Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Knicks on Thursday must've looked a lot like the team management envisioned when they built the roster in July.
Julius Randle (33 points on 14-for-26 shooting, 8 rebounds) dominated on offense. The ball moved well, thanks in part to Elfrid Payton (13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists). Marcus Morris complemented Randle (22 points, 8 rebounds) and the Knicks limited Brooklyn to an NBA season-low 27 percent shooting.
"We grinded the whole way, played a complete basketball game and got the win," Randle said.
The problem, of course, is that New York hasn't had enough of these nights this year.
The Knicks are 8-24, six games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Does Thursday's win change anything in a big picture sense for New York?
Probably not. There's no reason to think the Knicks won't make and take calls on any players on the roster, with the likely exception of RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.
We already know several teams - including the Minnesota Timberwolves - have expressed interest in guard Dennis Smith Jr. It's also worth noting that a few Knicks have said privately in recent weeks that they prefer to be traded ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline, per SNY sources.
It's unclear if any of those players have made a formal trade request to management, but the idea that Knicks players want to be somewhere else is indicative of how things have gone for New York this season.
The team, as you know, has played well below the organization's expectations.
When NBA teams fall short of expectations, it's not uncommon for players to want to get traded to another team.
What makes the Knicks' situation intriguing is that they have so many players on short-term, trade-friendly deals.
We'll find out in the coming weeks whether New York receives any offers it likes for Smith Jr. or those players on short-term deals.
As far as what's happening on the court, give New York credit for bouncing back on Thursday after an ugly loss to Washington earlier this week.
They held Brooklyn to just eight two-point field goals, the fewest by a team since 1950, per Elias.
Mitchell Robinson (10 points, 10 rebounds) impacted the Nets in the paint. He finished with two blocks but his presence changed so many Nets possessions. Frank Ntilikina and Payton helped limit Spencer Dinwiddie to 5-for-15 shooting and Randle continued to limit his dribbling/turnovers.
"He came out with a focus of establishing his offense and on the defensive side. We need him to do that," Morris said of Randle. "He's leading this team. He's playing well. He's making the passes and he's scoring. We need him to do that and we're going to keep giving him the ball and keep asking for that."
That quote above describes the player the Knicks hoped they were getting when they signed Randle to a 3-year, $63 million deal this summer. That Randle showed up in Brooklyn on Thursday. As did the other players the Knicks signed in July. It just hasn't happened often enough this season.
Shooting on the way?
Reggie Bullock practiced with the Knicks' G League team on Thursday and is progressing closer to a return. Bullock would give the Knicks more perimeter shooting - something the team is sorely lacking on most nights. The Knicks may also get Wayne Ellington back soon. Ellington, who has missed the last 10 games with an Achilles ailment, told SNY that he may return to the court as early Saturday in Washington. If he doesn't play Saturday, Ellington said he could see himself returning Jan. 1 against the Trailblazers.