New York Knicks: Devin Vassell has the “It” factor, says FSU coach

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

The New York Knicks could find their “it” factor in Devin Vassell:

Devin Vassell was only a three-star recruit when he entered Florida State University.  Two years later, he’s leaving the Seminoles as a widely considered lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton wasn’t surprised at all. To him, it was a validation of what they saw in Vassell when they recruited him out of a nondescript high school in Atlanta.

“This is the reason why we’re consistent.  We do a great job evaluating.  We identified him as a guy with good potential and we are pleased that he has really panned out just like we thought he would,” Hamilton told Empire Sports Media.

Hamilton has successfully built a strong program in Tallahassee that has consistently produced NBA players. Under his watch, the Seminoles have sent 14 players to the NBA — from Al Thornton to Malik Beasley and Jonathan Isaac.

For Vassell, the NBA Draft Day will be the culmination of two years of hard work and patience in the FSU basketball program.

“Devin started out as a freshman more of a role player at the beginning of the season.  And at the end of the season, in a game that we have to win in the ACC tournament to get to the semifinals against Virginia Tech, he was the guy who hit the three in the deep corner to tie the game and gives us a chance to go on overtime and get to the semifinals,” Hamilton recalled.

Vassell’s rise wasn’t a question of how but just a matter of when.

“That says a lot about his patience, his coachability.  Despite not playing much early in the season, he was prepared for the big moments which says a lot about his character,” Hamilton told Empire Sports Media.

In his sophomore year, Vassell led the Seminoles to the ACC regular-season championship.  He could have led them to a deep run in the NCAA tournament, if not for the pandemic.

From 10.7 minutes in his freshman year, his playing time shot up to 28.8 minutes, and he responded big-time, leading the well-balanced Seminoles in scoring (12.7 points) and rebounds (5.1), second both in blocked shots (0.9) and steals (1.4).

Many, if not all, draft analysts see him as a solid 3-and-D prospect.

Unknown to many, Vassell wasn’t born shooter.  But through sheer hard work, he was able to morph from a 21.3 percent three-point shooter in high school to over 40 percent in his two years in Florida State.  His 6’9 wingspan and tremendous motor on both ends of the floor have made him an intriguing prospect.

“Whoever gets him will get a hell of a player. Because he is a great shooter, he loves to play defense, he’s coachable. He has all those attributes and he’ll make good contributions to whoever drafts him,” Hamilton said.

This season, we’ve seen the rise of shooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, two players who were not highly drafted.  Robinson, in fact, even was undrafted.  But their shooting and court smarts have helped the Miami Heat advance deeper in the playoffs.  And that could be the trajectory of Vassell’s NBA career or could be even bigger depending on where he lands.

“What separates Devin from a lot of guys is even though he has an even-keeled temperament, he has extreme confidence but he’s not selfish. He’s a team-guy but he has a knack of putting the ball in the basket.  He’s one those guys that you can’t leave open.  If you don’t contest his shot, a high percentage of those shots will go in. He’s shot over 40 percent of his three-point shots two years in a row. That speaks for itself,” he continued.

While Vassell’s game is tailor-fit into today’s NBA, it has also a throwback feel of an Allan Houston with that above-the-head, high trajectory jumper.

It’s no wonder the New York Knicks have put him on their radar.  A highly placed source told Empire Sports Media that the Knicks have reached out to Florida State early this week to gather more information on the team’s experience with Vassell and his one-and-done teammate Patrick Williams on and off the court.

Hamilton politely declined to confirm the Knicks’ growing interest.  All he said is that all 30 teams have, at one point, inquired about one or two of his three players in the Draft, including senior guard Trent Forrest.

It won’t be hard for Vassell to bring his shooting to the NBA, but the bigger question is: how will he thrive in the league as a defender?

Hamilton is confident that Florida State has prepared him to succeed in the next level.

“That’s all we do (ball screens) in practice.  In our league, our conference, we deal with a lot of ball screens.  Most of the NBA, in my opinion, they’re spacing the floor doing a lot of dribble drives. Not nearly as much ball screens as it once was.  Devin will absolutely have no problem defending (in the NBA) because he’s long, athletic, fast-learner and we were one of the better defensive teams in the country so he was well-trained,” Hamilton said.

But what makes Vassell stand out, Hamilton point to the kid’s intangibles, which is wrapped under his 6-foot-7 and 194-pounds scrawny frame.

“Sometimes, people evaluate all the physical attributes but I think it’s very difficult to evaluate, which is the most important thing, is that your mentality, your emotions in the game, your IQ, your ability to make decisions, and how you respond to stressful situations.  Well, that’s what they call it the “It” factor and Devin, he checks all those boxes,” Hamilton said.  “And the good thing about him is his best basketball is still ahead of him.”

Hamilton described Vassell as a gym rat.  If he’s not shooting the lights out, he’s in the weight room.  He’s not worried at all that Vassell has a lean frame. To him, it’s just a matter of time before the 20-year old wingman grows bigger, thicker, and stronger.  And when that happens, he believes, he’ll take his game to another level.

What separates a great pick from a draft bust is what the trained eye cannot always see. And Vassell, Hamilton said, has everything that points to him becoming an impact player in the NBA.

“Devin is a high-character youngster.  He has a great support system with his mother and father.  They are God-fearing people, he’s very religious and focused.  He has a tremendous basketball IQ.  He has great attention to detail.  He is extremely unselfish, a great teammate.  He’s a very hard worker.  He’s a fast-learner.  He has a tremendous amount of confidence.  He’s a guy when the game is on the line, he’s focused and his confidence rises and he’s able to deliver under stressful situations. He’s the guy who has the ‘It’ factor,” Hamilton said. 

Call him bias or whatever you want, but Hamilton has been in the business for so long that he knows it’s real when sees one. His coaching staff has been trained to value character more than high school accolades.  And that’s what led them to unearth a diamond in the rough hiding in Peachtree Ridge High School in Atlanta.

Vassell is no longer the best kept secret high school player in Atlanta.  He’s no longer playing under the radar. But his coach is glad to see he’s embracing the challenge, and he’s extremely confident about one thing: Vassell rises when the lights are at their brightest.

New York Knicks: Is Fred VanVleet worth $22M per year?

New York Knicks, Fred Van Fleet

A big market bereft of a star point guard, the New York Knicks have everything except winning to lure one, whether in the free-agent market or via trade.

With a proven coach in Tom Thibodeau and a huge cap space, the Knicks are ready to make a big splash. The 22-million dollar question now is will Fred VanVleet be worth it?

One day after Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Chris Paul was linked to New York, a new rumor has emerged: the Knicks are expected to offer VanVleet a huge payday worth $22 million in annual salary.

VanVleet is coming off a career season as he continued his stellar rise since popping into NBA consciousness during the Toronto Raptors’ title run last year. As a full-time starter this season, the undrafted guard from Wichita State has averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.9 steals, all career-highs. He shot just a shade under 40 percent from the deep. He’s also led the league in deflections with 4.2 per game, making him a coveted two-way player at the backcourt.

While the 26-year old guard has limitations, as shown in the Boston Celtics series, his basketball peak is still ahead of him.  He could come in right away as the no.1 option in a reconstructed Knicks offense or could go no.2 behind RJ Barrett.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported earlier that league executives believe that Malcolm Brogdon’s four-year, 85-million deal he got last summer will set the market for VanVleet.  And that’s within the range of the Knicks’ rumored offer.

But in an event that other top-tier free agents like Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis, Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz’s Mike Conley opting in, and New Orleans Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram re-signing, VanVleet could emerge as the top free agent in the market thereby setting up a bidding war for his services.

Back in December, when the NBA market was still healthy, ESPN’s Bobby Marks said that VanVleet was valued by one team 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.

Should it become a full-blown bidding war, the Knicks have the most money to spend. But they are going to face competition against the Detroit Pistons, who, like them, have the cap space and coach Dwane Casey, VanVleet’s former coach in Toronto. The Phoenix Suns, who have emerged as one of the rising powers in the West, will also be in the mix while the Raptors can offer him not only the nostalgia of their historic title run but also the winning stability under Masai Ujiri’s leadership.

Online sportsbooks have the Raptors as the favorite to retain VanVleet’s services with -250 odds.  Any other team has +170 odds of landing him in the offseason.

One NBA agent who I spoke with believes VanVleet would stay in Toronto.

“I’d say no (on VanVleet coming to New York). I think Toronto keeps him,” the NBA agent told Empire Sports Media.

According to The Athletic’s Blake Murphy, there’s a scenario wherein the Raptors can sign VanVleet to a staggered four-year, $70-million deal while maintaining their cap flexibility for 2021.  It remains to be seen if VanVleet is willing to run it back with the Raptors on a discount, or he’ll bet on himself and go where the money is regardless of the situation.

“I’m a free agent, so I think about it every day. Basketball is pretty easy for me, so I can separate that when I’m on the court. It doesn’t affect the way I play, or the way I approach my professionalism every day. But, sure, Coronavirus gave me a new perspective on life and I’d like to think I already had a good perspective, but definitely put things in perspective,” said VanVleet after losing the series to the Celtics.

“So I’ll wait and see how free agency plays out, but at the end of the day, I’m not writing a cheque to myself, so I’ve just gotta wait and see what happens, and I’ll feel better about the year that I had. I wish it would have ended with a championship, but that didn’t happen for us,” he added. 
VanVleet waited for so long for this big moment to arrive.  It took him long years to rise from being undrafted to a marquee free agent, but he’s also one bad decision away from falling hard.
The Knicks can aggressively go after him, but sometimes making a splash on a marquee free agent without a solid team in place could make unwarranted expectations and make such a contract an albatross.
VanVleet and the Knicks have big decisions to make.

Trade Rumor: Knicks offer for Chris Paul include Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks, chris paul

The New York Knicks are reportedly preparing a trade package centered on two of their young players plus assets in their bid to land Oklahoma City Thunder’s All-Star point guard Chris Paul.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Heavy.com reported that the Knicks have initially lined up Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, the 2021 first-round pick from Dallas Mavericks, the 2021 second-round pick from Charlotte Hornets plus Elfrid Payton and Bobby Portis as salary fillers.

While this is an underwhelming package compared to what Oklahoma City has received in the Paul George trade, the expiring deals of both Payton and Portis will give the Thunder the cap relief they are seeking.  On top of that, they will also have two former lottery picks to add to their young core and extra Draft capital.

The Knicks’ front office, led by Paul’s former agent Leon Rose, view the 10-time All-Star as a culture-builder, according to SNY’s Ian Begley.

Even at 35, Paul managed to show he’s still one of the top point guards in the league after leading the young Thunder core to 44 wins and went one play away from advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

Paul’s remaining $85-million salary and injury history comes with a risk. But it is a gamble the Knicks are reportedly willing to take to fast-track their rebuild.

If Paul moves to New York, he is expected to mentor Dennis Smith, Jr. the same way he did to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma.

The Knicks, however, will face stiff competition for Paul’s services from several playoff contenders. The list include the Milwaukee Bucks, who are facing mounting pressure to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo following another dismal playoff exit.  The ownership promised Antetokounmpo that they are willing to go over the luxury tax to surround him with a championship-caliber cast.  The reigning MVP has Paul in his wishlist.

And it seems the feeling is mutual.

It is an open secret around the league that Paul’s stay in Oklahoma City will be short-lived when he was traded from the Houston Rockets. And as early as last year, the veteran guard has been linked to the Bucks.

“I had heard he wanted to go to Milwaukee,” The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo said on Adrian Wojnarowski’s The Woj Pod. “Of course you’d want to go play with Giannis.”

In a video posted following their Bubble exit, Paul said Thunder GM Sam Presti was straightforward since Day One and that he doesn’t know what the future holds. It’s an ominous sign that he may have played his last game as a Thunder.

Presti has a history of working out favorable trade destinations for their stars in Oklahoma with George going to the Los Angeles Clippers and Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. It remains to be seen if Paul would request the same, but it is the most logical thing to do at this stage of his career.

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 forward Bobby Portis on the Utah Jazz’s radar

New York Knicks, Bobby Portis

New York Knicks sweet-shooting forward Bobby Portis has a better chance of landing in Utah next season than Julius Randle according to Jazz insider Ben Anderson of KSL Sports.

The Knicks fanbase had been rocked by a rumored swap between two CAA clients Randle and Conley last week but it appears the Jazz are more interested in the other Knicks forward.

“I haven’t heard anything like that (Randle-Conley trade rumor) here.  It’s far more likely the Jazz would chase Bobby Portis if he becomes a free agent,” Anderson told Empire Sports Media.

Last summer, the Knicks have outbid the Jazz and several playoff teams for Portis, who was fresh from his most productive season in the NBA back then.  Portis was one of the four big men signed by the Knicks after getting spurned by marquee free agents led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Portis, who signed a $31-million two-year offer sheet, didn’t pan out in New York with sporadic playing time under two different coaches.  In 66 games this season, Portis averaged 10 points, five rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 21 minutes while shooting 36 percent from deep.

The Jazz have indicated last week that they will be targeting athletic floor-spacers.

“Anybody who could obviously have defensive integrity at their position, can be an active, athletic defender will be someone that would interest to us, especially if they don’t compromise the spacing,” Utah Jazz VP Dennis Lindsey told reporters via Zoom.

And Portis fits the bill.

With a team option of $15.75 million, the Knicks have to decide whether to bring Portis back or waive him.  The new Knicks coaching staff led by Tom Thibodeau and his associate head coach Johnnie Bryant, who came from the Jazz, will have time to evaluate Portis during the team’s three-week mini-camp in their Tarrytown practice facility beginning today.

When asked if the Jazz will be interested in moving Conley’s contract for Randle and Portis, Anderson replied with a resounding no.

If the Knicks decide to waive the 25-year old Portis, the Jazz can use their mid-level exception which is currently pegged to start at $9.7 million but could end up lower due to the revenue loss as a result of the pandemic.  The Jazz also has its bi-annual exception of $3.8 million which again could become lower pending the new salary cap.

The Jazz insider added that “nothing is concrete (with regards to plans of trading Conley) but the Jazz will always listen to offers.”

It is more likely that the Jazz will be looking to run it back with a healthy Bojan Bogdanovic next season and hopes to re-sign unrestricted free agent Jordan Clarkson and fill out their roster using their salary-cap exceptions.

The Jazz have given up two first-round picks along with Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and Grayson Allen for Conley last summer. Unless they can get a first-round pick back and a veteran who can move the needle, Conley will not go anywhere.

New York Knicks: Randle-Conley swap unlikely as Jazz don’t want to compromise spacing

New York Knicks, Julius Randle

It appears the reported interest of the Utah Jazz on New York Knicks‘ forward Julius Randle will remain just a rumor.

Dennis Lindsey, the Utah Jazz VP of Basketball Operations, indirectly shut down the rumor involving Randle. He told reporters on Wednesday that their priority in the offseason is to bring in athletic defenders and floor spacers around their franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

“Anybody who could obviously have defensive integrity at their position, can be an active, athletic defender will be someone that would interest to us, especially if they don’t compromise the spacing,” Lindsey told reporters via Zoom.

Earlier this week, a Randle for Mike Conley swap and draft considerations was floated around.

But the profile of the Jazz targets this coming offseason doesn’t fit Randle who became a subject of scrutiny in his first year in New York.

Randle, who signed a three-year deal worth $63 million, regressed this season as his ball-dominant and post-up style of play irked the fanbase and even some of his teammates according to an April report.

His three-point shooting dipped from 34.4% to 27.7% this season although that can also be attributed to his ill-fitted role as a leader in a team that lacked talent and floor spacers. His defensive rating of 111.6, 230th among forwards, isn’t something that can move the needle for the Jazz who went from having the second-best defensive rating in 2018-19 to 13th this season.

In the same interview, Lindsey also indirectly said that they will do everything to keep Mitchell and Gobert in Salt Lake City.

Mitchell, who was also linked to the Knicks because of his New York roots and CAA ties with the new team President Leon Rose, is expected to sign with the Jazz long-term as per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports earlier.

“I’m limited on what I can say in regards to extensions and renegotiations per NBA rules. With that said, we’re extremely pleased at who both of those players are as people,” Lindsey said.

Gobert’s $106-million, four-year contract extension he signed in 2016 is set to expire after next season while Mitchell is eligible to get a $170-million max contract extension over five years.

“It’s really, really hard to get core franchise-level talent in any market, big or small, but it’s exponentially hard to get that level of talent that has a high level of character and competitiveness. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re working to add players of Rudy and Donovan’s physical talent and competitive makeup and so by definition, we’re going to want to keep those types of players moving forward,” Lindsey added.

 

Kevin Durant: I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant isn’t built for the pressure of playing in the ‘mecca’.

Durant doubled down on his claim that the New York Knicks was never an option during his free agency last year.

The Knicks were made to believe they had an inside track on Durant and another star free agent of his liking. But as it turned out, it wasn’t the case.

“I never planned on going to the Knicks. That was just the media putting that out there especially when I didn’t sign a 3-year deal that previous summer. Once I signed a 1+1, just the noise got louder around me just going to the Knicks for some reason. The Knicks need a savior, you know how that goes. Every time a big free agent is up, the Knicks are going to get him. It just took off,” Durant said in The Old Man and the Three Podcast.

The Brooklyn Nets star accused the media for spreading the rumor during his tumultuous last season with the Golden State Warriors. His former teammate Draymond Green publicly feuded with him which put a strain in their locker room chemistry. While it was injuries, which ultimately caused their downfall in the Finals, it was clear that all the drama that surrounded the Warriors factored in his decision to leave.

“Once the media infiltrated our locker room with that Draymond situation, they just ran with the rumors even more and it just got so loud every single day. I think the media just hyped it up and just wanted to make drama around the team and  around me so much that they made up this Knicks thing,” said Durant who called media in the Bay area as the “worst” and “obsessed” with his free agency.

The Knicks never had the chance to get an audience with Durant nor with any marquee free agents. With the stars spurning them, they signed ill-fitted veterans to short deals to maintain cap flexibility.

“Around February, I was thinking I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks or New York. I didn’t care about being the king of New York. That never really moved me. I didn’t care about being on Broadway. I just wanted to play ball and go to the crib and chill. I felt like that’s what Brooklyn embodied,” Durant said.

The Nets are hoping the trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving, and rookie coach Steve Nash will usher in a new era in Brooklyn as they aim to take over New York from the Knicks starting next season.

“Brooklyn was everything I’m about: chill, on the low, all black, we quiet, just focus on basketball. There’s no show when you come to our games. No Madison Square mecca, all of that s–t. We just gonna hoop and build something new in Brooklyn,” Durant added. 

The Knicks, meanwhile, are hoping to change that negative perception around them with the arrival of new team president Leon Rose and coach Tom Thibodeau to usher in a real rebuild. And they hope to acquire a star with a mentality to take on the challenge of leading the Knicks out of the doldrums.

 

EXCLUSIVE: Cole Anthony’s high school coach hopes former star ends up at New York Knicks

Cole Anthony, New York Knicks

Archbishop Molloy High School has produced two of the best points guards to come out of New York in two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith and Kenny Anderson.

The traditional New York high school basketball powerhouse hopes that Cole Anthony, the son of former New York Knicks first-round pick Greg Anthony, would be next in line.

Anthony’s rise started in Molloy, where he starred for three years before transferring to Oak Hill Academy for his senior year. He became the first freshman point guard to start in the school history immediately, and he almost led them to the city championship in his sophomore year.

“He’s a leader.  He immediately comes into the room and takes over,” Molloy coach Mike McCleary told Empire Sports Media.

“Even as a freshman, we had a strong seed class, and while he wasn’t the captain of that team, he was still a leader on that team.  By the time he’s a sophomore, he was already the captain of the team,” he added.

While Anthony became the most hyped high school player to have come out of New York in recent years, his stock considerably dropped after the North Carolina Tar Heels experienced their first losing season under Roy Williams in 18 years with him as their lead guard.

Anthony missed significant time due to a knee injury, but he was still able to lead the Tar Heels in scoring with 18.5 points per game.  However, his inconsistent and inefficient shot-making (38% from the field) and playmaking (4 assists against 3.5 turnovers per game) became a cause of concern.

McCleary believes his former star’s struggles in college is just an aberration.

“One of the things that hurt him this year at North Carolina is that they were not as talented as the previous years.  And he was clearly their best player and that left Cole very exposed to try to do too much.  But if he has other weapons on his team, I think he’s more than capable of using those weapons and being very successful as a point guard,” McCleary said.

At 6-3, Anthony has some size concerns, but the NBA Playoffs have shown us that small elite guards (6’0 Kemba Walker, 6’1 Donovan Mitchell, 6’2 Damian Lillard, and 6’4 Jamal Murray) have so much value in the league.

“I definitely think that’s gonna be the challenge for him but he’s a great athlete as they all are in the NBA.  Size is something that hurts him a little bit but he’s very competitive, a smart kid and I think he’ll pay close attention to the scouting reports to be able to use his intelligence, his skills, and athleticism to be an effective defender,” McCleary said.

He even adds that Anthony would be perfect for the modern NBA due to the fact that “the lane is so wide open now because of the three-point threat and that might offer him more opportunities to get to the rim and open up opportunities for his teammates.”

Anthony, who is modeling his game after Russel Westbrook, according to McCleary, has a quick first step and loves to attack the rim. In fact, Anthony averaged 5.8 free throw attempts in college, which McCleary believes could translate well in the pace-and-space NBA.

However, while it has been reported that the Knicks have extensively scouted Anthony, the team is divided on the polarizing prospect.

Some within the organization is not a fan of Anthony and believe his stock dipped because he was hyped and got exposed in college.

“He’s talented, but he doesn’t have a history of winning,” the source told Empire Sports Media.

But there are also Anthony fans within the organization.  Just like Allan Houston, the Knicks’ Special Assistant to the General Manager, who even commented fire emojis to Anthony’s recent beach workout, posted by one of his trainers, Mike Atkinson.

 

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🏖 🤫⏰❗️ @the_cole.anthony #sportsperformance #trainingday

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While Atkinson declined to be interviewed for Anthony’s pre-Draft workout process, he told Empire Sports Media:

“Cole will be a great addition to any organization. I’m confident in that.”

It’s a fact that Anthony hasn’t won a championship in high school and college, but he’s been part of the gold medal team in the 2018 FIBA-U18 Americas, and he was named to the all-tournament team.

During his successful high school run, he’s led Molloy to the Catholic High School Athletic Association finals (though they got upset by the fifth seed team Cardinal Hayes) and semifinals.  In his lone year at Oak Hill, the decorated academy that produced Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, he averaged a triple-double in leading the Warriors to the semifinals of the GEICO High School Nationals. He was named Player of the Year for both his success in basketball and academics, then he collected all the MVP awards in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit and had a Defensive Player of the Year award from Nike’s EYBL.

“He’s a super talent.  I think if you put him in the right situation, he can be extremely successful. I think he could be a leader because of his talent and personality and work ethics,” McCleary said.

Anthony’s talent is undeniable, and his fall in the Draft boards could be a boon for the Knicks who are looking for a lead guard.  The polarizing prospect could still be available by the time they pick at No.8.

If McCleary has his way, he wants his former star to stay home and get drafted by the Knicks.

“I think he’ll fit well wherever he goes because his father who was in the NBA has always preached to him about being a good teammate, not only about being a good player and what it takes and all that stuff because it’s already a given in his case.  But his father has been telling him about being a good basketball player and being a good teammate and to the other people in the team,” McCleary said.

“And I suspect that these are lessons well learned because he responds to his father very well and he has a lot of respect for his father. And I think he’ll be just fine and become a very good lead guard in the next level and hopefully, that’s the case (in New York) so I get to see him more,” he added.

The New York Knicks Should Trade For Kevin Love

New York Knicks, Kevin Love

When you think of the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, you don’t think of much. Most people who think of the last key member of the 2016 championship team think of Kevin Love as washed. That is all foolish, as it neglects how much of a star Kevin Love was and how great of a power forward he is. He’s a very good player still, and he has a ton of value, in my opinion. He can do something most Power Forwards cannot do, and that’s space the floor and be versatile. While he can’t ball handle, he can do a lot that the Knicks desperately need. Kevin Love is a much-needed upgrade at the 4 for the New York Knicks, who should look to trade for him.

Getting A Really Good Shooter Over Randle

The biggest issue with Julius Randle in 2019 was he couldn’t space, shoot 3s, or defend. He had struggled a ton with the Knicks defensively and did not help the Knicks due to his inability to do much else other than shoot mid-range jumpers. This is where Kevin Love comes in, as he can shoot very well, and he spaces the floor for their two young players who struggle to shoot like RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. He would be able to stay on the perimeter and get you a bucket, as evidenced by his 38.8% three-point percentage on 6.3 attempts per game since 2018. This would allow the Knicks to give RJ and Mitchell Robinson much better spacing and give them a chance to do what they do best offensively.

Significantly Better Perimeter Defender

Kevin Love and Julius Randle primarily defend forwards as guards are too fast for them to defend, and centers are too big for them to defend. When looking at their stats against Forwards, Love holds them to 33.6% from 3 while Randle can only keep them to 38.8%, which is really bad. This is a big no-no for a player who can’t shoot as it means they’ll give up threes, but only score twos, which is a point chipped away in every possession and defensive assignment. Love shoots better than teams shoot against him, so he’s going to have more value per possession and defensive assignment. When you factor that RJ and Mitchell aren’t good perimeter defenders, you can give them a little bit of a boost as you lockdown at least the forwards on the 3 point side of the ball.

Giving the Knicks A Path In Free Agency

If the New York Knicks land Kevin Love in a trade, you can go ahead, and for the next 2-3 years, check three positions off of the list. Center, Power Forward, and Shooting Guard are all positions you no longer have to worry about. This means you go out into free agency/draft and go after a point guard with great playmaking, a shooter, and a defensive-minded forward. In the draft, you can land the playmaking Killian Hayes who can shoot the ball pretty well, and in free agency, the Knicks could look to add names to fill their needs in. It’s important for the Knicks to make that move that gives them momentum and some draw, as if they are able to win 38 games next year and make it to the playoffs, it gives them the draw they need to land a star-caliber player.

 

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.