Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
LOS ANGELES -- A report in July stated that the Knicks had a meeting scheduled with then-free agent Kawhi Leonard. Leonard on Saturday said that, to his knowledge, no meeting was scheduled between he and the Knicks.
"Not that I was aware of," Leonard said after the Clippers' loss to the Grizzlies.
Entering free agency, the Knicks felt confident that they could get a meeting with Leonard based on their top executives' relationship with Leonard's uncle and adviser, Dennis Robertson. The club seemed aware at the time that it was unlikely that they could actually sign Leonard unless they brought another top free agent in with him.
Leonard on Saturday said that he gave the Knicks no consideration in free agency.
"I never said I was considering going to the Knicks. Everybody knew where I wanted to go once I requested the trade so I don't know where that came from," the two-time Finals MVP said.
According to a report in July, the Knicks canceled the meeting they had scheduled with Leonard so they could move on quickly to sign their other free agent targets with the cap space they had available at the time. The theory was that if the Knicks waited to meet with Leonard, their other free agent targets could have signed with other teams. That theory makes sense, but, again, Leonard flatly denied that he had a meeting scheduled with the club.
The two-time NBA champion ultimately signed with the Clippers once the club acquired Paul George in a trade with Oklahoma City.
That came days after Knicks targets Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets, a gut punch for the Knicks at the time.
New York expected to land at least one top player in free agency after trading Kristaps Porzingis in a deal that netted two first-round picks, Dennis Smith Jr. and created enough cap space for the club to sign two max stars. Team owner James Dolan said in an interview with ESPN Radio in New York that, based on what the Knicks were hearing, they were going to have a big summer.
But after missing out on Leonard, Durant and Irving, the Knicks pivoted to sign several veterans to short-term contracts. They also inked Julius Randle to a 3-year deal.
New York started the season slowly, performing well below internal expectations.
Team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry fired head coach David Fizdale after the club lost 18 of its first 22 games.
The Knicks are 6-7 under interim head coach Mike Miller. The club plays the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Grizzlies' Jenkins rooting for Miller, a fellow G Leaguer
Like Mike Miller, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins worked in the G League before getting a chance to coach in the NBA. Jenkins and Miller were introduced through someone who worked with both coaches during their tenures with San Antonio's G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs. They also worked together at the NBA Draft Combine a few years ago.
Jenkins, as you'd imagine, is happy to see Miller thrive so far in New York. Is he surprised that the Knicks have played well under their interim head coach?
"No, not at all. He loves the game of basketball. He's got a great ability to connect with players and build relationships," Jenkins said on Saturday after coaching his Grizzlies to a win over the Clippers. "I know he's super competitive but he's humble in doing it. He just goes out and tries to work as hard - and prepare as hard - as he can, and kind of just lets the players go out there and compete.
"I think he does a good job of connecting with them and allowing them to showcase what they're able to do. I know he's hungry to be able to get better every day. That's one thing that came across when he and I talked at the combine. He loves the game and he pours his heart and soul into it, so it's no surprise."
Jenkins added: "To see him getting this opportunity and getting these guys competing, I know he's doing what he loves to do. It's awesome to see."