Recent New York Knicks rumors are not encouraging, as there are reports that players are already grumbling about their role and playing time.
New York Knicks rumors have been popping up throughout the last few weeks as the team has taken part in training camp and played their preseason games. With their preseason ending on Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans, some unsettling Knicks rumors have arisen.
When taking a look at the team’s roster, it is clear they are rebuilding. They are figuring out which players are worth keeping and building around but added several veterans to help push that rebuild forward.
While a good idea, in theory, there are some issues with this approach. New York needs to see what its young guys have. To develop and see them improve, they need to receive playing time. However, the veteran guys are also looking to play.
Steve Mills and Scott Perry did a great job this offseason to retain cap flexibility going forward. Everyone that signed as a free agent, except Julius Randle, has an option for the second year of their deals.
Flexibility is great, but these veterans want to play. There is a chance they are free agents again next season and want to be assured that they will have a chance to showcase their ability to parlay it into more money next offseason. Therein lies the issue the Knicks are currently facing.
According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, there are already some rumblings among players on the roster about their roles and minutes. A regular-season game hasn’t even been played yet and the Knicks are already facing potential chemistry issues.
Figuring out playing time and roles is something every NBA team will struggle with throughout the season. You never want to show up a veteran player with an unceremonious benching. It will ruin your reputation around the league. At the same time, you don’t want to hold back a player that deserves minutes.
David Fizdale is going to have his hands full this season figuring things out. Right now, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson look to be the only players who are locked into roles.
Barrett is the new face of the franchise after being selected No. 3 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. He will play as many minutes he can handle, evidenced by him being fourth in the league with 37.4 minutes per game during the preseason.
Randle was the team’s marquee free-agent signing and the only player they committed fully guaranteed money to beyond the 2019-20 season. Robinson looks to have been the steal of the 2018 NBA Draft, as he is already a difference-maker defensively while developing his raw offensive game.
Outside of that, nothing is set in stone. Fizdale has yet to figure out who will be his starting point guard, at least publicly. According to the New York Post, Elfrid Payton was all but guaranteed a starting spot, which is why he signed in the Big Apple.
The small forward spot is also without a clear-cut option. Marcus Morris, who signed a one-year deal in free agency, has been starting during the preseason over Kevin Knox, the team’s 2018 lottery selection.
Morris is probably a better fit at power forward, but the team has a huge logjam there. For whatever reason, four power forwards were signed in free agency this summer; Morris, Randle, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis. Also, Knox should be receiving minutes there. Ignas Brazdeikis, the team’s second-round pick, is also best suited for power forward.
The shooting guard position could also lead to some players being disappointed. Barrett should be locked into that role, but his versatility could give Fizdale some reprieve.
The former Duke standout can play a ballhandling role or move up to small forward in a pinch, so that should help find minutes for the likes of Allonzo Trier, Wayne Ellington, Damyean Dotson and Reggie Bullock — once he returns from injury.
Fizdale and the coaching staff are going to have to pull off quite the juggling act to keep everyone happy. If there are grumblings now before the real games have even begun, imagine how loud they could get if the team gets off to a slow start and losses a few games.
While having one of only 30 head coaching spots in the NBA sounds like a dream come true, envy is not a word that comes to mind when describing the position Fizdale and his staff are currently in.