Would Marcus Morris make the New York Knicks a playoff caliber team?

New York Knicks, Marcus Morris

It seems as if the New York Knicks actually do have some pull in free agency, as they’re nearing a deal to pull Marcus Morris away from the San Antonio Spurs after already having an agreement in place.

While Morris is no Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, he’s an extremely physical player in the paint and can make an influence for the Knicks in 2019. After restructuring Reggie Bullock’s deal, the team is in a position to offer $15 million-per-year to Morris, a bit more than the Spurs were offering.

While there is optimism that Morris will stick to his original plan of signing with San Antonio, it’s not off the table that he will elect to take his talents to New York.

Last season, he averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Celtics and his defensive rebound totals per game have been increasing consistently over the past three years.

Adding Morris to a free agent class including Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, Bobby Portis, and Wayne Ellington, surely helps sooth the minds of Knicks fans still feeling the hangover from the Brooklyn Nets superstar festival.

My question is — will Marcus steal playing time away from the Knicks youth?

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I believe that head coach David Fizdale is keen on keeping his youngsters on the court and providing them with ample opportunity to succeed and progress. Of course, RJ Barrett will be a starter along with Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr., and Damyean Dotson, but where will Marcus fit in?

The Knicks have gone on a power forward signing spree, but Marcus will likely take playing time away from Bobby Portis down low, which is acceptable. While the forward is efficient in the paint, he’s also a proficient shooter, connecting on 37.5 percent of shots from three-point land.

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It’s likely he could pass on the Spurs’ deal of two-years, $20 million in a favor of a one-year, $15 million deal with the Knicks. In fact, if he’s confident in his abilities, there should be no question in coming to the Big Apple.

His skill-set would be a big boost for the team, but I don’t believe it would be enough to help the Knicks to a playoff appearance. They’re simply still too young and don’t have a consistent point guard to lead the offense. There are still too many question marks that need answers and unproven talent. Morris will help, but not that much.

New York Knicks: Could Ignas Brazdeikis be better draft pick over Barrett?

New York Knicks, Ignas Brazdeikis

While it’s too early to tell whether Duke star and New York Knicks 3rd overall draft choice RJ Barrett will become the force he’s expected to be, second-rounder Ignas Brazdeikis has shown incredible production so far.

The Summer League is generally a time where the teams can gauge their young talent and begin to see them take developmental steps before the regular season. Barrett, who’s averaged 21% from the field, has underwhelmed, but it’s not something we should worry about given his age and youth.

However, appreciating the success of youngsters is important. Brazdeikis has been on fire since starting with the Knicks, putting up 30-points in his latest effort against the Pheonix Suns, hitting a game-tying three-point shot with 25 seconds remaining on the clock.

What are the New York Knicks getting from the Lithuanian?

As a freshman with Michigan in the Big Ten conference, Ignas showed great offensive versatility and the ability to make an impact in that facet. He averaged a solid 14.8 points-per-game in 2018 (sports reference), but with more talent around him at the NBA level, I believe he will continue to grow and produce efficiently.

The Canadian earned Big Ten Rookie of the Year honors, displaying a diverse array of skills that will help him succeed at the next level. The 6-foot-7 forward has above-average ball-handling skills for his size, which enables him to push the ball up the court with speed and effectiveness.

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He created a lot of fast-break opportunities with this skill and I anticipate he will continue to utilize it in his rookie campaign. The ability to stretch the court and play fast is something that the Knicks have failed to do in the past — stopping opposing team’s momentum and creating some of their own was difficult, but Brazdeikis offers that to the Knicks.

Being a crafty finisher and athletic player on offense will help him earn playing time, but he will need to develop his defense if he wishes to be a regular player on the floor. There’s much he needs to work on, but he’s starting out at a good level at just 20-years-old.

 

New York Knicks: What to take away from RJ Barrett Summer League struggles

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

Shooting an averaged 21% from the field in New York Knicks third-overall pick RJ Barrett’s first two Summer League games shouldn’t be cause for concern, but as we follow the media in New York, we have to talk about it.

Barrett, a 19-year-old talent that’s expected to make an impact with the Knicks and their struggling franchise, has struggled to start off his career, luckily these two games don’t have any real meaning or implications. Atlanta Hawks star Tre Young looked awful in his first Summer League games in 2018 and yet he was one of the league’s most dynamic scorers.

Shall we take a unified breather and let the kid develop before we coin him a bust?

At least one New York Knicks rookie is flashing signs of potential:

The silver lining, however, has been 47th overall pick Ignas Brazdeikis, who stole the show on Sunday night against the Pheonix Suns, leading both teams with 30 overall points, drilling a three-ball to cap off a Knicks late spurt that forced extra time.

Now, while the Knicks do have some positives to enjoy, the questions revolving Barrett are not worth considering. He’s a young kid with a ton of expectation hanging on his shoulders. Imagine yourself in that position with the most volatile and daunting media in the country. The forward will be just fine, and we need to give him as many minutes and reps as humanly possible to expedite his growth.

Shooting 3-of-15 from the field, 1-of-5 from three-point range and 1-of-4 from the free-throw line with eight turnovers will seem like a distant memory when it’s all said and done. We’ve seen what he’s capable of at the highest level, and we watched his former teammates Zion Williamson get stuffed by Kevin Knox twice in one game.

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It takes time to adapt to the speed and strength of NBA players. It’s not an overnight success story, it takes time and hard reps to reach the potential set out for any given player, especially Barrett in New York.

If there’s anything Barrett is lacking, it’s surely not athleticism:

The first-round draft choice has seemed to struggle against bigger opponents at the next level, as he often bullied his way into the paint during college. He will need to develop a stronger shooting game and gain some size along the way. At such a young age, there’s only so much he can control when it comes to his physical mass.

Becoming more efficient will require him to take ample shots during the pre-season and not lose his confidence. Reminding him that missing is only a part of growing should be the mantra he follows.

How have the New York Knicks looked so far in the Summer League?

The New York Knicks are 0-2 in this year’s summer league. This is not the start fans were hoping for.  A lot of fans, especially from the Knicks, tend to overreact to these games. How a player performs is either criticized or over-hyped.

Most Knicks followers were very excited to see rookie RJ Barrett play and go head-to-head against his good friend Zion Williamson.  If you watched the game, Zion played better than RJ.  Fans were already overreacting.  We are here to say… relax.  It was Barrett’s first game as a Knick, he is young, 19, and he was most likely nervous.

Barrett is a natural scorer and playmaker.  Just because he had a bad shooting performance in his first two professional games does not mean that fans should panic.  Barrett is going to be just fine.

Kevin Knox kills the summer league but falters during the regular season.  Knox did the same thing last year and swept Knicks fans off their feet.  However, it did not seem to carry over into the season, as it was a roller coaster.  Fans got so excited for Knox that his first was underwhelming. But, he too is young.  Knox seemed to have a better more fluid shot, especially in the first game against the Pelicans. Let’s hope that he brings that shot into the regular season.

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Mitchell Robinson has been a force down-low.  His defense has been good and he continues to be a blocking stud.  Robinson is only going to get better each game, so no need to worry about him. Maintaining his health will be a priority, though.

Ignas Brazdeikis appears to be another second-round steal for the Knicks. But again, it is the summer league and yes, he did go off against Phoenix, but the Knicks might have found another gem. Iggy was stroking it from all over.  He was aggressive and not afraid to take his shot. Brazdeikis needs to bring that fire every day and he can be a very good role player.

Despite being 0-2, the Knicks are still in a good position. It will take time for Barrett to get comfortable and that is when he will flourish.  Overall, the summer league does not mean much.  It is just an opportunity to see the potential up-and-coming players for one’s team and get us talking.  Do not overreact and just enjoy basketball being back.

New York Knicks: Allonzo Trier and Kevin Knox light up Summer League (VIDEO)

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

While the New York Knicks fell to the Pelicans 80-74 in their first Summer League game of the year, they led at one point by 18 in the second quarter.

When all cylinders were clicking, the starting five looked daunting and effective moving the floor. One player that stood out was shooting guard, Allonzo Trier.

Finishing the night with 21 points, Trier put on a shooting display, connecting several times from beyond the arc and utilized his step-back jumper frequently throughout the game. Despite a tough Knicks effort, there was still 7:53 left in the fourth-quarter before after-shocks from a Southern California 7.1 earthquake rattled the arena and forced the game’s premature ending.

The New York Knicks top pick faced off with his former teammate:

The big story of the night, however, was the first meeting of RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson on their respective teams. Zion, who’s known for his physicality around the rim, showed off his dunking abilities once more, putting home 11 points (4-of-9 shooting). A knee to knee collision saw him leave the game early, but Barrett, the 3rd overall pick by the Knicks carried on.

The forward finished the night with 10 points after a bad shooting night — 4-of-18 from the field, it’s expected from him to feel the jitters of the NBA early on. He will begin to adapt and develop as the Summer League and offseason progresses.

Aside from Barrett and Trier, second-year man Kevin Knox also had a good game, scoring 17 points and hitting several three-pointers, one of which was right in front of Williamson’s outstretched arm.

While the Knicks didn’t come away with the win, a heroic performance from Frank Jackson of the Pelicans saved the day (30 points). The youth ranks of the Knicks looked solid and will only continue to grow and develop as they experience more playing time together. It will be exciting to see their chemistry align with one another.

New York Knicks: Ignas Brazdeikis can be steal of the draft

New York Knicks, Michigan Wolverines, Ignas Brazdeikis

The New York Knicks didn’t even bring in Ignas Brazdeikis for a workout thinking he would be drafted well before the 55th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Moving up with Sacramento Kings to the 47th pick to steal the Lithuanian might have been one of the most sneaky-good moves of the draft.

The 6-foot-7 forward is a proficient scorer but needs to develop his defensive skills at the professional level. The Knicks, however, were keen on grabbing the talented Michigan product – paying the Kings $1 million in cash considerations.

The New York Knicks rookie commented on his drafting spot:

“I was kind of surprised I wasn’t drafted in the first round,’’ Brazdeikis told The Post on Wednesday after the Knicks’ summer league practice. “But I’m happy with the situation I’m in. It’s a great situation for me, and I’m proud to be a Knick. I’m definitely going to prove a lot of people wrong.’’

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President Steve Mills commented previously on the forward’s abilities, stating:

“There was toughness and competitiveness he exhibited in those games. Scott and I looked at each other, he’s high on the list, but I don’t think he’ll make it out of the first round. He’s physical, tough, can shoot. As our analytics guys laid it out, he should be a contributor on an NBA roster.’’

Assuming he would go between picks 25-40, the Knicks were surprised he dropped as far as he did and didn’t wait to scoop him up before another team realized his potential. As a productive scorer, averaging 14.8 points, 0.8 assists, 0.7 blocks, and 4.3 defensive rebounds per game, Brazdeikis will play a part in the Knicks’ plan this upcoming season, but I anticipate he will require a year of NBA experience to unlock his potential.

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett battles against Mitchell Robinson (VIDEO)

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

The New York Knicks didn’t waste any time in getting RJ Barrett straight to work with his new teammates, allowing him to begin developing a relationship and sense of chemistry with them prior to his rookie campaign.

The youth already existing on the team must seem normal to Barrett, considering he’s only just 18 years old and will be playing with athletes not much older. The Knicks have elected to go full-speed with their youth agenda — striking out ‘on purpose’ with Kevin Durant in free agency and losing out to several other potential key additions.

Instead, they signed 24-year-old power forward Julius Randle as their keystone grab and brought in a slew of other complimentary players. The issues continue for the Knicks when it comes to luring high-profile players to New York, though, as the Brooklyn Nets hauled in both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Despite losing out on the elite talent, the Knicks are moving in the right direction, building around their young players and spending resources on helping them succeed and not taking unnecessary risks.

The youngsters are getting to work with the New York Knicks:

Check out this video where Barret posts up on Mitchell Robinson, one of the league’s top young defenders – finishing second in blocks last year.

Barrett has more than he can handle in this bout with the center who holds a five-inch advantage. His step-back shot is far to the left and bounces off the top of the backboard. There’s nothing more we should take away from this other than it’s the first practice and it’s good to see the 3rd overall pick already working with his new team.

Additionally, developing a strong post-game will help him tremendously at the NBA level. One of college basketball’s more dominant players, Barrett is entering the league with high expectations and will hopefully be able to live up to his potential.

The New York Knicks showed their true colors this free agency period

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

Whether the New York Knicks were reluctant to pursue Kevin Durant due to his torn Achilles or not, the reality is this — there’s no excuse for striking out on every superstar.

New York is supposed to be an attractive and appealing place for big-time players looking to further establish themselves in history. Taking over a team and organization and making it something of their own, but ownership seems to be too involved.

James Dolan, the owner of the Knicks and CEO of Madison Square Garden, is the perennial problem that Knicks fans face every year. Passing on one of the best players of all time because of an injury is simply blasphemous, especially when you consider the value he would bring to RJ Barrett and the other young talents collectively learning on the roster.

Dolan did a disservice to every single fan and player by not attempting to bring in Durant, instead, he snatched Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Portis, and Reggie Bullock. Second and third-tier players that will help the Knicks to another losing season and hopefully another lottery pick at this point.

The New York Knicks are in purgatory:

Without the likes of a max-contract player, the current team is nowhere close to being a legitimate competitor. It seems, however, that Knicks management, aka Dolan, was resistant when it came to putting their money where their mouth is. Passing on Durant, not even having an interview with Kawhi Leonard, losing Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets before free agency even opened…

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The current state of the team and front office is in shambles, in fact, they’re an embarrassment to the basketball world and a consistent let-down to the fan-base. There’s reason to riot against the powers above that simply don’t understand the concept of winning and the influence of New York.

It makes you appreciate the influence and attempt by Carmelo Anthony. He was the only player that even dared to drag the Knicks out of the ashes. Clearly, no other superstar is even willing to tread foot in a place that seems to end careers before they start. Making Dolan obsolete seems to be the only way out of this dark age, but there’s no end in sight.

We just have to pray consistent losing and high draft picks fixes the issues that have plagued the organization for years.

Were the New York Knicks right to withhold max contract from Kevin Durant?

New York Knicks

As one of the best players in recent memory in the NBA, a torn Achilles shouldn’t have even been factored into the decision to pursue Kevin Durant for the New York Knicks this offseason. Modern medicine is good enough to see torn Achilles and ACL’s recover to 100%, but owner James Dolan figured he’d save himself some cash…so it seems.

The Knicks, once again, have played themselves, finding themselves with several second-tier free agents instead of premium talent. At the very least, bringing in Durant could have persuaded others to come to the Mecca of basketball as well.

While Julius Randle, 24, is a solid young power forward that will help the Knicks over the next three seasons, he’s no Durant. However, the other side of the story is still a positive one.

The New York Knicks are still headed in the right direction:

While the Knicks didn’t convince any superstars to join the ranks, they’re still on a good path moving forward with a ton of youth on the team and a potential star in RJ Barrett.

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As we dive into the roster — Kevin Knox, Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, Dennis Smith Jr., there’s plenty to be excited about. The issue simply presents itself as time. Waiting for the youth to blossom into veteran talent is the cost of building through the draft and failing to bring in proven players that can influence the team now.

It’s not what Knicks fans want to hear or wait for, as another failing to address vital additions to the team costs us more of our lives to watch a struggling franchise. Dolan, the unanimous winner for the most hated owner, will remain seated in his current position, which guarantees more issues.

Hopefully, the likes of Scott Perry and Steve Mills can mask the deficiencies and extract the success we are all so hungry for.

New York Knicks: Kevin Durant is the perfect mentor for RJ Barrett

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The general consensus is that New York Knicks third-overall pick RJ Barrett will be a foundational building block for the future of the organization. He’s a player that can develop into a potential superstar, but it will take some time for him to get there.

That’s why the Knicks must do whatever it takes to sign Durant, the absolute perfect player to help Barrett reach his potential. The experience, success, and all-around dominance of Durant’s game is something most youth players try to mimic, but while his injury will likely keep him out for some if not all of the 2019-20 season, there’s still value to be extracted.

The Knicks can still put Durant to work even if he’s sitting on the bench collecting $30+ million next season — he can be Barrett’s mentor. Having one of the best players in the NBA to help develop your top pick is something most organizations dream of, and it can be a reality, the hardest part will be convincing him to come to New York.

What will be the New York Knicks sales pitch?

I assume the executives will not only have to show Durant the best night of his life off the court but to also convince the superstar that their current team is ready to win. If he misses all of next season and returns after, there has to be a belief that the team will be in a position to compete for playoff contention.

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Two years of experience for players like Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Damyeon Dotson, Allonzo Trier, and a year for Barrett should put them in a position to succeed. That should be the primary pitch, along with the guarantee that they will address the point guard position with an above-average talent and retain DeAndre Jordan, Durant’s good friend.

Given the Brooklyn Nets don’t blow Durant out of the water with their plan, that should be enough to sway him towards the Knicks and Madison Square Garden.