Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Here's our weekly Knicks mailbag with SNY's NBA Insider Ian Begley...
We got a few questions about LaMelo Ball and the possibility of the Knicks moving up in the draft:
@PrimeCarmelo: Do you think the Knicks trade up for LaMelo if they don't move up in the lottery?
@Jiggyx_1: How would the lottery results for this draft affect our motivation to trade up?? Is there a specific player they key in on?? How likely is that?
This shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed the 2020 draft class, but the Knicks have LaMelo Ball ranked as the top point guard on their draft board, an SNY source confirmed. One opposing scout said he assumed most teams have Ball at the top. But since @PrimeCarmelo asked specifically about LaMelo, it's worth pointing out that Knicks people think highly of the young guard.
That said, if the Knicks end up with the No. 6 pick, there are other factors to think about when discussing whether or not they'd move up. Who has the first four picks? Are any of those teams open to moving down for multiple picks or for a player and a pick? Just how much would New York be willing to sacrifice to move up a few spots to draft Ball?
It's tough to even speculate about that without knowing the draft order. I think the one thing you can say with a degree of certainty is that the Knicks, like all teams around the time of the draft, will be open to listening to trade opportunities available to them before they settle on a pick.
Regarding @Jiggyx_1's question, given that the Knicks are in need of a point guard and have Ball currently ranked at the top of their board, it's logical to assume that they'd be open to trading up for him. But it depends on the price, obviously. And that depends on which teams are ahead of the Knicks in the draft order.
We know that LaVar Ball would like to see LaMelo in New York. There are others in LaMelo's circle -- outside of LaVar -- who would love to see him end up in New York, SNY sources say. The New York Post reported that some in the NBA believe LaVar will try to steer LaMelo to the Knicks.
It seems like it would be difficult for Ball's camp to coordinate his landing LaMelo in New York if the Knicks end up with the No. 6 pick. Maybe withholding Ball's medical information from teams ahead of the Knicks could lead him to slide down? But it seems unlikely that he slides all the way to No. 6.
Here are a few questions about free agency:
@jiggyx_1: How likely is a Christian Wood acquisition this summer??
@dregetshoes: Any update on the Christian Wood free agency news?
I don't have any update on Christian Wood, other than what we reported a few weeks ago: people in the Knick front office had been enamored with Wood throughout the season. So much of what happens in free agency depends on what the Knicks do with the options they have on contracts for players on their current roster and where the 2020-21 salary cap ends up. New York could have $60-plus million in cap space if the cap level remains the same. But the cap level may decrease due to declining revenue from the coronavirus and the Daryl Morey/China issue earlier in the season.
@TheCohencidence: Anything on the Knicks having possible interest in FVV, even with reports of them targeting a lead guard in the draft?
I don't have anything specifically on Fred Van Vleet and the Knicks.
A few questions about the general direction of the Knicks:
@DanielC0nstant: Will Leon be continuing the rebuild or can we expect some win-now moves?
@KobeBeanBurner_: Do you think Leon Rose is eager to make his mark quickly and orchestrate a big trade or signing?
My best guess right now: the 2020-21 roster is a mix of veterans and young players designed to compete for a low playoff seed in a weak Eastern Conference.
I think that's more likely than a full-on rebuild next season. Just a guess though. I say that because I don't think the Knicks would hesitate to trade draft picks and young players for a young, disgruntled star. I think trading for a young star is more likely than a big free agency signing this summer (unless Anthony Davis surprises everyone and decides to leave the Lakers).
@GoHarry212: Does Mark Jackson have a chance of becoming the Knicks' new head coach?
I don't think Mark Jackson has been ruled out of consideration for the Knicks job -- or any other job. He has fans in the organization, though those people were brought in prior to Leon Rose's hiring. My guess at the moment is: if Rose decides that he's not going to retain Mike Miller as head coach for next season, the Knicks hiring Jackson is less likely than the club hiring Tom Thibodeau. But the Knicks haven't even started the interview process yet. They are expected to start that process at the conclusion of the regular season -- or if/when the rest of the regular season is canceled by the NBA.
@jyp1227: How should the Knicks maximize the value of their draft picks? How will the Knicks screw it up?
Just my opinion: target a lead guard who can shoot with the lottery pick, a forward who can stretch the floor with the late first-round pick and best player available with the early second-round pick.
Or, include multiple picks in a trade for a young star, if the opportunity presents itself.
I totally understand your pessimism regarding the second part of your question. If I was a Knicks fan for the past 20 years, I'd be pessimistic as well. My take, in general, when a new team president takes over, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Also, new team president Leon Rose has hired an exec that people around the league I've spoken to respect highly in Brock Aller. So, with Aller on board, it seems like the Knicks may have put themselves in position to avoid the draft-night mistakes of past regimes. But, again, I understand the skepticism.
@ByDanStokes: Considering Leon Rose and Coach Cal's friendship, could the Knicks target/reach and draft Tyrese Maxey? Same caveat: Will the Rose/Cal relationship benefit Kevin Knox in Year 3?
We talked about Dan's question on Instagram Live earlier this week (thanks for the question Dan). My read on this is that the Knicks will have tremendous intel on Tyrese Maxey because of Rose's close relationship with John Calipari. But I don't know if the friendship between the two men would lead the Knicks to take Maxey ahead of where they would normally slot him if Rose and Calipari had no relationship. I assume that New York will have a great read on Maxey because of the Rose-Calipari relationship.
On Kevin Knox, I think it's kind of similar. My guess is that Rose will have access to great insight on Knox from Calipari. But Calipari also hasn't been around Knox on a day-to-day basis in two years. So Calipari's insight on Knox may not be as valuable as it is on Maxey. Other than that, unless Calipari is coaching the Knicks, it's hard to see how Calipari's relationship with Rose has any benefit for Knox's Knicks tenure.
@Ezra_Schechter: if the season is canceled does Mitchell Robinson beat Wilt's record for best FG% ever in a season
It's still unclear how the NBA will handle regular-season records from 2019-20 if the rest of the regular season is canceled.
Thanks for all of your questions, everyone. If I haven't answered your question in a video or article yet, I will do my best to get to it in the future.
NY-AREA COACH HAS GREAT MJ STORY
With ESPN's Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance being a major part of the national conversation about the NBA over the last few weeks, here is a fun Jordan story from Bobby Gonzalez, a New York native and former D-I coach at Manhattan and Seton Hall:
Gonzalez, who currently does scouting work for an NBA team, coached at legendary UNC coach Dean Smith's summer camps in Chapel Hill when he was in his early 20s. One summer at the camp, he met Jordan. It was the summer before Jordan's rookie season with the Bulls. Jordan took a liking to Gonzalez, nicknaming him 'New York' because he spoke so quickly. (Gonzalez still has a picture he took with Jordan in front of Jordan's maroon Mercedes convertible with the license plate 'UNC 23.')
"Whenever MJ was around, you could feel this electricity around him, this buzz -- even in the camp," Gonzalez said. "There was this sense from everyone there that he was on the cusp of stardom. Remember, this was before social media. So it's not like he was already a 'brand' like he probably would have been in today's era."
One night at the camp, Jordan invited Gonzalez and others -- including UNC teammate and NYC native Kenny Smith -- to join him on a trip to Raleigh -- the home of UNC rival NC State -- and Gonzalez recalls the reception Jordan received. "There was this long line to get into the club, and we show up with Michael, and it was like the Red Sea parting," Gonzalez said with a laugh. "We got right in. And when we were there, everyone was offering to buy Michael drinks. He didn't take a sip of anything, but all eyes were on him. And he handled it so well."
Gonzalez experienced Jordan's competitive drive on the trip back to Chapel Hill from the club. The driver of the other car with Jordan's crew challenged Michael to a race. Jordan accepted, and won the race easily, hitting around 115 MPH at times on the trip back. "You could tell then how much he didn't want to lose. It was a crazy drive back," Gonzalez said with a laugh. "It was great to get an early look at Michael's drive and competitive nature in those days -- even on the highway in Carolina.
"One thought that's always stayed with me: God forbid something bad had happened to Michael on that ride home from Raleigh. The world never would have seen his greatness. Thankfully, God had other plans for Michael."