Knicks News: Austin Rivers becoming frustrated, Tom Thibodeau rips team in loss to Spurs

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The New York Knicks experienced a dose of reality on Tuesday evening, being blown out by the San Antonio Spurs 119–93. The Knicks had high hopes after taking down the Indiana Pacers two games before and the Detroit Pistons in their last victory. However, they found out shortly before the start of the game that Derrick Rose would be unavailable due to COVID-19 protocols.

With Rose out and Elfrid Payton still nursing an injury, the Knicks had to make a decision on who would start at PG. Ultimately, they elected to utilize Frank Ntilikina instead of Immanuel Quickley or Austin Rivers.

Rivers has been buried on the depth chart, not even scratching the surface against San Antonio, even as the game got out of reach. It seems as if Tom Thibodeau has put him in his doghouse, which means his future is undeniably uncertain.

Rivers wasn’t too optimistic regarding his future with the Knicks earlier this week: “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player.’’

The New York Knicks should consider dealing Rivers:

It is an unfortunate reality for Rivers, who signed a three-year deal with the Knicks this past off-season. His inefficiency scoring and inconsistencies with the ball in his hands quickly demoralized him and gave Thibodeau a reason to bench him in favor of younger options. At this point, Rivers might be a better trade candidate than an actual contributor moving forward.

Following the defeat, Thibodeau had stern words for his team, and this should serve as a wake-up call that better teams will not take it easy on this rising squad.

“You get what you deserve,’’ Tom Thibodeau said.

Thibs tried his best to keep the team together and progressive in the loss, but ultimately the size differential for the 2nd unit was too much to handle.

“I was trying to keep the second unit together as much as I could,’’ Thibodeau said. “And the size of their point guard [DeJounte Murray] also factored into it.’’

Power forward Julius Randle, who is considered the Knicks’ best player and scorer, coughed this came up as an anomaly.

Randle finished the game with just 14 points, well below his season average of 23.1. San Antonio did a good job of locking him down and minimizing his impact, which made it extremely difficult for New York to produce offensively.

“Probably the first game we had like this honestly,’’ Randle said. “Throw it in the trash and get back to work.’’

New York Knicks: 3 keys to beating the San Antonio Spurs

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks are one game above .500, having won their last three games, including a dominating performance against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday evening.

They held Detroit to just 90 points, and while they are a struggling squad, it is a positive sign to see New York controlling poor teams instead of playing down to them. New York has a relatively easy schedule the last few days, but an impressive win over the Indiana Pacers gives them a bit of hope against a strong San Antonio Spurs team.

Three keys to beating the Spurs for the New York Knicks:

1.) Aggressive defense

The Knicks need to rely on their strengths, which includes playing aggressive defense and controlling San Antonio’s best players. Currently, the Spurs rank 21st in the NBA in points per game with 111.

They are shooting 45.5% from the field and 36.2% from three-point. In fact, the Knicks are a more effective three-point shooting team than San Antonio, indicating that they might have a slight advantage if that portion of their game is activated. The Knicks are quite streaky in that category, but when they’re connecting on shots, they can rack up points quickly.

Nonetheless, New York relies on their defense to get the job done and considering they have the number one unit in points per game allowed with 104, this will always be an advantageous matchup for a team that is below average in scoring. While ESPN has the Spurs favored by 66.1%, I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks from performing better than anticipated.

2.) Put Frank Ntilikina on DeMar DeRozan

San Antonio’s best player is DeMar DeRozan, who’s currently averaging 20.3 points and 7.2 assists per game. He has the ability to take over a contest at any moment, so expect NY to mark him with Frank Ntilikina, was proven to be extremely valuable since making a return two games ago. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has already stated how amazing his defense has been, so we can expect them to utilize this matchup to stifle for San Antonio’s offense.

3.) Trust their guns to get it done on offense

The Knicks need their offensive performers to step up in this contest, specifically Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. Randle is averaging 23.4 points and Barrett at 16.5 per game.

However, it has been point guard Derrick Rose that has led the charge in recent days, averaging 12.5 points per game but also 4.9 assists over 24.6 minutes. His influence on defense has been aggressive, but his court vision has been the most impressive part of his game. He’s able to find, and curate passes that others on the team simply can’t create, which boosts his value on the floor.

The Knicks have been playing stellar basketball lately, scoring far more than their 105 point average over the last three games. In fact, they posted 140 against the Sacramento Kings last week. With the New York offense starting to take shape, exercising a dominant performance against San Antonio would undoubtedly put them on the map.

The New York Knicks are bringing the most out of their reserve big-man

nerlens noel, new york knicks

The New York Knicks earned an impressive win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday evening, 109-90. Thanks to stellar defense, New York broke the .500 mark, taking control of fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Julius Randle once again had a fantastic outing, posting 24 points and eight rebounds. He also contributed six assists and connected on 50% of his three-pointers.

Acquisition Derrick Rose has once again proven to be a focal point for the team as a starter, putting up 14 points and five assists, but also contributing significantly on the defensive side of the ball. Youngsters RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley combined for 33 points, but Quickley’s inability to accrue any assists was a tad disappointing. Nonetheless, over 16 minutes, he provided a nice offensive spark.

The most underrated player on any given day and especially in this defensive domination of the Pistons, is reserve center Nerlens Noel.

Noel was fantastic in the contest, recording 11 rebounds, three steals, and three blocks, also contributing eight points.

“If you don’t know, you’re going to find out,’’ Noel said regarding rim penetrators attempting to drive the lane. “I’m protecting the rim by any means. It’s a great aspect to my game I try to play at a high level. Just do enough to change the game. Just come in and find out.’’’

Head coach Tom Thibodeau loves defensive players that play aggressively, and Noel is exactly that. He meets attackers at the point of execution, and blocks shots efficiently. Normally, the Knicks would feature Mitchell Robinson in that role, but Nerlens has gradually taking steps forward and is playing at a high-level. As long as his knees can hold up, Noel could see himself starting more minutes even when Robinson returns.

“I definitely don’t want anyone hurt on this team,’’ Noel said. “But I’ve taken that spot and made a focal point to man this team and be the anchor on the defensive end and do the small little things to help us win. I think I’ve been at a high level.’’

Healthy competition brings the best out in players, so Robinson will have to fight for his job back once he returns from a fractured hand injury. Noel, on the other hand, is averaging 10.3 blocks and 1.0 steals over the last 10 games, but a smaller sample size has offered five steals in four games.

The New York Knicks might have already made their prized trade

New York Knicks, Derrick Rose

The New York Knicks are coming off an impressive when over the Indiana Pacers, bringing them to .500 and even to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference.

In the victory, All-Star Julius Randle posted 20 points, second-year player RJ Barrett recorded 24, and youngster Immanuel Quickley also contributed 10 points and shot 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

However, one veteran has quickly been climbing the ranks on the roster, making a significant impact. Some might say the Knicks have already made their prized acquisition this off-season, and his name is Derrick Rose.

Rose played 38 minutes against Indiana, scoring 17 points and recorded 11 assists. He has been an absolute menace on defense, and his vision on the court has helped the Knicks in transition and finding open shots consistently.

Thanks to a close relationship between Rose and head coach Tom Thibodeau, his adaptation to their style has been seamless and efficient.

“Any time you’ve spent the amount of time that we’ve spent together and to have all the experiences that we’ve had — we’ve had some great highs, we’ve had some lows — there’s just an appreciation for him,” Thibodeau said Friday. “I think that’s one of the best parts of coaching, as you get to know people over a long period of time you appreciate all the things that they bring.

Thibodeau knew what Rose would bring to the team, including improved court vision, the ability to get the ball to their primary scorers, and tantalizing defense. With that being said, at 32 years old, the Knicks are utilizing Rose significantly and need to be careful they don’t overwork him.

“I think it’s very important, especially when you have a coach like Thibs, he’s a martinet-type of individual,” Rose said Friday. “He’s very serious. He knows the standings and he’s going to remind you this is a team that if we make it to the payoffs we could end up facing them.

Mind set and mentality is oftentimes half the battle, and Thibodeau is keen on reminding his team what they’re fighting for and what the goal is this season.

Historically, Thibs is known for getting his teams to the playoffs, even if it means working twice as hard as everybody else and playing vigorous defense. The Knicks, so far, have done well in both categories, taking exponential steps forward despite multiple factors working against them. The acquisition of Rose, though, has been one of the bright spots this season.

Knicks’ Derrick Rose raves about ‘young energy’ elevating his game

New York Knicks, Derrick Rose

Ever since the New York Knicks acquired Derrick Rose, their offense has been a bit more efficient. Over eight games, Rose is averaging 11.8 points and played an influential role in the victory on Thursday evening against the Sacramento Kings.

The veteran point guard connected on his first six shots, finishing with 18 points and six assists, making both of his shots from three-point. Ultimately, his addition has only benefited the team, especially when it comes to his mentorship of Immanuel Quickley.

While Quickley has suffered through his fair share of rookie struggles, his offensive abilities are rejuvenating Knicks fans once again. In the victory over the Kings, he recorded 25 points and hit all 12 of his free throws. He provides a jolt whenever on the floor, playing 20 minutes compared to Rose’s 28.

Rose was asked about this young Knicks team, having played with them back in 2016 when he was 28 years old. Fast forward four years, and nobody on that squad is leftover with New York, with Frank Ntilikina being the closest having joined the squad in 2017.

Derrick remembers what it was like to carry a team on his back and ultimately ran him into the ground after three consecutive seasons of 20+ points per game. He was considered one of the best point guards in basketball, if not the best player in the league at one point. However, a torn ACL in 2012 significantly damaged his progress, but he has proven to still be an adequate player and influential option off the bench for New York. In fact, he started the game again Sacramento, providing plenty of spark on their team needed him most.

“I had the team on my back for numerous years. I went through all of that. Now, I have the luxury of playing with young energy. They bring more life to me whenever I’m on the floor.”

Adding a bit of veteran leadership to the team has done them well, especially since Rose and head coach Tom Thibodeau have a fantastic relationship. Unfortunately, players like Austin Rivers caught the short end of the stick, as Rose has completely replaced him based on his offensive prowess.

How the New York Knicks will likely use Frank Ntilikina moving forward

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks were utterly dominant in the win over to Sacramento on Thursday evening. Winning by nearly 20 points, it was practically a blowout, led by some of the Knicks’ young players. However, we can’t disregard the performances by Julius Randle, Derrick Rose, and Alec Burks, who hit five three-pointers and scored 19 points in the fourth quarter.

The veterans showed up to play, leading the charge and giving the neophytes an opportunity to thrive against one of the worst defenses in the NBA. The Kings couldn’t handle the Knicks on offense, and it led to a nice comeback performance from Frank Ntilikina, who has been out for the past few weeks. With Elfird Payton missing his first game of the season with a hamstring injury, it offered Ntilikina an opportunity to showcase his skills on the floor in front of head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Luckily for Frank, his primary strength was on display, and it is one that Thibodeau values extremely highly.

“His defense was fantastic,” Tom Thibodeau said.

Like many professional sports, matchups ultimately decide the tempo and flow of the game. Frank, utilizing his athleticism and pesky defense, was able to stick to De’Aaron Fox for a majority of the contest. While Fox did land 29 points, Ntilikina did a great job on the floor, recording three steals and two assists, finishing with a +17 +/-.

“It was matchups,’’ Thibodeau said. “I wanted to get a look at Frank. We have a lot of confidence in everyone on the roster. It was Frank’s opportunity, he went in and took advantage of it and played well. His defense was fantastic.’’

Returning from a long spell on the bench, as The Frenchman dealt with COVID-19, which followed a sprained knee that cost him three weeks, meant a lot to the young player.

“It was a long stretch,’’ Frank said. “There was so much happiness and motivation to do more.’’

There’s still value to be had for the Knicks with Frank:

Ntilikina is the longest tenure Knick, and at just 22 years old, Thibodeau got a taste of what he’s capable of doing. If he’s able to improve his offense, which we’ve been saying for quite some time, he could be an everyday player for New York, but he needs to prove consistency before anything.

“When you come back from a long stretch, with [Thibodeau] I’ll get more comfortable on the court,’’ Ntilikina said. “I was so happy to be on the court, to be able to compete with my teammates. I was really happy, so I had a lot of energy. I definitely felt good.’’

Once Payton returns to the lineup, I don’t expect to see Frank as much, but he’s a defensive weapon that Thibodeau will see as an asset as the season progresses. Expect the Knicks to utilize him in specific matchups with more athletic guards.

Knicks’ Austin Rivers thrown under the bus after Derrick Rose acquisition

New York Knicks, Austin Rivers

The New York Knicks have been making gradual changes to their roster, notably the acquisition of Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson. Both have been influential in the team’s recent success, but other players have been left in the dust as a result of these moves.

For example, the moment the Knicks acquired Rose, shooting guard Austin Rivers took a backseat. Since February 9, Rivers has only made two appearances and spent just under five minutes on the court. An unfortunate byproduct of acquiring Derrick, who has a close relationship with Tom Thibodeau and offers a bit more offensive prowess than Rivers.

“I think that was an assumed thing already when Derrick came. So I already understood and I know that’s [Tom Thibodeau‘s] guy,” said Rivers. “He’s been with Derrick and Derrick’s a heck of a player so, again, we had our conversation there and that’s going to stay [in house].”

Rivers fully understands that Rose was ultimately going to earn more playing time, considering the former Houston Rocket is averaging 7.3 points per game this season while Rose is offering 10.9 over 21.3 minutes, a very similar number (minutes) to Rivers this far.

Derrick Rose is simply offering the Knicks more:

In addition, Rose is producing double the amount of assists, indicating a more vision-oriented player who can pick out transition runners and big men in the paint. Nonetheless, Rivers plans to remain focused and ready for another opportunity, which hopefully will present itself at some point.

“Every day that I’m here I’m always going to be all in,” he said. “I actually like all the guys on this team. We have great guys on this team. And because you never know. Maybe they might need me to play or whatever. Crazy things have happened. I’ve seen it all. So that’s kind of my attitude toward this. Just control what I can control, continue to get better, continue to stay ready.”

If there is one reason to be OK with this move, it’s that Rivers signed a three-year deal with the Knicks this past offseason, so he will likely have an opportunity in the near future. Rose is only signed for the rest of the 2021 campaign, and his primary focus should be mentoring Immanuel Quickley and preparing him to be the future point guard for the team.

New York Knicks: Derrick Rose takes shot at officiating in loss to Warriors

New York Knicks

Coming off good news that New York Knicks power forward Julius Randle made the All-Star team, earning a victory over the Golden State Warriors was a necessity. While the Knicks entered the second half with the lead, the Warriors quickly regained lost ground, dominating the third quarter, outscoring NY 39-26.

Ultimately, it was a disappointing loss for the Knicks, who hosted fans at MSG for the first time in months. However, one veteran player believes that Golden State was receiving an unfair advantage from the referees.

“I felt we were getting good shots,’’ Derrick Rose said. “To be honest, we weren’t getting the calls. It felt like guys were going into the lane and we weren’t getting the same calls. It makes it hard when it’s that lopsided.’’

Rose finished the contest with 16 points over 27 minutes, collecting eight assists and four rebounds. Altogether, Rose had a solid performance, tantalizing Steph Curry on defense but adding a bit of confidence to the Knicks’ offense.

As for the lack of calls, Rose was perplexed that the officiating was so lopsided.

“I really don’t know,’’ Rose said. “We’re pros. I don’t even want to bring up their names. It just makes it hard when you’re already struggling on the offensive end.

“You’re driving and not getting the same call. It makes it seem something else is going on.”

The New York Knicks had a clear disadvantage:

If you watched the game on Tuesday evening, you would likely agree with Rose in the sense that the officiating was clearly uneven. Golden State had an unfair advantage at times, especially on one play where RJ Barrett jumped straight in the air with a slight twist that was enough for two shots at the end of the game.

With New York dropping this game, it extends their differential from .500 on the season by two games. They will now play the Sacramento Kings on Thursday evening, which should offer a bit easier of a contest. The Kings have lost their last eight games straight, and while they haven’t scored below 110 points, their defense is abysmal.

New York, however, lacks a clutch shooter, and their streakiness from three-point doesn’t do them any favors. At some point, they are going to need to find a consistent shooter that isn’t named Reggie Bullock, and the reality is, the only method of acquiring one might be through a trade.

Why the New York Knicks shouldn’t trade for a superstar

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks are gearing up to face off against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday evening, but news has been revolving that Tom Thibodeau and his squad could acquire a big name in a potential trade. The question is, how valuable would that be and what would be the asking price?

Reports have indicated that the Knicks have been keeping tabs on a variety of players, including star Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, and CJ McCollum. Beal has been the focal point the past few days, but the asking price would be significant, including multiple first-rounders and a young player with potential.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks told Empire Sports Media that the Knicks would have to be OK parting ways with RJ Barrett, two first-rounders, and two unprotected first-rounders. That is an astronomical price tag for Beal, but he would immediately make them a playoff-contending team.

Beal is averaging 32.9 points per game this year over 26 games, a career-high coming off a 2019 season where he was averaging 30.5 points over 57 games. Bradley is a bonafide star who is only 27 and has room to grow.

If New York truly sees him as a future part of the team, parting ways with Barrett might be a good move. However, the argument against it is simple and straightforward.

Don’t fix what’s not broken. The Knicks have made a significant turnaround in just one off-season under Thibodeau and new management. In fact, it has been one of the biggest surprises of the year so far, as New York consistently beats winning teams and has the number one ranked defense in the NBA. Thanks to stellar performances by Julius Randle, who is averaging 23.2 points per game and 11 rebounds, and the emergence of a youngster Immanuel Quickley, Thibodeau has some interesting pieces to work with.

The benefits of landing a star would help the Knicks, but might harm them too:

Of course, landing a superstar would be a positive move, but they might have to give up too much in which it would hurt their future. Mortgaging your future on a star always has its cons, and the Knicks might be better off waiting until free agency to acquire a big name.

Considering the team is still developing, getting minutes to their younger players should be a priority, building the continuity within the current starting unit and then injecting more talent in FA should be the move. Sending off multiple first-round picks and a player like Barrett would only hurt the team’s long-term future.

New York Knicks quietly keeping tabs on CJ McCollum

New York Knicks, CJ McCollum

The New York Knicks have actively been considering trading for a star this season, especially with the rise of Julius Randle and the establishment of Immanuel Quickley. The Knicks are playing above expectations, inching out an impressive win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday evening. Winning by just four points, Randle scored 25, RJ Barrett contributed 21, and the remainder of the starting five put up no fewer than 10 points. All around, the Knicks were impressive, as they are just one game away from a .500 record.

As they push for a potential playoff spot as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, there is still plenty of time for New York to fall back into old habits. However, under new coaching and management, they seem to be a more disciplined and refined team.

To assist them in this impressive turnaround, acquiring a premium player in a trade seems like a good move, but it could be extremely costly. The Knicks would realistically have to give up multiple first-round picks and possibly a young player, as reported for the acquisition of Bradley Beal. It isn’t likely they’re going to offer up RJ Barrett anytime soon, but rather try and utilize pieces like Kevin Knox to get the ball moving.

According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the Knicks have been “monitoring” star Portland guard McCollum.

What would McCollum offer the New York Knicks?

McCollum is a dominant player who has increasingly gotten better over the past few seasons. He’s averaging 26.7 points, 5.0 assists, and 3.9 total rebounds per game over 13 starts. McCollum has been dealing with a left mid-foot fracture which he suffered on January 16 against the Atlanta Hawks, but he’s inching toward a return in a little over a week.

With 72 games in a regular NBA season, McCollum has proven to be healthy over the last six years, so I wouldn’t consider this injury anything too problematic. The Knicks likely have their eyes set on multiple options they can target in a potential trade. If there’s any time to inject a premium player into their lineup and completely revitalize this turnaround, it is now.

CJ offers a consistent shooter from the field, a fantastic three-point shooter, and also plays solid defense. The question is, will the Trailblazers even be willing to include him in a trade.