Knicks add more shooting, sign Alec Burks to 1-yr deal

The New York Knicks continue to operate with the future in mind.

As the rest of the league gave out massive contracts to role players, the Knicks opted to dole out a one-year, 6 million deal to veteran guard Alec Burks according to multiple reports.

Burks will be reunited with Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant and assistant general manager Walter Perrin, who selected him as the 12th overall pick back in 2011 with the Utah Jazz.

Burks worked closely with Bryant, who came aboard in his sophomore season as a player development coach under then Jazz coach Ty Corbin.

He played with the Jazz until 2018 and has bounced to four different teams since then.

Burks will bring in veteran leadership and much-needed shooting to the Knicks, his sixth team.

Burks split his time with the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers last season. He hit a solid 42 percent of his threes in 18 games with the 76ers while he had a 38-percent three-point clip with the Warriors.

The Knicks now have 12 players under contract and still have over $30 million in cap space.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Report: Knicks pursue Gordon Hayward, Malik Beasley

After a thorough house cleaning that opened up a $40 million cap space, the New York Knicks have reportedly begun shopping.

Marc Stein of the New York Times doubled down on The Ringer’s earlier report of the Knicks’ interest in Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Hayward has declined his $34 million player option and will enter free agency.

Aside from having the cap space, the Knicks have Johnnie Bryant credited for Hayward’s development in Utah.

ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks told Empire Sports Media that Hayward could fetch around $20-25 million per in the free agency market.

Paying Hayward in that range will likely remove the Knicks from contention in Russell Westbrook’s sweepstakes.

Meanwhile, CBS’ Sam Quinn has posited that the Celtics could execute a sign-and-trade deal wherein they would have to attach an asset to create a hefty trade exception.

Another target

According to Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, the Knicks are also among the interested teams for Minnesota Timberwolves’ combo guard Malik Beasley.

Beasley, who has emerged as a solid starter since the Timberwolves acquired him in the February trade deadline, has become expendable after selecting Anthony Edwards as the top overall pick on Wednesday’s NBA Draft.

Beasley averaged 20.7 points on a spectacular 42.6 percent shooting beyond the arc in 14 games with the Timberwolves. However, legal troubles have marred his otherwise impressive stay in Minnesota.

Beasley is facing charges of fifth-degree drug possession and threats of violence after his arrest in September. Hennepin County officials have also recently challenged his parental rights.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Kevin O’Connor: Knicks interested in Celtics’ Gordon Hayward

It appears the New York Knicks are trying to acquire not only one but two stars in what is shaping out to be a quick rebuild under new team president Leon Rose.

On the heels of multiple reports coming out from New York that the Knicks have weighed on trading for Houston Rockets’ star Russell Westbrook, another star looms on the horizon.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer came out with another bombshell: the Knicks are interested in Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward.

“Gordon Hayward, who obviously — there’s already been rumors we’ve heard about maybe him wanting to move on. The Knicks are interested, I’ve heard…,” O’Connor said on The Ringer NBA Show The Mismatch.

Earlier this month, O’Connor’s colleague at The Ringer, Ryen Rusillo, posited on Bill Simmon’s podcast that Hayward is mulling opting out and entering the free agency bereft of superstars. If he opts out, he will become the most prominent name out there, with Toronto Raptors’ free agent Fred Van Vleet not far behind.

“I’ve heard Gordon Hayward does want out, but I don’t know if he’s gonna get the money. He’s not opting out of that huge number unless he knows he’s getting the deal.”

The 30-yeard old Hayward has a $34.1 million player option but maybe looking for long-term security after his stint with the Celtics have been defined by injuries.

The Knicks will still have a cap space to offer Hayward even if they absorb the remaining massive $132.7 million left in Westbrook’s original five-year contract.

Hayward averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 52 games for the Celtics last season.

The lure of New York for Hayward has become brighter after Johnnie Bryant, the former Utah Jazz assistant coach, joined the Knicks. Bryant is credited for Hayward’s development into an All-Star while he was in Utah.

Hayward has also been linked to Indiana Pacers in a potential trade for center Myles Turner.

Hayward’s future in Boston has become murky after O’Connor reported in his Mock Draft that the Celtics are planning to reroute their three draft picks for New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday.

“The Celtics have offered up their three first-round picks (nos. 14, 26, and 30) in trades to try and move into the lottery, but multiple league sources say they intend to reroute that pick to the Pelicans in exchange for Jrue Holiday. If Boston is able to acquire the necessary assets, it’d still need to add salaries to make a deal work. Could that mean Gordon Hayward or Kemba Walker could be on the move?” O’Connor wrote.

The league’s transaction window is expected to be open beginning Monday.

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‘We have great teachers’: How the Knicks are laying the foundation of a rebuild

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The New York Knicks are back in the gym. But it feels more like they’re back to school.

After a week of individual workouts, the Knicks have advanced to voluntary team sessions that consist of drills, team practice, and intra-squad scrimmages sprinkled with sitdown, class-style sessions in between.

Tom Thibodeau, a basketball lifer, doesn’t look like the gruff taskmaster, which every naysayer depicted him to be.  The photos on the Knicks’ social media accounts project him more of a teacher, just like how he wanted it.

During his zoom call with reporters earlier this week, Thibodeau expressed how pleased he is to have been surrounded by a “group of teachers.”

Thibodeau regaled the media with a story on how he came away left impressed with associate head coach Johnnie Bryant during his visit to Utah. He also noted his close relationship with Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari that led him to get to know Kenny Payne.

“For us to have the opportunity to hire both of those guys (Bryant and Payne) I think adds a lot to the staff,” Thibodeau said.

While he doesn’t have a prior working relationship with the returning Mike Woodson (Knicks coach in 2012-14), he’s heard a lot from their circle.

“I’ve known Woody for a long time,” Thibodeau said. We have a lot of mutual friends. Getting a chance to be around him on a day to day basis has been great and I love the experience that he’s bringing to our staff. Having Woody and Andy Greer, I’m very pleased. I think we have great teachers on our staff.”

This is how Thibodeau has envisioned it.

In the months leading to his appointment as the Knicks head coach, Thibodeau had a revealing interview in The Platform podcast. He talked about how critical is the coaching staff to help him build a winning culture.

For the first time in so many years, the Knicks have synergy from top to bottom.  From Leon Rose and William Wesley down to Thibodeau and his staff, they share the vision of culture setting and player development.

“The best leaders bring out the best in everyone they’re around. That’s what you want, a team of leaders. It’s like a team when you put a staff together. You have to have chemistry. You don’t want to be all the same,” Thibodeau said in the podcast.

Bryant, Payne, and Woodson fit Thibodeau’s criteria.

“Also, who they have been around. It’s different for different people like when you played in the league, you are a great player so let’s start there: have you been around with great coaches? Who is your high school coach? Who is your college coach? What pro coaches have you played for? If you are currently an assistant coach, what great coaches have you been around, and have you won at a high level? At least these things factor into it.”

Bryant is the young up-and-coming coach who has been associated with a perennial playoff team in Utah. Payne has been Calipari’s right-hand man and the acknowledged best assistant coach in college before he came aboard. Woodson has led his past teams to the playoffs and has won an NBA championship with Larry Brown in Detroit.

Thibodeau wants his staff to mirror his team — full of diversity and versatility.

“Just like in a team, you wouldn’t want all older veterans…You’re trying to get different opinions in guys who see things like maybe you want the experience of a long-time assistant, you want the experience of a guy who played in the league maybe in the last three to four years, you want to get a lot of different thoughts.”

With such a young roster and no star in the foreseeable future, the Knicks have finally figured out. The past regime was right when they started to build through the Draft.  But what they seemingly forgot is that it’s only half of the equation.  Player development was neglected.  So when they started to pivot to star-chasing, their empty chest of talent couldn’t draw the stars to come to New York.

It feels like ages ago since the Knicks were relevant, having a playoff team built around stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. But it was also around that time when their long-time conference rival Miami Heat were entering the peak of the Heatles (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh).

The Knicks were never the same again after Anthony and Stoudemire left. In contrast, the Heat are now in the last phase of their rebuild.

How have the Heat done it? By having a culture that has been as steady as a rock, and through player development.

The steadying influence of former Knicks coach-turned executive Pat Riley has empowered Erik Spoelstra to stay afloat during the rebuilding years.

It was that culture that led them to attract a proven star in Jimmy Butler.  It was that solid scouting and player development that enabled them: to have late lottery pick Bam Adebayo rise as an emerging NBA star; to have pushed last year’s 13th pick Tyler Herro to perform like a veteran and to unearth undrafted players Duncan Robinson, and Kendrick Nunn.

The Heat found luck in finding players. But certainly, their stunning development wasn’t out of pure luck.  They have adapted to the cards they’ve been dealt with, and now they are on the cusp of reaping the reward — a return trip to the NBA Finals.

The Knicks, on the other hand, are currently back to the drawing board. They have long ways to go before having a playoff team like the Heat. But if it’s any consolation, they are now laying the foundation of what looks like a real culture.

“I think that’s a big challenge in the NBA — how quickly can you adapt? — because things always change in the league, whether it’s trade, free agency, an injury,” Thibodeau said during the zoom call. “You have to adapt quickly. So for us, the focus has to be on the guys who are here. And that’s what we’re doing.

“So everyday we’re thinking about how we can improve as a team and how we can improve individually. And we want that to be our focus. We want to stack days together. We know it starts with fundamentals. We have to build that base and then we’ll take it from there.”

Going back to school is what the Knicks should have done a long time ago.  But it’s better late than never.  Just ask their two-way player Kenny Wooten, Jr.

Thibodeau assembles well-rounded coaching staff; Knicks director of performance resigns

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The New York Knicks have reshaped their coaching staff in the hopes of bringing back their glory years.

The Knicks officially announced on Friday the return of Mike Woodson along with the additions of associate head coach Johnnie Bryant and Tom Thibodeau’s trusted guys Andy Greer and Dice Yashimoto.

“With these hires, we have added a wealth of basketball experience and knowledge that will be of great service to our players and our organization,” Thibodeau said in a statement. “All of our coaches have had a high level of success in college, the NBA or internationally. We are assembling a hard-working and well-rounded coaching staff that will embody everything we want to be about: accountability, development, teaching and a winning culture.”

Woodson brings accountability and winning culture to the table being the most accomplished coach in the Knicks franchise history in the last two decades.  He is returning to Madison Square Garden after spending three seasons with the franchise from 2012-2014 before getting unceremouniously fired by Phil Jackson.

Woodson took over from Mike D’Antoni as interim coach late in the 2011-12 where the Knicks went 18-6 to finish the season strong that led to his promotion as head coach.  He went on to guide the Knicks to their first Atlantic Divition title since the 1993-94 season with a 54-28 record in 2013. The 54 wins were the most by any Knicks team since the 1996-97 season. They beat the Boston Celtics, 4-2, in the first round of the playoffs to make it to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2000.  Their phenomenal run ended in the next round with a 4-2 series loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Beset by injuries the following season, the Knicks fell short of the playoffs, finishing 37-45, that led to his ouster.  He ended up with the third-best winning percentage in franchise history (.580) and the seventh-most victories (109-79) by a head coach.

Greer and Yashimoto, meanwhile, were with Thibodeau in his last two stops in Chicago and Minnesota helping him reach post-season success.

Greer has previously served as scout for the Knicks and worked with Thibodeau in Jeff Van Gundy and later on Don Chaney’s coaching staff from 2001-03. He has also spent some time with the USA Basketball, first serving as one of Gregg Popovich’s scout in the 2019 USA World Cup team. He was also an assistant coach under Mike Fratello in the 2020 AmeriCup Qualifying team.

Marc Berman of New York The Post reported that Andy Greer’s younger brother, Larry, has a good chance of reuniting with the group. Larry Greer was also with Thibodeau in Minnesota and most recently served as one of Monty Williams’ assistant coach in Phoenix.

Yashimoto, meanwhile, will reprise his role as Thibodeau’s right hand man. He will serve as assistant to the head coach. Previously, he served Thibodeau as Special Assistant to the President of Basketball Operations in Minnesota.  Yashimoto most recently held the position of Director of Basketball Strategy and Video at University of Georgia, bringing with him an intel on Anthony Edwards, one of the top rookie prospects in this year’s Draft.  Empire Sports Media has learned from a source inside University of Georgia that Yashimoto’s contract with the Bulldogs expires today.

Bryant along with Kenny Payne have built a strong reputation as solid skills and player developmental coaches and players’ whisperers.

In the midst of reshaping the Knicks organization, the team’s long-time Director of Performance Mubarak Malik has stepped down from his post.

Malik has recently announced his emotional yet intriguing resignation on a lengthy Instagram post.


View this post on Instagram

 

Today marks the end of a chapter for me.. I resigned from my dream job. Truthfully, the only job I ever wanted since high school.. I could write a dissertation about how much the last 7 seasons meant to me and how much I’ve grown by working with one of the most prestigious sports teams in the world.. but you know what?? NO ONE can question my tireless work ethic, my daily pursuit of excellence to be the best I could be, so that I could best serve the team or take away the impact I’ve made in the NBA in such a short period time.. and that’s why I’m at peace with my decision. Forever grateful to the Knicks for believing in me and allowing me the freedom to reach a life goal… and to the amazing players I worked with and got to know personally(all of you) THANK YOU. ❤️💪🏽💯 #OnceAKnickAlwaysAKnick #NYC #NewYorkorNoWhere

A post shared by BAR (@mubarakmalik) on Aug 31, 2020 at 12:15pm PDT

 

Malik joins Craig Robinson, the former Vice President of Player Development and Minor League Operations, as the latest members of the Knicks organization who held critical roles in player development to leave.

Robinson, the brother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, left the team in July and has since accepted a post to become the chief of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Malik, meanwhile, has been with the Knicks since 2012-13 season starting out as strength and conditioning coordinator before getting promoted in 2014. He was heavily involved with on-court player development and sports science. Prior to joining the Knicks, he worked with MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates for six years as strength and conditioning coach for both the major league club and throughout its minor league system.  He holds Master’s degree in Movement Sciences from Arizona University.

New York Knicks add Tom Thibodeau’s trusted assistants and Mike Woodson (report)

New york Knicks, Mike Woodson

The New York Knicks are on the verge of adding Tom Thibodeau’s most trusted guys Andy Greer and Dice Yoshimoto, along with former Knicks coach Mike Woodson according to multiple reports.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news.

Greer and Yoshimoto are no strangers to Thibodeau.  They have been with him since his first head coaching gig in Chicago.

Greer, who recently served as Mike Fratello’s assistant on the USA Olympic Qualifying Team, has been Thibodeau’s defensive coordinator in both Chicago and Minnesota.

Greer and Thibodeau have gone a long way since working together under Jeff Van Gundy’s staff and later on under Don Chaney in New York in the early 2000s.

Greer served as Thibodeau’s defensive coordinator in his last two stops while Yoshimoto has been a “swiss knife” starting out as video coordinator in Chicago and later on becoming a special assistant to the president of basketball operations in Minnesota.  Yoshimoto has also been involved with the University of Georgia as director of basketball strategy and video.

Woodson, meanwhile, has interviewed for the head coaching post, which eventually went to Thibodeau. He’s built a reputation in New York as a modern offensive coach who demanded accountability.  He’s been the last successful Knicks coach in almost two decades.

During the Knicks’ run to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2012-13 season, he guided the team to the third-best offensive rating at 111.1. He was also ahead of the curve as he relied on 3-point shooting to surround Carmelo Anthony. They led the league in both attempts and made 3-pointers per game while ranking fifth in percentage.

After being fired by Phil Jackson the following year, he went on to serve as an assistant coach in the Los Angeles Clippers from 2014-2018.  Prior to coaching the Knicks, he was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-2010, guiding the team to three consecutive playoff appearances.

The three new assistants will join Kenny Payne and associate head coach Jonnie Bryant under Thibodeau in New York.

Quin Snyder excited for Johnnie Bryant’s impact in New York Knicks

Johnnie Bryant, New York Knicks

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder raved about his assistant Johnnie Bryant ahead of his move to the New York Knicks.

News broke out last Tuesday that Bryant, 35, has agreed to a deal to become Tom Thibodeau’s associate head coach.

Snider said the whole Jazz organization is excited for Bryant.

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“I’m happy for Johnnie and his family. It’s an opportunity that he’s earned and deserved. We’re really excited for him,” Snyder said. “He’s been someone who’s been with me since I got to Utah.”

Bryant has worked his way up to become one of the brightest young coaches in the game.

Tactically, he’s learned [a lot] in the game and on the bench. He’s great on the court with players and you see him develop guys. It’s something we take pride in with our program. Johnnie’s been a big part of that,” Snyder added.

Bryant, who played at the University of Utah, has built his resume around his solid player development acumen.  Prior to joining the Jazz in 2012, Bryant was running his own training gym (Bryant Sports Academy). Former Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was so impressed with the work he’s done with Ronnie Price and Paul Millsap and his son Tyrell Corbin that he invited him to join his staff.

Two years later, Snider replaced Corbin.

Bryant continued his work under Snider, helping Gordon Hayward become an All-Star.  After Hayward left for Boston, he took then-rookie, Donovan Mitchell, under his wing, and the results bolstered his credentials even further.

His close relationship with Mitchell fueled speculations that the Connecticut native could soon find his way home.

Jazz radio announcer David Locke said that Bryant will be a big loss for the organization.  But more than that, his move will make the Jazz fan base uncomfortable because of his close relationship with their team’s rising star.

“It’s gonna be scary. Donovan and Johnnie are guys.  That’s the relationship there,” Locked told KUTV’s Dave Fox.

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Mitchell is expected to sign a lucrative contract extension with the Jazz this offseason.  But even if he doesn’t, he will still become a restricted free agent in 2021 where the Jazz can match any offer from other teams.  Unless Mitchell forces his way out, there’s not a chance the Knicks can get him in the next three to four years.

More than the lure of Mitchell, Bryant’s hiring will greatly impact the player development of the Knicks’ young core, especially RJ Barrett.