Knicks hire ex-Mavs scout Reggie Johnson

The New York Knicks have hired long-time Dallas Mavericks advance scout Reginald “Reggie” Johnson, according to a source.

Johnson will serve as pro personnel scout for the Knicks after spending his first 25 years in the league with the Mavericks, including 14 seasons as the team’s advance scout.

As an advance scout, Johnson’s responsibilities were to scout the Mavericks’ opponents which include in-depth scouting report of their personnel, statistics, plays and other stuff that help the coaching staff prepare for each game.

With his new role at the Knicks, he is expected to evaluate NBA and G League players who will fit into their system.

Johnson was a former high school basketball and football star in Little Rock, Arkansas. He won a state championship and was named Arkansas State Defensive Player of the Year. He was also an All-Star quarterback and made it to the All-State selection.

Johnson pursued football in college and became a four-year starter with the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats. While there, he was also a two-time member of the All-MIAA Conference team.

After college, he worked at Spalding in his hometown as a merchandising coordinator.

Johnson initially joined the Mavericks organization in 1995, holding the same role before pivoting to their scouting department as assistant video coordinator. He was promoted to become the team’s video coordinator and held a dual role as a scout starting in the 2002-03 season. In 2007, he was promoted to become an advance scout for the team.

Johnson will work under Frank Zanin, the Knicks’ assistant general manager for pro scouting.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Is Cole Anthony the best choice for the New York Knicks in the 2021 NBA Draft?

Cole Anthony, New York Knicks

With the 2020 NBA Season officially over after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat last Sunday in six games to secure their 17th Championship Title, NBA fans across the globe get to shift their eyes now on the approaching and exciting NBA Draft.

With the draft scheduled to take place on November 18th, this years’ draft class has a variety of special talent that has the opportunity to set the stage for the next wave of greatness to come to the NBA. Even after coming off a year where Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett entered the league with flair, finesse, and a sense of pristine talent, this draft class might be just as important if not more so than last years.

For the New York Knicks, that might be hard to believe since they had the 3rd overall pick in 2019.  However, the Knicks are facing an imperative stage of their development after drafting Barrett last year.  And despite receiving the 8th overall pick, a lot rests on this selection.  This is mainly due to the fact that the Knicks have been able to assemble a young, core group of players that can serve as their foundation, but it’s missing a few key pieces.

At the forefront of it all, it’s pretty clear that the Knicks need another strong guard to help Barrett with the scoring duties.  With Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson anchoring the paint both offensively and defensively, the Knicks need a natural playmaker at the helm of their offense that brings a healthy balance of scoring and passing.

Prior to the lottery, LaMelo Ball was surely the player the Knicks so desperately needed, but that all changed when they were granted the 8th overall pick.  With Ball likely going Top 5, the Knicks would have to trade for him.  And considering what kind of sacrifice that would mean for the Knicks (whether they would trade away Barrett or Randle or both), doing so might be too detrimental towards the rebuild progress they have made so far.  As a result, the Knicks will most likely set their eyes on another bright talent they can add to their developing roster.

Whether the Knicks should go after a guard or forward is certainly up for debate.  But when you consider the fact that the Knicks placed second to last in points per game with a 105.8 average last season, it can’t become anymore clearer just how badly they need an offensive threat on their team that can do it all (ESPN).  In other words, the Knicks have their CJ McCollum but now need their Damian Lillard.  And the best bet for the Knicks to fulfill that necessity with their 8th overall pick is to draft none other than the UNC freshman stud, Cole Anthony.

“What? No way, you can’t be for real. The guy whose draft stock has fallen from a potential 7th-8th overall pick to now a 14th-15th overall pick? The freshman who was sidelined for nearly two months due to a partially torn meniscus?” For every one of you who thought at least one, maybe two, or even all three of those questions in quotations, the answer is a big yes, and to an extent, is self-explanatory.  With the slim odds of the Knicks landing Ball, Anthony is their next best option and for this main reason: He’s a complete, versatile, and prolific scorer and athlete that brings an unparalleled playmaking ability for his age, size, and position. Anthony uses his elusiveness, lightning quickness, and agility to break down his defenders and score at will from wherever he wants to on the floor.

Moreover, Anthony really knows how to weave in out of tight lanes with his shifty, clean dribbling skills and can draw defenders away from their assignments with ease.  When this happens, his IQ and vision comes to life, and along with it, his strong passing.  Believe it or not, Anthony’s most overlooked skill is his passing, which is derived from his excellent decision making.  This is precisely what the Knicks need at the helm of their lineup; someone who generates the right balance between passing and scoring in order to open the floor for the rest of the team to thrive and succeed.

Essentially, when you’re that good of a scorer, it can be easy to get swept away with the obsession of fulfilling that role, even if you’re not always leading your team to victory.  But the most important component to keep in mind when you’re a scoring point guard is to make sure you’re executing the best decision possible each and every time you come down the floor, whether you’re setting up a teammate or scoring it yourself.  And that skill and intelligence factor of when to do what is one of Anthony’s greatest strengths as a point guard that I think the Knicks could really benefit from.

Is it concerning that he suffered a partial meniscus tear that lead him to miss roughly 8 weeks of his rookie season at UNC? Of course it is, and that remains the greatest reason as to why his draft stock has fallen in the first place (ESPN). But to be frank, it could be a lot worse and is really not as concerning as it seems.  Anthony was able to come back from his injury and ended up playing quite well, putting up five 20+ point performances over his last 11 games of the season (ESPN).

In addition, with the 2020-21 season getting delayed as is, Anthony is receiving a lot more rest than the average rookie class would receive, allowing any lingering injuries to fully heal and recover.

With that said, there’s no sugar coating it: This is certainly the greatest gamble that comes along with drafting Anthony.  But to put it simply, the Knicks need his skillset if they want to reach a playoff berth within the next five years. What’s important to keep in mind is that the Knicks are missing that playmaking, scoring catalyst that is vital for any team to succeed. When this franchise was eager to reach the playoffs not too long ago, they sought after another NBA star to be that spark for their team who went by the name of Carmelo Anthony.  It’s been nearly a full decade since the Knicks made the playoffs with Carmelo.  And if Ball doesn’t fall into their lap, the Knicks just might need to select another player that goes by the name of Anthony to get them back to the postseason once more.

Fred VanVleet to New York Knicks rumors are heating up

New York Knicks, Fred Van Fleet

There’s no question that the New York Knicks need an improved team composed of established veterans and rising youth, but drawing interest from quality players has been a struggle the past few years. While they did manage to land Marcus Morris and Julius Randle in free agency last year, they both failed to elevate the state of the franchise, as Morris was traded away, and Randle became more of a problem than a solution.

Incomes Leon Rose, the new general manager and head negotiator for the Knicks. His connections around the league with big-name players should prove to be helpful, but we’ve heard this story before with Phil Jackson. The hope is that Tom Thibodeau is the right coach for the job, and whatever players they do draw to the “The Mecca” fit into his system like a glove.

One free agent, the Knicks, are reportedly looking at this offseason is Fred VanVleet, who has been a menace for the Raptors.

According to Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News:

The Raptors are the betting favorites to re-sign VanVleet, but his free agency is unrestricted and the Knicks, according to sources, are among the other teams with interest. If they don’t pull the trigger on a Chris Paul trade, it certainly makes sense for the cap-loaded Knicks.

The Knicks have also been in talks with Oklahoma regarding a potential trade for Chris Paul, but his bloated contract and age don’t make him very appealing. The Knicks aren’t in a position to win now, so trading for a player making over $40 million per season isn’t a developmental move.
VanVleet is a better option, as the Knicks have the cash to splash, and he’s only 26 years old. Ultimately, the Raptor is a solid player to build around. He won’t be cheap, though.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks stated that VanVleet could be valued between $25-30 million per season:

“One team told me last week that they think he’s going to get between $25 million and $30 million per season,” said Marks on The Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective Podcast.

Last year with Toronto, VanVleet averaged 17.6 points and hauled in 3.4 defensive rebounds per game. This was his best statistical season, and while his numbers don’t necessarily scream offensive efficiency, he’s a well-rounded player who does plenty of things at an above-average level. His action on the offensive side of the ball has only increased, and his efficiency from the floor has remained consistent, which only attests to his quality.

Fred is also a solid defender and passer, which should excite the Knicks. Far too often, the Knicks have signed one-way players that simply can’t hold up their value on both ends of the court. A player like VanVleet will do that, which is why the rumors are continuing to bubble.

New York Knicks: Isaac Okoro’s winning style of play is needed

There’ve been plenty of draft, trade, and free agency rumors circulating the New York Knicks’ franchise these past couple of days. A ton of things could happen on draft night as well as in free agency. The one thing that’s certain is Isaac Okoro’s winning style of play is needed on a young developing New York Knicks roster.

Isaac Okoro emulates his playing style after players like Jaylen Brown, Andre Iguodala, and Kawhi Leonard. Okoro, praises Kawhi Leonard’s approach to the game during a virtual interview with an NBA analyst.

 

Isaac Okoro was interviewed by NBA Draft analyst Mike Schmitz of ESPN. Mike Schmitz is also a contributor to a private scouting and analytics service by the name of DraftExpress. The two completed a virtual ESPN film session comparing Isaac Okoro’s style to other current and former NBA players.

What would Okoro bring to the New York Knicks? 

The intangibles that Okoro brings to the game on a nightly basis was evident during the entire virtual film session. Okoro’s motor, defense, defensive IQ, finishing ability, and Okoro’s underrated playmaking ability showed that there could be a case made for him to potentially end up being the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft. The prospect out of Auburn has tremendous upside and he’s shown time and time again on the basketball court that he’s a bonafide winner during his freshman year at Auburn.

Tom Thibodeau along with the rest of the current Knicks coaching and developmental staff would be an ideal opportunity for Isaac Okoro. The Knicks staff consist of experienced teachers from the Kenny Paynes’ to the Mike Woodsons’ and Johnny Bryants’. Combine the knowledge of the Knicks’ developmental staff along with Isaac Okoro’s desire to play defense and learn the game, and the potential to become a two-way star for years to come is suddenly a strong possibility.

Overall, The New York Knicks are in a position to select a strong defensive-minded young player filled with potential. The question is whether or not a team selecting before the Knicks will reach for the young talented prospect out of Auburn University.

New York Knicks’ Dennis Smith Jr. is taking the superstitious route to spark his potential

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

Under new management, the New York Knicks are headed down a different path than in recent years. Of course, focusing on the youth agenda is a priority, but sparking some of their talented players will be a challenging task for new head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Thibodeau was enamored by point guard Dennis Smith Jr. when he was drafted, but since entering the NBA, he has struggled immensely. With some of the most athletic traits you could ask for in a basketball player, he has not lived up to his potential so far. Averaging 15.2 points per game in his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks, he hasn’t broken that benchmark since.

Last year with the Knicks, he averaged 5.5 points per game and 15.8 minutes, seeing his impact drop off considerably. His lack of defense and offensive capabilities have been extremely limiting, but the Knicks will try to turn around his performance in recent years, unlocking the potential he undoubtedly holds.

Smith understands that things must change if he wishes to continue growing in the NBA, so he’s taking a superstitious approach toward his revolution. New York Post NBA reporter Marc Berman stated that Smith is looking to change his number, in hopes of sparking the potential he once had entering the league.

The New York Knicks are happy to assist in anything that might help him improve:

After selecting the number five, he’s reverting back to number four, which he utilized in college. During his only collegiate campaign, he averaged 18 points, six assists, five rebounds, and two steals per game. He shot 45% from the field and 36% from three. Those stats have only degraded, and hopefully, this change number can spark confidence that simply doesn’t exist in him right now. Smith is only 22 years old, meaning his physical prime is still readily available.

Bringing in new player development coaches and a system that could benefit him, Smith will be looking to pick up where he left off in college. This is the second time he’s changed his jersey number since entering the NBA, but this one has a bit more sentimentality.

Of course, there is still a possibility that the Knicks go out and draft LaMelo Ball to fill the point guard spot, which would put Dennis Smith Jr. in a back-up role permanently. The direction of the draft for the Knicks is up in the air, and Smith is running out of time to solidify his spot on the team.

Should the New York Knicks inquire about Russell Westbrook?

New York Knicks, Russell Westbrook

The New York Knicks have a big couple of months ahead of them, as they continue rebuilding their team and exercising their youth agenda. After hiring head coach Tom Thibodeau and new general manager Leon Rose, the entire ideology of the team has changed. From the coaching expertise to their relationships with players around the league, the Knicks are in a better place than before, but they are still a struggling team that needs help at multiple positions.

Finding a strong point guard who can run the offense is a necessity, and while Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Peyton are serviceable in their own respects, they need an all-around player who can carry the team on his shoulders.

Whether it’s through the draft, free agency, or a trade, the Knicks desperately need to find the answer at point guard, which leads me to Russell Westbrook.

Should the New York Knicks inquire about Russell Westbrook trade:

If you know anything about Westbrook, it’s that he loves to shoot. The Houston Rocket could be a trade piece as the organization looks to rebuild from the ground up. Westbrook is a former MVP and has earned All-Star accolades multiple times, which makes him a fantastic player and potential rock for the Knicks. Having Westbrook and James Harden was always going to be an unnatural fit for Houston, as both require the ball in their hands at all times.

This year, Westbrook averaged 27.2 points per game, the highest since his 2016-2017 season. He has earned All-Star appearances in the last six consecutive years, taking one break during the 2013 campaign. The Knicks would theoretically be gaining one of the best offensive players in the league, and an athletic freak who can change the dynamic of a game at any given moment.

However, any offense that has Westbrook in it must completely revolve around him. Every pass needs to be orchestrated to get him the ball, and everyone else has to play second fiddle. I don’t believe Westbrook and Julius Randle would mesh together, meaning the Knicks would have to part ways with Randle in this scenario.

In a potential trade, the Knicks could send Randle over to Houston and consume Westbrook and his massive contract. He is currently on a five-year, $206.8 million deal. His contract expires in 2023, but he’s on the hook for over $40 million in each season, which will take up a ton of cap space.

Personally, I would stay far away from Westbrook, as the Knicks need to keep building on their youth and not inject a ball hog into the middle of their offense. Signing complementary pieces who the Knicks can build around is where they should be headed, meaning Westbrook should be a pipe dream left for the optimists.

Ex-Knick Jeremy Lin seeks NBA return

Jeremy Lin

Former New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin attempts to make an NBA comeback after playing one season in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).

The 32-year old Lin made the emotional announcement to his seven million followers on his Weibo account.

“This decision has really been the hardest in my life,” Lin said in Mandarin. “Every morning I would wake up at 4 am or 5 am, thinking, thinking, and thinking all the time. In the end, although Shougang has treated me incredibly well … giving me everything I wanted, in the end, I feel that I still have NBA dreams. I still have time to play and I have to chase this.”

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Lin, who had a 10-year stint in the NBA, rose to fame in New York in the 2011-12 season.  The Harvard graduate led a depleted Knicks squad to an improbable run that sparked the Linsanity craze.

After his breakout season, he became an NBA journeyman and played for the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets, and Atlanta Hawks. His last stint with the Toronto Raptors made him the first Asian-American to win a ring in the NBA although he was used sparingly in the playoffs.

He posted 11.6 points, 4.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 480 NBA regular-season games.

Last year, Lin took the CBA by storm averaging 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists and led the Beijing Ducks to the semifinals for the first time in five years.  The Taiwanese-American also finished second in the All-Star balloting next to another ex-NBA player and CBA superstar Yi Jianlian.

Lin also thanked his Chinese fans in the heartfelt video saying it was a difficult decision to make.

“I know that many of my fans have stood by me no matter if I was injured,” Lin said. “Why was this decision so difficult? Yesterday, when I shared this with my family and friends when I told them I would have to leave China, I cried.”

Subsequently, his CBA team released a statement that they are not signing Lin to return for a second season.

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Lin will join a shallow free-agent market where his former Toronto Raptors teammate Fred Van Vleet and Miami Heat’s Goran Dragic lead the point guard list.

New York Knicks: Kyle O’Quinn raves about Leon Rose and his hiring

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

The New York Knicks are entering a new age of basketball, headed by new general manager Leon Rose. Formally a super-agent in the NBA, Rose has connections with some of the best players in the league. That might be a draw to New York, a place that has been left off high profile free agent’s lists in recent years due to the calamity and inadequate play.

However, one former Knick, Kyle O’Quinn, believes that he will do great things in the city of New York:

“I said it when he first got the job; I seen him in Philly and I said, ‘You’ll do great things,’” O’Quinn said while appearing on SNY’s The Putback with Ian Begley this week. “And I know he will because of his personality, his demeanor and how he is charismatically with his players…. I think that will go through the organization pretty well and he has the personality to get through to guys.”

Rose was initially hired back in February and has spent the last few months building his front office and management portfolio. He has made several moves and could embark on big ones like trading Julius Randle.

“I think New York will always be in the discussion when you have a free agent target simply because New York is New York,” O’Quinn said. “But I think until it’s a situation where (you say) ‘OK, I can blueprint off this. I know I can play for that coach, and this, that and the third. I don’t think that New York will get the respect it deserves in free agency from these big players until those kinds of things happen.”

The Knicks brought in Tom Thibodeau as their next head coach, who is a respected man around the league with a pedigree of success. Their coaching staff is composed of premium talent, which hopefully will draw bigger names to the Big Apple. Nonetheless, the Knicks have made egregious signings before, notably Phil Jackson and his triangle offense installation.

Turning the page to the next chapter in Knicks’ history is essential, and reverting back to losing ways would only further sink fans into a state of basketball depression. O’Quinn believes that Rose can elevate the organization from the ashes like a phoenix.

Rumor: New York Knicks could be in running to land Chris Paul

New York Knicks, chris paul

The New York Knicks are in the market for a point guard, whether it be LaMelo Ball in the 2020 NBA draft or a trade piece, upgrading the position is in necessity. Sticking with Elfrid Peyton and Frank Ntilikina would be malpractice moving forward, as the team desperately needs some sort of success to build on.

While recent rumors indicated the Knicks could trade up in the draft to acquire Ball, it might force them to part ways with Mitchell Robinson or more valuable assets. Doing so would be tumultuous for their future plans, but it also might be the best decision. However, there is one alternative that could make sense for the next, and it includes landing Chris Paul.

ESPN’s NBA writer Royce Young provided three teams that could trade for Chris Paul, notably mentioning the New York Knicks. He stated this during an appearance on ESPN’s Hoop Collective Podcast with Brian Windhorst earlier this week.

“I look at three teams,” Young said when asked where Paul could get traded. “Bobby knows better than me, but I look at three teams as the most likely destinations: Philly, the Knicks, and Milwaukee. Those are the three teams that I think are logical places.”

What would Chris Pual bring to the New York Knicks?

Paul is a future Hall of Fame player, and adding him would undoubtedly make the Knicks a better team. They will enter the off-season with over $40 million in cap space available, which means they could fit Paul’s contract. He‘s set to earn $41.4 million next year and a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22. It’s also important to note that Leon Rose is Paul’s former agent.

At 35 years old, he is undoubtedly getting up there in age, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to part ways with him.

This year, Paul played in 70 games, averaging 17.6 points and 6.7 assists. He earned a .489 field-goal percentage and shot .365 from beyond the arc. He earned an All-Star appearance for the first time since the 2015-16 season, meaning he still has plenty of good basketball left in his bones. If the Knicks were to trade for Paul, they would have to unload Julius Randle, who will be making $18.9 million next season. Reports have also indicated they are looking to trade him nonetheless, considering his style of play last year and inability to move the ball on the floor.

CBS Sports mock draft has New York Knicks trading up to No. 2 overall pick

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

The New York Knicks and their bad luck secured the number eight overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, but their goal might still be to still land LaMelo Ball.

While some might say the upcoming draft is underwhelming with talent, Ball represents one of the better players. He would fill an immediate void for the Knicks at point guard, and per a report from SNY, the Knicks want him. Reports have also indicated that Ball prefers to land in New York, where he can execute his skill-set and become a glorified star.

The primary issue at this point is where the Knicks are drafting at number eight. If they can manage to climb the ladder to the second overall pick, they would be in a good position to land Ball, who’s currently playing overseas. However, it will cost them quite a lot, as they would have to strike a deal with the Golden State Warriors.

Here’s what CBS proposals for the New York Knicks and Warriors:

With the Warriors trading back in a theoretical scenario, they target Deni Avdija, who plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He is reportedly tailor-made for the Warriors’ system, making him a great option in a trade-back scenario with the Knicks, who can’t resist the Lamelo Ball temptation.

Via CBS Sports:

Avdija is tailor-made for the Warriors system as a big wing with excellent playmaking ability and the makings of a strong 3-point stroke. Golden State is obviously hoping to get contributions right away, and while Avdija will have a strong learning curve on the offensive end, his basketball IQ should earn him playing time from the jump…

To land the number two overall pick, it is possible the Warriors demand center Mitchell Robinson, who represents one of the Knicks’ best young players. Of course, trading him away would be an awful loss, but might be worth it if they are able to secure Lamelo in the process.

Their young foundation would still be strong, but they would also need to bring in some talented veterans to help make the team competitive. They do have Julius Randle still on the roster, but reports have also indicated they might be looking to trade him.