RJ Barrett: His story so far 00:02:48
SNY tells the story of RJ Barrett's road from high school through college to the NBA Draft. Will his next stop be with the New York Knicks?

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

About six weeks after Duke's loss to Michigan State in the Elite Eight, RJ Barrett was in California with Zion Williamson and trainer David Zenon. They were on the West Coast for something totally unrelated to college basketball, but the defeat was still on Barrett's mind. 

"He was saying, 'We should have had that game,'" Zenon says. "(My teammates and I) should have done this and we should have done that. He had four or five things that he listed that the players needed to do." 

As he reeled off the specific issues, it was clear how much the loss still bothered Barrett.

 

"He was in mourning after that loss," says Dwayne Washington, who has coached Barrett since he was 12. "Most people would have been like, 'I'm going to the league, I'm going to be a top-five pick. (Let's move on).'... He was burning." 

That competitive drive has shaped Barrett as a player and person throughout a decorated high school career and his season at Duke. And those close to Barrett believe it will lead to success at the next level.

"Winning is the only thing that matters to him," Washington says. "There's no compromise.... Everything he's been about has been about winning, excellence, not being afraid to compete at the highest level, the biggest stage."

* * *
 
Barrett will step onto the biggest stage of his life on Thursday night when he shakes commissioner Adam Silver's hand and puts on the hat of the team that drafts him. If everything goes the way it's projected, Barrett will have a blue Knicks hat on when he walks off the Barclays Center stage. New York is expected to select Barrett with the No. 3 pick. 

And if they do, the immediate question some long-suffering Knicks fans will ask about Barrett is, can he handle the Big Apple? 

Those who have spent time around Barrett believe the answer is a resounding yes. 

"There's one guy in (the draft) that's built for New York City and that's RJ Barrett," says Rae Miller, an assistant coach at Montverde Academy, where Barrett played high school basketball. "He has the personality, the level of play that New York enjoys and he has the character."

"He's been raised with a New York mentality," says Washington, adding: "He is what people say New Yorkers are supposed to be -- aggressive, determined, confident and always pushing the envelope. That's how you get to greatness."

Barrett has embraced the idea of playing for the Knicks, a franchise that has won just one playoff series in the past 19 years. He's only met and worked out for New York in the weeks leading up to the draft, eschewing workout invites from other teams with top picks. 

"This is the place I want to be, so I hope they draft me," he said earlier this month.

* * *

If you talk to enough people around Barrett, a clear picture starts to emerge. There are 'two RJs,' to borrow a phrase Washington uses.  

There's 'off-the-court' RJ. 

"Everybody seems to gravitate toward him. He exudes confidence and humility. His stature is how he doesn't let that define him," Washington, the director of the UPLAY Canada grass roots program, describes it. 

That demeanor has made Barrett a natural leader. 

"He's a great locker room guy. He gets the temperature in the room pretty quickly," says Zenon, an NBA/NCAA trainer -- but not Barrett's personal trainer -- who spent time with Barrett and Williamson at Duke regularly this season. "He's able to relate to a lot of guys."

Then there's on-the-court RJ.

Washington, a Bronx native, says Barrett embodies the traits on the court that New Yorkers, in particular, can appreciate: an insatiable drive combined with an unrestrained competitive streak. 

"This kid is like a real 1988 New Yorker. He's not some 2016 Instagram model. He's trying to kill you," Washington says. 

The city may have rubbed off on Barrett over the years. His mother, Kesha, is from Brooklyn and ran track at St. John's. His father, Rowan, played basketball for the Red Storm. Barrett spent significant time playing pickup basketball in New York while visiting family in Brooklyn as a child. 

"I was the young guy and they tried to push me around. It was a great experience," he said.

Barrett started playing the game at a young age, following in the footsteps of both his father and godfather, Hall of Famer Steve Nash, who grew close with Rowan Barrett while playing with the Canadian National Team.

It was clear early on that Barrett was an elite talent. He was named as one of the top players in Canada by youth scouting services and played for national team programs at a young age. At age 14, Barrett left Toronto to attend high school at Montverde Academy in Florida under head coach Kevin Boyle, who has coached several lottery picks, including D'Angelo Russell, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons

Barrett thrived at the school, earning multiple National Player of the Year awards

"He had an ability to raise his level of play to match the situation," Miller says, referencing Barrett's late-game prowess in high school. 

If Barrett's killer instinct was apparent on the court at Montverde, off-the-court RJ also emerged at school. 

The team participates in a Buddy Program, which pairs players with a class at the academy's lower school in an effort to show them that they can have an impact on others. 

"Too often you have a kid (with elite talent) like RJ who is revered for his basketball ability but never understood what it is to give back, never understood what it is to have someone look up to you," Miller says. 

Barrett, says Miller, never had that perception issue. He embraced the program and was also 'revered' by teachers and administrators for the way he interacted with the kids. To Miller, it was a reflection of the way Barrett was raised.

"RJ's parents are conscious of their opportunity to impact others. He was raised in an atmosphere of service and fellowship," Miller says. 

* * *

While those attributes are admirable in pro sports, there's still something that matters above all in the Big Apple: winning games.

Barrett certainly showed evidence that he can contribute to winning in his one year at Duke, averaging 22.6 points, 4.3 assists and 7.6 rebounds as a freshman. In doing so, he became the first player in NCAA history to have at least 850 points, 250 rebounds and 150 assists in a season.

But, like most 19-year-olds, Barrett's game has room for improvement. Scouts have concerns about Barrett's shot selection, outside shot (he hit 30.1 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc at Duke) and ability to get past defenders off the dribble at the next level. 

Barrett isn't blind to these aspects of his game, according to those close to him.

"He knows he's not a finished product," Washington says. 

To that end, Barrett has been working with trainer Drew Hanlen since shortly after the college season ended to address each aspect of his game. Hanlen, who has worked with Barrett since he was 15, says recent workouts have been tailored toward working on his shot and improving his 'shiftiness' off the dribble. 

"He likes to be coached, likes to ask questions, he's big on mastering the nuances of each skill," Hanlen says. "He's a guy that works his ass off and really wants to be special" 

Hanlen has trained dozens of pros, including Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum, and he says Barrett approaches workouts with the same maturity that Beal and Tatum showed when they were younger. 

One thing that stands out to Hanlen?

"Whenever I show him something on the court, we'll walk through it, we'll talk through it, we'll go through it. Right after the workout is over, he'll ask me to send the video of him doing it, and then he'll ask, 'Hey can you send me videos of other players like me doing it?' 

"That's a huge sign of maturity," Hanlen says. 

About an hour after Duke's loss to Michigan State, Hanlen texted Barrett a heartfelt message. Barrett's response was revealing, and should comfort Knicks fans if the club drafts him Thursday night. 

"I'm ready to go to work," he said.

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Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

With Carmelo Anthony set to play his second game for the Blazers on Thursday, we spoke to the trainer that helped him prepare for the opportunity.

Below, Alex Bazzell, who works with Trae Young, Kyrie Irving, Bobby Portis and Doug McDermott among others, talks about training with Anthony over the past few months to get ready for the ex-Knick's return to the league.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony, Ian Begley
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 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

Marcus Morris and Joel Embiid got mixed up near the end of the first half as the Knicks played the 76ers on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, with Embiid falling to the floor and a brief scuffle erupting.

After the game, Morris called out Embiid.

"He just was too big to be flopping, just flopping, grabbing and then -- I'm just not the one to be, not the one that's gonna take that," Morris said. "He knows that, so I mean, you know what I'm about."

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Ntilikina building confidence 00:01:26
New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina and his teammates believe they can compete with anyone but just need to be more consistent shooting.

While the Knicks ultimately fell down the stretch of Wednesday's 109-104 loss to the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, New York emerged with optimism after Frank Ntilikina's performance.

Ntilikina's season-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including three free throws and two triples, in 32:54 fueled the Knicks (4-11) before the Sixers (9-5) came back for the fourth-quarter triumph.

David Fizdale's decision to substitute Ntilikina late in the third quarter hindered the Knicks during the Sixers' eventual 23-3 run from the 3:20 mark of the third to the 9:00 point of the fourth, turning a 77-60 Knicks lead to an 83-82 Sixers edge, but the third-year point guard defended his second-year head coach's move after the game.

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina
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Nov 20, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) passes the ball past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Nov 20, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) passes the ball past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Knicks were unable to hold on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, where New York fell 109-104 to the Sixers. >> Box Score

Five things to know from Wednesday's game

1) Backup point guard Dennis Smith Jr. started strong but cooled off, but his 13 points off the bench served the Knicks a bright spot. He shot 5 for 9 from the field and drilled 2 of 3 three-point tries, leading the Knicks with 10 at the half.

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For a moment, the Knicks' game Wednesday at against the Sixers got heated.

With 1:45 left in the second quarter, Marcus Morris and Joel Embiid got tangled up on Tobias Harris' jumper from inside the free-throw line.

As Embiid got interior position with Morris behind him, he backpedaled and fell, which led the Knicks small forward to get back up and step in the direction of the Sixers center.

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Nov 8, 2019; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman (32) walks off the court after the game against the Illinois-Chicago Flames at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports (Justin Ford)
Nov 8, 2019; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman (32) walks off the court after the game against the Illinois-Chicago Flames at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports (Justin Ford)

Memphis Tigers C and potential first overall pick James Wiseman has been suspended by the NCAA, but he will be able to return in time to impress NBA scouts. 

Wiseman has to sit 12 games, the NCAA said on Wednesday, which means he's eligible to return on Jan. 12. He must also donate $11,500 to a charity of his choice. 

The suspension stems from his head coach, Penny Hardaway, paying his family that same amount he is giving to charity to move to Memphis from Nashville while Wiseman was in high school. It was deemed that Hardaway was considered a booster due to his $1 million donation to the sports hall of fame in the high school 10 years ago. 

Tags: Mitchell Robinson, Scott Thompson
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Damyean Dotson (Adam Hunger)
Damyean Dotson (Adam Hunger)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

A few Knicks notes as the club enters a stretch of 11 games against teams that made the playoffs last season, starting Wednesday in Philadelphia...

(Though, not all of the Knicks' next 11 opponents are setting the world on fire this season. Entering play Wednesday, six of the 11 were in the top five in their respective conferences. The other five were a combined 19 games under .500.)

Tags: Damyean Dotson, Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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 (Chuck Cook)
(Chuck Cook)

Former Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony made his Blazers debut Tuesday night against the Pelicans, and connected on the first three-point attempt in his new uniform.

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Nov 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony (7) celebrates after a three point shot against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Nov 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony (7) celebrates after a three point shot against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Carmelo Anthony is set to take the floor with his fifth NBA team on Tuesday night, but how much will the former Knick actually play?

According to ESPN's Marc Spears, Anthony is expected to start and play about 20 minutes for the Trail Blazers in New Orleans against the Pelicans.

The Blazers officially announced the signing of the 10-time All-Star on Tuesday afternoon, signing him to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal.

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A look at Fizdale's job security 00:01:12
Fizdale elaborated on Dolan going into his office on and 'giving a vote of confidence'. Ian breaks down what it means for the Knicks.

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

Amid speculation about David Fizdale's job status, the coach said on Tuesday that Knicks owner James Dolan regularly gives him a 'vote of confidence' during visits on game night.

Fizdale was asked at Knicks practice on Tuesday how regularly he speaks to Dolan.

"Every game, every game. Jim Dolan comes in and gives me a vote of confidence, a pat on my back and really has just been incredibly encouraging over the last year and a half or whatever it's been," Fizdale said. "All we talk about is just sticking to the process of making these guys better and building for a future of sustainable winning."

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Jul 7, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks forward Ignas Brazdeikis (17) gestures after scoring a three point basket during the second half of an NBA Summer League game against the Phoenix Suns at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen R. Sylvanie)
Jul 7, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks forward Ignas Brazdeikis (17) gestures after scoring a three point basket during the second half of an NBA Summer League game against the Phoenix Suns at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen R. Sylvanie)

Knicks second-rounder Ignas Brazdeikis didn't see much time to start the season in the NBA, so it was the best option in the team's eyes to send him down to G League Westchester again to get more playing time. 

And, oh, did he make the best of it. 

In his second game in the G League, Brazdeikis dropped 36 points on 16-for-28 shooting, including 4-of-9 from three. He also had six boards, one assist, and two steals in a tough 96-94 loss to Grand Rapids. 

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Mitchell Robinson (Adam Hunger)
Mitchell Robinson (Adam Hunger)

The Knicks came away with their fourth victory of the season on Monday night, a solid 123-105 win over the Cavaliers on the Madison Square Garden court. 

However, this winning feeling shouldn't be something the Knicks will be feeling for the rest of the season. Well, at least according to FiveThirtyEight

Using their own RAPTOR ratings, the blog has set predictions for the rest of the Knicks' games for the season. And thanks to The Daily News' Stefan Bondy's investigating, the Knicks are only favored in one of their final 68 games for the regular season. 

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Begley talks Randle improvement 00:01:35
SNY NBA insider Ian Begley on the improved performance of Julius Randle keying a possible Knicks turnaround

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

When Julius Randle watched tape of his games early on this season, he knew what was going wrong. He knew he was over dribbling at times, struggling with the double and triple teams being thrown his way. But nothing changed on the court. 

"He kept burning his hand on the stove and not learning his lesson," David Fizdale said. "I think, you burn it enough, you're like, 'OK, I've got to make this change.'"

Change started to come for Randle and the Knicks on Monday. Randle had 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists in New York's win over Cleveland in easily his best game as a Knick. 

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Ian Begley
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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

The Knicks jumped out to a 12-point lead after the first quarter against the Cavaliers on Monday and never looked back, coming away with a 123-105 win at Madison Square Garden

Head coach David Fizdale was impressed with the all-around effort, but focused on a main point of emphasis as the team's reason for success in the game.

"The biggest thing is that we protected the paint," Fizdale said. "That's been our biggest emphasis. We finally did a solid job against the speed guards. I thought our guys really took the challenge against Collin [Sexton] and Darius [Garland]. Our bigs did a good job of sliding our feet." 

Tags: Damyean Dotson, Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett
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Knicks pound Cavs at MSG 00:01:21
Fizdale, Randle and Barrett on Randle's 30-point night as Knicks avenge an earlier loss to the Cavs with a 123-105 rout of their own

Nearly a week after being blown out by the Cavaliers, the Knicks returned the favor in a wire-to-wire, 123-105 win. >> Box Score

Here are five takeaways from Monday's game

1) The Knicks didn't sweat much against the Cavaliers on Monday. After falling 108-87 to the Cavs just over a week ago which prompted an interesting press conference, the Knicks flew out of the gate and held a big lead throughout the game. At halftime, the Knicks had a 13-point lead and led by as much as 27 in the second half. Worth noting, the Cavs were without their top-player, Kevin Love due to a back injury.

 

Tags: Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett
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Knicks look to build on momentum 00:01:25
The Knicks beat the Mavs, then lost to the Hornets in a dagger but the team is focusing on the overall improvement as the prep for the Cavs.

The Knicks split the first two games of their three-game homestand between Thursday's 106-103 win over the Mavericks and Saturday's loss to the Hornets, but they came away from the opposite final results with an optimistic outlook overall.

"We're giving these guys 30 to 45 minutes to be happy or to be down and then we've got to move on to the next, but there's a lot of positives that came from that," said second-year head coach David Fizdale. "I would say it's the best two games we've played back-to-back this year. The kid just ... hit a bomb on us, ripped our hearts out, but we got some good learning lessons that we can take from it and get better from."

The Knicks (3-10) have a chance to win two of three for the first time on the early 2019-20 season when they return to action at Madison Square Garden for Monday's 7 p.m. tip-off against the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-8).

Tags: RJ Barrett
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Oct 30, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) drives past Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) and shoots a layup during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Oct 30, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) drives past Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) and shoots a layup during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Mitchell Robinson can't escape the injury bug, as a sprained right ankle had him out of practice on Sunday, per a team announcement

The good news is that he's currently listed as probable for Monday night's game against the Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden. 

Robinson has dealt with a sprained ankle earlier this season, as well as a concussion sustained against Pistons. Because of those injuries, he's missed four games already this season.

The Knicks will hope the Cleveland contest won't be his fifth, as Robinson's presence down low is always felt each night. So far this season, he's averaging 11.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game.

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Terry Rozier
Terry Rozier

Hornets G Terry Rozier had himself a fine night at Madison Square Garden in what became a tough 103-102 loss for the Knicks on Saturday night. But there was a point in time, back in the offseason, where Rozier thought he would be part of the home team.

Rozier had the Knicks in mind during his search for a new team in free agency. He had proven his worth as the Celtics' sixth man, and was ready to get paid. New York certainly had the cap space, but they didn't shell out enough of it. 

"It was probably one of my first options," Rozier told The Post's Marc Berman. "I probably was going to make it happen. Other things happened and I ended up going to Charlotte. It was the interest they showed in me, that was big. The organization believed in me, why not."

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina
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The Hornets had to dig themselves out of a hole Saturday night against the Knicks, but in using the three-ball to do so, they were able to escape Madison Square Garden with a big victory.

It was impressive to see how many three-point shots the Hornets attempted in this game, let alone how many they hit. Once it was all said and done, the Hornets finished 17-of-48 from three-point range. 

No three was more important than the final one, a Devonte Graham dagger with 2.1 seconds left to play. The go-ahead shot was Graham's ninth three-pointer of the game.

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, RJ Barrett
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You would think that after a team picks up a win, let alone a huge moral victory that had a lot of background noise to it, that they'd figure a way to keep that momentum going in your next game, right? Well, the Knicks just did the opposite of that Saturday night against the Hornets.

The Knicks, who were coming off their third win of the season and the second one over Kristaps Porzingis and the possible playoff-bound Mavericks, seemed to pick up right where they left off, holding multiple double-digit leads from the first quarter and on till the middle of the third.

But then the team imploded and watched their 13 point lead midway through the third turn into a one-point deficit with 30 seconds left in the quarter. The two sides would go back and forth down the stretch, but a three-point dagger from Most Improved Player of the Year candidate, Devonte Graham, with 2.1 seconds left all but sealed the game. 

Tags: Frank Ntilikina
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Knicks edged by Hornets 00:01:19
Knicks coach David Fizdale, Frank Ntilikina and RJ Barrett on team's failure to hold a lead in the 103-102 loss to Charlotte

The Knicks (3-10) couldn't hold on again Saturday night, as they blew a double-digit third quarter lead and ultimately fell 103-102 to the Hornets (6-7) on a go-ahead three-pointer. >> Box Score

Five things to know from Saturday's game...

1) Once again, the Knicks allowed one player--this time Devonte Graham--go off on them and crush their spirits. Graham, a 2018 second round pick out of Kanas, hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 2.1 second left to send the Knicks packing. Graham scored 26 points and hit a stunning nine three-pointers to shut the Knicks down on their home floor.

 

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

All eyes were on The Garden on Thursday, when Porzingis made his much-anticipated return to New York after requesting a trade from the Knicks in January. He was booed throughout the game, but finished with a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Porzingis is averaging 18.5 points per game along with 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his first season with the Mavericks.

Tags: Courtney Lee, DeAndre Jordan, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle O'Quinn, Mario Hezonja, Noah Vonleh, Tim Hardaway Jr.
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Since 2014, the New York Knicks have been in search of a center. Since Tyson Chandler manned the position for years, the team has struggled to find a quality starter at center and it-along with many other problems-has greatly affected New York in the win column. 

After an attempt to sign superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving went awry, the Knicks ended up adding several veteran free agents who have spent time at the center position, including Julius Randle, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis in free agency. The Knicks invested $57.8 million this year alone in those players and forward Marcus Morris. 

These decisions immediately received backlash for creating a lack of positional balance on the roster. As the Knicks look to right the ship after a 3-9 start, the crowded center position comes with many questions and very few solutions.

Tags: Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson
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Knicks look to get on roll 00:01:15
David Fizdale, Dennis Smith Jr. and Mitchell Robinson on using Dallas win to get on a roll and Smith's timely inspiration in the victory

The Knicks earned their third win of the season on Thursday night, beating the Mavs 106-103, as two of their wins have come against Dallas.

Head coach David Fizdale talked about the team's struggles at home earlier this week, and also mentioned what went wrong after beating the Mavs on Nov. 11.

"I don't think it was complacency. I really don't," Fizdale said on Friday. "I really felt like this team is just trying to do so well for the city. I really do. Their intentions are right. They're trying to carry the weight of the city on their shoulders. I just told them you can't do that. I said it's an impossible task. You've got to focus on who's around you in the locker room and put forth effort for the people in the locker room and the city will appreciate that kind of effort. So hopefully we learned that lesson from last night."

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett
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Dennis Smith Jr. breaking out? 00:00:58
SNY NBA insider Ian Begley on whether Dennis Smith Jr.'s outstanding performance against Dallas could be a sign of things to come

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

After the Knicks' win over the Mavericks on Thursday, Dennis Smith Jr. spent some time reflecting at his locker. 

"It was kind of bittersweet for me, beating the team that traded me but my stepmom wasn't here to see it," Smith Jr. said. "…. I had to take some time out to myself and really digest something like that. She watched every game. Every single game. Even when I was in college.

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Ian Begley
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

A couple weeks ago, Frank Ntilikina walked into David Fizdale's office, unannounced, and delivered a message: 

"He just said, 'Coach, I've been through a lot in my two years. I feel like I finally understand what the NBA is about. I know I haven't shown it yet, but I'm a dog, too,'" Fizdale said. "It was so cool to hear him say that. And (Thursday against Dallas) he showed that he is really a junkyard dog when it comes to competition."

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Kristaps Porzingis, Ian Begley
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Marcus Morris and Kristaps Porzingis
Marcus Morris and Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis returned to the Garden on Thursday night, was mercilessly booed, started slow and finished slow, and watched his new team lose to his old team in front of a raucous crowd.

Here's how the back pages in New York reacted, with two of them going full-Porzingis and another not...

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis, Danny Abriano
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Porzingis reacts to MSG boos 00:02:11
Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavericks lost 106-103 to the Knicks. KP reacts to the passionate crowd in his return to MSG.

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

Marcus Morris thought the boos and 'KP sucks!' chants at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night affected Kristaps Porzingis' performance in the Knicks' win over the Mavs. 

"It was just at another level. It looked like he was a little rattled, too. So it kind of helped us," Morris said after hitting a game-sealing 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter of New York's win. 

Porzingis heard boos during warmups, player introductions and throughout the game in his first night back at Madison Square Garden since being traded to Dallas last January. 

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis, Ian Begley
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Dennis Smith Jr. has been through his share of adversity this season. After an injury during training camp, a death in the family took the guard away from the team for two weeks.

On Thursday night, Smith Jr. shined for the Knicks as the team topped the Mavs 106-103 for their second win against Kristaps Porzingis this season. 

In just his second game back with the team, Smith Jr. scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, and also had a team-high eight assists to go along with six rebounds in 29 minutes.

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Kristaps Porzingis
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Knicks react to MSG atmosphere 00:01:43
The Knicks beat the Mavericks 106-103. The atmosphere was great and players acknowledged the passion of Knicks fans.

The Knicks (3-9) faced the Dallas Mavs (6-5) for the second time this season, winning again, this time 106-103 as former Knick Kristaps Porzingis made his return to Madison Square Garden >> Box Score

Here are Five Takeaway's from Thursday's game...

1) Marcus Morris led the way for the Knicks in scoring with 20 points, including a go-ahead three pointer with 13.4 seconds left in the game. He was 5-for-7 from three in the game, and had five rebounds in 34 minutes.

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson
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Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony watches a teammate shoot free throws during the second quarter against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. (Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports)
Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony watches a teammate shoot free throws during the second quarter against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. (Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports)

Carmelo Anthony is back on an NBA roster.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the former Knick is signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The 10-time All-Star last played for the Rockets last season, though he played just 10 games with Houston. Prior to that, he spent the 2017-18 season with the Thunder.

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Kristaps Porzingis said last week that he expected 'a lot of noise' in his first return to Madison Square Garden.

And that was exactly the case during player intros, as the former Knicks' lottery pick heard plenty of boos from Knicks fans on Thursday night.


NY fans on Kristaps Porzingis 00:01:03
Kristaps Porzingis returns to MSG for the first time as a visiting player. What do New Yorkers think of the former Knick?

Kristaps Porzingis is making his return to Madison Square Garden on Thursday night for the first time since he was traded away last February. 

And Knicks fans will certainly let him hear it. 

We decided to hit the streets right outside The Garden to see just how those fans will welcome back the man they once cheered for...

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Breaking down the Knicks at MSG 00:00:49
Ian Begley reacts to David Fizdale's comments that the new Knicks might be pressing too much at Madison Square Garden

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

The Knicks are 1-3 at home and have lost their last two games at Madison Square Garden by a combined 42 points. David Fizdale thinks he knows at least one reason why the club has struggled at home. 

"Honestly I think they want to do so well for the fanbase I think they get tight. I really do," he said. "I've looked at all of the different things that have happened and I just feel like sometimes -- they really want to do well for the city. 

"With everything that's happened over the course of the last year, these guys want to play hard for the city, they want to win for the city. I just think sometimes when it starts to go the other way, they play not to lose instead of playing to win."

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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Knicks will always feel pressure 00:01:04
Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis knows the pressure Knicks players face because the city is hungry for a successful franchise.

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

Kristaps Porzingis isn't sure what to expect from the home crowd when he returns to Madison Square Garden on Thursday. But based on what he's seen from Knicks fans on Instagram and Twitter, he's bracing for a cold reception (which he's sure to get).

"Social media is mostly negative. But we'll see. It's going to be a lot of emotion," Porzingis said Wednesday after Mavs practice at the National Basketball Players Association offices in Manhattan.

Porzingis was back in New York City on Wednesday for the first time since he was traded -- at his request -- to Dallas last January.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis, Ian Begley
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 (Kamil Krzaczynski)
(Kamil Krzaczynski)

Dennis Smith Jr. was back in the Knicks lineup on Tuesday night against the Bulls, but it wasn't the return he hoped for. 

Though it was his first game back since Oct. 26 after the passing of his stepmother, Smith saw 14 minutes of playing time by head coach David Fizdale. And that time on the court, it was apparent Smith hadn't played in a game recently. 

He went 0-for-3 from the field while committing two turnovers. Smith did, however, dish out two assists and collected two steals on the night. 

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

Knicks owner James Dolan spoke with team president Steve Mills and others in management on Monday, the day after Mills and GM Scott Perry held an impromptu press conference to express their frustration with the Knicks. 

Dolan speaks with Mills and other top decision-makers regularly, just as most NBA owners do, but this conversation seemed to carry a little more weight. Sources familiar with the conversation told SNY that management came away with the impression that their jobs would be secure as long as the Knicks 'showed progress' this season. 

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis, Ian Begley
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 (Kamil Krzaczynski)
(Kamil Krzaczynski)

On a night when Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams was in attendance, one of his former players, Coby White, absolutely went off against the Knicks in the fourth quarter.

And while White's ridiculous fourth quarter - complete with seven made three pointers in the frame - was the biggest storyline of the game, the play of RJ Barrett was one of the few bright spots for the Knicks.

White was simply phenomenal in the final 12 minutes, and despite the fact that he entered the night shooting just 21% from three, he went 7-for-11 from distance, including 7-for-8 in the fourth.

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 (Kamil Krzaczynski)
(Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Knicks (2-9) faced the Bulls (4-7) for a second time in the early season, but weren't able to get the win this time around, as Chicago pulled away in the fourth quarter to take a 120-102 victory>> Box Score

Here are Five Takeaway's from Tuesday's game...

1) Just as they did in their first matchup with the Bulls, the Knicks came back from a double-digit first half deficit to make things interesting by the end of the third with things tied at 85 heading into the fourth quarter. But rookie PG Coby White just exploded in the fourth quarter, hitting seven 3-pointers to break the Bulls back out to a double-digit lead, as the Knicks just had no answer for them in the last 12 minutes of play. White set a Bulls franchise record for 3-pointers in a quarter with seven and scored a career-high 27 points.

 

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett
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Feb 26, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) dribbles the ball against Orlando Magic forward Wesley Iwundu (25) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Feb 26, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) dribbles the ball against Orlando Magic forward Wesley Iwundu (25) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Dennis Smith Jr. will make his return to the Knicks' lineup on Tuesday night, per The Athletic's Mike Vorkunov

Smith has been out since Oct. 26, as he has been with his family grieving the loss of his stepmother. The Knicks were giving him all the time he needed before making his return to the team. 

Smith has been back with the Knicks since last week, and it was believed that he may be able to play against the Mavericks on Friday night. However, the team wanted to make sure he was game-ready, and decided to wait until Tuesday against the Bulls. 

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Steve Mills/Scott Perry/David Fizdale (Brad Penner)
Steve Mills/Scott Perry/David Fizdale (Brad Penner)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

A few notes about where things stand with the Knicks after an awkward, uncomfortable 24 hours for the organization: 

IS FIZDALE THE FALL GUY?

Yes, the impromptu press conference from team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry on Sunday night made it clear that David Fizdale's job is under scrutiny amid New York's 2-8 start. If the Knicks continue to struggle, no one would be surprised if Fizdale were let go in the near future. 

ESPN reported on Monday that Mills was laying the groundwork internally to fire Fizdale. This could lead you to believe that Mills will not be held responsible if New York fails to meet expectations. That's not accurate though. 
 

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 (Jerome Miron)
(Jerome Miron)

After a report Monday suggested that Knicks head coach David Fizdale is being set up by team president Steve Mills as the "fall guy" for the team's struggles, the coach spoke highly of team executives. 

Talking to the media at Monday's practice, Fizdale said he feels is comfortable with Mills and the front office. 

"I haven't seen anything like that," Fizdale said of the ESPN report. "They've been very supportive of me."

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May 29, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri answers questions during Media Day before the NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports  (Dan Hamilton)
May 29, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri answers questions during Media Day before the NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

Let's start here with the Knicks: because of the team's poor record and the impromptu press conference given by president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry on Sunday, there will be speculation about the job security of David Fizdale and the Knicks' execs.

As SNY reported Sunday, there is no indication that any executive or coach is getting fired in the next few days. But an in-season firing shouldn't be ruled out if the losing and non-competitive stretches continue, people familiar with the matter say.

A factor to consider in all of this are the contracts of Mills, Perry and Fizdale.

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Steve Mills/Scott Perry/David Fizdale (Brad Penner)
Steve Mills/Scott Perry/David Fizdale (Brad Penner)

Amidst the wreckage of their disastrous start to the season, Knicks president Steve Mills is setting up head coach David Fizdale to be the "fall guy," a league source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews.

According to Wojnarowski and Andrews, Mills has started to lay the "internal groundwork" for the potential firing of Fizdale.

Questions about Fizdale's job status grew louder after Mills and GM Scott Perry held a postgame press conference at Madison Square Garden following the Knicks' blowout loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday -- an occurrence SNY's Ian Begley noted was extremely rare.

Tags: Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Danny Abriano
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Begley talks Knicks team unrest 00:02:59
SNY NBA insider Ian Begley on yet another poor performance by the Knicks at home and a surprise media appearance by the team's management

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

At some point during New York's 21-point loss to Cleveland, Knicks owner James Dolan spoke to team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry about the state of the club. It's fair to assume he wasn't happy.

The Knicks dropped to 2-8 with Sunday's loss -- the fourth time they've lost a game by at least 20 points.

Afterward, Mills and Perry addressed the media -- which is extremely rare.

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Knicks management meets media 00:01:28
Knicks President Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry express their disappointment with the team's poor start to the season

After the Knicks' 108-87 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden dropped New York to 2-8 on the season, president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry conducted an unexpected postgame press conference.

Before head coach David Fizdale spoke at the podium, the two executives said that they felt an obligation to address fans for the Knicks' disappointing start 10 games into the season.

Mills and Perry repeatedly cited the Knicks' lack of effort as the reasons for concern, namely after Friday's 106-102 road win over the Dallas Mavericks (6-3) and former New York star Kristaps Porzingis provided optimism until Sunday's wire-to-wire blowout defeat against the Cavs (4-5) brought the team back down.

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Knicks walloped at home 00:01:53
Knicks coach David Fizdale, Marcus Morris Sr. and Bobby Portis on the team's inability to perform at a high level consistently

The Knicks returned home to Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday after last week's two-game road trip and lost 108-87 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. >> Box Score

Five things to know about Sunday's game...

1) Taken by the Cavs just one spot in front of the Knicks' pick in the 2018 NBA draft, No. 8 overall selection Collin Sexton showed the Knicks what they missed out on. Sexton dropped a game-high 31 points -- also a season- and career-best scoring output -- shooting 10 of 16 from the field and going 5 for 8 on three-pointers to fuel Cleveland past New York. With the No. 9 overall pick, of course, the Knicks selected small forward Kevin Knox, who scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett
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 (Jerome Miron)
(Jerome Miron)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

David Fizdale hasn't decided yet if Frank Ntilikina will start at point guard when Elfrid Payton is healthy. But it certainly sounds like Fizdale will keep Ntilikina in the starting lineup when Payton returns -- as long as he and the Knicks are playing well. 

Here's what Fizdale said when asked on Sunday if Payton, who has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury, will start at point guard when he returns to the lineup:  

"I'm going to base it on how things are going for us at the time when he gets back," Fizdale said. "If things are going well, we'll probably stay with what we're doing. If for some reason it's not, maybe we'll look at putting him back in there. But we won't make that decision until the time comes."

Tags: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Kristaps Porzingis, Ian Begley
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Nov 3, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) scores a basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Nov 3, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) scores a basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is in the NBA concussion protocol and will not play the next two games, the team announced.

Robinson suffered the concussion on Nov. 6 against the Detroit Pistons, and missed the team's following game against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Knicks play the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on Sunday, and then travel to Chicago to play the Bulls on Tuesday night.

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