(SNY Illustration)
(SNY Illustration)

Yes, July 1 is still more than five months away. Hell, we haven't even hit the All-Star break yet. But it's never too early to start thinking about free agency. Here in New York City, the Mecca of Basketball (that's right), this summer is crucial for the local teams.

This year projects to have arguably the best NBA free agent class ever with players like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson all -- in one way or another -- able to hit the open market. With hundreds of other players available this offseason and a league salary cap set to rise to $109 million for the 2019-20 season, even in the dead of winter all eyes are on summer '19.

New York's teams are expected to be big players in free agency, with both the Knicks and Nets possessing ample salary cap space and the ambition to exponentially improve. But which NYC franchise has the advantage when it comes to attracting the best talent? Quintessential New York or the "Coolest City in America?" (At least according to GQ, never mind that Brooklyn is actually a borough). Do players want to restore a storied franchise or be the face of a new movement? Midtown steakhouse or Smorgasburg?

Let's take a look at some of the major factors that will either attract or deter free agents and, thus, determine the future of hoops in the Big Apple.



OWNERSHIP AND FRONT OFFICE

For better or worse, the ownership group and front office can set the culture for the entire organization. We've seen examples throughout the NBA of what good, stable ownership and front office management looks like (the San Antonio Spurs). We've also seen what dysfunctional ownership and poor management looks like (the Los Angeles Clippers during the Donald Sterling era). Having the right people in place at the top creates an environment where success is possible. It matters, and players around the league talk.

To say Knicks ownership and management has been dysfunctional is an understatement (Charles Oakley situation, anyone?). Since James Dolan assumed control of the Knicks in 1999, the team has experienced five winning seasons. That's awful. The general manager and president roles have been a revolving door, with eight different executives holding various titles over that same time period. That screams instability.

Current team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are the new "brain trust" Dolan has "empowered" to turn the franchise around. It's too early to fully evaluate them, but they hired a good coach (David Fizdale) and seemingly identified solid talent in the 2018 draft (Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson). We will wait and see what they do at the trade deadline.

For what it's worth, Dolan will likely remain the team's owner for the foreseeable future, unless that $5 billion deal he mentioned in an interview with ESPN comes along. That's some form of stability.

The Nets ownership structure is a bit more complex and unclear. Mikhail Prokhorov -- worth an estimated $10.1 billion, according to Forbes -- is the controlling owner with a 51 percent stake in the franchise, including ownership of the team's arena, Barclays Center. Joseph Tsai (net worth about $9 billion) is the minority owner controlling the remaining 49 percent, but he has the option to buy enough shares to assume total control in 2021.

Prokhorov wanted to make a splash when he first acquired the franchise and "urged" then-GM Billy King to trade for star power. Brooklyn acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston in 2013, sending back its first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Those picks turned into James Young, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. This is definitely a black mark on Prokhorov, and the team has spent the last five years trying to dig out of that mess.

But, even after what some consider the worst trade in NBA history, there is hope.

The Nets now appear committed to building a true contending franchise. When Prokhorov and his team hired Sean Marks as their general manager in 2016 from the vaunted Spurs organization, it showed their interest in creating a proper culture, and adding someone from a winning organization was smart.

Marks signed a four-year contract when he was brought on, so this summer will be a big indicator whether or not he can take great leaps to go along with his current steady progress.

Both owners have shown a willingness to spend money, but until more recently, Dolan was known for reportedly meddling in the team's affairs. Brooklyn's majority owner seems more willing to bring in the right basketball people and let them do their job, seemingly having learned from the ill-fated trade that once mortgaged away the Nets' future.

Advantage: Nets



COACHING

A common misconception is that NBA players don't like coaching or don't respect coaches. There are approximately 450 players in the NBA, so you have to be exceptional to make this league. Players want coaches to be exceptional as well.

In David Fizdale, the Knicks have a coach who is generally well respected by players and was co-signed by LeBron James. When Fizdale was hired in May, James told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "I think he's a good coach, a good communicator. He's never going to shy away from whatever he feels is right."

Players also value honesty: They want to be told when they're not doing what is needed and how they can perform better. Fizdale talked about how he was able to coach James, saying, "Respect through telling the truth to each other, being honest, telling each other what we don't want to hear. Being there for each other when we hit low moments."

Even Fizdale's former player in Memphis, Marc Gasol -- who was largely responsible for Fizdale's firing -- had good things to say about him prior to a Knicks-Grizzlies game earlier this season.

"I'm a better player because of David; I can say that 100 percent," Gasol said. "Even though last year was really tough for everyone, I'm a better player this year than I was last year and a lot had to do with him."

Although lately, Enes Kanter seems less than pleased with how his playing time (or lack thereof) has been handled.

The Knicks are 10-36 entering Friday night's game at Barclays Center and playing without their best player, Kristaps Porzingis. It's not particularly fair to grade Fizdale when the team is not trying to win, as they are clearly in rebuild mode. But Fizdale does have the team playing hard while keeping things competitive on most nights.

Their problem is the roster is devoid of the experienced top-end talent necessary to compete at a high level.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has a similar issue to Fizdale, although Brooklyn's roster is not as poor as the one in Manhattan. The Nets are also without their best player, Caris LeVert, but they do have a healthy mix of young players with upside and veterans who know how to play.

Even though they've been an sub-.500 club during much of Atkinson's first two-plus seasons, they're currently 26-23, in sixth place in the East, and turning into one of the NBA's better stories. 

The NBA's golden boy of coaching, Brad Stevens, sung Atkinson's praises before a recent game.

"We know how good they are. We know how well-coached they are," he said. "I said last week I don't see how they don't make the playoffs. They're an excellent offensive team. I think they have a lot of versatility defensively. I think they're superbly coached and they all know what they do and they do it every single night."

Atkinson cut his teeth as a player-development coach, and you can see it in the work he's done with Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and D'Angelo Russell. His offensive system borrows from Mike Budenholzer, Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle and Terry Stotts; some of the best in the business.

Again, it's hard to grade accurately as Atkinson has an advantage over Fizdale since he's been with his franchise longer, but both coaches have their teams competing hard, despite the roster limitations.  

Advantage: Nets (slightly)



HOME ARENA AND FANS

Don't get it mixed up - atmosphere and fans matter. 

The Knicks have the World's Most Famous Arena that's hosted some of the greatest events in history, from "The Fight of the Century" to WrestleMania. Everything about Madison Square Garden says NYC: The bright lights, Seventh Avenue, Broadway.

Despite the team's record, Knicks games are a headline event with an A-list celebrity row that includes the likes of Spike Lee, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Dustin Hoffman and John McEnroe. But you could wind up seeing any star like Michael B. Jordan, Priyanka Chopra, and Sophie Turner, just to name a few.

The non-celebrity Knicks fans provide the Garden with a raucous atmosphere and, as the more storied franchise, they have more generational fans. They are also the more likely of the two franchises to have more bandwagoners once they start winning. Poor product or good product, the Garden is always a tough ticket and they have a group of loyal supporters.

Barclays Center is the newer arena, with a theatre-like atmosphere. The building does not have the history of MSG, but has slowly been building its own. Former minority owner Jay-Z and Beyonce used to grace Barclays with their presence, but now Nets celebrity row includes the likes of Steve Madden, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy. Brooklyn locals like Fabolous and Rosie Perez are often in attendance.

The Nets are a "newer" franchise, having joined the league as part of the ABA/NBA merger. Their NBA history, save the two NBA Finals runs with Jason Kidd, is not decorated with success and they have less of a New York tie (though the ABA franchise dates back to Long Island and won two titles with some guy named Julius Erving).

Still, the ABA days, time spent in the swamplands of New Jersey, and recent ineptitude have stunted the growth of their fan base.

But this one is no contest. The Garden is the Garden. They don't call it the World's Most Famous Arena for nothing.

Advantage: Knicks



CAP SPACE AND CURRENT ROSTERS

Neither franchise has been very successful on the court as of late, both reeling from the mistakes of general managers' past. However, there is light at the end of their proverbial dark tunnels.

The Knicks have made little secret they hope to land Kevin Durant and pair him with Porzingis as the foundation of a new contender. They waived Joakim Noah and can clear space for one max player in 2019. The question is, will they be able to clear space for two max players?

That will be more challenging and they would need to find takers for both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee without taking much salary back in return, whom they've reportedly made available ahead of the trade deadline.

But allow yourself to dream for a moment: KD, KP, Kevin Knox, and their 2019 draft pick (you know who) sounds pretty good.

The Nets had cap space for two max slots in 2019 before they decided to extend Spencer Dinwiddie, which essentially kept an All-Star level player on their roster. They still have space for a single max player and Sean Marks could clear a lot more room by not making qualifying offers to D'Angelo Russell ($21.1 million cap hold) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($7.4 million cap hold).

With Dinwiddie, promising big man Jarrett Allen, rookie sensation Rodions Kurucs, and pre-injury Most Improved Player candidate Caris LeVert (No. 50 on the Simmons' trade value list) as a core, that roster is appealing.

Both squads have young talent and most would argue that KP is better than LeVert, but nothing is guaranteed after an injury with someone Porzingis' size. Knox looks like he could grow into something special, but as it stands right now, the talent tilts more in the Nets' favor.

Advantage: Nets



2019 DRAFT

The 2019 draft class doesn't appear to be very deep, but there is a lot of hype around the top with Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Jarrett Culver, Ja Morant, and Bol Bol (though he's out the rest of the season with a foot injury).

The Knicks seem to be headed for the lottery, and if they pick in the Top 3 or 5, they could be adding a future All-Star. The Knicks' recent draft history -- despite the doom and gloom of many fans -- has actually been pretty good. They may have whiffed on Frank Ntilikina, but Porzingis, Knox, Allonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson have all shown promise.

The Nets have their own first-round pick for the first time in years, but it looks like they are going to hover around a lower playoff seed all year and find themselves outside of the Draft Lottery. But Sean Marks and his scouting and player development staff found LeVert, Dinwiddie, Allen and Kurucs all late in the first or second rounds. They don't seem bothered where they pick.

The draft has some real gems near the top, and the Knicks look likely to be picking in the top 4.

Advantage: Knicks


WHO WINS?

The Nets come up winners in three of five categories, and while they're not running away with this head-to-head, they hold advantages in the categories that matter. Brooklyn looks to have the better front office, slightly better coaching, and a better roster to build upon.

Yes, the Knicks are the storied franchise and have the pedigree, but the Nets are built to win right now.

If you're a big-time free agent and you could make the same money with either franchise -- wouldn't winning trump all?

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Courtney Lee, Frank Ntilikina, Jarrett Allen, Joakim Noah, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Tim Hardaway Jr.
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Dec 6, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony (00) dribble up court during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 136-113. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Wayrynen)
Dec 6, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony (00) dribble up court during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 136-113. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Wayrynen)

Carmelo Anthony knows what it takes to compete with the Knicks. There is tremendous pressure from a rabid fanbase and the New York media alike, which can be daunting for any NBA player. 

It's the reason why he believes Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant didn't sign with them this summer. 

"Not everybody can deal with (playing with the Knicks)," Anthony told reporters. "Not even a star, but role players. Not too many people can deal with what comes with that. I don't want to say pressure, but everything that comes along with wearing the Knicks across the chest."

Tags: Carmelo Anthony, Scott Thompson
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Dec 1, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale reacts after a turnover against the Boston Celtics during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Dec 1, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale reacts after a turnover against the Boston Celtics during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Two days after the New York Knicks fired David Fizdale, the organization thanked the former head coach for his time and he how represented the franchise during the year-plus stint at the helm.

The Knicks, who fired Fizdale amid a 4-18 start to 2019-20 after a 17-65 result in 2018-19, shared the following statement with beat reporters such as SNY's Ian Begley.

"The New York Knicks organization would like to thank David Fizdale for his leadership and professionalism over the past two seasons," the Knicks said in the statement. "He represented the organization with nothing but class. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

Marcus Morris called a players' only meeting on Friday before practice, and hours before David Fizdale was fired.

"I just called that meeting so we can, as players, talk it out and decide which direction we're trying to go in. At the end of the day, guys stood up, guys said their piece. I think it was a great meeting," he said Saturday.

Added Julius Randle: "It was what we needed. Nobody's going to turn this around for us except us. We just have to keep doing what we were doing (Saturday) and we're going to win." 

Tags: RJ Barrett, Ian Begley
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Oct 30, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale talks with center Julius Randle (30) against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Oct 30, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale talks with center Julius Randle (30) against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

After losing to the Pacers 104-103 on a missed free throw attempt with 0.1 seconds to play, a number of Knicks players answered questions on their former head coach David Fizdale.

Here's what some of them had to say after the game:

MARCUS MORRIS

After the Knicks fell to the Pacers on Saturday night, a number of players, including Morris, took the time to speak about their former head coach: "It was tough. Fiz was my guy. We had a great relationship off the court. He was very influential in my decision in free agency. But at the end of the day, it's a business. I know Fiz understands that. We talked afterwards, we talked during the season. If something like that happens, his big thing was you just have to keep going, you still have to work, don't feel sorry for him, and things like that."

Tags: Mitchell Robinson
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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

As noted on Friday, the spotlight is on Knicks president Steve Mills in the wake of David Fizdale's firing. 

We detailed here where things stood with Mills and general manager Scott Perry prior to the Fizdale firing. 

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Dec 7, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts during the second half against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Dec 7, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts during the second half against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

With a chance to send things into overtime on Saturday night with two free throws attempts, Julius Randle missed the second shot to hand the Knicks their 19th loss of the season. But with the night he was having shooting, it shouldn't come as a surprise.

Looking at Randle's performance as a whole in the loss to the Pacers, it was a solid night for the power forward: 16 points, a team-high 12 rebounds--a whopping seven of which came on offense--and three assists. 

But Randle had a very rough night shooting in this one, going 6-18 from the field on shots that included numerous missed layups.

Tags: Mitchell Robinson
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Dec 7, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller coaches against the Indiana Pacers during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Dec 7, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller coaches against the Indiana Pacers during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Just a day after David Fizdale was fired as their head coach, the Knicks still had a game to play against the Indiana Pacers, and although they put up a valiant effort, it wasn't enough to come away with the win.

Down 104-98 with 5:17 to play, the Knicks played astounding defense and managed to shut out the Pacers the rest of the way. But unfortunately for New York, they weren't able to get anything going on offense, scoring just five points in that span on 1-14 shooting. 

The game came down to a pair of free throws from Julius Randle after he was fouled with 0.1 seconds remaining and the Knicks down two. After hitting the first one, Randle flicked his wrist a bit to hard and the ball bounced off the back rim and out, ending the game 104-103 in Mike Miller's first outing as interim head coach.

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The Knicks fought valiantly, but a last-second free throw miss saw the team fall to the Pacers 104-103 on Saturday. >> Box Score

Five things to know from Saturday's game

1) In Mike Miller's debut as the team's interim coach, the Knicks came out of the gates playing well. Marcus Morris and RJ Barrett each scored an early four points, leading to a 14-7 Knicks' lead midway through the quarter. Miller said before the game that he wanted to see more ball movement, and that was the case early on. The Pacers fought back though, led by TJ Warren (25 points)and Domantis Sabonis (19 points).

Early in the fourth quarter, the Pacers pushed their lead to 92-81, but the Knicks didn't let the game get out of hand. New York went on a 14-4 run, spurred on by Elfrid Payton, to get back within one point. Later, the scored stayed put at 104-100 for a long stretch, until Morris hit a floater to bring the Knicks within two points with under two to go.

Tags: Damyean Dotson, Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson
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Before and after their game Saturday night against the Pacers, Knicks players spoke to the media and reacted to the firing of David Fizdale on Friday afternoon.

Here's what a few of them had to say:

RJ BARRETT

"I appreciate everything coach Fizdale and coach (Keith) Smart have done for me. They were the first ones to give me a chance in the league so I appreciate them. I spoke to coach Fizdale. Wished me the best.''

Barrett added that he spoke with management after the firing, but kept the details to himself: "Oh that's private. I can't talk about what management told me."

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., RJ Barrett
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As Mike Miller prepares for his first game as Knicks interim head coach on Saturday night, he met with the media for the first time since David Fizdale was fired.

Here are the biggest takeaways from what Miller had to say before Saturday's tipoff with the Pacers:

Thanking the team

Miller, who spent four seasons at the helm of the Westchester Knicks of the G League before making the jump to an assistant with Fizdale this season, started his press conference by thanking Fizdale and the Knicks.

"I would like to thank Coach Fiz for the opportunity to be a part of his staff and to work with such a great group of coaches," said Miller. "I'm very appreciative there, and [I] would like to thank the entire Knicks organization. I've been here, as you know, this is my fifth year working for the Knicks, and I'm very appreciative to the entire organization for giving me the opportunity to start and work my way up into the organization." 

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 (Jerome Miron)
(Jerome Miron)

The Knicks have reshaped their roster over the last year and change, saying goodbye to some familiar faces (some beloved, some not) in the process. We'll take a look at how some of those former Knicks are performing with their new teams as the 2019-20 NBA season is underway...


Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks

Porzingis is still a big-time contributor for the Mavericks alongside Luka Doncic, but he's continuing to shoot at a poor clip. In three games this week, the 7-foot-3 Latvia native shot just 37.8 percent from the floor, and 35.3 percent from downtown.

The big man scored just seven points on Tuesday against the Pelicans, and was just 2-for-11 from the field. He rebounded nicely on Wednesday with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, but his inconsistency has been worth noting.

The Mavericks host the Kings on Sunday.

Tags: Courtney Lee, DeAndre Jordan, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle O'Quinn, Mario Hezonja, Noah Vonleh, Tim Hardaway Jr.
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

We're basically a week away from the unofficial start to the trade season. On Dec. 15, players who signed contracts as free agents can be moved. 

As that date approaches, the Knicks (4-18) are keeping an eye on potential moves that would improve the team, per SNY sources familiar with the matter. 

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On Friday, the New York Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale just 22 games into his second season. Unhappy with the 4-18 start to the year, management decided it was time to move in another direction.

What that direction ends up being is anybody's guess, but in the meantime they pegged Mike Miller as interim head coach. That name might not have the punch of a Mark Jackson or Becky Hammon, but Miller may turn out to be exactly what the Knicks need, and should be considered as more of a contender for the vacancy than a stopgap.

Miller hails from the G League, where he coached the Westchester Knicks - New York's affiliate - for four seasons. In that stretch he made the playoffs three times and amassed a .540 regular season win percentage.

Tags: Frank Ntilikina
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Dec 1, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Wayne Ellington (2) passes the ball against Boston Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye (37) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Dec 1, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Wayne Ellington (2) passes the ball against Boston Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye (37) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Knicks shooting guard Wayne Ellington is out for Saturday's matchup against the Indiana Pacers with a sore left Achilles, the team announced.

Ellington has appeared in 18 of the team's 22 games this season, but is averaging just over 14 minutes per game in his first year with the Knicks. He's in the midst of the worst year of his 11-season NBA career, averaging career lows in field goal, free throw, and three-point percentage, and has reached double-figures in points just twice.

Allonzo Trier, who fell out of the rotation during the second half of November, has appeared in the last two games and could see more minutes in Ellington's absence. Damyean Dotson should also get more of an increased role when the Knicks tip-off against the Pacers at 7:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony
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Nov 1, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks forward Marcus Morris Sr. (13) controls the ball while Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) defends during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports (Bob DeChiara)
Nov 1, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks forward Marcus Morris Sr. (13) controls the ball while Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) defends during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports (Bob DeChiara)

After a 37-point drubbing at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, the New York Knicks are in bad shape. They've lost eight consecutive games, and they've lost by at least 28 points in three of their last five contests.

After the Knicks struck out on superstar free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they added several mid-tier veterans. With hopes of being competitive while retaining cap flexibility in the future, the Knicks signed five different players to two-year contracts. 

All five deals featured a team option or a partial guarantee in the second year. That makes those five players essentially expiring contracts in the trade market. Add in a one-year deal for Marcus Morris, and the Knicks have six veterans who will likely enter the free agent market this summer.

Tags: Mitchell Robinson
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 (Fernando Medina)
(Fernando Medina)

On Friday, the Knicks parted ways with head coach David Fizdale and turned the reins over to Mike Miller on an interim basis.

Miller had been an assistant under Fizdale since the beginning of this season, but he hadn't had any NBA exposure prior to this year. 

Here's everything fans need to know about the Knicks' new interim head coach:

- Miller, 55, is a native of Monmouth, Ill. After graduating from Monmouth High School, he played college hoops at East Texas State, helping the team win a Lone Star Conference title in 1984. He graduated in 1987.

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 (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich can often be tight-lipped with the media, though there are always certain topics that he feels the need to speak out on.

David Fizdale's firing fell into that category.

Popovich met with reporters on Friday, after the news broke about Fizdale's firing, and without being asked, defended the former Knicks head coach.

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With the team's record dropping to 4-18 after an embarrassing 37-point home loss to the Denver Nuggets, it was utterly predictable when the New York Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale in a Friday afternoon news dump. 

Just as predictable was the resounding chorus that cropped up in wake of the move, declaring that Fizdale was not the problem in New York. 

Unquestionably, that is true. 

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson, Noah Vonleh
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Mar 14, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Retired NBA player Metta World Peace smiles before the game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports (Kelley L Cox)
Mar 14, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Retired NBA player Metta World Peace smiles before the game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports (Kelley L Cox)

Retired NBA player Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, tweeted out his interest in becoming the head coach for the Knicks on Friday afternoon.

"If the @nyknicks is available, I definitely want to head coach there," World Peace said. "I will absolutely bring that street mentality to the garden...This would be epic for all people like me. Straight from the jungles to win a title in NYC."

World Peace, 40, was born and raised in Queens, NY and attended St. John's University from 1997-1999. He played 17 seasons in the NBA from 1999-2014 and then from 2015-2017, including a brief stint with the Knicks during the 2013-14 season. He was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 while with the Indiana Pacers, and won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010.

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 (David Dow)
(David Dow)

The Knicks made the firing of David Fizdale official on Friday evening, naming assistant Mike Miller as the team's interim head coach.

Miller, 55, has been an assistant with the Knicks this season after spending the previous four seasons as the head coach of the team's G League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks. 

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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

David Fizdale is out. Here we take a look at potential candidates for the job -- assuming that their interim head coach doesn't coach well enough to do the job. It also assumes that team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are the execs who hire the next full-time coach (here's a look at why that may not be the case). 

Anyway, assuming Mills and Perry are making the call, below is a look at some potential candidates: 

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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

The Knicks have parted ways with head coach David Fizdale. Now, the focus turns to Knicks president Steve Mills

Mills and Knicks general manager Scott Perry hired Fizdale after an extensive coaching search in 2018. 

The plan then was for Mills, Perry and Fizdale to build a winning culture in New York by developing young players and attracting stars. 

Tags: Kevin Knox, Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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Nov 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale watches play against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Nov 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale watches play against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The Knicks have fired head coach David Fizdale, SNY's Ian Begley confirmed. The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

At 4-18, the club is on pace for the worst season in franchise history and has lost eight consecutive games.

New York fired Fizdale on Friday, a day after a 37-point loss to the Denver Nuggets. In their previous game, the Knicks had lost by 44 points to the Milwaukee Bucks.

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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

The Knicks have gotten off to a rough start this season and currently sit at the bottom of the eastern conference at 4-18. With their recent struggles added to what was a brutal free agency for the team this offseason, head coach David Fizdale has found himself in the hot seat.

SNY's Ian Begley reported earlier this week that one member of the organization said late last month that he expected management to fire Fizdale soon. This came after the Knicks were blown out by the Bucks 133-88. Since then, the Knicks were blown out again 129-92--this time on their home floor by the Nuggets.

"I don't think about that stuff, I don't think about it at all" Fizdale said, when asked if he thinks he'll be given the time to turn things around for the Knicks. "I go into everyday as 'I come in here, I see 17 guys that I've got to make better and I see a team in Indiana that we've got to try and go out and beat,' and I take it day-by-day that way."

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Oct 23, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the press during the 2023 NB All-Star announcement at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports (Chris Nicoll)
Oct 23, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the press during the 2023 NB All-Star announcement at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports (Chris Nicoll)

The Knicks are sitting not so comfortably at the bottom of the eastern conference and are in the midst of the worst five-year stretch in franchise history, but don't expect NBA commissioner Adam Silver to step in to help them any time soon.

Speaking to WFAN on Thursday, the commissioner didn't leave any doubts concerning his stance on potentially interfering with the Knicks.

"I wouldn't. It's not my role," Silver said. "Of course, I work for 30 teams. And the 29 other teams want to beat that team. That's not to say me getting involved (would be good) and that I'm in any better position to know what to do. We set the rules. And then we try to have a level playing field for the teams to compete."

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For the first time in franchise history, the Knicks have lost back-to-back games by 30-plus points.

Thursday's 129-92 loss at home to the Denver Nuggets was the fifth game this season that the team has trailed by 30 or more in a game, with three of those games coming at home. 

Perhaps the biggest issue for the Knicks came on the defensive end, as they allowed the Nuggets to shoot a lofty 21-39 (.538) from three-point range on the night.

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The Knicks lost their second straight game in blowout fashion, as the Nuggets came into Madison Square Garden on Thursday and left with a 129-92 win. >> Box Score

Five things to know from Thursday's game

1) The Knicks led by six points with five and a half minutes to go in the first quarter, and while that opening stretch was a noticeable improvement over their last game against the Bucks, things were all downhill from there. The Knicks struggled particularly in defending the three-pointer, as Denver found open shot after shot from beyond the arc. Overall, the Nuggets shot 21-39 (.538) from beyond the arc. This was the fifth game this season that Knicks have trailed by 30-plus points, with three of them coming at home. 

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson
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Carmelo Anthony (Chuck Cook)
Carmelo Anthony (Chuck Cook)

Carmelo Anthony has seemingly silenced any and all doubters since making his return to the NBA this season with the Portland Trail Blazers.

After being named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, Anthony has now had his contract fully guaranteed by the Blazers, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

The Blazers officially announced Anthony's signing on November 19, signing him to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract at the time.

Wojnarowski notes that the Blazers had until early January to make a decision on guaranteeing the contract, but it looks like they've seen enough from the former Knick to want him around for at least the rest of the season.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony
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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

As the Knicks (4-17) prepare to host the Denver Nuggets (13-5) Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York, here are several notes from Wednesday's practice.

With seven straight losses, the Knicks continue to search for their first win since Nov. 18's 123-105 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they should get a big boost in the lineup.

Marcus Morris should return for the Knicks against Denver after missing two games with a neck injury (more on that below). New York should also have Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina vs. the Nuggets.

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, Ian Begley
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Allonzo Trier (Noah K. Murray)
Allonzo Trier (Noah K. Murray)

Allonzo Trier finally found his way back into the Knicks' lineup in their blowout against the Bucks on Sunday night after posted DNPs in the previous two. And unfortunately for him, that has been common of late. 

Trier's name hasn't come up a lot for the Knicks, and that is probably due to the fact that he has only played in two of the last 10 games. He had six straight DNPs before David Fizdale played him for seven minutes against the Raptors on Nov. 27. 

In fact, Trier has only played in 10 of the Knicks' 21 games this season, and the logjam in the backcourt is the main reason why. 

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Wayne Ellington, Scott Thompson
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Mar 28, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Rap artist ”Fat Joe" reacts during the second half of a game between the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Mar 28, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Rap artist ”Fat Joe" reacts during the second half of a game between the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

It's been months since they made their decision, but Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant continue to catch flak for choosing the Nets over the Knicks. This time, the shot comes from rapper and New York's own Fat Joe.

Speaking with Sports Illustrated on Wednesday, Joe said that the two NBA All-Stars didn't want to deal with the pressure of being a Knick, yet still wanted to play in New York. The alternative, then, was to go to Brooklyn.

"You got to understand a lot of players, and I'll call them out: Kyrie, Durant. They didn't want that New York Knick pressure," Joe said. "They didn't want that media attention. They didn't want Sports Illustrated being right in the backyard. They didn't want that, so they said, 'Alright, we want New York, but let's do the lesser of the drama. Let's go to Brooklyn.'"

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Jan 19, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett reacts from the bench during the second half of a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Timberwolves 114-99. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports (Derick E. Hingle)
Jan 19, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett reacts from the bench during the second half of a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Timberwolves 114-99. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports (Derick E. Hingle)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

Former Celtics great Kevin Garnett wasn't surprised that Kyrie Irving left Boston in the offseason to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. 

"No," Garnett said during an interview in New York to promote the film, 'Uncut Gems,' which stars Garnett and Adam Sandler and will be released on Christmas. 

Garnett explained why he wasn't shocked that Irving didn't want to re-sign with the Celtics. 

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Dec 1, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale reacts after a turnover against the Boston Celtics during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Dec 1, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale reacts after a turnover against the Boston Celtics during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

We are at about the quarter-way point of the NBA season and the Knicks find themselves with the second worst record in the league and at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

At 4-17, the Knicks have fallen to new lows and are on pace to break the record they tied last season for the worst season in team history. 

Head coach David Fizdale has been in an extremely hot seat ever since Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry held a rare press conference after the team started the season 2-8. 

Since then, the Knicks have gone 2-9.

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett
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The lingering question after the Knicks' 44-point loss in Milwaukee is this: how much longer will David Fizdale be on the sidelines?

We don't have a definitive answer, but one member of the organization said late last month that he expected management to fire Fizdale soon, per SNY sources. The person who expressed the thought isn't someone who would make the decision to fire Fizdale. But the idea that a member of the Knicks believes a coaching change is coming says a lot about the level of uncertainty in New York right now.

As you know, there has been speculation about Fizdale's job status for several weeks amid New York's 4-17 start.

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Dec 2, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots over New York Knicks forward Bobby Portis (1) in the first quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports  (Michael McLoone)
Dec 2, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots over New York Knicks forward Bobby Portis (1) in the first quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports (Michael McLoone)

The Knicks never led in Monday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks and dropped their seventh straight game, 132-88. >> Box Score

Five things to know from Sunday's game

1) Milwaukee jumped out to a 33-15 lead after the first quarter and coasted the rest of the way to a victory. Khris Middleton's three-pointer on the first position of the game set the tone, and the Knicks were never closer on the scoreboard than they were at the opening tip-off.

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Kadeem Allen
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Nov 29, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) dribbles up court during the first quarter at against the Philadelphia 76ers Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Nov 29, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) dribbles up court during the first quarter at against the Philadelphia 76ers Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Frank Ntilikina is out of the lineup for Monday's game against the Bucks, the Knicks announced

Ntilikina had been listed as questionable earlier in the day, but with the point guard's status up in the air, the team brought in Kadeem Allen from Westchester. 

Ntilikina played just seven minutes in Sunday's loss to the Celtics before being removed due to back spasms. Dennis Smith Jr. played a season-high 38 minutes in his absence, scoring 17 points, another season high. 

Tags: Frank Ntilikina
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Oct 23, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) runs up the court during the first half of the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports (Daniel Dunn)
Oct 23, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) runs up the court during the first half of the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports (Daniel Dunn)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Amid a miserable start to this Knicks season, there have been a few positive developments. Frank Ntilikina has shown that he's -- at the very least -- a capable NBA rotation player in the league. Marcus Morris has shot incredibly well from beyond the arc (52 percent). And, of course, there's RJ Barrett.

On most nights, Barrett has impacted the game on both ends of the floor and played with a poise and awareness that you wouldn't expect from a 19-year-old.

Before Sunday's loss to the Celtics, Boston head coach Brad Stevens offered his thoughts on Barrett: "The first time I saw him in person up close here was the third game of the season and his body, physicality, skill level, all ready for the NBA. I think that's pretty unique for a wing in the league"

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Nov 20, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) dribbles against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Nov 20, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) dribbles against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Knicks will be missing one of their key players when they take on the Bucks on Monday night in Milwaukee, with Marcus Morris (cervical spasms) ruled out.

Morris did not travel with the Knicks to Milwaukee.

Frank Ntilikina, who left Sunday's game against the Celtics early due to back spasms and was later ruled out, is questionable for Monday night.

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, Danny Abriano
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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

Last year after 20 games, the Knicks were 6-14. They went on to win just 11 more games. That summer, they spent $70 million in free agency. They didn't sign their top targets, but landed players they felt would improve the team.

It's fair to assume that no one in the organization thought this year's Knicks would be worse than last year's team. But New York will wake up on Monday with a 4-16 record, two games worse than last season and tied with Atlanta for the worst record in the league.

If you're looking for people to blame for the Knicks' awful start, you can point the finger in several directions.

Tags: Enes Kanter, Ian Begley
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The Knicks were outscored 32-14 in the fourth quarter, eventually losing 113-104 to the Celtics at Madison Square Garden. >> Box Score

Five things to know from Sunday's game

1) Julius Randle led the Knicks with 26 points and five rebounds, but went 0-for-5 from three in the game. The team as a whole went just 8-for-26 (30.8 percent) from three, while the Celtics shot 15-for-41 from three (36.6 percent).

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina
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Nov 29, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) dribbles up court during the first quarter at against the Philadelphia 76ers Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Nov 29, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) dribbles up court during the first quarter at against the Philadelphia 76ers Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina will not return to Sunday's game against the Celtics, as he is dealing with a sore upper back, the team announced.

Ntilikina played just seven minutes against the Celtics before exiting the game. He had three points and an assist in limited action.

The No. 8 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft has been playing some of his best basketball recently as the Knicks starting point guard. He has been averaging 7.6 points and 4.6 assists over the last ten games.

Tags: Frank Ntilikina
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Nov 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox II (20) handles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Nov 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox II (20) handles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Second-year forward Kevin Knox will start for the Knicks on Sunday against the Celtics with Marcus Morris out, the team announced.

Knox was a DNP-CD on Friday night in the team's loss to the 76ers, and has seen more than 12 minutes in a game just once over the past five games.

Knicks head coach David Fizdale has elected to play veterans like Morris over Knox so far this season. Before Friday's game, Fizdale spoke about Knox's playing time.

Tags: Kevin Knox
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As the Knicks hit their practice courts on Saturday afternoon, there was a special guest in attendance. 

Performing artist J. Cole, who is nominated for four Grammy Awards this year, was on site to watch practice and to speak with the team. 

Born on a military base in Germany, Cole grew up in North Carolina, but moved to New York City after high school, attending St. John's.

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David Fizdale likes to break the Knicks' 82-game schedule into 10-game stretches. 

Over the team's first 10 games of the year, the Knicks went 2-8. Sunday's game against the Boston Celtics will be the team's 20th game of the season, and currently, the team is just 2-7 in this second 10-game span of the season.

Still, head coach David Fizdale believes that there have been notable improvements during the latest 10-game stretch, despite that fact that the team has just two wins during that time frame.

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Nov 10, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Marcus Morris Sr (13) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman (16) in the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Nov 10, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Marcus Morris Sr (13) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman (16) in the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

The Knicks will look to break out of their current five-game losing streak when they host the the Boston Celtics on Sunday, but they may without their leading scorer.

Following the team's practice on Saturday, the team announced that forward Marcus Morris is questionable to play on Sunday due to cervical spasms.

The free agent pickup has played in every game this season with the Knicks, and he's taken on the role as the team's leading scorer during his first season in New York. He's averaged 18.7 points this season, easily the highest total of his NBA career. He's also scored 20 points or more in 11 of the Knicks' 19 games. 

Tags: Kevin Knox
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 (Soobum Im)
(Soobum Im)

The Knicks have reshaped their roster over the last year and change, saying goodbye to some familiar faces (some beloved, some not) in the process. We'll take a look at how some of those former Knicks are performing with their new teams as the 2019-20 NBA season is underway...


Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs went 2-1 this week, but Porzingis' shooting woes have started to become a storyline. Since dropping 23 points against the Rockets last Sunday, the Latvia native has had two straight sub-par games. In a 15-point loss to the Clippers, Porzingis was just 4-of-13 from the floor, and he followed that up with an 0-for-8 performance on Friday night against the Suns. The game marked the first time this season that he was held without a field goal, as he totaled just two points in 33 minutes.

The Mavs are back on the court on Sunday agianst the Lakers.

Tags: Courtney Lee, DeAndre Jordan, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle O'Quinn, Mario Hezonja, Noah Vonleh, Tim Hardaway Jr.
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Jan 25, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Trey Burke (23) drives against Brooklyn Nets point guard Shabazz Napier (13) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 25, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Trey Burke (23) drives against Brooklyn Nets point guard Shabazz Napier (13) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

When Kristaps Porzingis was traded to the Mavericks last season, he was joined by Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke on the move to Dallas. 

Nearly a year later, what precipitated to the deal is still somewhat of a mystery. There was a meeting between Porzingis and the Knicks' front office about the direction of the team, and just two days later, the Latvian native was out the door. People have said that Porzingis was so unhappy, he demanded the trade himself.  

But Burke -- now with the 76ers and who was back at Madison Square Garden on Friday for the first time since the trade -- shed a new light on the days leading up to Porzingis' departure.

 

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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

If you look at the box score of Friday's Knicks-Sixers game, Kevin Knox's DNP-CD makes sense. With Knox on the bench, the Knicks had a chance to win a game against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

But if you dig a little deeper, the idea that Knox -- the Knicks' 2018 first-round pick -- didn't play at all Friday night leads to questions about New York's direction this season.

The Knicks, as you know, spent $70 million in free agency over the summer. So they came into the season expecting to be much more competitive than last year's 17-win team.

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, Ian Begley
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The Knicks played their best defensive first half all season, but fell apart in the second half, losing 101-95 to the 76ers on Friday night. >> Box Score

Five things to know from Friday's game

1) The Knicks got out to a 31-18 lead in the first quarter, as the team went 5-for-8 from three point land. It was the first time all season that they gave up less than 20 points in the first quarter. Rookie RJ Barrett led the way, scoring 10 points after playing all 12 minutes.

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett
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