LeBron James’ newest drawback with Phil Jackson is who he drafted. Ahead of his journey to the Garden on Monday, James took a shot at Jackson and Knicks rookie Frank Ntilikina by highlighting the participant who the Knicks handed over — Dennis Smith Jr.
“The Knicks pbaded on a really good one and Dallas got the diamond in the rough. He should be a Knick,” James instructed reporters. “It’s gonna make some headlines but he should be a Knick.”
Smith was picked by the Mavericks one spot after Ntilikina within the draft, and is an early frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. In Dallas’ loss to the Cavs Saturday, Smith dropped 21 factors with seven badists, which segued to LeBron’s remark Saturday. He is actually a greater scorer than Ntilikina, however the Knicks rookie has demonstrated potential to turn into a lockdown defender and powerful playmaker.
Knicks middle Enes Kanter fired again at LeBron on Twitter Saturday night time, saying, “Nope!! We love what we got. Thanks!!!”
The Knicks interviewed Smith throughout the draft course of however he declined to carry a person exercise. Smith instructed the Daily News that Jackson, the since-fired Knicks staff president, pressured him to eat octopus throughout their dinner, regardless that the purpose guard was reluctant.
Smith Jr. is averaging 19 factors, four.6 rebounds and four.four badists in November. The level guard’s energy is his athleticism, which has led to spectacular dunks. James beforehand knocked Jackson for his use of the phrase “posse” his dealing with of Carmelo Anthony and buying and selling J.R. Smith to the Cavaliers for nothing.
The Knicks can’t boast of nice — and even good — particular person defenders. But they’ve pieced collectively consistency on that finish, in opposition to the make-up of their roster.
Kristaps Porzingis attributed the development to a pair of causes: 1) higher effort, 2) a greater recreation plan. The latter level is about how the Knicks settled on a singular defensive system, whereas final season they switched up the scheme based mostly on the opponent. “A lot of times last year we were confused. We were switching from game to game, you could feel that uncertainty,” Porzingis mentioned. “We were confused and we didn’t have confidence 100 percent in each other or the system. Now we’re staying with the same thing and we know, some games it will work better, some games it will work not so well, but if we play hard and follow the plan, we feel like any game is winnable.”
JUST BE KUZ
Mindaugas Kuzminskas feels he’s coming into his prime however the Knicks have rendered him a constant inactive. Will that mixture result in his relocation? New York must clear a roster spot by 5 p.m. on Sunday to accommodate the return of Joakim Noah, who’s eligible for Monday’s recreation in opposition to the Cavs following his PED suspension.
Kuzminskas, who’s on an expiring deal paying him $three million this season, has been reportedly shopped by the Knicks.
“The next three years will be the best of my career, hopefully. I never felt so good, physically and mentally,” mentioned the 28-year-old. “So I just want to play and if it’s here, I’d be more than happy.”
Kuzminskas’ demotion to out the rotation was surprising following an encouraging rookie marketing campaign when he averaged 6.three factors in 14.9 minutes. But the Knicks even have a surplus of wings and Kuzminskas’ largest fan — Phil Jackson — is now not with the group. “I was happy when (Phil) was here last year,” Kuzminskas. “He gave me a lot of advice. Just seeing him every day in practice gave me extra motivation.”
New York’s choice is to commerce a participant to open up a roster spot. But if makes an attempt are unsuccessful, the Knicks must waive a badured contract. Kuzminskas, Ramon Sessions and Michael Beasley are the apparent candidates.
“We’ll see what happens,” Kuzminskas mentioned.
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