Ian Begley

Ian Begley is SNY's NBA Insider.

May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Sixers star Tobias Harris has a message for the Nets - and any other revamped team in the East with hopes of making a deep playoff run.
 
"We're for sure at the top in the East," Harris said Thursday at the NBPA/Five-Star Camp at Basketball City. "With that being said, it's the NBA. It's hard to win games in the NBA. We know it's going to take a lot of chemistry. It's going to take work from every single guy on the team. We have big goals for ourselves, our team, our organization. We're ready for it."

Harris, who signed a five-year, $180 million deal to stay in Philadelphia, re-joins a Sixers core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Philadelphia also added Al Horford and Josh Richardson

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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)

Ignas Brazdeikis was the 47th pick in the NBA Draft, so the casual fan may have been surprised to see him knocking down threes, executing spin moves and finishing around the rim in the Summer League.

But those that know Brazdeikis well weren't.

"He's always been able to score," Andrew Saulez, Brazdeikis' coach at Holy Trinity High School, says. "…. Some of the stuff that you saw at Michigan and at Summer League, the buckets that he gets at weird angles, using the glass, getting into the lane, spinning and scoring -- he's been doing that since Grade 6 or 7."

Brazdeikis averaged 15.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists for New York in the Summer League. He also knocked down 11 of his 22 three-point attempts. It was only Summer League, so those who are penciling Brazdeikis in as Rookie of the Year are getting ahead of themselves.

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Bryan Mitchell, Kevin Knox, Ian Begley
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Mar 4, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Reggie Bullock (35) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports (Richard Mackson)
Mar 4, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Reggie Bullock (35) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports (Richard Mackson)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

New Knicks free-agent signee Reggie Bullock underwent surgery on Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery for a cervical disc herniation, the team said.

Bullock initially reached a two-year $21 million agreement at the beginning of free agency, but re-worked the agreement in wake of the disc herniation. Bullock agreed to a two-year deal for less than the $4.7 million exception, his agent David Bauman told SNY.

"(The) Knicks were fantastic through this process," Bauman said.

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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant sits on the court after an apparent injury during the second quarter in Game 5 against the Toronto Raptors of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant sits on the court after an apparent injury during the second quarter in Game 5 against the Toronto Raptors of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

Nets general manager Sean Marks said in an interview with WFAN on Tuesday that Kevin Durant - and Durant alone - will decide when he returns to the court for Brooklyn. He also said the club will give Kyrie Irving a 'clean slate,' rather than pass judgement on what may or may not have happened with Irving last season in Boston.

Marks touched on those topics - and several others - during his interview with WFAN's Evan Roberts. 

Here are some highlights:

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Ian Begley
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Apr 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Jesse Johnson)
Apr 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Jesse Johnson)

We'll never know if the Knicks were interested in trading for Russell Westbrook. They never had the chance to make an offer. 

The Rockets and Thunder stunned the league on Thursday by agreeing to a deal that moved Westbrook to Houston in return for a package that included Chris Paul and first-round picks, per ESPN. 

The Knicks didn't have the money to match salaries in a Westbrook trade at the moment. They would have had to wait until Dec. 15 to include the free agents they signed the summer in a deal.

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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Nate Robinson reflects on Knicks 00:01:24
Nate Robinson joins Ian Begley and says 'They're building a team that's a real team' when describing the Knicks offseason moves.

Nate Robinson played his first five NBA seasons with the New York Knicks. 

Speaking on Tuesday with SNY Insider Ian Begley, Robinson gave his take on the current state of the team, including the players they couldn't land and the one that they have brought in.

When asked about Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving spurning the Knicks for deals with the cross-town Brooklyn Nets, Robinson spoke from his own experience on why he enjoyed his time in New York.

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Apr 28, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in game one of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports  (Jeff Hanisch)
Apr 28, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in game one of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)

The Knicks' pursuit of Marcus Morris has reportedly paid off. 

League sources confirmed to SNY's Ian Begley that Morris plans to sign a one-year deal with the Knicks worth roughly $15 million. 

Begley reported earlier on Thursday that the Knicks believed that obtaining Morris as a free agent and re-working Reggie Bullock's deal was a likely scenario, per SNY sources.

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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Apr 28, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in game one of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports  (Jeff Hanisch)
Apr 28, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in game one of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |

As of Thursday morning, there was still mutual interest between the Knicks and Reggie Bullock to negotiate a new deal after a medical issue hampered their original agreement, per SNY sources.

Bullock's agent, David Bauman, and the Knicks continue to work together on a new agreement for the six-year veteran.

The medical issue that caused a hiccup is unclear, but Bullock has dealt with plantar fasciitis in the past. The Knicks originally agreed to a two-year, $21 million deal with Bullock that contained a player option in Year 2.

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Apr 28, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in game one of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports  (Jeff Hanisch)
Apr 28, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in game one of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The Knicks and Reggie Bullock's agent, David Bauman, are working together to reach a new agreement after a medical issue arose that caused the team to question his ability to play a full season, a league source confirmed to SNY.

The Knicks originally agreed on a two-year, $21 million deal with a player option. The medical issue holding the deal up is unclear, but it could lead to New York landing another free agent.

An ESPN report stated that Marcus Morris is reconsidering the two-year, $20 million agreement he reached with the San Antonio Spurs. Morris, according to the report, is considering signing with New York. The club is expected to have additional cap space if it re-works its deal with Bullock, and one SNY source said Tuesday that the team was hopeful of landing Morris in wake of the Bullock issue. 

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Knicks forward RJ Barrett (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
Knicks forward RJ Barrett (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

LAS VEGAS - If you're making sweeping conclusions about RJ Barrett after two Summer League games, you're overreacting.

"Of course the Knicks would like to see him come out and dominate in these games against guys who won't be in the NBA. That's what you'd expect from the No. 3 pick. But there's no reason to sound any alarms," one veteran scout said Monday. "He's 19 and this is what Summer League - and his rookie season, really - is for. It's about development and getting comfortable on an NBA floor."

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Brazdeikis scores big in Vegas 00:01:15
Knicks rookie Ignas Brazdeikis talks about scoring points in Summer League, and developing his game with Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett.

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter|

Iggy Brazdeikis believes he's the best player on any court he steps on.

That was certainly true at the Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday night.

Brazdeikis, the Knicks' second round pick, scored 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting and had eight rebounds in New York's overtime loss to Phoenix.

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New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

LAS VEGAS -- Frank Ntilikina was visiting with the Knicks' Summer League team on Sunday night, unfazed by his involvement in recent trade rumors.

"I'm happy to be a Knick," Ntilikina told reporters at the Thomas and Mack Center before New York's overtime loss to Phoenix. "I still take as much as I can get from every situation that I can. I'm in their jersey. I'm happy to be a Knick. I'm happy to be here. I'll work very hard to make this situation successful."

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, Ian Begley
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Apr 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Jesse Johnson)
Apr 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Jesse Johnson)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Unless they want to renege on agreements with their new free agents, the Knicks can't complete a trade for Russell Westbrook prior to December 15. They only have $4 million in cap space, not close to enough to absorb the $38.5 million he's scheduled to make next season. 

It would be incredibly damaging to the Knicks' relationships with agents if they reneged on free-agent agreements to acquire Westbrook, so you can forget about that option. 

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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Begley's Knicks analysis 00:01:01
SNY's Ian Begley reports on Dennis Smith Jr.'s improved jump shot and RJ Barrett's debut

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

LAS VEGAS - RJ Barrett isn't going to make too much of his shooting in the Knicks' first Summer League game. 

"I haven't played a game in three months. I was fine. Shots didn't fall, but I'm good," the Knicks' No. 3 overall pick said on Saturday. 

Tags: Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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Knicks rookie, vets on new look 00:01:35
RJ Barrett, Dennis Smith Jr. and Julius Randle on the Knicks youth and new additions

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

LAS VEGAS - Dennis Smith Jr. is entering his first full season as a Knick and his third in the NBA. He sees it as an important year for him. 

"I think it is. I honestly felt like I was supposed to be (drafted No. 1 overall). Probably like everybody else in the class. I feel like this is the perfect time to come out and prove why I feel that way," Smith said on Saturday after the Knicks practice in Las Vegas. 

Smith said he's been working on his shot extensively with Knicks top assistant coach Keith Smart and that he feels fully healthy after he was hampered by a back injury late last season. He also likes the Knicks' new additions, feels ready to compete with free agent point guard Elfrid Payton for the starting job, and isn't worried about the Brooklyn Nets' big haul. 

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Mar 20, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Julius Randle (30) during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Mar 20, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Julius Randle (30) during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Kawhi Leonard signing with the Clippers makes it official: the Knicks have missed out on all of their top targets in free agency. But the biggest free agent they landed, Julius Randle, believes that fans will grow to appreciate the 2019-2020 team. 

"We've got dogs. We've got dudes who don't back down, who have killer mentalities. And that's what we need," Randle said on Friday night. "Getting back to the old school. Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, all of those guys. Toughness. A fight breaking every night. So, we're excited about that. That's our identity of our team, not backing down from nobody."

Randle offered his thoughts on several topics in a chat with reporters in Las Vegas: 

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Kawhi Leonard stunned the NBA early Saturday morning, committing to the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency and bringing Oklahoma City star Paul George along with him.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Leonard pushed the Clippers to obtain George via trade. The Clippers sent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Galinari, four unprotected first picks, one protected first round pick and two protected first rounders in exchange for George. Wow.

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Summer League rocked by quake 00:01:43
SNY's Ian Begley reports on the earthquake that occurred during the Knicks Summer League game in Las Vegas

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

LAS VEGAS -- RJ Barrett didn't shoot the ball well in his Summer League debut, but Knicks Coach Jud Buechler had a simple message for the rookie after the game: don't stop shooting.

"There were ups and downs in the game for him, which you expect out of a rookie. We saw a lot of things we liked," Buechler said, via the Knicks, after Barrett missed 14 of his 18 shots in 25 minutes against Zion Williamson and the Pelicans. "We will continue to encourage him to keep shooting and aren't worried about his shot not falling."

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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New Orleans Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton gestures while dribbling the ball during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. (Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports)
New Orleans Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton gestures while dribbling the ball during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. (Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Unless you're an elite player, starting jobs in the NBA aren't handed out in July. So it's way too early to predict who will be starting at point guard for the Knicks next season.

But at the moment, the plan is for new Knick Elfrid Payton to get "every opportunity" to win the starting point guard position next season, per SNY sources familiar with the matter.

The Knicks signed Payton to a two-year, $16 million deal with a team option for the second season.

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, Ian Begley
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Kyrie Irving (11) Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Rempel)
Kyrie Irving (11) Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Rempel)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

In a post on Instagram earlier this week, Kyrie Irving shed some light on his decision to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.  

"In my heart I always knew I wanted to play at home. Home is where my heart is," he said in the video posted to his account. "….Home is where my family is. Home is where I want my legacy to continue. I'm happy to be in Brooklyn." 

Irving, who grew up in West Orange, N.J. and attended high schools in Montclair and Elizabeth, was a Nets fan growing up.

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Knicks rookie Kevin Knox (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
Knicks rookie Kevin Knox (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Kevin Knox has worked on his strength, efficiency and passing, among other things, so far in the offseason. And he's eager to get on the court in Summer League following a few weeks of training.

"I just feel so much more comfortable on the court now. I just feel stronger, have a (better) head on my shoulders," Knox said of playing in Summer League after going through his first NBA season. "Just having a year underneath my belt, I can watch a lot of film of what I need to work on and what I need to get better at. I just feel a lot stronger, a lot better on the court, a lot more confident, and more of a leader so I'll be able to talk and help the other guys out."

Knox, 20, said he's spent time in the weight room to add strength to his frame. The 6-foot-9 forward weighed 215 pounds at the start of last season.

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Ian Begley
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New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas shoots over Washington Wizards forward Jeff Green during the first half at Capital One Arena. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas shoots over Washington Wizards forward Jeff Green during the first half at Capital One Arena. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The Knicks currently have 14 players on standard NBA contracts and two players on two-way deals. In the regular season, teams can carry 15 players on standard contracts and two players on two-way deals.

So, projecting ahead to the season, the Knicks have room on the roster for one more standard contract.

New York has roughly $4 million in cap space remaining and a $4.7 million exception. One name in consideration: Lance Thomas.

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Apr 18, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) and head coach Kenny Atkinson argue with official James Capers (19) in the third quarter in game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Apr 18, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) and head coach Kenny Atkinson argue with official James Capers (19) in the third quarter in game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Ex-Net Jared Dudley has some interesting insight on Kevin Durant's decision to sign with the Nets (over the Knicks) and DeAndre Jordan's role in Brooklyn's acquisition of Durant and Kyrie Irving.

In an interview with ESPN's The Woj Pod, Dudley, who signed with the Lakers on Thursday, said Irving and Durant made the right decision to sign with Brooklyn "because of the organizational stability over there."

While making it clear that he wants the Knicks to do well because it's good for the NBA's business, Dudley believes that the Nets will usurp attention from the Knicks now that they have Durant and Irving.

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Apr 18, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) and head coach Kenny Atkinson argue with official James Capers (19) in the third quarter in game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Apr 18, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) and head coach Kenny Atkinson argue with official James Capers (19) in the third quarter in game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Ex-Net Jared Dudley has some interesting insight on Kevin Durant's decision to sign with the Nets (over the Knicks) and DeAndre Jordan's role in Brooklyn's acquisition of Durant and Kyrie Irving.

In an interview with ESPN's The Woj Pod, Dudley, who signed with the Lakers on Thursday, said Irving and Durant made the right decision to sign with Brooklyn "because of the organizational stability over there."

While making it clear that he wants the Knicks to do well because it's good for the NBA's business, Dudley believes that the Nets will usurp attention from the Knicks now that they have Durant and Irving.

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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant smiles during warm ups before game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs against the LA Clippers at Oracle Arena. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant smiles during warm ups before game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs against the LA Clippers at Oracle Arena. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Jay Williams is close to Kevin Durant. He's a partner on Durant's show, The Boardroom, on ESPN. So his insight into Durant's decision to join the Brooklyn Nets carries weight. He offered some thoughts on Durant's decision to join the Nets on Zach Lowe's The Lowe Post Podcast on Monday. 

Here are some of the highlights: 

His thoughts on why Durant chose the Nets over the Knicks, Warriors and Clippers: "The thing that won this over, I think for Kevin…. it was Kyrie [Irving]. I think it was Kyrie, I think it was the franchise. I think it was (Nets GM) Sean Marks. I think it was the way they handled themselves throughout the process. I think it was the way that Sean has maneuvered different schemes from Day One when they traded Thaddeus Young and they got Caris LeVert."

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Feb 9, 2019; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward RJ Barrett (5) shoots the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)
Feb 9, 2019; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward RJ Barrett (5) shoots the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

RJ Barrett talked about his first Summer League practice, his first matchup against the Pelicans and Zion Williamson in Las Vegas and his role on the Knicks in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Barrett, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft who signed his rookie contract on Tuesday, will be one of the focal points of the upcoming Knicks season after they didn't land their top targets in free agency.

When asked about that, the rookie downplayed the idea.

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Knicks need to develop players 00:01:38
SNY NBA Insider Ian Begley discusses the Knicks recent FA signings and how building up their young core will be key in getting future FAs.

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Let's take a look at some issues surrounding the seismic events of the last two days for the Knicks and the Nets: 

WAS KEVIN DURANT GOING TO COME TO THE KNICKS?

Executives and agents felt for months that if Durant decided to leave Golden State, he was going to come to the Knicks. Several of Durant's current and former teammates believed it was going to happen. During the season, people around Durant were telling confidants that he was likely headed to the Knicks if he chose to leave Golden State, per SNY sources. And it's safe to assume that Durant wasn't planning to come alone. The Knicks, of course, had enough cap space to land two stars. 

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Knicks need to develop players 00:01:38
SNY NBA Insider Ian Begley discusses the Knicks recent FA signings and how building up their young core will be key in getting future FAs.

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Let's take a look at some issues surrounding the seismic events of the last two days for the Knicks and the Nets: 

WAS KEVIN DURANT GOING TO COME TO THE KNICKS?

Executives and agents felt for months that if Durant decided to leave Golden State, he was going to come to the Knicks. Several of Durant's current and former teammates believed it was going to happen. During the season, people around Durant were telling confidants that he was likely headed to the Knicks if he chose to leave Golden State, per SNY sources. And it's safe to assume that Durant wasn't planning to come alone. The Knicks, of course, had enough cap space to land two stars. 

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Scott Perry Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Scott Perry Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

After striking out on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and (presumably) Kawhi Leonard, the Knicks essentially did what they said they were going to do in 'Plan B' of their free agency approach: signed players to team-friendly deals to maintain cap flexibility.

The contracts for Reggie Bullock (two years, $21 million), Bobby Portis (two years, $31 million), Elfrid Payton (two years, $16 million), Taj Gibson (two years, $20 million) and Wayne Ellington (two years, $16 million) all have team options for the second season. The Knicks' deal with Julius Randle (three years, $63 million) has a team option for the third season.

The anger over the club missing on Durant is warranted given the steps the club took to create max cap space. But the Knicks seemed to do well in their pivot to Plan B.

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, Kristaps Porzingis, Ian Begley
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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The Knicks continued to use the cap space they didn't spend on Kevin Durant late Sunday night when they agreed to a two-year, $21 million deal with free agent Reggie Bullock, league sources confirmed to SNY.

The move leaves the Knicks with roughly $18 million in cap space, well shy of a max slot. So, in case it was unclear, you can cross Kawhi Leonard off of the Knicks' list.

Bullock, a career 39 percent three-point shooter, gives the Knicks a versatile defender who can spread the floor.

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Knicks react to Nets signings 00:02:02
SNY's Maria Marino and Ian Begley discuss the ramifications of the Nets' signings on the Knicks organization

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The Knicks have had so many low points over the last 20 years that it's hard to rank them. But what happened on Sunday is near the top of the list.

It would have been understandable if they missed out on Kevin Durant because he decided to re-sign with the Golden State Warriors, who could have offered a five-year, $221 million max contract.

But the Knicks lost Durant to the Brooklyn Nets, the supposed junior varsity in town that also landed Kyrie Irving.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis, Ian Begley
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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant smiles during warm ups before game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs against the LA Clippers at Oracle Arena. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant smiles during warm ups before game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs against the LA Clippers at Oracle Arena. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

As the start of free agency approaches, we know that the Knicks expect to get an audience with free agent Kevin Durant. We know that the Knicks feel as if they are in the running for Durant. ESPN has reported that Durant is expected to communicate with the Nets, Clippers and Warriors as well the Knicks.

The Warriors can offer Durant a five-year, $221 million deal. The Knicks, Nets and Clippers can offer Durant max deals of $164 million over four years.

That $57 million gap is significant, particularly because Durant is expected to miss the season, per ESPN, while rehabbing his Achilles injury.

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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard controls the ball as he is watched closely by Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter at Scotiabank Arena. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard controls the ball as he is watched closely by Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter at Scotiabank Arena. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports)

Here's where things stand as we approach the start of free agency: 

The Knicks still feel they are in the running for Kevin Durant. Durant and Kawhi Leonard have reportedly explored opportunities to play together. The Nets, Clippers and Knicks are the two teams who have enough cap space to sign both players. The Nets are expected to sign Kyrie Irving, so that takes them off the list. It doesn't seem like New York has a strong chance at landing Leonard, but people around Leonard do see the Knicks as a potential destination for the NBA Finals MVP. 

It's unclear if the Knicks will meet with Leonard. New York expects to have an audience with Durant, SNY sources confirm. ESPN said Durant is expected to communicate with the Nets, Clippers and Warriors as well. 

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Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

The long-expected marriage between Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets is almost here.

ESPN reported on Saturday that the Nets will meet with Irving when free agency opens on Sunday night and both sides are 'motivated to move quickly' to agree on a max contract of four years and $141 million. 

The Irving signing means the end of D'Angelo Russell's run in Brooklyn. SNY reported earlier this month that it was highly unlikely that Russell would remain in Brooklyn if Irving signed there. ESPN reported Saturday that Brooklyn is expected to either renounce Russell, which would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent, or execute a sign-and-trade.  

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Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

The long-expected marriage between Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets is almost here.

ESPN reported on Saturday that the Nets will meet with Irving when free agency opens on Sunday night and both sides are 'motivated to move quickly' to agree on a max contract of four years and $141 million. 

The Irving signing means the end of D'Angelo Russell's run in Brooklyn. SNY reported earlier this month that it was highly unlikely that Russell would remain in Brooklyn if Irving signed there. ESPN reported Saturday that Brooklyn is expected to either renounce Russell, which would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent, or execute a sign-and-trade.  

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 (Dan Hamilton)
(Dan Hamilton)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant are reportedly talking about teaming up and the Knicks have the cap space to land both players. We know that the Knicks feel as if they're in on Durant as free agency approaches. SNY sources confirm that they expect to have an audience with Durant. As far as Leonard goes, there are people around the NBA Finals MVP who see New York as a destination for him. ESPN reported that Leonard plans to meet with the Knicks. 

If the Knicks sign both of those players - or even if they strike out on them - they have their eyes on two veteran free agents. New York is expected to show interest in veteran guards George Hill and Wayne Ellington when free agency officially begins on Sunday, per SNY sources. 

The Bucks are reportedly going to waive Hill, who had a strong finish to his season in Milwaukee. Knicks GM Scott Perry and Hill have a history; Perry signed Hill when he was a top executive with the Sacramento Kings in the summer of 2017 before he left Sacramento for the Knicks. 

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Jan 26, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) works against Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half of a 115-111 victory by Golden State at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)
Jan 26, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) works against Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half of a 115-111 victory by Golden State at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The Brooklyn Nets have nearly enough cap space for two max players. So we know they are going to be hunting for top free agents in a couple of days. They have a strong core of young players and are coming off of a season in which they increased their win total by 14 games and made the playoffs. So it seems logical that they'd be a strong suitor for some of the top free agents.

But besides their recent on-court success, there's another element in Brooklyn that could be attractive to potential free agents: their medical and performance staff.

Here's how Nets veteran Jared Dudley described the medical staff shortly after the season:

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Jan 28, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts by pounding on his chest after making a play against the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Jan 28, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts by pounding on his chest after making a play against the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

There have been some strong suggestions on television and radio recently that the Brooklyn Nets are the front runners for Kevin Durant.

But that notion is not accurate. Sources familiar with the matter told SNY that the Nets are not the front runners or favorites to sign Durant at the moment.

Durant, according to The Athletic, has not yet decided if he'll meet with teams when free agency starts on Sunday night. But if he does, those meetings will take place in New York, according to the website.

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Jan 28, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts by pounding on his chest after making a play against the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Jan 28, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts by pounding on his chest after making a play against the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

There have been some strong suggestions on television and radio recently that the Brooklyn Nets are the front runners for Kevin Durant.

But that notion is not accurate. Sources familiar with the matter told SNY that the Nets are not the front runners or favorites to sign Durant at the moment.

Durant, according to The Athletic, has not yet decided if he'll meet with teams when free agency starts on Sunday night. But if he does, those meetings will take place in New York, according to the website.

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Mar 9, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Washington Wizards forward Bobby Portis (5) backs towards the basket as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie (20) plays defense in the second half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Jesse Johnson)
Mar 9, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Washington Wizards forward Bobby Portis (5) backs towards the basket as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie (20) plays defense in the second half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Jesse Johnson)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

With four days to go before free agency, members of the Knicks organization still believe they have a chance to sign their top targets: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving.

It would be a disappointing blow if New York missed out on those targets given the moves the club made to set up their cap situation for this summer. But the Knicks have some contingency plans.

If they miss out on those top targets, the Knicks will have strong interest in young bigs Julius Randle and Bobby Portis, per SNY sources.

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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Something that could impact the Knicks and Nets: Multiple teams have expressed interest in pairing Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler together in free agency this summer, per league sources familiar with the matter.

Those teams, obviously, would need to create the cap space required to sign both players. The teams interested in Butler and Leonard believe they would have interest in playing on the same team, per league sources.

This doesn't suggest that Leonard is seeking to team up with any other player; that doesn't fit his persona. But teams interested in pairing Leonard and Butler believe they would have interest in playing together.

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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Something that could impact the Knicks and Nets: Multiple teams have expressed interest in pairing Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler together in free agency this summer, per league sources familiar with the matter.

Those teams, obviously, would need to create the cap space required to sign both players. The teams interested in Butler and Leonard believe they would have interest in playing on the same team, per league sources.

This doesn't suggest that Leonard is seeking to team up with any other player; that doesn't fit his persona. But teams interested in pairing Leonard and Butler believe they would have interest in playing together.

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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)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Here's what we know about the Knicks heading into free agency: they feel like they are in on Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. They don't plan to offer long-term contracts to anyone who is not on their top list of free agents, which includes the three players above.

If they miss out on Durant, Leonard and Irving, they'd prefer to use their cap space on players who agree to short-term deals. You can be sure that they will look to bring in some veterans to help younger players like R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier along.

With that in mind, here's a look at a few free agents this summer who New York may look at:

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The longest-tenured Knick is a big fan of the newest one.

Lance Thomas watched fellow Duke player R.J. Barrett several times during the season and came away impressed.

"He's a force. He can get to that cup whenever he wants and he finishes above the rim," Thomas said at a pop-up event last Wednesday to promote his Slangmagic clothing line, named after his competitve fishing team. "He finishes with a good floater, strong kid."

Tags: Lance Thomas, Ian Begley
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Feb 20, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs forward Nicolas Claxton (33) dunks the ball against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports (Dale Zanine)
Feb 20, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs forward Nicolas Claxton (33) dunks the ball against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports (Dale Zanine)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

At his introductory press conference on Monday, new Net Nicolas Claxton left no doubt that he can fit well with Brooklyn center Jarrett Allen.

"I think that me and him, on the same court, will able to be extremely disruptive, especially on the defensive end," Claxton, the 6-foot-11 big from Georgia selected 31st overall by Brooklyn, told reporters on Monday.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Ian Begley
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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Ignas Brazdeikis was asked on Friday to describe his game. His answer is probably something that will endear him to the Knick fan base. 

"I'm a relentless player. I don't fear anyone or anything. I don't back down from anyone either," Brazdeikis, the Knicks' second-round pick, said. "I'm very confident in my abilities as well. I go as hard as I can every single game to help the team win. I'm aggressive. I feel like I l know who I am as a basketball player."

The Knicks traded up in the second round to select Brazdeikis, a 20-year-old freshman forward from Michigan. They sent cash and the 55th pick to Sacramento in exchange for the 47th pick. 

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Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Knicks president Steve Mills didn't want to talk about free agency during the introductory press conference for Knicks rookies RJ Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikis.

"Today is not the day to talk about free agency," Mills said. "We're here to celebrate and enjoy having these guys join our team."

But when he was asked what the Knicks' message to their fans is at the moment, Mills preached patience.

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Jun 13, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after the Golden State Warriors in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)
Jun 13, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after the Golden State Warriors in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)

After the Knicks get through the draft on Thursday night, their attention will turn fully to free agency.

We know that the Knicks will still have interest in Kevin Durant, who is expected to miss next season as he rehabs from an Achilles injury.

They are also going to be aggressive in their pursuit of NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

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RJ Barrett drafted by Knicks 00:01:01
RJ Barrett's personality was on display as he spoke to the media after being drafted third overall by the Knicks. He's ready to play at MSG.

About an hour after the Knicks took him with the third pick of the NBA Draft on Thursday night, RJ Barrett delivered a straightforward message to the city. 

"New Yorkers, I'm here. I love you. Let's try to get back to that championship way," Barrett said late Thursday. 

After all of the last-minute workouts with other players, New York made the expected move in taking Barrett with the third overall pick. 

 

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Feb 26, 2019; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Marques Bolden (20) looks to pass while being defended by Virginia Tech Hokies forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (24) in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports (Michael Thomas Shroyer)
Feb 26, 2019; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Marques Bolden (20) looks to pass while being defended by Virginia Tech Hokies forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (24) in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports (Michael Thomas Shroyer)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

We know that the Knicks are settled on taking RJ Barrett at the No. 3 pick if he's available, but what will they do with their second round pick?

New York owns the No. 55 pick in the second round, and has worked out several prospects who would fall in that range. Below are a look at a few prospects who the Knicks may look at with their late second-round selection:

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