Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Here's our weekly Knicks mailbag with SNY's NBA Insider Ian Begley...
@HarunAli_30: Knicks free agency targets?
Before throwing any names out there, here are a few caveats: the salary cap number may change due to a dip in league revenue from the China imbroglio and the coronavirus crisis. It's unlikely to take a major hit, assuming the union and NBA work in accord to prevent that from happening.
But because of that uncertainty, and because of the significant number of partially guaranteed deals the Knicks have for next season, it's hard to project just how much money New York will have to spend this summer. Also, if Knicks president Leon Rose adds a GM or makes other significant front office additions between now and free agency, the Knicks' thinking on potential targets could change.
With that said, here's what we know: Before free agency last summer, high-ranking members of the organization had interest in signing Carmelo Anthony in free agency.
The Anthony signing was contingent on the Knicks completing their other free-agency plan in 2019: signing two max stars. When New York missed on those stars, the idea of signing Anthony lost significant momentum.
Anthony's agent at that time was Rose, who is currently the Knicks president.
Anthony, of course, is a free agent again this summer, coming off of a 50-game stint with Portland. He averaged 15 points on 43 percent shooting and six rebounds. He hit 37 percent of his threes.
Numbers aside, because of the scenario mentioned above and the idea that Rose, Anthony's old agent, is now the Knicks team president, you'd think that the idea of re-signing Anthony will be considered by both the Knicks and Anthony in the offseason.
Also, Christian Wood has fans in the Knicks' organization. Before Rose took over as team president, I know that the Knicks had monitored Wood for much of the season.
Wood was in the midst of a career season when the league suspended play. The Pistons big man moved to the starting lineup after the Andre Drummond trade and averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds, and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc as a starter.
In general, it's logical to assume that the Knicks will be targeting young players like Wood if they spend significant money this summer. It doesn't make sense for them to commit long-term money to any player already at the peak of his career (unless, of course, Anthony Davis decides to sign with a team other than the Lakers).
@NJVOBB: Why did the Nets fire Kenny Atkinson?
When he was explaining the decision, GM Sean Marks said that it was time for a change. So that left open a lot of room for interpretation. One possible factor? Sources said that Atkinson had lost at least a part of the Nets locker room at the time of his firing. Also, several Nets didn't see Atkinson as the right coach to lead the team to a title, per sources. Whatever the reasons were, the bottom line is that if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant wanted Atkinson to coach the team, he'd still be coaching the team.
That's not to suggest that either player had a direct role in Atkinson getting fired, it's simply the truth of the matter.
The timing of Atkinson's firing was also strange.
The Nets said at the time that it was a mutual decision between ownership, Marks and Atkinson. Usually, that language is used to soften the blow for a fired head coach. But in this instance, it would make sense if Atkinson was on board with the decision.
Leaving the Nets when he did will give Atkinson the best chance to land a desirable job. If he'd gotten fired in the middle of the 2020-21 season -- or after it -- it may have been more difficult for him to get a new coaching job.
@Vince44Koppel: Do any of your Knicks sources seem to have an opinion on Kenny Atkinson as the next Knicks coach?
The people I spoke with about Atkinson have a great deal of respect for him and the job he did in Brooklyn. Remember, he and Marks took over a Nets team with next to no draft capital. After winning 20 games in Atkinson's first season, Brooklyn made the playoffs in his third year on the bench. Atkinson and his staff did a tremendous job developing players like Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Knicks have a young group of players who would benefit from a strong development program. I've only heard strong, positive reviews from Knicks people about him. I don't know if Rose sees Atkinson as a strong candidate for the job if Mike Miller isn't retained. But I'm sure that several teams with young rosters will have serious interest in Atkinson this offseason.
@wichman_zach: The actual chance of a Donovan Mitchell trade?
Mitchell is under contract through next season. He's a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021. It's hard to see the Jazz trading him prior to free agency unless he privately forces the issue by saying he won't re-sign with the club. Short of Mitchell taking that approach, I don't think the chances of Utah trading Mitchell are high.
@EndoeNova: Killian Hayes, Haliburton, Cole, Maxey, or Lewis … Best fit for RJ and Mitch and why?
I prefer to lean on scouts when reporting on draft prospects rather than share my own opinion. In general, I think that the best fit for Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett is a player who can consistently knock down the outside shot. That kind of point guard should allow Robinson to be more of a weapon in the pick and roll and open up the floor for Barrett. That's something that ex-Knicks head coach David Fizdale pointed out in a recent interview with ESPN Radio.
For what it's worth, a few scouts I trust have projected Kira Lewis as a strong shooter at the next level. For more information, check out what Spencer Pearlman or Rashad Phillips say about Toppin. The website 'The Stepien' also has detailed reports on prospects.
@knowledgetaeks: When will the Knicks hire a GM
I assume they will have their GM for next season in place before the NBA Draft. The organization had put a general moratorium on front office hiring/firing during the coronavirus crisis. But I don't see that freeze lasting for several weeks.
One factor here: the Bulls and team president Arturas Karnisovas are already active in their search for a general manager. Maybe that spurs the Knicks to take a more active approach? I think current GM Scott Perry has a strong chance of remaining with the organization next season under Rose. At this point, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Perry remaining GM next season under Rose.
NYK HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS
The Knicks put together a video on social media honoring the area's first responders and health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.
On the team's Instagram account, a celebrity will lead the cheers for first responders every night at 7 p.m. on Instagram Live. Knicks executive Allan Houston and his family led the cheers on Sunday.