SNY.com: Sources: There’s been early grumbling among some Knicks about role with the team

Ian Begley with some tea:

Fizdale cautioned not too overvalue his starting lineup on opening night. He will tweak minutes and roles based on performance.

“(Lineups) are not set in stone just because we’re getting out of preseason,” the coach said. “That thing can always be a revolving door because these guys are so competitive. From one week to the next, it can be a different guy. And I want them to stay on edge like that.”

Particularly in the backcourt and wing positions, Fizdale has plenty of options. He’s been starting RJ Barrett at shooting guard ahead of Wayne Ellington, Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson. (Trier didn’t play on Wednesday but will play with the second unit on Friday).

At small forward/wing, Fizdale has started Marcus Morris ahead of Kevin Knox II.

No matter who he plays on a given night, there will be several players left out of the rotation who came into the season expecting to play. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that, per SNY sources, there has already been some grumbling about minutes/roles.

Players not being thrilled about their minutes/roles is pretty common in the NBA. All coaches/teams deal with it to a certain degree. But the idea that the Knicks have so many players who – from the outside at least – can make a case for a spot in the rotation makes this something to keep an eye on.

If you’re grumbling about playing time in preseason, then you either A. should buy a clue if you were one of the guys who were already here like Trier or B. should buy a clue and not sign here if you were one of the 52 mediocre veterans who signed here at the same time.

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45 thoughts to “SNY.com: Sources: There’s been early grumbling among some Knicks about role with the team”

  1. Literally everyone on Earth knew this would happen, but it happening at game 0 is impressive.

  2. Trier is the most logical candidate. He’s young, was a big part of the team last season and is now looking like an afterthought and is a free agent after this season.

  3. To be fair to Trier, for all of his many faults, being marginalized due to the presence of Wayne fucking Ellington is legitimately stupid

  4. There’s no actual substance to this story. “There has been some grumbling”? What does that even mean? You got a quote, Ian?

  5. I was thinking Payton maybe. Started the first couple games, played poorly in both and then took a DNP-CD in game 3. Fiz is trying to sell it as just shuffling all the PGs trying to give everyone a look, but for a guy who presumably sees himself as a “vet” on decent money I could see him being not too happy about being jerked around like that. He seemed to be maybe starting to break through last year, and the possibility of being out of the Knicks rotation so they can develop a couple of (mediocre) PG prospects can not be what he had in mind for his next step.

  6. so zion doesn’t have a severe injury but will sit for “a period of weeks.” that sucks and it’s a little weird.

  7. Trier should definitely be playing and in an offense where anybody can take the ball up court, he should probably be the starting point guard. He has the best handles on the team, is a better shooter than all of our guards, and we have a good amount of passing in the starting line up with Randle and Barrett.

    All of the talk from Fizdale about a requirement for the lead guard being getting the team organized doesn’t make any sense to me. When 4 guys can take the ball up court and “eat what they kill” to borrow a phrase from last year, the team can’t get into sets and run a coherent offense. There were plays where Dennis Smith Jr was just frozen out of the offense in favor of the Morris/Randle two man game, and times down the stretch to close the game against Atlanta where the offense was anything but organized. If that’s the way things are going to work, then yeah. Let’s just play Trier a bunch of minutes because eating what he kills is what he’s wired to do.

  8. I mentioned before that Zion’s knees will hold him back at that weight and size. I hope he’s healthy of course but it hurts less if he turns into an injury prone player with recurring knee issues.

  9. I liked this one from Tommy Beer about our preseason…

    There are only three players in the NBA averaging more than 28 minutes per game this preseason.
    All three play for the Knicks:

    Julius Randle: 30.1 mpg
    Bobby Portis: 30.1 mpg
    and
    RJ Barrett, who is averaging a whopping 37.9 minutes per game.

  10. Also, Zion’s knees may be the only obstruction in his way to being league MVP. That’s three different instances this year (at Duke when the shoe exploded, in summer league, and now in preseason), and they’re sitting him for weeks? I would be very nervous if I were a Pelicans fan, and I can only imagine the “we can never have nice things” narrative in New York if Zion were a Knick and struggling early with knee trouble.

    He’ll obviously be fine and be back to thundering dunks on humans shortly, but it’s definitely something to look at.

  11. Did Zion have a single injury at Duke or before, aside from the Nike Sweatshop Sneaker disaster? I agree that he needs to get as slim as possible without losing his power, but this just seems real weird.

  12. To think a shoe exploding could potentially stop one of the greatest NBA players from living up to his potential is kinda horrifying. It’s all been on that same knee.

  13. I don’t think so Jowles but he always felt like a ticking time bomb with how high he jumps at that weight.

  14. Also, holy #&%$ the Knicks are stupid. As others have mentioned, I’m only surprised by how quickly role issues happened.

  15. Zion could lose 30 pounds and still be 50 pounds heavier and 3 inches taller than Russell Westbrook, who is viewed is the most explosive guard ever. Drop Zion down to 250 and play him at shooting guard full time. You think guys like James Harden, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal wanna deal with that shit?

  16. I know it was an arbitrary number you picked, but I don’t think Zion can lose 30 pounds. He’s thicc but not fat at all. He’s got an endomorph’s proportions with a mesomorph’s musculature (and fast-twitch muscle) underneath. I bet he could be a competitive olympic or powerlifter.

    He could probably cut 5 or 10 lbs. of fat but much more than that and he would be unable to keep the muscle on or recover fast enough to play professional sports.

  17. Yeah, I don’t think it will be easy for Zion to keep the weight off. The plan should be constant rehab and learning to play without putting as much stress on the knee.

  18. From one week to the next, it can be a different guy. And I want them to stay on edge like that.”

    The “and I want them to stay on edge” thing is about the best example you’ll ever find of “I’m just making this shit up as we go along.”

    Zion: Typically when a guy is out for a few weeks with a knee they tell you he has something like “A grade 2 MCL strain.” If a guy that big is out for a few weeks, as opposed to day-to-day and they don’t tell you it’s a ligament, it’s definitely time to worry.

  19. Low basketball IQ scorers that don’t defend are a dime a dozen. We’ll ultimately need a good 6th man, but it does’t have to be Trier. We should trade him while his value is still good. He’s not any good, but people think he is. He’s also not as young as some of the other players we are trying to develop. IF he’s going to be a pain the butt, move him.

  20. If a guy that big is out for a few weeks, as opposed to day-to-day and they don’t tell you it’s a ligament, it’s definitely time to worry.

    It seems too conservative a choice for me, but if I knew I could have Zion locked up for 8-12 years, I’d be doing everything possible to make sure he doesn’t come back a second before he’s ready to. Especially not in the very beginning of a ~35-win season with a roster full of guys who might not be here next year.

  21. Is agree with Jowles that you are conservative with this guy.

    But I think he showed up about 25 pounds overweight for summer league. That is a lot of weight for a couple months off, so I tend to think he has a weight issue generally.
    I’m not able to debate his body type, to me he’s just thick, but I think Sir Charles, who is wrong a lot, knows that body type and he saw Zion as fat. And he argued Zion needed to lean out a lot. Barkley was a different guy lean.

    I’m in that camp.

  22. I’m a big supporter of selling high on Trier, as well.

    I’d let him take 18 shots a game for the first two months of the season before I traded him, though.

  23. It might or might not be too soon to have words like “tendinitis,” “bone on bone,” “microfracture,” “stem cell transplant,” and “enhanced red blood platelet” enter the discussion.

  24. I can buy being extra cautious with a talent like Zion given he has now hurt the same knee twice. He kind of has the opposite problem that KP has had. KP’s body wasn’t strong enough to take the contact and pounding every night without twisting and damaging things. Zion’s body is too big and strong. The last thing you want to do is keep throwing him out there and playing him a lot of minutes. You want to bring in the experts to correct his weight and body issues BEFORE a serious injury happens. All that said, I doubt we are getting the full truth on the injury. If he’s going to be out for weeks it’s not just a sore knee.

  25. I’m no doctor, but I mean if it really was just soreness I wouldn’t expect them to announce any timeline at all right? Soreness you basically just wait for the pain to go away, pretty much a textbook day-to-day injury. The facts are that he was pulled back from tonight’s game with soreness, and then the next morning it leaks that he’s going to be out for a “few weeks” but “nothing serious”; clearly he had tests done this morning and it sure looks to me just from reading the tea leaves like those tests must have showed something, otherwise he would’ve still been day-to-day.

  26. Yes, the injury is clearly “something,” but not a defined “something.” And, according to Woj, the Pelicans are “confident he will make a full recovery,” which in context wouldn’t be even offered up or thought of unless there was a chance he wouldn’t.

    Maybe there’s over-analysis here, but if the Knicks had won the lottery and drafted Zion, I’d be despondent at this news. Red flags blazing.

  27. What’s scarier is if they actually don’t know what’s wrong. If they can’t come up with anything after the 3rd time injuring the knee?

    Maybe they want him to diet for three weeks before returning and the NBA’s travel heavy schedule isn’t ideal?

    A few weeks of focused rehab/training and dieting would actually be smart for a long term investment. There’s no rush to get him back.

  28. Jealous as I will likely always feel towards the Pels for winning that lottery, I want to see Zion play and be great. If he’s going to have injury problems this early in his career… that stinks.

  29. Yeah, my take on the Zion thing is that they are being super extra cautious, and want him to have as much time as he needs to come back. He came to training camp overweight and it takes a while for players to get used to NBA conditioning, so give him time to get things sorted out for a couple of weeks and see how it goes. There’s no need for them to rush him anyway.

  30. They need to hire the kid a personal chef and a dietician to teach him good habits.

    I know that teenagers can be hard-headed, but someone should sit him down and show him the upside in taking care of his body. Let’s call it the difference between making $80M and $400M in salary alone, which is probably the difference between him blowing out his knee twice before the end of his rookie contract and being the perennial MVP candidate everyone with half a brain knows he can be.

  31. there’s gonna be a lot of guys who will be the odd man out…. if we really are playing rj heavy minutes this it’s probably not gonna leave too many minutes available for guys like trier and dotson…. and if any of the pgs starts standing out then the 3rd guy won’t see the floor either…

    and then you have the big rotation.. and i highly doubt that mitch.. randle… taj and portis will all see game action regularly….

    and then when bullock comes back there will be another logjam…

  32. God, those minute allocations actually have me wondering if Fiz WILL start Crazy Eyes over Mitch. And I’m enjoying RJ so far, but please Fiz: don’t run him into the ground.

    Jesus, I’m starting to miss Hornacek!

  33. Yeah, all the other contracts, save maybe Randle’s, are slight overpays, but not outrageously so. And you can see how any of the other vets would be useful to us or another team, even if we didn’t need all of them. (i.e., Ellington or Bullock, not both) But Portis seemed like a massive overpay even then. It appears that the FO thinks he’s some great untapped young talent, but we know how sketchy their talent evaluation can be. If we wanted a stretch 5, should’ve just kept Kornet at a fraction of the cost.

  34. We were talking earlier about what would need to happen for Fizdale to get fired, and I mentioned that the team looked like it could be a mess if players start complaining about their roles… granted it’s way too early to think about it, and we don’t even know what players are complaining or if the complaints are even true, but with this many players on effective 1 year contracts the narrative probably won’t go away during the season.

    All these veterans signed with the Knicks because they could expect minutes and counting stats to sell to some team next season in search for bigger contracts. Even if the direct public complaints never happen, we can expect some of those guys to be chasing stats all season long, which is not gonna be fun to watch.

  35. The thing is, I didn’t hate the idea of Portis at his OLD salary as a backup pf!

    But I think most here agree that pf will eventually be Knox’s best position if he’s ever decent. We also have Randle, Taj, and Morris plays some pf… not to mention all the small-ball varieties we should try with the new kids. So some of these guys will definitely eat into Mitch’s center minutes.

    All these vets should get the chance to play at first (that means at least 15-20 mpg each if they’re healthy), so yeah, a lot of the young guys will be on the outside looking in.

  36. portis is a mildly interesting prospect…. he deserves some time…. i was pretty high on him coming out of college…

    but he’s not that interesting where you start him over someone like mitch…. and even if you’re going to a merit based system he’s definitely not better than taj at this stage… and he’s not good at all defensively which kind of sucks if he’s your center…

    his upside is something like a rich man’s olynyk…. but he just shoots so much! like a lot!

  37. knox will definitely not be a PF… in fact i think they should go the other way with him and make him a SG….

    i think what’s clear is that he’s not as athletic as ppl think he is… he’s a good 3p shooter… and that’s about it… and his deficiencies everywhere else can be masked better in the backcourt.. where the thresholds for those other skills are much much lower…

  38. Knox has pretty good wheels for a guy his size, so that’s an attribute. I’d think he’d mostly play the 3 and then some occasional smallball 4.

    Ah, fuck it who cares. He’s not really very good to begin with so what difference does it make. His best position is DNP.

  39. I liked this one from Tommy Beer about our preseason…

    There are only three players in the NBA averaging more than 28 minutes per game this preseason.
    All three play for the Knicks:

    Julius Randle: 30.1 mpg
    Bobby Portis: 30.1 mpg
    and
    RJ Barrett, who is averaging a whopping 37.9 minutes per game.

    dang, we can’t even get the preseason right…

    not sure why – but i’m feeling a little optimistic for the yankees chances tonight…let the astros finish the series out at home…

    too bad no frank tonight – he’s inspired the most debates and posts since melo and lin…

    God, those minute allocations actually have me wondering if Fiz WILL start Crazy Eyes over Mitch.

    i think the only question still left for our starting five is who will be the starting point guard – the other four starting positions seem to be set…

  40. That minutes allocation is ridiculous. We want to see a lot of guys but we’ll play one guy at 3/5 positions 2/3 of the game. It makes no sense.

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