When a team states its intention is to get younger, more athletic and play a more team-oriented style of ball, it doesn’t make for the sexiest headlines.
But if you’re a fan of the Golden State Warriors or the Boston Celtics or the possibility of what the Philadelphia 76ers can become, then what the Knicks are seeking to do makes basketball sense.
They are looking to build a team, not for one season, rather a group that can have sustained success.
So discard the Knicks 1-4 record in the Orlando Pro Summer League. Focus on the young players that showed they have a chance to wear Knicks’ jersey next season.
Damyean Dotson, the second round pick out of Houston, who was one of the nation’s leading 3-point shooters in his senior season at Houston (3.4 per game), impressed Knicks brass so much with his play that published reports have the team talking about signing the 44th pick to a deal.
Dotson turned in his best game on Thursday in the Knicks 91-72 win over the Miami Heat in the Summer League finale. He scored 20 points on 4-of-7 shooting on 3s and was one rebound shy of a double-double.
Dotson was 13-of-25 from behind the stripe in five games. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard averaged 12.8 points, five rebounds, and had 13 assists and eight steals.
“I feel I can knock down open 3s and definitely space out the floor, rebound and play defense,’’ Dotson told reporters in Orlando. “I’m not too sure about [my role], but I feel like I can put myself in a new position to get on the court and be a great teammate. But I feel like it’s a great position for anybody to be drafted and be in the NBA.”
Forward/center Luke Kornet of Vanderbilt already has a place with the Knicks. He signed one of the league’s new two-way deals that allows the Knicks to retain his rights while he develops with the NBA’s G-League Westchester affiliate.
The two-way deal means Kornet can play up to 45 games with the Knicks. The 7-foot-1 Kornet, who did not have one college scholarship offer when he finished his senior season in high school as a 6-foot-7 forward, has always been a late bloomer.
Kornet needs to add to the 250 pounds he carries, but he has a remarkably quick release for a big man and runs the floor like a small forward.
“I am definitely confident in myself and I have a lot to add to a team,’’ Kornet said. “That’s on my mind to show I’m worth a top-15 roster spot. That’s honestly my goal still to show I can contribute to an NBA team. That’s the biggest thing going into training camp.’’
Canyon Barry, the son of Hall of Famer Rick Barry, didn’t get as many minutes as Dotson or Kornet but he did a little bit of everything. Barry showed some nice finishes at the rim, hit from behind the arc, had nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
“I think I have a really high basketball IQ growing up with my family dynamic, surrounded by the game,’’ said Canyon. “I know how the game is supposed to be played and had brothers in the NBA, and know what it takes to be successful.’’
Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez give the Knicks a potent 1-2 punch at the four and five spots. And first round pick Frank Ntilikina, who didn’t play in Orlando because of a bruised right knee, has yet to show what he can do.
When it was announced that the Knicks and former president of basketball operations, Phil Jackson, had mutually agreed to part ways, the message from ownership was to develop a go-forward plan.
There’s no better way to do that than with young talent.
- Should Barry make the team along with Kornet, imagine the games of Jeopardy they could play. Barry has a 4.0 in nuclear engineering at Florida, where he’s working on his masters. Kornet, according to his coach Bryce Drew, had a 3.7 in engineering at Vanderbilt, considered the best academic school in the SEC.
- According to reports, former Knicks shooting guard and current Hawks restricted free agent Tim Hardaway Jr. has signed a four-year, $71 million offer sheet to return to New York. Atlanta has two days to match the offer. Hardaway Jr. spent his two first NBA seasons with New York before being dealt to Atlanta for Jerian Grant on draft night back in 2015. With the Hawks, Hardaway Jr. averaged 11.3 points, 1.8 assists, 2.4 rebounds and shot 35.% from beyond the arc in two seasons (130 games, 31 starts). He was originally drafted by the Knicks in the first round (24th overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft.
- On Friday, 7-foot center Marshall Plumlee was waived. Signed as an undrafted rookie by New York just under a year ago (July 8, 2016), Plumlee averaged 1.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 8.1 minutes over 21 games with the Knicks.