Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
When people talk about the Knicks-Nets rivalry these days, they talk about what the Nets did this summer -- and what the Knicks didn't do.
That narrative serves as motivation to this year's Knicks team.
"Of course, the Nets got two big superstars this summer but it's just fuel to the fire for us," Knicks forward Kevin Knox said at an event on Monday to debut Puma's new sneaker line, which features the Puma Clyde Hardwood.
The Nets landed Knicks targets Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. After missing on those two stars, the Knicks added several players on short-term contracts to complement their young core. They hope that the roster fosters a competitive environment that helps young players like Knox develop.
Knox, who was part of a panel that included RJ Barrett and Clyde Frazier at the Puma event, said that the atmosphere should help the Knicks.
Introducing the Puma Clyde Hardwood.- B/R Kicks (@brkicks) September 17, 2019
October 18. $120. pic.twitter.com/iurgl8SF3O
"It's going to be great for us. I don't think nobody is guaranteed (playing time) -- no starting lineups, no minutes, none of that," Knox said. "Fiz kind of voiced that in the message he sends us.
Everyone has to earn their minutes this year, earn their position. I think that's going to be great for us to go into training camp, just knowing that nobody's really got a starting spot and everyone's going out there to fighting for their minutes, earning their minutes."
Knox will likely be competing with other forwards, including Marcus Morris and Julius Randle, for playing time. Barrett will be in the same position.
Both players have participated in voluntary scrimmages with teammates in New York in recent weeks to prepare for training camp. Knox and Barrett noted that the scrimmages have been intense.
"Very competitive, very competitive," said Knox, who added upper and lower body strength over the summer. "We've got guys now … that's going to play hard, talk trash all scrimmage long. Even though we're one big family, smiles and stuff after (the game). But, in between those lines, it's a totally different team from last year.
"You can definitely tell. Just the whole tenacity that we're playing with in the scrimmages, I can definitely see that carrying over to the season. They've been really good scrimmages, you've got a lot of guys going at eachother. And that's something that we want. We want to be able to go at eachother on the court and then when we play against another team, be connected as one and be able to play hard for one another."
The Knicks need to take a step forward this season after winning just 17 games last season. The club has lost at least 50 games in four straight seasons and last made the playoffs in 2013. Fizdale has told his players to focus on what they can control and ignore any outside noise as they enter the season.
"(He) put us on a group message (and said) put your head down and go out and play hard and play for one another," Knox said. "That's kind of been our motto this whole summer. Go at each other in practice and then when you get against somebody else go at them, no matter who is in front of you. That's kind of just been our mindset this whole summer. Fiz kind of just is feeding us all motivational stuff. Don't listen to none of the media, social media, twitter, Instagram, none of htat, just go out and play for one another."
Here are a few other highlights from the Puma panel discussion:
- Barrett said that he's not going get influenced by any of the hype or attention that comes with being a high draft pick in New York. "That's all it is, just talk. At the end of the day, I'm a rookie, I've got to come in and pay my dues. I definitely want to have a great season but people come in and they say things and they gas it all up. And that's not really what it is. I'm just going to work my butt off, do what I do." The 19-year-old added that he's unfazed by criticism or praise that he may see on social media. He referenced the strong support system around him, which includes two-time MVP Steve Nash (his godfather) and his father, Rowan Barrett, who was a longtime pro and Olympic captain for Team Canada. "When you have that around you, and my dad's Olympian, you're like, 'Well I haven't done a thing yet.' (I'm) very humble.... and I just don't really care what people have to say about me I guess. What matters to me is really family and friends."
- Clyde Frazier, the first NBA face of Puma, said he was paid $5,000 and given all of the shoes that he wanted in his first deal. That figure drew a reaction from the crowd on hand. Frazier, the two-time NBA champion and MSG Network analyst, also was asked about his most memorable moment on the court. He referenced Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, when Willis Reed made an inspiring return from an injury, overshadowing Frazier's brilliant performance in the Knicks' win. "They call it the Willis Reed game and I call it b-llshit. Willis inspired us, hit the first two shots, set the tempo. I had 36 points, 19 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, sold hot dogs at halftime, had the game of my life man and the Knicks would win their first championship."
- Knox and Barrett said they were honored to represent Puma with Frazier, one of the most decorated players in franchise history. Puma has signed several NBA players over the past two years, re-emerging in the industry. "To have the guy who created this shoe, starting this whole thing, commentating your game, it's great," Knox said. "Looking to your left, running down the court, he's commenting on your game."
- Frazier, who knows the New York landscape intimately, suggested that some NBA players shy away from playing for the Knicks because of media/fan scrutiny in the Big Apple. "New York, it's the only city with 24-hour talk shows. You're in this perpetual fishbowl, can't get away from it. People always want to know what you're doing, how you're doing, why aren't you doing it? So I think that's why a lot of players now don't want to play in New York because of that scrutiny. The money today, you can get the same money in Indiana, you can get it in some other places without all the criticism that a lot of people get in New York. So New York is not for everybody but that's the pressure that I like."
- Knox and Barrett both jokingly agreed to let the famously sartorial Frazier pick out a wardrobe for them this season.... Barrett said lightheartedly that Knox, who signed with Puma last year, recruited him to Puma during Summer League. "Hey RJ, you look good in them Pumas,'" Barrett recalled Knox saying.... Frazier joked that this version of Puma basketball sneaker is 'no comparison' to the sneaker he wore as a player."