breath and focus on the big picture. I wanted Ball too, but he didn’t get traded to any team, so that means he’ll be very much in play this offseason since we know he’s unlikely to re-sign with New Orleans. The Knicks won’t have to give up assets for him either, since he’ll be a restricted free agent.

So relax, my fellow Knicks fans. We finally have a competent front office and a fun and surprisingly good team to root for this season. Let’s ride them out the rest of the way and see if they can make the playoffs. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Take it all in. And then we’ll worry about improving the team over the summer.

Knicks trade Rivers, Brazdeikis in 3-way deal with Thunder, 76ers

New York Knicks, Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers knew his days with the New York Knicks were already numbered upon Derrick Rose’s arrival.

As expected, the Knicks traded Rivers to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a three-way deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, as first reported by ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

Rivers first hinted about a trade for him last month he fell out of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.

“They had told me after the game [Feb. 7 versus the Heat] that they were bringing Derrick in,” Rivers said. “I had already kind of heard stuff even before the season started that he was going to be coming here. My whole thing is, control what I can control. When they had told me he was coming, I said ‘OK,’ and obviously, there’s been stuff about me being moved to other places. With all this kind of up in the air right now, my thing is, as long as I’m a Knick, just to be professional. I don’t know what can happen today or tomorrow or next week or the week after that. Every day that I’m here I’m always going to be all in.”

The Knicks got Terrance Ferguson, a former Thunder first-round pick in 2017, in return. New York also sent Ignas Brazdeikis to Philadelphia and picked up Vincent Poirier and two future second-round picks.

Drummond to the Knicks?

Meanwhile, Kevin O’ Connor of The Ringer reported that the Knicks are a serious landing spot for Andre Drummond on Wednesday night. The Cleveland Cavaliers are still trying to find a trade for Drummond, a former two-time All-star and a four-time rebounding leader.

The Knicks only need $13.7 million in salary to trade for Drummond.

But a better scenario for the Knicks is if Drummond is bought out, they can lure him a multi-year deal which he will likely prefer than what contenders Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers can offer.

In this scenario, the Knicks can offer Drummond a pro-rated four-year, $64-million deal, according to The Athletic’s front office insider and former Memphis Grizzlies executive John Hollinger.

Drummond is a Mount Vernon native but considers Middletown, Connecticut, as his home, which is only a 15-minute drive from New Britain, Connecticut, where Tom Thibodeau hails.

Thibodeau coached Drummond in the 2014 FIBA World Cup as an assistant coach of the Team USA that won the gold.

Drummond also played for Thibodeau’s good friend, Jim Calhoun, in college. Thibodeau used to visit Calhoun’s practices in the Northeast. Drummond considers his UConn coach as one of his best friends.

The Knicks can also pivot to another asset accumulation move as a third team to use their $15 million cap space.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks could cut veterans, make space for G League standouts

The New York Knicks’ roster should be in for some big changes this offseason. The Knicks filled out their team last summer with veteran signings. The team has strategized the past year to have cap flexibility going forward, and it could lead to major shifts in the roster next season.

No one has stood out

The only player that the Knicks acquired last summer who exceeded expectations was Marcus Morris Sr., who the Knicks wisely traded at the deadline for a first-round pick.

That isn’t to say some of the Knicks’ veterans haven’t had good spurts of contribution. Moe Harkless has impressed with his defense in his brief time with the Knicks, though he will be a free agent this summer. Elfrid Payton has certainly been a great playmaker, and Taj Gibson’s leadership has been an asset. All that said, no one is safe.

Among the Knicks veterans, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, and Wayne Ellington all have team options next season. If the Knicks were to decline all of them, they would save roughly 34 million in cap space. The writing is on the wall.

Now, assuming Portis, Gibson, Ellington, and Harkless all leave next summer, that opens up a lot of roster spots and a lot of minutes. Some of those spots will be taken by the Knicks 2020 draft picks, and potential free agent signings. They can also be taken by the Knicks’ G League standouts.

The Big 3

It’s been hard for the New York Knicks to properly allocate minutes to all of their young players. While some players like Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier have been stuck on the Knicks’ bench, others have gotten significant playing time with the team’s G League affiliate. The 3 who have stood out are forward Ignas Brazdeikis, guard Lamar Peters, and big man Kenny Wooten.

Ignas Brazdeikis

Brazdeikis will most likely get the first crack at the rotation, as he was the Knicks 2nd round pick in 2019. Brazdeikis has lit up the G League, averaging 20.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. His offensive versatility is something the Knicks are severely lacking from their wing players.

Lamar Peters

Lamar Peters has been a jolt of offense for the Westchester Knicks. The shifty, undrafted rookie out of Mississippi State has posted just under 18 points per game. His outside shooting has been impressive: 40% from 3. Peters could find himself as a scorer off the bench for the Knicks next season.

Kenny Wooten

While he may not score much, Kenny Wooten may have the most highlight-reel plays of the 3. The undrafted center is a force of nature defending the paint. He averages a whopping 3.6 blocks per game in the G League and could find himself backing up Mitchell Robinson in the future.

Plan Going Forward

It remains to be seen how the Knicks will mold their roster for next season. Most of the veterans on the team seem like obvious cap casualties. The Knicks have been able to develop talent in the G League that definitely deserves a look in the NBA. Bringing up young guys like Brazdeikis, Peters, and Wooten would certainly help drive some competition for roster spots.

New York Knicks’ Ignas Brazdeikis tore up the G League

New York Knicks, Ignas Brazdeikis

New York Knicks’ rookie Ignas Brazdeikis has left his mark on the NBA’s G-League. It’s been hard for the New York Knicks to find bright spots in yet another frustrating season, but Brazdeikis has been one of them. Let’s look at how Iggy has been able to put up big numbers at just 21 years old.

Brazdeikis is a dynamic scorer.

Iggy is averaging 20.9 points per game for the Westchester Knicks. He is currently the 14th highest scorer in the entire G League. Of the top 15 scorers, he is just one of two players under the age of 22. So how has he been able to generate so much offense?

He’s great at creating space.

Brazdeikis’ scouting report from nbadraft.net says,

“A natural scorer, very aggressive in finding ways to get points … Has elite touch on his drives … Has the NBA-coveted ability to create his own shot … Makes the most of his natural athletic gifts.”

All of those abilities have translated to the G League. Brazdeikis has been able to take guys off of the dribble and generate instant offense like a seasoned pro.

He’s also taken great strides as a playmaker. Brazdeikis was averaging 1.6 assists per game from November-December. In January-February, he bumped that number up to 4.1 assists per game.

Using his combination of high basketball IQ and lengthy wingspan, Brazdeikis has become a multi-threat weapon on offense. Even more importantly, he’s been effective as both an isolation scorer and a spot-up shooter. He thrives with and without the ball.

Iggy still has a long way to go on defense, but there’s hope. He’s been an incredibly willing learner, and his 6’9 wingspan can help him become a disruptive defender in the future.

Despite being drafted by a team with no playoff hopes and a logjam of playing time, Iggy has benefited from being able to play 33.5 minutes per game in the G League. Perhaps this is a lesson for the Knicks: Letting young players play through their mistakes and learn is actually good for their development.

Hopefully, Iggy gets a chance to shine with Knicks soon.

New York Knicks were planning on giving Ignas Brazdeikis minutes

New York Knicks, Ignas Brazdeikis

If the season was still going on, the New York Knicks had a plan.  They were planning on giving minutes to Ignas ‘Iggy’ Brazdeikis at the end of the year.

More of these speculations are to come out for the Knicks but this one is frustrating.  Before COVID-19 brought a halt to the season, Iggy played 24 games for the Knicks G-league affiliate in Westchester.  He’s averaging 20.9 points per while shooting .501% from the field in 33.5 minutes.  Iggy also averages 7.2 total boards with 3.1 assists.

Iggy was playing with extreme confidence in Westchester.  He’s able to be aggressive with taking his defender to the hoop with the ability to hit the pull-up jumper.  Iggy deserves a shot when, and if, the season resumes.

The Knicks are in a rebuild and youth movement.  Fans were begging that the team made moves at the deadline to make room for him, Kenny Wooten and even Lamar Peters.  However, that wasn’t the case.

Interim head coach Mike Miller insisted on playing the veterans despite being out of playoff contention.  It makes sense he would, trying to save his job.  But he most likely won’t return next season.

Iggy would have been a prime candidate to take minutes away from second-year lottery pick Kevin Knox.  Knox had an horrific start to the year but started turning the corner 2 weeks ago.  His stats weren’t anything eye-popping but it was the little things that got Knicks fans saying ‘finally’.  It just so happens that the season was suspended when Knox started playing well.

With the season still in question, giving minutes to two, or three, Westchester stand outs should happen.  The New York Knicks need to look at all areas of their youth and give them a fair chance.  A hidden gem like Iggy is already playing at an NBA level and deserves it.

New York Knicks need to give Iggy a chance ASAP

New York Knicks, Ignas Brazdeikis

The New York Knicks may have another hidden gem on their hands in the G-league. Ignas ‘Iggy’ Brazdeikis is making waves throughout the Knicks community.

In last year’s draft, Iggy was selected with the 47th overall pick by the Sacramento Kings then traded to the Knicks.

This season for the Westchester Knicks Brazdeikis is averaging 21.7, 7.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 34.8 minutes.  Those type of stats should give him a shot in the association.  Yes, it’s the G-league but he’s been having some eye-opening performance that deserves a call-up.

The other night in a Westchester victory, he had 34 points on 13-19 from the field.  He nailed 6 3-pointers and had 5 assists.  With that performance, it’s the 12th time Iggy led the team in scoring and 5th game with 30 points or more.  It’s also the 7th time he had 5 or more assists while also setting a career-high in 3-pointers made, 6.

Now Knicks fans don’t make personnel decisions, they wish they did.  And in this instance, if they could, Iggy would be the first to be called up.  His confidence in the G-league is flourishing.  It’s similar hype that Kevin Knox got in Las Vegas’ summer league his rookie year.

Knox hasn’t had any stints in the G-league but he most certainly should be there and Iggy shouldn’t.  Iggy is showing that he has the skills and capabilities to be a NBA player, unlike Knox currently.  This isn’t a knock on Knox but he needs time in Westchester to regain his confidence because it’s nowhere to be found.

Rosters decisions or buyouts will need to occur for the New York Knicks to bring up Iggy full-time.  This is something that incoming president Leon Rose needs to look at and decide quickly.  This is the time to experiment with all G-League players and young ones on the current roster.

The New York Knicks aren’t developing their youth

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks have had many organizational issues over the last decade. These include front office mismanagement, a revolving door at head coach, and an inability to develop young players. The Knicks are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference at 20 games below .500. They are in line to finish as the 6th worst team in the NBA. Not good enough to make the playoffs, not bad enough to have great lottery odds. We’ve seen this story before.

The Knicks are neglecting their draft picks.

Take Kevin Knox, the 8th overall pick of the 2018 draft as an example. In 2018, Playing alongside a barren roster, Knox managed to earn NBA Rookie of the month for December and a spot in the Rising Stars Game.

What is Knox up to in his 2nd season? He is currently averaging  18.4 minutes per game, 28th among sophomores. You read that correctly. The 8th overall pick from a year ago is 28th in minutes played amongst his draft class peers.

When the Knicks traded Marcus Morris at the deadline, it was an opportunity for younger players to take his minutes. In the three games since Morris has been traded, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Dennis Smith rank 9th, 10th, and 11th on the team in minutes per game, respectively. Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson have been DNPs. Iggy Brazdeikis and Kenny Wooten are stuck in the G League. Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington have seen more minutes in those games.

With this roster, development is far more critical than a few wins. Knicks fans don’t want to see Reggie Bullock and Elfrid Payton lead the team to victory a few times a month. They want to see the “Baby Knicks” get playing time. They want to see a youth movement.

New York Knicks Kevin Knox might have to visit the G-League

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

The New York Knicks tough decisions aren’t over.  Throughout this season, one player has taken a substantial step backwards in their game.  Kevin Knox is teetering on the ‘bust’ status.

Now, before everyone starts to get all up in the tizzy, he’s teetering.  He’s not fully a bust, yet.  The Knicks drafted Knox out of Kentucky and at the time, fans thought it was a good pick.  These high school highlights would get any fan excited.

Maybe the pick was a little reach.  But, after a strong combine Knox really appeared on teams radar.  Then, he was 19-years-old, tremendous upside, lanky and still growing.  Why not take a chance on the kid and performed great in the NCAA tournament.

Knox under-performed his rookie year but did get a lot of minutes to work on his game.  His shooting percentage was one of the worst in the league for rookies, .370, and averaged 12.8 points in 28.8 minutes.  While his rookie year wasn’t spectacular, there was still hope.  This off-season the hope continued with his off-season progress, or so we thought.

After 54 games, the hope on Knox turning it around is starting to dwindle.  Knox has been unbelievably bad this season.  It doesn’t help that his minutes decreased from the start after all the free-agent signings.  But, even when Knox gets time he doesn’t seem comfortable out there.

Knox seems lost out there for the Knicks.  Everything about his game screams laziness, most of the time.  He hasn’t looked good all season.  There has been some spurts when he flashes the lane for a dunk or alley-oop but that’s it.

Over the past 9 games, Knox is averaging 4.2 points in 15 minutes per.  The best thing for Knox to get his confidence back would be to take a stint with the Knicks G-League team.  Ignas Brazdeikis should be given a chance as he’s killing it for Westchester.

While getting less minutes doesn’t help, it may be what’s best for Knox.  The New York Knicks need to figure what to do with Knox as this season because his current play is only hurting his growth as a professional.

It’s time for the New York Knicks to only play the young guys

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The 2019-20 New York Knicks season has quickly gone down the drain.  It began with a lot of optimism of making the final few playoff spots.  Now sitting 7 games out of the the 8th seed, it appears the season has gotten out of hand, again.

While all the rumors of trading Marcus Morris, Dennis Smith Jr. and Bobby Portis are circulating, it’s nice to hear Morris wanting to be with the Knicks long-term.  He’s 30-years old and isn’t in the long-term plans for the organization.

However, the Knicks need a change and going all young is the way to go.  Not playing some of the younger players is putting a bad taste in the fans mouths.

Kevin Knox is a prime example.  Knox has severely underachieved this season.  All his stats are down from his rookie campaign along with his confidence.  Knox put the work in this off-season to improve and it was seen to begin the year and it had dwindled away with all other aspects of his game.  For him to be apart of the future plans, he needs a significant increase in minutes.

The future players consist of RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle.  For the most past, Randle will be in the Knicks plans for the next two-years.

Others that should be in the future plans are Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier and Elfrid Payton.  Even players down in the G-League like Kenny Wooten Jr., Lamar Peters and Ignas Brazdeikis, who has been on the roster, need a chance to showcase their skills.  There could be a hidden gem with one of those 3 players to contribute to the Knicks young future.

It’s time for the New York Knicks to go all-in on playing, developing and growing their youthful future.

New York Knicks: Is it finally time for Ignas Brazdeikis to shine?

New York Knicks, Ignas Brazdeikis

Even though the Westchester Knicks lost a close game on Monday, G League and NBA fans alike could not help but be excited by what they saw out of rookie forward, Ignas Brazdeikis.

Brazdeikis, a second-round pick out of the University of Michigan, has impressed early on in his career. His real coming-out party happened on Monday when Brazdeikis exploded, scoring 36 points, with six rebounds and two steals.

On Friday, less than a week after his breakout, Brazdeikis was recalled to the NBA Knicks.

New York Knicks coach David Fizdale spoke on Brazdeikis, following his performance on Monday.

“I commend [GM] Scott Perry and the staff. I didn’t know anything about Iggy because I watch very little college basketball and they said “You know if we get this kid right here we may have a player,” Fizdale explained. “So I got to the film that night and immediately fell in love with him. It’s easy to root for Iggy. He know how to play he’s tough as nails, he’s super crafty.”

Brazdeikis has played a total of four games with Westchester. In his other three games, Brazdeikis has averaged only 12 points per game and shot 31 percent from the field.

The Knicks need to help Ignas develop:

In Brazdeikis’ debut, he shot just under 50 percent and scored 15 points. In his first two games, Brazdeikis averaged 25.5 points per game and was very efficient, scoring on 22 of his 41 field goal attempts.

In his last two games, Brazdeikis has only 10.5 points per game and has only converted on 25 percent of his field goals.

In Wednesday’s game against the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons G-League affiliate, Brazdeikis, was matched up against first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya. Brazdeikis struggled with Doumboya’s length, but he did show the ability to create his shot. The shots were not falling, however, as he went 4 of 14 from the field. One of those looks ended with a four-point play. The four-point play gave Westchester a second-half lead.

Even though Brazdeikis’ shooting numbers may be dipping, he is improving in other areas. For example, Brazdeikis had 11 rebounds in his last game after only having 2 in his first game. Brazdeikis has averaged seven rebounds per game in the G League. If you exclude his debut, he has averaged 8.7 rebounds per game.

Brazdeikis’ rebounding prowess has been a surprise addition to his skillset. In college, Brazdeikis only averaged 5.4 rebounds per game.

Brazdeikis also averages 1.25 steals per game and 0.5 blocks per game thus far.

While it may seem Brazdeikis is inconsistent, he is a rookie who is developing his game for success at the next level. His scoring instinct and innate ability to find his shot also, to his new commitment to rebounding, were always going to make it challenging to keep Brazdeikis down in Westchester for an extended period.