Knicks draft and free agency overview

The Knicks are rebuilding. And yes, you’ve heard that one before, but it’s true. They are. As partially evidenced by the mostly short-term contracts they signed players to last offseason and the young age of the roster’s core. And changes to their coaching staff and front office. Here’s the New York Post reviewing their situation this NBA offseason:

Of their 15-man roster, the Knicks have only seven players guaranteed under contract for next season.

Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Theo Pinson and Reggie Bullock either have a team option or non-guaranteed deals that have to soon be enforced for next season. Damyean Dotson and Mo Harkless are outright free agents. Only Bullock has a strong chance of returning.

The Knicks will have three draft picks on Nov. 18, including a lottery pick at No. 8. Those rookies will come into camp with no summer-league action and possibly not even more than one preseason game under their belts.

If the Knicks don’t bring back any of the team-option/non-guaranteed guys, they will have $48 million in cap room if the NBA decides to use last year’s number of $109 million because of revenue losses.

With all the uncertainty facing the entire world right now, both in and outside of sports, and the very good chance that free agency is sped up drastically this year, it’s likely that many players with options in their contracts will elect to stick with their current teams. A good guess is that there’s less free agency movement this offseason than usual. Which may make it tougher for rebuilding teams to suddenly make big changes in 2020.

Knicks reportedly open to trading down in 2020 NBA draft

The NBA draft is rarely a sure thing. And even less so when you’re a team in need of serious talent like the Knicks yet whose lottery pick is only the No. 8 selection. Here’s the New York Post on some possibilities:

According to two league sources, the Knicks are seriously mulling trading back in the Nov. 18 draft unless big man James Wiseman or point guard LaMelo Ball fall back to the eighth spot.

It’s become increasingly clear the Knicks’ top priority, Ball, is unlikely to slide. Wiseman, the athletic 7-foot-1 center from Memphis, has seen some mock-draft fluctuations.

However, most NBA draft sources believe it’s improbable Wiseman will make it to No. 8, leaving the Knicks in a quandary.

One source senses the Knicks have Ball and Wiseman as two players they absolutely “love,” and haven’t been as smitten yet with any other prospect in a consensus weak draft.

The Knicks finished this shortened season with a 21-45 record, which was 12th best in the Eastern conference.

On what a Chris Paul trade to the Knicks might look like

Should the Knicks be interested in a legendary point guard who is past his prime and at the tail end of his NBA career? Probably not. But if the team does pursue this deal, here’s what it may look like, per the New York Post:

If Knicks president Leon Rose takes the leap for 35-year-old Chris Paul, he may have to give up on Kevin Knox, according to an NBA source.

The Thunder are motivated to deal Paul and his massive contract after deciding upon a rebuilding campaign following Billy Donovan’s firing. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti likely will want a first-round pick and a young prospect still on his rookie contract, multiple league officials believe.

According to the source, that young player preferably would be Knox, the ninth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, who is coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign.

The Knicks have a trove of first-round picks to deal (seven first-round picks in the next four drafts). The belief, however, is that they would prefer to keep the 20-year-old Knox in any Paul scenario and offer up either of their 2017 lottery-pick point guards, Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr., both of whom will be restricted free agents in 2021.

We don’t see how it makes any sense for the Knicks to pursue CP3 at this time in their rebuild, especially if it means giving up any first round draft picks.

On what went wrong in the 2019-20 Knicks season

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on some of the things that did not go as planned for the New York Knicks in the 2019-20 season:

The Knicks’ 22.1 assists per game was 27th in the NBA, a year after it finished dead last. The young point guards (Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina) either regressed or stagnated. It left the Knicks in the market for yet another point guard, whether in the draft or from free agency.

Although the Knicks got to the foul line a decent amount (23.5 times per game, 12th in the NBA), they shot a league-worst 69%. That dropped them to 24th in NBA in free throws made per game, and RJ Barrett’s 61% foul shooting was a major factor.

With 3-point shooting, the Knicks have fallen behind the trend for six years and last season was no different. No team made fewer 3s than the Knicks. No team converted fewer corner 3s. Only 27% of their total points arrived from 3-pointers, which would’ve been high 10 years ago but is now last in the NBA. They finished 29th in overall attempts, and 27th in 3-point percentage at 33.7.

The Knicks were an awful 3-point shooting team, and their unimaginative offense was as much a factor (especially under David Fizdale) as their personnel.

The best thing Knicks fans can do right now is focus on the future. Which of course will begin with the 2020 draft and free agency.

Knicks have reportedly chosen their new assistant coaches

The Knicks have reportedly decided on their assistant coaching staff. Here’s the New York Post reporting:

Tom Thibodeau will have at least two guys on his assistant staff with whom he’s worked closely.

While the hirings of Kenny Payne, Johnnie Bryant and Mike Woodson had been cemented, Thibodeau will also add his longtime trusted lieutenants, Andy Greer and Dice Yoshimoto, sources confirm.

The Post first reported Greer and Yoshimoto as candidates back on May 31. Greer, who was with Thibodeau on the Knicks’ staff from 2001-03, and Yoshimoto, were alongside Thibodeau at his head-coaching stops in Chicago and Minnesota.

The Knicks haven’t announced the hirings as official yet, but they’ve been reported by multiple media outlets.

Coaching staff aside, the biggest questions, by far, regarding the Knicks revolve around which roster moves the team will make this offseason.

Heat star Jimmy Butler praises new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau

The Knicks recently made Tom Thibodeau their new head coach. Heat star Jimmy Butler knows Thibs, having spent serious time playing for him in the past. Here’s the New York Post reporting what Butler had to say about New York’s newest hire:

Jimmy Butler sounds ready for another reunion with Tom Thibodeau.

Having played under the new Knicks coach in Chicago and Minnesota, Butler — who has credited Thibodeau with his development from late first round pick to five-time All-Star — said he believes the young core of RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson could make similar progress with Thibodeau’s teachings.

“He’s going to do great. He’s going to turn those young guys into some real players; some superstars, some All-Stars,” Butler said of Thibodeau. “I know he’s been itching for this. I know he’s been preparing for it. When you talk about Thibs and the big stage, I think they go hand in hand.”

Things with Butler didn’t go smoothly in Minnesota, as the rest of the above article details. But his praise of Thibs is the takeaway here.

Butler and the Heat are in Orlando at the Disney NBA campus, where they will face the Nuggets on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Leading Heat scorers this season (PPG)
Jimmy Butler 20.2
Bam Adebayo 16.2
Goran Dragic 16.1
Kendrick Nunn 15.6
Duncan Robinson 13.3

Knicks officially hire Tom Thibodeau as new head coach

The New York Knicks announced today that Tom Thibodeau has been named the 31st head coach in franchise history.

“Tom Thibodeau is a proven winner who gets the most out of the players and teams that he has coached,” said Leon Rose, president, New York Knicks. “He will bring leadership, accountability and a hard-working mentality to our organization. We are excited to bring him back to New York and look forward to collaborating with him and his staff toward a successful future.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to this historic franchise as head coach and work alongside a talented front office that I have great trust in and respect for,” said Thibodeau. “I know what New York is like when the Knicks are successful and there is nothing comparable. I look forward to being a part of what we are building here and can’t wait to get to work.”

According to New York Newsday, “the Knicks interviewed other former head coaches: Kenny Atkinson, Mike Woodson, Mike Brown, Jason Kidd and Mike Miller, who finished up the season as the Knicks’ interim coach. The Knicks also conducted interviews with five assistant coaches – San Antonio’s Will Hardy, Orlando’s Pat Delany, Chicago’s Chris Fleming, Philadelphia’s Ime Udoka and Dallas’ Jamahl Mosley.”

Thibodeau, 62, holds a career coaching record of 352-246 (.589) over eight seasons with Chicago and Minnesota. His .589 career winning percentage is 11th best in NBA history among coaches who have coached at least 500 games. He was named the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2010-11 season and coached the Eastern Conference in the 2012 NBA All Star game in Orlando, FL.

He most recently served as head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, leading the franchise to a 97-107 (.475) regular-season record over three seasons (2016-19). Ending a 13-year playoff drought in 2018, Minnesota won 47 games during that season, which was the team’s largest win total since the 2003-04 season.

Thibodeau’s first stint as a head coach was with the Chicago Bulls where he spent five seasons (2010-15) guiding the team to a 255-139 (.647) record. He led the Bulls to the best record in the NBA in back-to-back seasons (2010-11 and 2011-12), and to five consecutive trips to the postseason, including the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010-11. The 2010-11 team won 62 games, which were the most by a Bulls team since their championship season of 1997-98 and was one of three 50-plus win seasons under his tutelage. During his time with the Bulls, Thibodeau set a franchise record with an 86 consecutive-game streak without losing more than two games in a row and led the NBA in close-game winning percentage at .626 (66-40).

In his eight seasons as an NBA head coach, Thibodeau’s teams ranked in the Top-10 in opponents points per game, five times, twice leading the NBA. His defenses ranked in the Top-10 in defensive rating, four times, twice leading the league, while his teams ranked in the Top-10 in offensive rating, three times, including twice in the Top-5.

Prior to becoming a head coach in the NBA, the New Britain, CT-native was an assistant coach in Minnesota (1989-91), San Antonio (1992-94), Philadelphia (1994-96), New York (1996-03), Houston (2003-07) and Boston (2007-10). In his 28 seasons as an NBA coach, his teams have advanced to the postseason 19 times, including three trips to the NBA Finals (1999, 2008, 2010) and an NBA championship with Boston in 2008.

He began his coaching career with his alma mater, Salem State, as an assistant coach for three seasons (1981-84) before he was promoted, serving as head coach for one season (1984-85). After his time at Salem State, Thibodeau was an assistant coach at Harvard University for four seasons (1985-89). He played four seasons at Salem State (1977-81) and helped lead the Vikings to consecutive Division III national tournaments (1980–81). In 1980, he led Salem State to the league championship and the school’s first NCAA Tournament bid.

Knicks add Theo Pinson off waivers, and waive Allonzo Trier

The New York Knicks have claimed guard/forward Theo Pinson off waivers from the Brooklyn Nets.

The team has also waived guard Allonzo Trier.

Pinson, 6-5, 212-pounds, appeared in 51 games over two seasons with Brooklyn (2018-20), averaging 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists over 11.3 minutes. He also played in nine games (all starts) for the Long Island Nets (NBA G League), averaging 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists over 31.8 minutes. He holds career averages with Long Island of 19.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists over 34.8 minutes in 43 games (43 starts).

The Greensboro, NC-native was originally signed to a two-way contract by Brooklyn on Sep. 19, 2018 after going undrafted out of the University of North Carolina in the 2018 NBA Draft. He went to back-to-back NCAA Championship games with the Tarheels (2016, 2017), securing a National Championship in 2017.

Trier, 6-4, 200-pounds, averaged 9.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists over 19.9 minutes in 88 games (four starts) over two seasons with New York. He was originally signed by the Knicks to a two-way contract on July 3, 2018.

Knicks add Jared Harper off waivers, and waive Kadeem Allen

The New York Knicks today claimed guard Jared Harper and his two-way contract off waivers from Phoenix.

The Knicks also waived guard Kadeem Allen.

Harper, 5-11, 175-pounds, appeared in three games for Phoenix and 33 games (33 starts) for Northern Arizona as a two-way player for the Suns this season. He averaged 20.8 points (seventh in G League), 5.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds over 29.8 minutes for Northern Arizona, ranking second in the league in usage percentage (30%) and third in free throws made (111).

The Mableton, GA-native was originally signed to a two-way contract by Phoenix on Jul. 18, 2019 after going undrafted out of Auburn University in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Allen, 6-1, 200-pounds, averaged 5.0 points and 2.1 assists over 11.7 minutes in 10 games this season for New York. He was originally signed by the Knicks on Jul. 25, 2018 and then again to a two-way contract on Jan. 14, 2019.

Knicks hire William Wesley, Alex Kline and TJ Zanin

The New York Knicks hired William Wesley today, as Executive Vice President, Senior Basketball Advisor.

Also today, the Knicks hired Alex Kline and TJ Zanin as scouts.

“We are very excited to announce the hiring of William Wesley, someone that I have known for over 40 years and consider to be family,” Knicks President Leon Rose said. “He is one of the most well-connected and respected people in the basketball community and he will be a tremendous asset and resource to both myself and the New York Knicks.”

Per the New York Post, “Wesley, a longtime friend of Knicks president Leon Rose and former consultant at CAA, is known for his connections with stars around the league. He also previously worked with Thibodeau, considered a frontrunner to become the Knicks’ next head coach, while at CAA.”

“My long history with and respect for Jim Dolan and Leon Rose, as well as the chance to be part of the New York Knicks made this an opportunity I wanted to pursue,” Knicks Executive Vice President – Senior Basketball Advisor William Wesley said. “I look forward to joining the current staff and moving the organization toward a successful future.”

Per the New York Times, “for decades, Wesley has been known as one of the most powerful outsiders in the industry. His actual influence has been a source of much speculation and puzzlement — he rarely gives interviews or talks about his business — and has almost entirely been linked to his networking ability. But his meticulously low profile belies what many have described as the huge sway he wields in basketball.”

And per New York Newsday, “Wesley’s biggest strength is in connections throughout the professional and college ranks. With the possibility of a huge amount of cap space in what could be a huge free-agent market next summer, Wesley and Rose are the Knicks’ latest chance to provide an alluring home to stars, something the organization has long failed at, including last summer when they could not even get a sit-down with any of the stars on the market.”

Zanin joins the Knicks after working as a regional scout for the Dallas Mavericks last season, following two seasons with the Charlotte Hornets as director of college scouting (2015-17). Prior to his time in Charlotte, the West Chester, PA-native spent time with the Brooklyn Nets (2013-15) and the Los Angeles Clippers (2010-13) as a scout. In addition to his NBA responsibilities, Zanin worked with USA Basketball and Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski as a scout for eight years (2009-17), contributing to four gold medals (2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships and 2012 and 2016 Olympics).

Kline joins the Knicks after spending the last four seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans as a scout and basketball operations assistant (2016-20). Prior to joining the NBA, the Pennington, NJ-native ran the recruiting website “The Recruit Scoop”, which wrote detailed scouting reports on high school and college prospects. In 2013 and 2014, he was named to Forbes 30 under 30 list, at the ages of 18 and 19.