Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Knicks rank 29th in points per possession. They also rank 27th in pace. The two numbers don't correlate directly, of course. (The Lakers are bottom ten in pace and top ten in offense.) But you can be sure that the Knicks want to increase their ranking in both categories.
David Fizdale said his team spent time on Tuesday playing with a 12-second shot clock in an effort to increase their pace.
"We've got to get more possessions in the game to get over the hump and give ourselves more shots at the rim," he said. "….We've got to get to our stuff quicker. We've got to get up the floor faster, get into our actions faster. So hopefully there will some carry over for that."
Fizdale has wanted to play quicker since taking over as Knicks head coach. The club played at an average pace last season (17th in the NBA).
Maybe personnel hasn't allowed Fizdale to play as quickly as he'd like? Starting point guard Frank Ntilikina isn't known as someone who plays at a breakneck pace. Maybe the club would play a little quicker if Elfrid Payton were healthy?
Fizdale said Tuesday that he hopes that a faster pace will help players like Julius Randle and Marcus Morris get easier baskets. The onus is also on those forwards to run the floor and get out in transition.
"Can you get up the floor and get you two layups? Can you get to the line three or four more times a game just because you ran the floor hard?" Fizdale said, referencing conversations he's had with both Morris and Randle.
Speaking of Randle, Fizdale said Tuesday that he's noticed improvement from the forward on defense.
Randle, the Knicks' biggest signing over the summer, has drawn criticism for his play on both ends of the floor amid New York's 4-13 start.
Here are Fizdale's full thoughts on Randle: "His switches (on defense) have been fantastic. He's sliding his feet well. The thing I'm always hammering him about is the weakside and not letting that be the time that he takes a break. But other than that, over the last six games that I looked at - I've really been looking at a six-game pocket recently - offensively he's been playing great, 18 points a game. He's shooting 39 (percent) from 3. The big thing for him is concentrating on knocking down those free throws. Then he'll be right back where he was last year from a scoring standpoint."
Randle is shooting 61 percent from the free-throw line. As a team, the Knicks rank last in the NBA in free-throw percentage (67 percent).
Barrett in Fiz's corner
There's been speculation about Fizdale's job status since team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry held an impromptu press conference following a 21-point loss to Cleveland earlier this month. If the Knicks continue to win at their current rate, the speculation will probably continue (unless ownership or Mills says Fizdale is safe for the season). Given that context, it's worth noting that RJ Barrett is fully in Fizdale's corner.
"He's great. We all love him. I think you guys, everybody on the team, we all love coach, everybody in the organization," Barrett said. "He's a great guy. Like I said, we trust in him. What he tells us is, we have what, 10 new guys? That's tough to get 10 new players who haven't played together, to come in now and try to play in a system and fit all together at once. It's tough. He's doing a great job. We just gotta continue to get better and it's going to click for us soon. We're already starting to play better and I like what I'm seeing from my team."
No comment on Jefferson
Fizdale doesn't often give curt answers to questions from reporters but he offered a quick 'no comment' when asked about Richard Jefferson's thoughts on the Knicks during the Nets-Knicks broadcast Sunday night.
In a clip that was widely circulated on social media, Jefferson said during the YES Network broadcast that he chose to retire rather than sign with the Knicks. He stated the story as fact during the clip that circulated on social media. According to reports, he clarified later in the broadcast to say he was joking.
It's unclear how many people saw his clarification. But it's seems reasonable to assume that not everyone who saw his original clip also saw the clarification.
The Knicks on Sunday released a statement to clarify that they didn't offer Jefferson a contract in 2018 or 2019. This, of course, gave the story more attention. Whether it was worthwhile for the organization to put out the statement of clarification depends on your point of view.
Either way, it was another instance of the Knicks organization being on the wrong end of a joke.
"People can say whatever they want to say. All I know is I'm proud to be a part of this thing with these guys that I'm working with," Fizdale said when asked about the Knicks being the subject of a joke.
Mills, Perry and Fizdale said last season that they felt the club's perception among outsiders had changed, citing the stability of the organization.
The Knicks didn't land their top targets in free agency. Is that a sign that the perception of the club hasn't changed? Perhaps, but saying so definitively would be an assumption.
Fizdale said Tuesday that the people he knows around the league view New York in a positive light.
"I know how people view guys in this building and what we're doing. I have friends around the league and I know that throughout the league there's a high level of respect for us," he said. "So I don't get caught up in the noise and 15 second soundbites and things like that. All I think about is these guys in this building and how I take care of them."
Toward the end of his press conference, Fizdale was asked about his favorite Thanksgiving Day meal. Toward the end of his answer, he referenced his wife, Natasha Sen-Fizdale (smart man).
"I know what I miss. It ain't my go-to no more and I'm gonna call my aunt and see if she can ship some out to me but my aunt makes a corn pudding that's fire. I really miss that. My wife usually does a heck of a job with Thanksgiving dinner," he said.