Fresh off a 104-99 preseason victory over the Washington Wizards, the Knicks practiced on Wednesday, and there are numerous items of business to discuss, including Julius Randle’s rebuttal of Kevin Durant and the lack of suspension for Marcus Morris.
The Knicks and Wizards will run it back on Friday at Madison Square Garden, but things have been happening in the days in between. For one example, the Knicks took some time to hang out with wounded veterans, which is super cool of them.
The Knicks spent their off day visiting wounded veterans at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “Hopefully it gives (our team) an understanding what service is, selflessness is,” David Fizdale said. Second item here: https://t.co/Duwh6MROQM— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 9, 2019
Then the team practiced, and there’s news to discuss. Let’s look at what’s going on with the undefeated Knickerbockers.
Julius Randle claps back at Kevin Durant
That headline is a bit of an exaggeration, as Randle’s response to Kevin Durant’s assertion that “the cool thing right now is not the Knicks” was actually quite classy, especially for a statement that included a curse word.
"Shit, I feel cool in blue and orange," Julius Randle said while chuckling. He heard what Kevin Durant said and "I don't think he meant it as a slight."— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) October 9, 2019
KD’s comments certainly generated a lot of attention, but as P&T’s own Andrew J. Claudio explained, “winning fixes everything.” If the Knicks start winning, they’ll be super cool. The Brooklyn Nets would need the Knicks’ futility to continue indefinitely while also putting together some seriously sustained success to have a chance at overtaking New York. But that doesn’t mean the Nets can’t also be popular and gain some fans thanks to their new superstars.
Here, you can hear Randle talk a little more about how cool he thinks it is to be in New York.
Marcus Morris receives no further punishment for that bonking
Morris was in the middle of a masterpiece on Monday, with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists in 19 minutes, but in the third quarter he displayed some of the ferocity he’s been promising us.
First, he whipped his elbows up in order to create some separation between himself and defender Justin Anderson. Then he bonked Anderson on the head with the ball for seemingly no reason at all.
The result was a flagrant-2, meaning he was ejected from the game and there was a lingering possibility he would be suspended. However, after reviewing the situation, the NBA apparently determined no suspension was warranted, according to Knicks beat reporters.
A league source confirmed what others have already reported - Knicks Marcus Morris will not be suspended for the swinging elbow and banging the ball on the head of Justin Anderson.— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) October 9, 2019
Morris claims Anderson said something that sparked him to slam the ball onto his noggin, but also admitted the move was “unprofessional.”
Surely that’s the last of the shenanigans we’ll see from Morris this season!
Multiple Knicks have ailments
The good news is that Kadeem Allen’s strained right foot was feeling fine and he returned to practice on Wednesday.
The bad news is that Bobby Portis and Dennis Smith Jr. were limited, due to a contused left rib and strained lower back, respectively, while Wayne Ellington, Amir Hinton and Kevin Knox did not practice at all. Ellington has an illness, Hinton’s left groin is strained, and Knox has a strained left calf, per the Knicks public relations people.
When it comes to Knox, the Knicks say this was just a precautionary measure. Let’s hope that’s the case.
Fizdale said Kevin Knox has a light strain. Staying cautious by holding him out today to not make it worse.— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) October 9, 2019
As for Smith Jr., perhaps he’s on his way back from the whole back issue.
Dennis Smith Jr. getting some work in pic.twitter.com/1UJZIR7ypE— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) October 9, 2019
Elfrid Payton has impressed his teammates and coaches
Payon started at point guard in the Knicks’ first preseason game, posting 5 points, 5 assists 2 rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
David Fizdale described Payton as a bulldog, according to Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. Bulldogs, like most dogs, are a wonderful type of canine.
“He’s everything I thought he was,” Fizdale said after practice on Wednesday. “He is a bulldog. He really pushed the pace. He got guys shots. He kept us organized. I thought both point guards did a great job in the game.”
Fizdale isn’t the only person who seems smitten with Payton, according to SNY’s Ian Begley.
But, as Fizdale noted above, Payton also earned the nod by his performance in training camp. His thoughts echo what several players privately told friends about Payton’s play last week: they said it looked like he was playing his way into the starting point guard job, per SNY sources.
”He was getting us settled,” one player said.
If Payton nabs the starting position, what does that mean for DJS? How about Frank Ntilikina? Those questions remain unanswered for now.
Frank is also getting some praise
Fizdale keeps pumping up the increased confidence Ntilikina has displayed, saying the Frenchman “has taken a step forward from a confidence standpoint, from the standpoint that no matter what’s happening out there, stay aggressive, stay aggressive,” according to the above-mentioned New York Daily News article.
Fizdale isn’t the only one who sees what Ntilikina brings to the table. Taj Gibson also talked up Ntilikina, saying he’s “been doing an awesome job all training camp.”
”He’s just been doing the things that he normally does,” Gibson added, per the New York Daily News. “I think he’s growing as a player, not listening to the noise and I think he’s been doing a great job.”
The things he normally does include playing intense defense and mostly making the right decisions on offense, even if his shot is sometimes ugly. The other night against Washington, it seemed like every time Ntilikina came back on the floor, the Knicks went back to overpowering the Wizards. Some people think plus-minus is a poo poo stat, but it bears out that feeling. Ntilikina and Gibson tied for a team high of +16 on Monday.
Frank had 9 points (3-10 from the field including an ugly, disgusting airball), plus 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 1 block in 23 minutes of play. He continues to be unsatisfied with his jumper, and was reportedly the last Knick on the practice court Wednesday because he wanted to get up shots.
Frank Ntilikina is the last in the Knicks practice gym, still getting up 3s pic.twitter.com/qCqJFXPZAW— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) October 9, 2019
Mitchell Robinson continues to tease that three ball
It seems likely that Robinson will eventually take a three in a real, live game. He took a shot from 16 or so feet against the Wizards, and although it didn’t go in, it wasn’t half bad. At practice, he continued to put up shots, so any day now we should be anticipating a Robinson trey attempt.
David Fizdale was encouraged by Mitchell Robinson taking that jump shot Monday night in DC, says it was one of the "little steps" on the way to him shooting 3s in a game for the Knicks. Here's Robinson and Taj Gibson shooting 3s today after practice pic.twitter.com/qLSMrSpcVP— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) October 9, 2019
Robinson and Gibson engaged in a “friendly shootout” at the end of Wednesday’s practice, according to the Daily News. Gibson won, but Robinson “held his own, knocking down threes from the corner with relative ease.”
If Steven Adams can add a three pointer to his arsenal, there’s no reason Robinson can’t as well.
Porzingis is already pulling from the parking lot pic.twitter.com/DlLzQsEzm6— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 9, 2019
Oh my gosh, how did that get in here? Sorry, everyone. Here’s Adams:
“I think his shot is great. I think he’s all about encouragement,” Gibson said of Mitchell. “We want him to shoot the ball. It’s just about timing and when he wants to really shoot it. He was shooting it late with me after practice. He’s always late after every practice. We’re shooting a lot of different 3s. It’s all about his confidence, really.”