NY Daily News: Kenny Atkinson is on Knicks coaching list: report

From Stefan Bondy:

The former Nets coach will be among the candidates interviewed for the Knicks position, according to The Athletic. As previously reported, Tom Thibodeau and Mike Miller are also expected to sit down with team president Leon Rose for consideration.

Atkinson unexpectedly became available after being fired by the Nets in March, just about a week before the NBA season shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 52-year-old Long Island product had Brooklyn in a playoff spot despite the absence of his two best players — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, Atkinson never connected with Irving, in particular, and owner Joe Tsai consulted with players before making the decision not to retain his coach.

Atkinson’s strength is development, and the Knicks remain in that phase with a young group highlighted by RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox. They’ll also have a lottery pick in the upcoming draft.

Some surprisingly nice news.

It’d be pretty cool if they hired him.

NY Post: Knicks mailbag: Talking NBA Draft plan and if LaMelo Ball fits

Marc Berman has some interesting draft thoughts:

Should the Knicks go for the best fit or the best player available in this year’s draft? — Yaron Rahmani

The Knicks need to go for the best fit and that’s a point guard for the future because it’s so difficult to snare an elite one in free agency.

It is a weak draft in which some believe there’s not a whole lot of difference among the top-12 rated players. That’s highly unusual. Might as well go for need.

The Post has learned unequivocally LaMelo Ball is currently the top-rated point guard on the Knicks’ board.

That should hardly be surprising, knowing new president Leon Rose likes to shoot for the stars. Knicks officials believe the 6-foot-7 playmaker/driver has one of the higher upsides in the entire draft despite his lack of a 3-point shot. Rose has already dealt with outspoken father Lavar Ball when his sons were briefly with Creative Artists Agency.

Enlarge ImageLaMelo Ball
LaMelo BallAP
The Post already has reported league insiders believe father Lavar Ball will attempt to steer him to the big-market Knicks. What does that entail if the Knicks stay at the sixth spot in the draft? They’d probably have to trade up into the top 3 with a club not so hot on either LaMelo or Lavar. Hopefully that team won’t ask for a king’s ransom.

If the Knicks remain at No. 6 after the lottery drawing, Ball is not expected to fall to that slot. Keep an eye on the Pistons and Ball in the lottery. Detroit is one of the few teams dying for a point guard, too.

If the Knicks are in the 6-10 range, Cole Anthony, Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, Tyrese Maxey — maybe even trading back for R.J. Hampton or Kira Lewis — will all be in play.

I wonder if Cole Anthony will room with RJ Barett on the road next season.

ESPN.com: Knicks legend, Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing tests positive for coronavirus

From Jeff Borzello:

Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing has tested positive for the coronavirus, the school announced Friday. The Hall of Famer is under care and isolated at a local hospital

“I want to share that I have tested positive for COVID-19. This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly,” Ewing said in a statement. “I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Now more than ever, I want to thank the healthcare workers and everyone on the front lines. I’ll be fine and we will all get through this.”

The school said Ewing is the only member of the Georgetown men’s basketball program to have tested positive for the virus.

Here’s hoping for the best for the great Patrick Ewing!

NY Post: Mitchell Robinson is showing off skills we’ve never seen before

From Howie Kussoy at the Post:

Mitchell Robinson has been the big man the Knicks envisioned, becoming one of the best shot-blockers in the NBA, while holding what would stand as the best single-season field goal percentage (74.2) in league history.

But the 7-footer isn’t satisfied living in the paint.

One week after video was posted showing Robinson drilling a pair of 3-pointers — one via step-back — the 22-year-old center has shown off his previously unseen ball-handling skills again, before hitting a fadeaway jumper just inside the 3-point line.

At the start of this season, Robinson — coming off an All-Rookie Second Team selection — said he planned on shooting more from the perimeter.

“Why work on something you’re not going to use? I’m looking forward to it,” Robinson said. “I’m shooting the thing now.”

Hey, I’m all for Mitch Robinson, three-point threat.

SNY.com: NBA scouts and execs on new Knicks hires Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin

Ian Begley has a great look at Perrin and Zanin:

On Perrin:

“He’s been operating at a high level with Utah for a long time,” one member of an opposing team familiar with Perrin’s work said. “This is a really good hire. Really good.”

Said someone else familiar with the scouting/executive community in the NBA: “He’s a really good guy. No nonsense guy.”

In Utah, Perrin was most recently the VP of Player Personnel. Throughout his 19-year tenure in Utah, Perrin was regularly involved with Jazz drafts.

Utah has had plenty of strong picks during that time, including Paul Millsap (late second round, 2006), Gordon Hayward, Mo Williams (late second round pick in 2003), Rudy Gobert, and Donovan Mitchell.

The Jazz, of course, haven’t gotten every pick right during Perrin’s tenure (Trey Burke, Dante Exum), but the club’s hit rate with Perrin on board is impressive.

It’s rare that one person is solely responsible for a team drafting a player. It’s usually a collaborative process that ends with top decision-makers having the final say.

But it’s worth noting that Perrin was a driving force behind Utah selecting Mitchell in 2017. The Jazz traded up to the 13th spot in the draft to select the New York native. The Knicks had worked Mitchell out shortly before the draft but passed on him to select Frank Ntilikina.

Mitchell has blossomed into an All-Star. Perrin’s role in Utah’s decision to draft Mitchell has been well documented. But two people familiar with the dynamic said this week that Perrin “stuck his neck out” and “pushed really hard” for Utah to select Mitchell.

“Walt believed in him, and he wasn’t afraid to make a push for him,” one person familiar with the matter said.

And Zanin:

Zanin has been a scout with the Thunder for the past four years. Like Utah, the Thunder are respected throughout the league for their scouting on the college and pro level under Sam Presti.

“If Presti hires you, it says something (about your ability),” one opposing scout said when asked about Zanin.

Prior to his stint with Oklahoma City, Zanin worked closely with Billy King in Brooklyn. Zanin was an assistant GM with the Nets and elevated to acting GM after King’s dismissal. He stepped down after the Nets hired Sean Marks as general manager.

Zanin, who began his career with King in Philadelphia, was described by one opposing scout as a hard worker who doesn’t seek the spotlight. During his tenure as acting GM, Zanin was in the spotlight for a brief time — but not from his own actions.

Kobe Bryant and Zanin played at rival high schools in the Philadelphia area. The late Bryant endorsed Zanin for the full-time Brooklyn job with a tweet:

From the talk, it sure seems like Perrin has the better rep, as Zanin’s rep seems to come down to, “Well, Presti hired him, so he must be good” and “Kobe Bryant thought he would be a good GM, which means nothing, but it is nice to hear, I guess.”

But hey, positive things are still nice to here overall, right? Let’s hope that they do a good job with this year’s draft.

So, what number do you think Cole Anthony will wear?

Newsday: Knicks finalizing deal with Frank Zanin to be assistant GM, source says

From Steve Popper:

A day after adding Walt Perrin to serve as assistant general manager with a focus on college personnel, Knicks president Leon Rose will bring on former Nets assistant general manager Frank Zanin to pair with Perrin.

According to a league source, Zanin is finalizing a deal to serve as the Knicks assistant general manager/pro personnel. He joins Perrin and Brock Aller, who signed on earlier this month to serve as chief strategist, handling the salary cap

Zanin most recently served as a scout for the Thunder, a role he held the last four years. Prior to that, he served a variety of roles for the Nets, joining Billy King, who he had worked for with the 76ers, as a pro personnel scout and then earning promotions to director of player procurement and then assistant general manager.

He began his NBA career with the 76ers, serving as a scout for nine years in the city where he grew up – and played high school basketball where he developed a relationship with Kobe Bryant, who played for a rival school. Zanin got an endorsement for the Nets’ full-time GM job four years ago from Bryant, who tweeted, “Hope to see you in the GM seat for the @BrooklynNets @F1E2Z you have a great basketball mind and it’s time you get your shot #gogetit.”

Would I prefer the Knicks to be hiring some of the hot executives out there? Of course, but eh, at least so far Rose has been bringing in non-offensive guys, as well. It’s not like he’s bringing on Stephon Marbury as Assistant GM. These guys are all probably competent enough.

I also suspect that Rose will go for a big name next season,anyways, and these guys could just as easily serve that new big name.

Anyhow, just normal hires is a good day for the Knicks these days.

EDITED TO ADD: Stefan Bondy notes that Craig Robinson, Gerald Madkins and Harold Ellis will not be retained. Robinson was clearly way too close to Mills to stick around and I barely recall the other two guys, sadly.