Knicks: Kyrie Irving Rumors And Fizdale Firing Up Ntilikina

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks are in a peculiar place in the NBA. They are a reborn team with a plethora of youth and talent, but are also locked up in massive contracts held by Joakim Noah and Tim Hardaway Jr. Finding a way to work around their salary cap issues will be a test in itself, but those problems won’t stop the rumors from flowing.

Let’s start with the first Knicks rumor:

Kyrie Irving. Yup, last week it was Kevin Durant and now it’s Irving. ESPN’s Ian Begley believes that the Celtics will have to compete with the Knicks to retain the dynamic point guard. Kyrie grew up in West Orange, New Jersey, meaning he would be close to home. And who doesn’t like stealing the best player from any Boston team anyway!?

Injury concerns are always a serious question when it comes to a player that hasn’t been able to consistently stay on the court. The Knicks will have to consider that factor and play with fire, just as they did with Derrick Rose. While Irving’s proneness to injury isn’t as severe as Rose, it’s still a risk. Joining a team with Kristap Porzingis, Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, Mario Hezonja, and rookie Kevin Knox could be persuading enough. The youth is the Knicks’ biggest selling point, and showing that their potential is real with a solid 2018-19 season will be the deciding factor in bringing a a big name to the Mecca.

Checking in on Frank Ntilikina:

Coach Fizdale has made it a priority to push Ntilikina to his max, trying to extract the aggression from the young guard.

“He’s a good basketball player,” Fizdale said, according to Newsday.com. “It’s going to be a process with him of constantly emphasizing aggression and always be in ‘go’ mode and don’t be concerned as much about taking care of everybody and that his aggression will draw defenders to help him take care of everybody.”

The 19 year-old guard struggled last season with unselfishness. He has all the ability in the world, but just can’t seem to drive to the hoop and finish. Often times, he would look for the pass when he had an open lane or would try to hard to get the ball to his teammates, resulting in a turnover. Fizdale will help him become a complete player, making him an offensive threat, but also helping him work on his defense and off the ball traits.

There’s a lot of potential in the frenchman, and if anyone can bring it out, it’s Fiz.

What Will Tim Hardaway Jr.’s Role Be For The Knicks This Season

In the first four years of New York Knicks‘ Tim Hardaway Jr.’s professional career, he started a total of 62 games. To put that into perspective, that’s not even en entire basketball season worth of games (82). The Knicks proceeded to sign a glorified reserve player to a four-year, $70.1 million contract.

If you think that’s crazy, Hardaway Jr. finished the 2018 season with a 3-point percentage of .317. He was signed primarily to be an outside shooter that can make those big-time shots… Well, that didn’t happen. His overpriced contract has left the Knicks in a hole, but his value must be extracted in 2018 to make the most of his allocated money.

New York drafted rookies Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson in the first and second rounds respectively. Both are young and looking to develop this upcoming season, which most veteran players would tend to steer clear of, but some seem to believe in the turnaround for the Knicks. The Signing of Mario Hezonja and the retention of Enes Kanter would attest to that.

What will Hardaway’s role on the Knicks be?

Veteran leadership and mentoring will ultimately be Hardaway’s task in the 2018-2019 season. Showing the young players the ropes and helping them adjust to NBA life will earn him his money. His on the court abilities have never been astounding and there’s no reason to believe they will become stellar anytime soon, so using his other attributed and progressive personality should be a great fit for the rookies.

Last season, Tim was asked to play a much more strenuous role than in previous years, as he started in 54 of 57 games on the year. The issue with Hardaway and Frank Ntilikina seem the same – both can’t manage a lot of minutes without becoming overwhelmed and eventually injured. The Knicks seem to be an ever revolving door of injuries and mishaps, but training the new crop of rookies will hopefully change the narrative that has haunted the Knicks for years. Hopefully, Hardaway can at least contribute towards that idea.

Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson: From Not Playing In College To The NBA

The New York Knicks could have themselves the steal of the this years draft and no, I’m not talking about Kevin Knox. I’m talking about the Knicks second round pick, Mitchell Robinson. Robinson, a 7-foot-1 McDonald’s All-American and 5-star recruit, has been said to have ‘freakish athletic ability’ despite not playing basketball at the collegiate level.

Knicks’ Robinon’s journey to the NBA:

Robinson was initially committed to play at Texas A&M before he decommited and enrolled at Western Kentucky.  However, his stint at Western Kentucky was very short lived. Robinson practiced with the team briefly in the summer until he reportedly began to have second thoughts on attending Western Kentucky. Since, he was a no-show to practice, Robinson was suspended for violating the team rules. Then, in August of 2017, Robinson re-enrolled back at Western Kentucky until quickly going back on his commitment. Subsequently, this led to Robinson ‘sitting out’ his entire freshman season for the Hilltoppers to prepare for this year’s NBA Draft.  His suspension remains a tad suspicious.

A little bizarre for the Knicks to ‘take a chance’ on a player that has not played overseas or even at the collegiate level.  Robinson could not even play in the G-League due to being enrolled in summer classes briefly. He even withdrew from participating at the NBA combine the day of. Bizarre, yes. But, Robinson does have the talent to make it in the NBA. Throughout his high school career at Chalmette High School in Louisiana, Robinson average 22.9 points-per-game, 12.6 rebounds, 6.9 blocks, and 1.6 steals in 66 games played. Those are some pretty good stats.

If Fizdale is able to fine tune Robinson’s strengths, he can surely be the steal of the draft for the Knicks.  Robinson’s wingspan measures at 7’4’” with a standing reach of 9’3”. Being tall and lengthy gives Robinson the ability to play above the rim with the threat of a lob or furious dunk at any time. Continuing with being long, he has the ability to be a tremendous shot blocker along with a above averaged rim protector. His explosiveness is a god given gift and also has the ability to shoot the ball as well.

Even though all those strengths seem like this guy can be a stud, there are also some major flaws in his game. First off, he’ll need to add strength if he’ll want to contend in the low-post in the NBA. His footwork will need some work as dunks and lobs can’t be the only factor in his game.

Robinson will need to learn how to move effectively on the defensive side of the ball, since he isn’t the only person that can jump out of the gym, and he’ll need to work on his decision making.  Not playing college basketball could have hurt his draft stock even more if the Knicks did not look at all the positives in his game as compared to the negatives.

For what it’s worth, I can see Robinson being similar to Tyson Chandler or Clint Capela, but with a better shot. He can be a shot blocker like Capela and rebounding specialist like Chandler.

Coach Fizdale will be able to dig deep and get everything out of this 20-year-old man with tremendous upside. If Robinson is able to get his head in the game and let himself be tutored by one of the most relatable and gifted coaches in the NBA, then the Knicks may have added yet another young talent to their young rebuild.

Knicks’ Steve Mills Believes Kevin Durant Is A Possibility In 2019

Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant

The New York Knicks will have room for one max-contract in 2019. What does this mean? General manager Steve Mills will have the opportunity to go out and attract a big name to the Mecca of sports.

After Kevin Durant extended his contract with the Golden State Warriors with a two-year, $62 million deal this week, Mills still believes convincing the super-star small-forward to join the ranks of New York is a possibility. In 2019, the salary cap for NBA teams is expected to make a jump by $8 million, which would allow teams with little cap to have a chance at some of the bigger names.

Just how unfair are the Warriors at this point?

With the Warriors signing Demarcus Cousins to a one-year deal, it seems as if the NBA has one of the most unfair playing fields across the boards of sports. Having a starting roster of Durant, Steph Curry, Cousins, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, simply leaves the rest of the league in awe. We can expect them to lose no more than 10 games next season.

If Durant really wants to prove himself, he will join a young Knicks team looking to take a big leap forward in the years ahead. By the time Durant would join the team, first-round pick Kevin Knox would have a year of experience under his belt and Kristaps Porzingis would be healthy and ready to lead his team on a run.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe stated:

“Kevin Durant is going to be the single biggest story in the NBA now that this [LeBron’s free agency] is over.”

“And if you don’t think that all of these teams… like, if you think the Knicks noise is bogus, it’s not.

“I’m not saying he’s going there, I’m saying that they are absolutely planning their offseason around him.

“If you want to beat the Warriors, take that guy off their team and put him on your team. That is the best way to do it, and that is what they are going to try to do.”

The Knicks would have to splash serious cash to even consider stealing Durant away from Golden State. We are talking $35 million per-season.

New York Knicks Looking At Jeff Green And Other Veterans

The New York Knicks have a very interesting plan moving forward – sign proven veterans to one-year deals to help teach the younger players and get the ball rolling for a franchise that has been stuck in the gutter for years. The latest rumored player is former Cleveland Cavalier, Jeff Green.

The New York Knicks would be getting a journeyman:

Green has a heart-throbbing story, as he defeated cancer to return to play the game he loves after being told that his illness would keep him off the court forever. His return has been inspiring, but he has struggled to maintain the skill he displayed with the Boston Celtics.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the Knicks have interest in another free agent forward: Jeff Green, who’s coming off of a decent season with the Cavs.

There are other candidates the Knicks like in their price and term range on the market. Jeff Green improved his stock with a decent season in Cleveland after signing for the vet’s minimum.

Green played an essential role on the Cavs’ playoff run, as he was a stellar contributor off the bench and provided points when called upon. It’s possible he could earn a starting role with the Knicks, but he could also be a veteran leader that contributed in other ways as the youngsters on the team begin to develop into professionals.

From the field, Green averaged 16.7 points per 36 minutes on 47.7% shooting. At 31 years-old, Green is certainly withering away with every passing year, but he could still have some fuel left in the tank to give the Knicks the leadership and effort they require.

EXTRA:

The Knicks are also looking into power forwards Andrew Tolliver and Alan Williams.

Why The Mario Hezonja Signing Was Exactly What The Knicks Needed

There’s no doubt the 2018 season for the New York Knicks will be filled with growing pains and young talent trying to break into the starting lineup. Mario Hezonja is one of those players, as he will come to New York trying to furthur prove his abilities to the league. His skills are only contained by his own mental blocks, as he can shoot, defend, and extend the court with his passing.

The Knicks signed the former Orlando Magic star, as they declined his fourth-year option. Hezonja was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. He signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Knicks, making him a bargain.

Bringing on a 23 year-old natural forward will contribute to the Knicks’ youth agenda. Being that it’s only a one-year deal, it will give Hezonja an idea of the future of the franchise and if he wants to be a part of it.

Why did Hezonja sign with the Knicks?

The prized forward received offers from several big-market teams, but chose to take his talents to New York for one reason. He loves coach Fizdale. The Knicks’ new coach brings a new mentality to the Garden – one of progress and development. He beings hard-nosed, aggressive approach to the team; something they have craved for years.

Fizdale’s most underrated trait is his ability to connect with the modern day players, which gave the Knicks a leg up when they knocked on Hezonja’s door.

One of Hezonja’s weaknesses is his struggles on defense. He has the length and physical characteristics to improve, but he exerts massive amounts of energy on scoring which takes away from his defensive skills. When comparing 2016 to 2017, Hezonja cut his three point defense from 43.7% to 35.7%. Even playing average defense would make him a star on a young New York team. We all know when Carmelo Anthony brought to New York – good offense and no defense. Hopefully, the Knicks’ new signing can change the narrative attached to his name.

 

Grading The Draft For The New York Knicks

Did the New York Knicks finally get it right in this year’s draft?

After much anticipation of whom the Knicks might select, the time has finally come and with the 9th pick – the New York Knicks drafted Kentucky star freshman, Kevin Knox. Knox is a 6’9 forward with close to a 7-foot wingspan and a 9-foot standing reach. All of those measurable are unteachable. He’s an athletic wing. While he only shot 34% from deep in college, he’s got a pretty stroke and projects to be good shooter from the outside on the next level.

Who should they have taken?

Most fans who attended the draft clearly wanted Missouri Forward, Michael Porter Jr. When Cleveland drafted Collin Sexton with the 8th pick, Knick fans across the Barclay’s Center all felt a sigh of relief and a rush of excitement that they may actually get a player who was once a top 3 projected pick.

As we know, they passed on MPJ for seemingly obviously reasons and grabbed Knox, much to the dismay of numerous fans in attendance.

This was clearly the right choice. Porter Jr. was saddled with a back injury for all but 53 minutes in his lone year at Missouri. He reportedly failed multiple physicals and had to cancel workouts due to a bad hip. Can he turn out to be a star? Absolutely. But once he had to cancel workout, the Knicks had to pass on him. Hell, NBA Legend Jerry West passed on him – twice.

Mikal Bridges is a nice player but he is going to start his NBA career 3 years older than Knox and doesn’t project to be a major impact player on offense.

What does Kevin Knox potentially bring to New York short term and long term?

Drafting Knox proves that Scott Perry and Steve Mills are ready to build up the right way. For years, the Knicks have always overpaid for average players past their primes and never properly built a roster with capability of sustaining success. Knox doesn’t turn 19 until August 11th. Frank Ntilikina will only be 20 next season. They don’t seem to have any intention of signing players to long term deals this upcoming free agency but it’s still too soon to tell.

Coach Fiz has no pressure to win this year and should focus on developing the youngsters and that means letting Kevin go through growing pains this year.

Long term? Can he be the next Paul George? Maybe he is a bigger version of Suns star Devin Booker? The talent is there. He can be your coveted wing for the future and go to scorer. If he works hard and continuously improves, there is no reason that he can’t be one of the best to come from this draft class and a future Eastern All-Star.

Where the heck was Mitchell Robinson this past year?

The Knicks took 7”1 center, Mitchell Robinson with the 36th pick in the draft. Robinson is the ultimate “boom or bust” player. He is freakishly long and athletic as seen in this short clip. He can be of great value to the Knicks or to any for that matter, however, he need to apply himself mentally.

Mitchell Robinson was ranked 11th overall by ESPN coming out of High School just behind top 10 picks Jaren Jackson and Kevin Knox. He originally committed to Texas A&M until de-committing shortly after. He then went on to commit to play for Western Kentucky, the highest recruit they have got in decades until he one day just packed his bags and left the campus.

Is this cause for concern? Of course it is. He trained on his own and he didn’t play any competitive ball over the year. No one really knows how his development progressed and there are obvious character concerns. That being said, that’s primarily the reason he dropped to the second round.

He has the talent and physical tools to become the next Clint Capella or Hassan Whiteside. I would be patient with him, get him some NBA minutes and some G-League time. I am really optimistic about him as an athlete. He can be one of the best centers in this draft and a key contributor to the Knicks and a backup center or starting next to KP. I am happy with the selection, the second round is usually reserved for question marks like Robinson and we could only hope we get a steal.

How will UDFA Allonzo Trier help the team?

The once highly touted guard didn’t have the best college career. He was signed shortly after the conclusion the NBA draft. He missed 7 games in 2016 due to a hand injury. In 2017, he was suspended for 19 games for violating the drug policy.

He did however have some success on the court. As a sophomore, he earned second-team all-conference honors in the PAC-12 and was named the most outstanding player in the PAC-12 Tournament. In 2017-18, Trier scored 18.1 PPG on 50% shooting while nailing 38% of his triples, not bad for a 6”5 athletic guard.

He has the talent to become a solid scorer off the bench in the NBA and can prove that in the summer league. He is a 3rd year player so we usually know what they are but there have been players like Draymond and Paul Millsap that exceeded all expectations. Obviously that isn’t whats expected of him, however, you never know.

Overall, for the first time, I really thought the Knicks did everything right. Knox was the right pick whether he pans out or not. Robinson has a TON of talent and for the second round, you accept that. Trier can maybe turn into a bench player this year and gives them more flexibility to trade Courtney Lee. Now it’s just up to the coaching staff to develop this newly acquired talent and for the players to work hard and bring a ring to the Mecca.

Overall Grade: B +

The Knicks earned a solid grade this draft simply because of the pure youth they added to the team. They drafted high reward players that have plenty of of room to grow, resulting in a good draft.

 

New York Knicks: Should Porzingis Return At All In 2018?

With New York Knicks’ superstar Kristaps Porzingis out of commission until at least the All-Star Break with a torn ACL, an interesting question must be entertained. He has begun rehabbing his knee and has been seen already in the gym, shooting around.  Porzingis even said that he ‘wants to attack’ his rehab and he’s doing just that. However, should he even return to the Mecca this upcoming season?

Why Porzingis is better off sitting out the entire 2018 season for the New York Knicks:

Let’s be real, the Knicks are not making the playoffs next season. Even if Porzingis didn’t get hurt, the Knicks stills were only projected to win 34 games last season. The main goal for the next campaign is to develop our young players. The young talent needs to get quality time so they can grow into their roles in the NBA – I’m talking about Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kevin Knox and Damyean Dotson. It would be nice to make the playoffs, but this team needs to learn how to play with one another first and foremost.

Since the Knicks, most likely, won’t be in contention for the playoffs next season, what would be the point for Porzingis to return around or after the All-Star Break? To be honest, there really isn’t any. Yes, it would be good to have him get into NBA action again, but why risk re-injuring his knee if the season is a wash?

Porzingis is, currently, our only superstar and main attraction for the Knicks to lure possible free agents in the coming seasons. The Knicks are in no shape to risk re-injuring his knee. Porzingis is the main piece of the puzzle for the future and he needs to be healthy, especially if we want players to come join him.

Getting down to it, Porzingis needs to sit out for the entire upcoming season. This is probably something that Knicks fans do not want to hear, but it‘s for the best. Of course, free agents will want to know and see him back to full strength before they even think about signing with the Knicks. But, we have to think what’s best for the long-term. Letting him sit and allowing more then enough time to get back to 100% is what the organization should be concentrated on.

New York Knicks: Why Kevin Knox Will Be The Perfect Compliment For Porzingis

The New York Knicks are young.  When was the last time fans uttered those words?  I’m not quiet sure, but it is certainly something different. The Knicks drafted 18-year-old Kevin Knox out of Kentucky and the fans in attendance were not pleased. Boos and chants of “Michael Porter Jr.” rained down as Kevin Knox walked across the stage to shake the hand of commissioner Adam Silver.  The new regime in the front office have decided to take on a younger approach when it comes to trying to rebuild the Knicks.  Fans should be rejoicing and not booing.

Why Knox was a great pick:

Kevin Knox was a good pick for the Knicks. Why?  Because he’s young. The Knicks need to do something different.  All of those ‘quick fixes’ and hoping that a big name free agent comes to New York is not in the cards for us, at least not this season. Something different needs to start happening. The only good thing Phil Jackson did was drafting young players in Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina. Thankfully, it has continued under the watch of new General Manager Scott Perry with drafting Knox.

There is nothing wrong with going with a younger player these days, that is what the NBA is, young talent. The Knicks finally realized their wrong doing in the past and decided to change their approach. New York has taken a page out of the Golden State Warriors playbook and begun to build their team through the draft. Pairing 18-year-old Knox with 19-year-old Ntilikina and a 22-year-old Porzingis is a major step in the right direction. Yes, Porzingis is coming off a ACL injury, but we’ll see him again. The pairing of Knox and Porzingis is what fans should be excited for in the future.

Will Porzingis be able to return to 100%?

We all know what Porzingis is capable of.  It will be a little different with him coming out of that knee injury and seeing if he can return to his former superstar self.  With today’s rehabilitation programs, I think he will be something similar to what we have seen in the past. Anyway, even with Porzingis out, youth development is what Knicks fans should be looking forward to. The injury requires a minimum of six months to return back to physical activity. There are rumors that he could miss up to the All-Star break or beyond. We could even make the argument that Kristaps is better off missing the entire season to allow Knox to develop and to avoid any further injuries to the Knicks’ star player.

With Porzingis out, this is the time for Knox and Ntilikina to show their potential.  Someone is going to have to step up and show that they can fill that void that we lost when Porzingis went down. Knox is going to get his chance under new head coach David Fizdale.  Fizdale hasn’t ruled out Knox starting as a rookie and truthfully, why not. If the Knicks front office was so thrown away by his ability during workouts then toss him into the fire. Trust me, it can’t get any worse.

Letting Knox get ample amount of time as a rookie will only better himself for the future. Does he need work in areas?  Yes, mainly defensive rebounding. But, what rookie doesn’t need improve in certain areas. The Knicks are going to need a player that can step in a fill in for Porizingis until he is able to return to action. Knox has the size, wingspan, and offensive capabilities to be that player.  I’d rather start them young and let them learn from there mistakes so they can grow and develop into a better player.  If he is given that chance, then with Porzingis returns, the team of Porzingis and Knox could be a dynamic duo in the back-court.

Knox already has a chip on his shoulder. To be honest, being booed was blessing, even though no 18-year-old should be booed when drafted to an NBA team. Knox even said that him and Porzingis have bonded over both being booed when drafted. That is something that all Knicks should want to hear, the young rookie and our superstar have already bonded. Knox is now going to come to the team with that edge and desire to show the fans of New York that he was the right pick.  He is going to want to be that player that we pair with Porzingis to make the future bright for our New York Knicks.