(SNY Illustration)
(SNY Illustration)

Yes, July 1 is still more than five months away. Hell, we haven't even hit the All-Star break yet. But it's never too early to start thinking about free agency. Here in New York City, the Mecca of Basketball (that's right), this summer is crucial for the local teams.

This year projects to have arguably the best NBA free agent class ever with players like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson all -- in one way or another -- able to hit the open market. With hundreds of other players available this offseason and a league salary cap set to rise to $109 million for the 2019-20 season, even in the dead of winter all eyes are on summer '19.

New York's teams are expected to be big players in free agency, with both the Knicks and Nets possessing ample salary cap space and the ambition to exponentially improve. But which NYC franchise has the advantage when it comes to attracting the best talent? Quintessential New York or the "Coolest City in America?" (At least according to GQ, never mind that Brooklyn is actually a borough). Do players want to restore a storied franchise or be the face of a new movement? Midtown steakhouse or Smorgasburg?

Let's take a look at some of the major factors that will either attract or deter free agents and, thus, determine the future of hoops in the Big Apple.



OWNERSHIP AND FRONT OFFICE

For better or worse, the ownership group and front office can set the culture for the entire organization. We've seen examples throughout the NBA of what good, stable ownership and front office management looks like (the San Antonio Spurs). We've also seen what dysfunctional ownership and poor management looks like (the Los Angeles Clippers during the Donald Sterling era). Having the right people in place at the top creates an environment where success is possible. It matters, and players around the league talk.

To say Knicks ownership and management has been dysfunctional is an understatement (Charles Oakley situation, anyone?). Since James Dolan assumed control of the Knicks in 1999, the team has experienced five winning seasons. That's awful. The general manager and president roles have been a revolving door, with eight different executives holding various titles over that same time period. That screams instability.

Current team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are the new "brain trust" Dolan has "empowered" to turn the franchise around. It's too early to fully evaluate them, but they hired a good coach (David Fizdale) and seemingly identified solid talent in the 2018 draft (Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson). We will wait and see what they do at the trade deadline.

For what it's worth, Dolan will likely remain the team's owner for the foreseeable future, unless that $5 billion deal he mentioned in an interview with ESPN comes along. That's some form of stability.

The Nets ownership structure is a bit more complex and unclear. Mikhail Prokhorov -- worth an estimated $10.1 billion, according to Forbes -- is the controlling owner with a 51 percent stake in the franchise, including ownership of the team's arena, Barclays Center. Joseph Tsai (net worth about $9 billion) is the minority owner controlling the remaining 49 percent, but he has the option to buy enough shares to assume total control in 2021.

Prokhorov wanted to make a splash when he first acquired the franchise and "urged" then-GM Billy King to trade for star power. Brooklyn acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston in 2013, sending back its first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Those picks turned into James Young, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. This is definitely a black mark on Prokhorov, and the team has spent the last five years trying to dig out of that mess.

But, even after what some consider the worst trade in NBA history, there is hope.

The Nets now appear committed to building a true contending franchise. When Prokhorov and his team hired Sean Marks as their general manager in 2016 from the vaunted Spurs organization, it showed their interest in creating a proper culture, and adding someone from a winning organization was smart.

Marks signed a four-year contract when he was brought on, so this summer will be a big indicator whether or not he can take great leaps to go along with his current steady progress.

Both owners have shown a willingness to spend money, but until more recently, Dolan was known for reportedly meddling in the team's affairs. Brooklyn's majority owner seems more willing to bring in the right basketball people and let them do their job, seemingly having learned from the ill-fated trade that once mortgaged away the Nets' future.

Advantage: Nets



COACHING

A common misconception is that NBA players don't like coaching or don't respect coaches. There are approximately 450 players in the NBA, so you have to be exceptional to make this league. Players want coaches to be exceptional as well.

In David Fizdale, the Knicks have a coach who is generally well respected by players and was co-signed by LeBron James. When Fizdale was hired in May, James told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "I think he's a good coach, a good communicator. He's never going to shy away from whatever he feels is right."

Players also value honesty: They want to be told when they're not doing what is needed and how they can perform better. Fizdale talked about how he was able to coach James, saying, "Respect through telling the truth to each other, being honest, telling each other what we don't want to hear. Being there for each other when we hit low moments."

Even Fizdale's former player in Memphis, Marc Gasol -- who was largely responsible for Fizdale's firing -- had good things to say about him prior to a Knicks-Grizzlies game earlier this season.

"I'm a better player because of David; I can say that 100 percent," Gasol said. "Even though last year was really tough for everyone, I'm a better player this year than I was last year and a lot had to do with him."

Although lately, Enes Kanter seems less than pleased with how his playing time (or lack thereof) has been handled.

The Knicks are 10-36 entering Friday night's game at Barclays Center and playing without their best player, Kristaps Porzingis. It's not particularly fair to grade Fizdale when the team is not trying to win, as they are clearly in rebuild mode. But Fizdale does have the team playing hard while keeping things competitive on most nights.

Their problem is the roster is devoid of the experienced top-end talent necessary to compete at a high level.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has a similar issue to Fizdale, although Brooklyn's roster is not as poor as the one in Manhattan. The Nets are also without their best player, Caris LeVert, but they do have a healthy mix of young players with upside and veterans who know how to play.

Even though they've been an sub-.500 club during much of Atkinson's first two-plus seasons, they're currently 26-23, in sixth place in the East, and turning into one of the NBA's better stories. 

The NBA's golden boy of coaching, Brad Stevens, sung Atkinson's praises before a recent game.

"We know how good they are. We know how well-coached they are," he said. "I said last week I don't see how they don't make the playoffs. They're an excellent offensive team. I think they have a lot of versatility defensively. I think they're superbly coached and they all know what they do and they do it every single night."

Atkinson cut his teeth as a player-development coach, and you can see it in the work he's done with Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and D'Angelo Russell. His offensive system borrows from Mike Budenholzer, Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle and Terry Stotts; some of the best in the business.

Again, it's hard to grade accurately as Atkinson has an advantage over Fizdale since he's been with his franchise longer, but both coaches have their teams competing hard, despite the roster limitations.  

Advantage: Nets (slightly)



HOME ARENA AND FANS

Don't get it mixed up - atmosphere and fans matter. 

The Knicks have the World's Most Famous Arena that's hosted some of the greatest events in history, from "The Fight of the Century" to WrestleMania. Everything about Madison Square Garden says NYC: The bright lights, Seventh Avenue, Broadway.

Despite the team's record, Knicks games are a headline event with an A-list celebrity row that includes the likes of Spike Lee, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Dustin Hoffman and John McEnroe. But you could wind up seeing any star like Michael B. Jordan, Priyanka Chopra, and Sophie Turner, just to name a few.

The non-celebrity Knicks fans provide the Garden with a raucous atmosphere and, as the more storied franchise, they have more generational fans. They are also the more likely of the two franchises to have more bandwagoners once they start winning. Poor product or good product, the Garden is always a tough ticket and they have a group of loyal supporters.

Barclays Center is the newer arena, with a theatre-like atmosphere. The building does not have the history of MSG, but has slowly been building its own. Former minority owner Jay-Z and Beyonce used to grace Barclays with their presence, but now Nets celebrity row includes the likes of Steve Madden, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy. Brooklyn locals like Fabolous and Rosie Perez are often in attendance.

The Nets are a "newer" franchise, having joined the league as part of the ABA/NBA merger. Their NBA history, save the two NBA Finals runs with Jason Kidd, is not decorated with success and they have less of a New York tie (though the ABA franchise dates back to Long Island and won two titles with some guy named Julius Erving).

Still, the ABA days, time spent in the swamplands of New Jersey, and recent ineptitude have stunted the growth of their fan base.

But this one is no contest. The Garden is the Garden. They don't call it the World's Most Famous Arena for nothing.

Advantage: Knicks



CAP SPACE AND CURRENT ROSTERS

Neither franchise has been very successful on the court as of late, both reeling from the mistakes of general managers' past. However, there is light at the end of their proverbial dark tunnels.

The Knicks have made little secret they hope to land Kevin Durant and pair him with Porzingis as the foundation of a new contender. They waived Joakim Noah and can clear space for one max player in 2019. The question is, will they be able to clear space for two max players?

That will be more challenging and they would need to find takers for both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee without taking much salary back in return, whom they've reportedly made available ahead of the trade deadline.

But allow yourself to dream for a moment: KD, KP, Kevin Knox, and their 2019 draft pick (you know who) sounds pretty good.

The Nets had cap space for two max slots in 2019 before they decided to extend Spencer Dinwiddie, which essentially kept an All-Star level player on their roster. They still have space for a single max player and Sean Marks could clear a lot more room by not making qualifying offers to D'Angelo Russell ($21.1 million cap hold) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($7.4 million cap hold).

With Dinwiddie, promising big man Jarrett Allen, rookie sensation Rodions Kurucs, and pre-injury Most Improved Player candidate Caris LeVert (No. 50 on the Simmons' trade value list) as a core, that roster is appealing.

Both squads have young talent and most would argue that KP is better than LeVert, but nothing is guaranteed after an injury with someone Porzingis' size. Knox looks like he could grow into something special, but as it stands right now, the talent tilts more in the Nets' favor.

Advantage: Nets



2019 DRAFT

The 2019 draft class doesn't appear to be very deep, but there is a lot of hype around the top with Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Jarrett Culver, Ja Morant, and Bol Bol (though he's out the rest of the season with a foot injury).

The Knicks seem to be headed for the lottery, and if they pick in the Top 3 or 5, they could be adding a future All-Star. The Knicks' recent draft history -- despite the doom and gloom of many fans -- has actually been pretty good. They may have whiffed on Frank Ntilikina, but Porzingis, Knox, Allonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson have all shown promise.

The Nets have their own first-round pick for the first time in years, but it looks like they are going to hover around a lower playoff seed all year and find themselves outside of the Draft Lottery. But Sean Marks and his scouting and player development staff found LeVert, Dinwiddie, Allen and Kurucs all late in the first or second rounds. They don't seem bothered where they pick.

The draft has some real gems near the top, and the Knicks look likely to be picking in the top 4.

Advantage: Knicks


WHO WINS?

The Nets come up winners in three of five categories, and while they're not running away with this head-to-head, they hold advantages in the categories that matter. Brooklyn looks to have the better front office, slightly better coaching, and a better roster to build upon.

Yes, the Knicks are the storied franchise and have the pedigree, but the Nets are built to win right now.

If you're a big-time free agent and you could make the same money with either franchise -- wouldn't winning trump all?

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Courtney Lee, Frank Ntilikina, Jarrett Allen, Joakim Noah, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Tim Hardaway Jr.
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Dec 21, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks executive chairman James Dolan watches during the second quarter against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Dec 21, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks executive chairman James Dolan watches during the second quarter against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The huge question mark hovering over the Knicks as they prepare for what they hope will be a transformative summer is whether James Dolan will keep the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving from coming to New York.

He did, after all, ban a fan from the Garden in March because the fan yelled "Sell the team!" at Dolan, something the owner claims was a premeditated stunt. And the Knicks have been one of the worst teams in the NBA over the last 20 years.

For what it's worth, former NBA comissioner David Stern doesn't think top free agents will steer clear of the Knicks because of Dolan.

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Feb 4, 2017; Gainesville, FL, USA; College basketball analyst Jay Williams before the game between the Florida Gators and Kentucky Wildcats at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Feb 4, 2017; Gainesville, FL, USA; College basketball analyst Jay Williams before the game between the Florida Gators and Kentucky Wildcats at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

On May 14, the Knicks will be praying to land the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, so they would have the chance to take Duke F Zion Williamson as a building block for the future. 

But not everyone wants to see Zion in Madison Square Garden. 

Former Duke star and current ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams is one of them, and he gave his reasoning to TMZ

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New York Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry speak to the media on media day at MSG Training Center. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry speak to the media on media day at MSG Training Center. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are optimistic in the franchise's future heading into the NBA draft and what is expected to be a busy free-agency period.

"We feel good about the summer," Mills said, according to Newsday's Steve Popper. "We feel we're in a position that it gives us an opportunity. We hope we get lucky and we land free agents. And if not, we'll keep building the way we're building. The space gives us an opportunity to be flexible in terms of how we deal with trades. We can take guys into our [salary cap] room in the trade process, it gives us the flexibility to continue to build the team the way we've been building it. But it gives us an opportunity to make it better in a way with free-agent or trade prospects."

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Feb 16, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 94-78. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports (Rob Kinnan)
Feb 16, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 94-78. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports (Rob Kinnan)

Duke star Zion Williamson has officially declared for the NBA draft.

The AP National Player of the Year and men's Wooden Award winner, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick in June, made the announcement Monday night on Instagram.

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Jan 25, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Allonzo Trier (14) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 25, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Allonzo Trier (14) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Allonzo Trier was one of the few bright spots for the Knicks this season, but things may not have been so smooth behind closed doors. 

Per Marc Berman of The Post, veterans on the Knicks were displeased with Trier's one-on-one style of play and believed it had an adverse effect on the team's culture. 

"His play on the court was cancerous," an NBA source told The Post. "A lot of guys didn't like the way he didn't play team ball. He cared about himself too much. He looked guys off who were open."

Tags: Allonzo Trier
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Winter is here.

With Game of Thrones set to return Sunday for its eighth and final season, New York athletes gave their predictions and talked about theories for how the saga will end.

Click below...

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Apr 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Charlotte Hornets assistant head coach Patrick Ewing waves to the crowd during the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Charlotte Hornets assistant head coach Patrick Ewing waves to the crowd during the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Knicks got lucky to get the No. 1 pick in 1985 and have the chance to draft Patrick Ewing. Now, they'll hope Ewing can be their good luck charm. 

After Ewing alluded to it in an interview, he confirmed Friday that he will indeed represent the Knicks at next month's NBA Draft Lottery with the Knicks having a chance 34 years later to take another transcendent star at No. 1 in Zion Williamson

The Knicks finished with an NBA-worst 17-65 record, are guaranteed a top-five pick and have a 14 percent chance at landing the top pick in this summer's NBA Draft.

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Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving looks on from the bench in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving looks on from the bench in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Celtics star Kyrie Irving can be a free agent after the season, and the idea that he could team up with fellow free agent Kevin Durant on the Knicks this summer has picked up steam since the Kristaps Porzingis trade cleared two max slots for New York. Here are the latest rumors...


April 12, 11:28 AM:

Celtics president Danny Ainge said nothing that has transpired this season has changed his thinking that he wants to lock Irving up to a long-term deal, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, adding he thinks the Celtics beginning their playoff run may help Irving remember how close Boston was to making the NBA Finals last season.

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Mar 6, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose (25) sits on the bench during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Mar 6, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose (25) sits on the bench during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Derrick Rose never wanted to leave Chicago. 

The former Knicks point guard, now with the Timberwolves, was born and raised in Chicago and playing for his hometown Bulls for the first seven years of his career before he was traded to New York in the summer of 2016. 

On Thursday, footage from a documentary filmed by Stadium titled "Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story" was released and captured the moment Rose found out he was headed to New York and it was tough for the three-time All-Star to take. 

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The 2018-19 season is in the books, and for the Knicks it was tied for the worst in franchise history with a 17-65 record. Things aren't completely bleak for Knicks fans.

The Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving rumored tandem seems more and more inevitable by the day, and even if that scenario doesn't come to pass, New York has loads of financial flexibility and young talent. The Knicks have been in similar predicaments in the past, which can provide context to their current situation, and expectations for what's to come.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis
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Mar 30, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) goes to the basket against New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay (1) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Mar 30, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) goes to the basket against New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay (1) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

When the Knicks hosted Dwyane Wade for his final game in Madison Square Garden a couple weeks ago, Emmanuel Mudiay tried to swap his jersey with the Heat legend. However, Wade said he was already giving his white and crimson threads away, leaving Mudiay without a momento from the future Hall of Famer. 

But, in typical Wade fashion, Mudiay's request didn't go unnoticed. 

Wade sent Mudiay a jersey and signed it for the young point guard. He showed his gratitude to No. 3...

Tags: Emmanuel Mudiay
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Jan 27, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Georgetown Hoyas head coach Patrick Ewing coaches against the St. John's Red Storm during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Jan 27, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Georgetown Hoyas head coach Patrick Ewing coaches against the St. John's Red Storm during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

Diehard Knicks fans will remember the last time the franchise was awarded the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. 

So is Patrick Ewing, the man they took with the infamous pick in the year's first Draft Lottery, going to be there when New York prays they land that pick again? He wouldn't say so, but he hinted that may happen.

"There's a secret that's going to come out in a couple of weeks, but I'm not going to say it yet," Ewing told 247Sports. "They'll see when it happens."

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Dec 1, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) eyes the basket against New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) and center Mitchell Robinson (26) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Dec 1, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) eyes the basket against New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) and center Mitchell Robinson (26) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

One of the worst seasons in New York Knicks history is over. A 17-65 record will be tough to swallow, but arguably the franchise's biggest offseason ever is fast approaching. This roster made up of raw talent and NBA vagabonds could look anywhere from completely different to mostly the same this time next year. Here's how each key player fared this season, and whether they should stay or go:

Kevin Knox

Barring an Anthony Davis trade, Knox is likely to remain a Knick, and fans should be cautiously optimistic about his future. Although his numbers as a whole were shoddy, there's a lot that is easily fixable, such as taking off a step too early or knowing when to go to the floater vs. attacking the defender's body. He had some solid stretches scattered across an underwhelming season: 43 percent three-point shooting in March, for example. The goal is for him to be a complete player, but we've yet to see tangible improvements much of anywhere,. That's okay, he's very young, and clearly filled with talent.

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Lance Thomas, Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Noah Vonleh
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Knicks season finally over 00:01:12
New York Knicks had a terrible record during their rebuilding year and why not go out with another loss, this time to the Pistons.

NEW YORK (AP) Luke Kennard scored 27 points, Reggie Jackson had 21 and Andre Drummond added 20 points and 18 rebounds as the Detroit Pistons locked up the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot with a 115-89 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

The Pistons will face the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round.

Jackson scored 14 points and Drummond had 10 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter as the Pistons never trailed and led by as many as 16 points. Neither Jackson nor Drummond played in the fourth quarter.

Tags: Detroit Pistons
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Feb 8, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (26) goes up for a shot against Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) and guard Ish Smith (14) during the first quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Feb 8, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (26) goes up for a shot against Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) and guard Ish Smith (14) during the first quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

The Knicks (17-64) are assured of finishing with the league's worst record and have the best shot at winning the draft lottery.

Injuries have piled up and New York will once again play with a short bench on Wednesday. Frank Ntilikina (groin), Allonzo Trier (calf), Kadeem Allen (concussion), Noah Vonleh (ankle), Emmanuel Mudiay (shoulder), Mario Hezonja (illness) and Lance Thomas (personal) didn't play against Chicago on Tuesday.

Nonetheless, the Knicks still managed to defeat the Bulls 96-86 behind 25 points from guard Dennis Smith Jr. >> Read More

Tags: Detroit Pistons
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Apr 9, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) shoots the ball against Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez (42) during the second half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports (Mike Dinovo)
Apr 9, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) shoots the ball against Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez (42) during the second half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports (Mike Dinovo)

Dennis Smith Jr. took over in Chicago, as he led the Knicks to a 96-86 win over the Bulls on Tuesday night. >> Box score

Five things to know about Tuesday's game...

1) Smith was the team's leading scorer after dropping 25 points on 10-of-23 shooting. He also had five assists and one rebounds in 34 minutes on the court.

Tags: Chicago Bulls, Damyean Dotson, Mitchell Robinson
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Apr 9, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson speaks to the media before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports (Richard Mackson)
Apr 9, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson speaks to the media before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports (Richard Mackson)

Magic Johnson stunned the NBA world on Tuesday night when he made an abrupt announcement that he was stepping down as president of the Los Angeles Lakers. 

In what was an emotional, impromptu press conference, Johnson spoke about the importance of being a "Laker for life" and recalled how he turned down opportunities to join other franchises, one of which was with the Knicks. 

"I could have led the Knicks when Steve Mills called me," he said. 

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New York Knicks shooting guard Allonzo Trier controls the ball against Chicago Bulls small forward Justin Holiday during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks shooting guard Allonzo Trier controls the ball against Chicago Bulls small forward Justin Holiday during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Numerous injuries, trades and a coaching change have bridged the Chicago Bulls' first home game of the season with their 41st and final one.

Chicago's rotation for Tuesday night's regular-season home finale against the New York Knicks looks markedly different than the group that opened the season, although one new face is familiar with the whole "rebuild" drill.

Forward JaKarr Sampson, a recent call-up from Chicago's G-League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, played with the Philadelphia 76ers for 121 games over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. The Sixers won just 26 times during Sampson's tenure.

Tags: Chicago Bulls
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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)

Warriors star Kevin Durant can be a free agent after the season, and the idea that he could team up with fellow free agent Kyrie Irving on the Knicks this summer has picked up steam since the Kristaps Porzingis trade cleared two max slots for New York. Here are the latest rumors...


April 8, 2:28 PM:

With rumors continuing to swirl that the Knicks are the favorites to sign Durant, Frank Isola of The Athletic reported Monday that some NBA executives and agents are so sure Durant and Kyrie Irving will team up in New York that one agent said Durant and Irving "are debating on who will sign first."

The reason that matters, according to Isola, is that the player who signs second will look like the follower. 

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Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

Mario Hezonja wants to be a Knick next year. 

The pending free agent, whom David Fizdale said will continue to play point guard the final two games, has hopes of returning with the Knicks for the 2019-20 season. 

"I'm ready to talk to [James] Dolan," he said, per Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. "If he gives me that call on July 1, we're done."

Tags: Mario Hezonja
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New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja puts up a shot in the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja puts up a shot in the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)

Mario Hezonja followed his triple-double by scoring a career-high 30 points as the Knicks beat the Washington Wizards 113-110 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. >> Box score

Five things to know about Sunday's game

1) Hezonja, who had a 16-point, 16-rebound, 11-assist triple-double in Friday's loss to the Rockets, surpassed his previous career high of 29 points, which he set last Wedesday, by making 12 of 21 field goals in 35:31.

Tags: Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Washington Wizards
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New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson dunks against the Toronto Raptors during the second half at Madison Square Garden. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson dunks against the Toronto Raptors during the second half at Madison Square Garden. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Center Mitchell Robinson has set several Knicks rookie records this season, and has caught the eye of Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon.

"I love his game," Olajuwon said, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman. "He has a presence in the middle. He can close down the middle with his energy, skill level, how he moves. Not too many players have that impact as a shotblocker."

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Apr 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks forward Luke Kornet (2) makes a slam dunk against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports (Erik Williams)
Apr 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks forward Luke Kornet (2) makes a slam dunk against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports (Erik Williams)

Two teams looking ahead to next year will meet when the Washington Wizards visit the New York Knicks on Sunday night.

The Knicks lost for the eighth time in their last nine games when they were beaten 120-96 in Houston on Friday night as James Harden had 26 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in just 29 minutes.

New York was without point guard Emmanuel Mudiay (sore left shoulder), so Mario Hezonja made his first start at the position. He finished with his first career triple-double -- 16 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in an emergency role.

Tags: Emmanuel Mudiay, Kevin Knox, Mario Hezonja
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Apr 6, 2017; New York, NY, USA; General view during pre game introductions before a game between the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 6, 2017; New York, NY, USA; General view during pre game introductions before a game between the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Former Knicks great Carl Braun was posthumously elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee, according to Mike Vaccaro of The Post. 

Braun, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 82, played 12 seasons with the Knicks between 1947-1961, spending two of those years in the Army. 

The guard averaged 14.1 points and 3.8 assists per game and led the Knicks in scoring for seven of those seasons. He was a five-time All-Star and two-time Second Team All-League player.

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Apr 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket while New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports (Erik Williams)
Apr 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket while New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports (Erik Williams)

The Knicks were mauled by the Rockets on Friday night, losing 120-96 down in Houston. >> Box score

Five things to know about Friday's game...

1) A game after dropping a career-high in points, Mario Hezonja had a career-high in rebounds and assists on his way to his first career triple-double. The Croatin forward tallied 16 points, 16 rebounds, and 12 assists in a 6-for-11 shooting performance. Hezonja, who is on a one-year deal, is certainly making a case for another one this offseason.

Tags: Houston Rockets, Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Scott Thompson
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Mar 14, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts after a dunk in the first half against the Syracuse Orange in the ACC conference tournament at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports (Jeremy Brevard)
Mar 14, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts after a dunk in the first half against the Syracuse Orange in the ACC conference tournament at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports (Jeremy Brevard)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Zion Williamson is ready for the next phase of his life and if that phase includes playing for the Knicks, he's ready for it.

"Yes, if they draft me, I would love to play for them," the 6-foot-7 Williamson said at the Final Four as he received both the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the Associated Press National Player of the Year Award.

The Knicks (15-63) own the NBA's worst record and currently have a 14 percent chance of landing Williamson with the No. 1 pick, as do Cleveland and Phoenix. The NBA Draft Lottery is May 14 in Chicago, while the NBA Draft is June 20 in New York.

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New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, left, and general manager Steve Mills answer questions during a news conference at the team's training facility, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Greenburgh, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) (Julie Jacobson/AP)
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, left, and general manager Steve Mills answer questions during a news conference at the team's training facility, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Greenburgh, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) (Julie Jacobson/AP)

As the Knicks close out what may ultimately be the worst season in franchise history, they are trying to instill hope and faith into the fan base.

In a letter to season-ticket holders, Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry speak of an "extremely bright" future for the team and mention their financial flexibility to "potentially sign up to two max free agents."

The letter, which was obtained by Marc Berman of The Post and a screenshot was shared by a season-ticket holder on Twitter, opens by calling the current season a "difficult one from a win-loss perspective" before painting a picture of the future.  

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Jan 23, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) goes to the basket against New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay (1) and center Mitchell Robinson (26) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jan 23, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) goes to the basket against New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay (1) and center Mitchell Robinson (26) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Over two months ago, the Houston Rockets needed all 61 of James Harden's points to eke past the New York Knicks.

With three games remaining before the postseason, the Rockets hope they will not need that many points from Harden Friday night when they host the league-worst Knicks.

The Rockets (51-28) enter Friday in third place in the Western Conference with four straight wins and 18 wins in their last 21 games since Feb. 21. Houston is a 1 1/2 games behind second-place Denver, a half-game up on fourth-place Portland and 2 1/2 ahead of fifth-place Utah.

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Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

It's Super Mario season in New York. 

After a career-best performance against the Magic on Wednesday night, Mario Hezonja will start at point guard for the Knicks on Friday against the Houston Rockets. 

The Knicks are without four point guards -- Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, Kadeem Allen and Dennis Smith Jr. -- because of injury and Hezonja, typically a forward, will play the position for the first time since his rookie season with the Magic. 

Tags: Mario Hezonja
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Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson reacts against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the semifinals of the East Regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)
Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson reacts against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the semifinals of the East Regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

If the Knicks win the NBA draft lottery and land the No. 1 pick, chances are they'll draft Zion Williamson, who was named AP Men's Player of the Year on Friday.

Williamson, the expected No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft, received 59 of 64 votes after averaging 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds for Duke, which lost in the Elite Eight to Michigan State on Sunday.

The 18-year-old Williamson, with his electrifying dunks, highlight-reel blocks and overall presence on the court for the Blue Devils, has yet to officially declare for the draft. 

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Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

The Knicks may have lost yet again, but Mario Hezonja walked off the Amway Center floor in Orlando on Wednesday night with his own personal win. 

Facing the team that drafted him fifth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Hezonja came out of the tunnel with a vendetta and it resulted in a career-high 29 points on 11-for-22 from the field as well as nine boards, five assists and two steals. 

Head coach David Fizdale said he told Hezonja to get ready to put on a show for his former fans, and he certainly answered the call over 33:56 minutes on the hardwood.

Tags: Mario Hezonja
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Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) shoots a three point shot over New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) shoots a three point shot over New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

The Knicks could have spoiled the Magic on Wednesday night, but they dropped the ball in a 114-100 loss in Orlando. >> Box score

Five things to know about Wednesday's game...

1) Playing against his former team, Mario Hezonja dropped a career-high 29 points on 11-for-22 shooting, and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. He also had nine rebounds and five assists over 33 minutes on the floor. 

Tags: Kevin Knox, Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Orlando Magic, Scott Thompson
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Feb 26, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) dribbles the ball against Orlando Magic forward Wesley Iwundu (25) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Feb 26, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) dribbles the ball against Orlando Magic forward Wesley Iwundu (25) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

The Orlando Magic, locked in a tight battle for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, won't get an easier opportunity in their final four games than the one they have at home against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

The Knicks (15-62) have the worst record in the NBA and are one of three teams headed to have the best lottery odds -- 14 percent -- of landing the top pick in the draft.

But here's the catch: The Knicks beat Orlando in the teams' most recent meeting, 108-103 on Feb. 26 in New York. >> Read more

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Charles Oakley Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports (Jeremy Brevard)
Charles Oakley Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports (Jeremy Brevard)

Charles Oakley would certainly like to see James Dolan sell the Knicks and he may have some inside information on a potential buyer. 

In a video with Bill Simmons and Jason Concepcion of The Ringer, Oakley said he has "heard" Amazon owner Jeff Bezos wants to buy the Knicks. 

"He was trying to do Amazon (HQ2) in Long Island, went to Virginia, right? So he still wants to do some real estate in New York, why not buy the Garden?" Oakley said. 

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Mar 22, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (26) and Denver Nuggets power forward Mason Plumlee (24) fight for a rebound during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 22, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (26) and Denver Nuggets power forward Mason Plumlee (24) fight for a rebound during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Knicks rookie C Mitchell Robinson celebrated his 21st birthday with some shots.

No, not those shots. 

Instead, the neophyte was in the team's practice facility taking jumpers around midnight before he became legal for his first drink. He was preparing for his birthday game against the Bulls at The Garden, where he posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. 

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Jul 8, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks guard Billy Garrett (17) dribbles during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen R. Sylvanie)
Jul 8, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks guard Billy Garrett (17) dribbles during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen R. Sylvanie)

The most prolific scorer in Knicks G League history is getting his chance in the NBA. 

The Knicks signed Billy Garrett, who is the Westchester Knicks' all-time leading scorer, to a 10-day contract Tuesday to finish out the regular season. 

The 6-foot-6 swingman has played 98 games across the last two seasons with Westchester, where he's averaged 14.2 points, 3.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. 

The DePaul product went undrafted in 2017 and was named Big East Freshman of the Year three years prior to that. 

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Reaction to Knicks 113-105 win 00:01:30
David Fizdale was happy with the progress shown by his young team in a 113-105 win over the Bulls. Mitchell Robinson continues to shine.

It turns out Knicks wins aren't as rare as seeing Halley's Comet. They managed to defeat the Bulls on Monday night, 113-105. >> Box score

Five things to know about Monday's game...

1) Another game, another impressive stat line from Mitchell Robinson. On his 21st birthday, Robinson had 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Robinson has blocked at least two shots in 25 consecutive games, tying him with David Robinson for the second-longest such streak by a rookie in NBA history.

Tags: Chicago Bulls, Damyean Dotson, Mitchell Robinson
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New York Knicks shooting guard Allonzo Trier controls the ball against Chicago Bulls small forward Justin Holiday during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks shooting guard Allonzo Trier controls the ball against Chicago Bulls small forward Justin Holiday during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Walt Lemon Jr. still is trying to wrap his mind around his debut with the Chicago Bulls.

Lemon Jr., who grew up on Chicago's South Side and starred at Bradley, made an immediate impact Saturday in his first game with his hometown team. He had 19 points, six assists and four steals in 31 minutes on the floor.

Now, the 26-year-old will get ready for game No. 2 when the Bulls visit the New York Knicks on Monday night. Lemon Jr. spent several years playing overseas and in the G League before a five-game stint with the New Orleans Pelicans last season, followed by his promotion to the Bulls this month.

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Michigan State shocked the NCAA Tournament on Sunday when they took down No. 1-seeded Duke to move on to the Final Four. With that, Zion Williamson -- the projected No. 1 overall pick -- is likely to have played his last game for the Blue Devils as he will prepare for the NBA Draft. 

So, with Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Ja Morant all out of the tournament, who should Knicks fans look forward to seeing in the Final Four? Look no further than Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver

The 6-foot-5 sophomore guard has been the focal point of this Red Raiders team all season long, and many have him as a Top-5 talent. He is only solidifying that fact in the Tournament, where he is averaging 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks over his four games. Culver is also shooting just shy of 42 percent from the field...

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Mar 21, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) sits on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports (Sergio Estrada)
Mar 21, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) sits on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports (Sergio Estrada)

New details have emerged in the alleged Kristaps Porzingis sexual assault case, which include the woman making the claims reaching out to the Knicks to "mediate" the $68,000 payment Porzingis had promised her, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The new information comes from emails obtained by ESPN between the accuser and the Knicks' legal department, as well as text messages between her and Porzingis.

The emails show the 29-year-old woman communicated with the Knicks in late October through early November -- eight months after the alleged assault and prior to any criminal complaint filed with New York police.

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Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson reacts after losing to the Michigan State Spartans in the championship game of the East Regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)
Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson reacts after losing to the Michigan State Spartans in the championship game of the East Regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Zion Williamson's college career came to an end here in the Elite Eight against Michigan State on Sunday night.

And the next game he plays will be for an NBA team.

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Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson dunks the ball against in the championship game of the East Regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)
Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson dunks the ball against in the championship game of the East Regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

Zion Williamson may have played his last game with Duke.

The freshman phenom and potential No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft had his season end with a 68-67 loss to 2-seed Michigan State on Sunday in the Elite Eight.

The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson, who averaged 22.6 points and 8.7 rebounds with the Blue Devils, scored 24 points and brought down 14 rebounds, however the ball wasn't in his hands late.

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Feb 22, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver (43) has his shot blocked by New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (26) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Feb 22, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver (43) has his shot blocked by New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (26) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

In the first half of the Knicks' 100-92 loss to the Miami Heat Saturday night, Goran Dragic found himself open for three in the corner. Mitchell Robinson, the 20-year-old second-round pick, closed out on the shifty guard, dissuading the shot while being in position to guard the ensuing iso. Dragic tried to speed by Robinson, then fake him out, but the neophyte was steady, and smothered Dragic on his forced attempt.

On the night, he finished with nine points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. This type of stat line and defensive performance has become ordinary for Robinson since the All-Star break, providing a silver lining to an otherwise bleak season -- 62 losses and counting, owner-fan feuds and a midseason deal shipping away your best prospect (who is reportedly under NYPD investigation for a rape accusation.) But Knick fans can rejoice over one takeaway: Robinson is a building block for this franchise's future.

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Mar 30, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) goes to the basket against New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay (1) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Mar 30, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) goes to the basket against New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay (1) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The Knicks gave the Heat a good battle, but Miami came out with a 100-92 victory in Dwyane Wade's final game at The Garden on Saturday night. >> Box score

Five things to know about Saturday's game...

1) Coming off the bench, Wade dropped 16 points on 6-for-16 from the field. He also had seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal on the night. 

Tags: Kevin Knox, Miami Heat, Mitchell Robinson, Scott Thompson
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Oct 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis looks on during a second half time out against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Oct 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis looks on during a second half time out against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The NYPD is reportedly investigating a claim by a woman who says former Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis raped her merely hours after he suffered his torn ACL against the Bucks back on Feb. 7, 2018. 

The allegations, which cops say are "credible" according to The Post, detail Porzingis inviting the woman back to his luxury apartment at the Sky building in Midtown West Manhattan, which she agreed to. When they entered the apartment, the woman claims Porzingis held her down and raped her. 

It was discussed that Porzingis was going to offer $68,000 to pay for the woman's brother's college tuition to keep her quiet. However, that fell through. The woman admitted that she kept quiet this long because of the money Porzingis had promised. 

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis, Scott Thompson
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Jan 27, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade (3) controls the ball against New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 27, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade (3) controls the ball against New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Miami Heat, whose comeback win on Thursday landed them in playoff position -- for the moment at least -- hit the road on Saturday to play the New York Knicks, who have the worst record in the NBA at 14-61.

The Knicks are playing out the string this season as they dream of a summer bonanza in which they could potentially draft a difference-maker such as Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or RJ Barrett, and sign free agents such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker.

Meanwhile, with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, there are five teams closely bunched in the Eastern Conference playoff race -- the Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets and the Heat...

Tags: Miami Heat
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Jan 27, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade (3) reacts to fans chanting "let's go Heat" during the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 27, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade (3) reacts to fans chanting "let's go Heat" during the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Dwyane Wade wants nothing but the best for his friend and former coach David Fizdale, which is why the retiring Miami Heat guard will be rooting for the Knicks in free agency this summer. 

Wade, who will play his final game at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, has faith Fizdale can take the Knicks in the right direction and hopes the head coach can lure the top free agents to New York this summer. 

"We'll see," Wade said at Saturday's shootaround. "It's his second head-coaching job but first time in a role like this in New York. You hope so. I'm a big fan of his, he's a good friend of mine. I hope so."

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Mar 29, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks the ball against Virginia Tech Hokies guard Ahmed Hill (13) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports (Amber Searls)
Mar 29, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks the ball against Virginia Tech Hokies guard Ahmed Hill (13) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports (Amber Searls)

Zion Williamson was electric again.

The likely No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and potential future Knick continues to thrive in the Big Dance, leading Duke to a 75-73 Sweet 16 victory Friday night over Virginia Tech. Duke will play Michigan State on Sunday in the East Regional final.

Williamson scored 23 points on 11-for-14 shooting, adding six rebounds and three blocks. One of those blocks came with 5:27 left after he was beat one-on-one but closed down at the basket anyway, keeping Duke ahead by five.

But Williamson's most noteworthy play of the night came in the form of a thunderous two-handed, alley-oop jam off a fast break midway through the second half to give Duke a six-point lead.

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Apr 12, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) talks to assistant head coach David Fizdale during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Heat win 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Apr 12, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) talks to assistant head coach David Fizdale during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Heat win 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Dwyane Wade's "One Last Dance" is coming to New York, and Knicks head coach David Fizdale couldn't be more honored to be a part of his final game at Madison Square Garden.

Fizdale and Wade were extremely close during the former's time in Miami as an assistant coach. They won an NBA title together, and when Fizdale took the job with the Knicks, Wade had nothing but praise for one of his good friends in the league. 

That doesn't mean Fizdale doesn't want to hand Wade and the Heat a loss on Saturday night. 

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