You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Knicks.
Would the hiring of Tom Thibodeau as NY Knicks head coach prevent them from potentially acquiring Karl-Anthony Towns if he became available being that they had that a falling out in Minnesota? — Michael A Melendez
The drawback to hiring Thibodeau is it hurts the chance of acquiring Wolves stud Karl-Anthony Towns if he’s put on the block. That’s too bad since president Leon Rose is his former agent.
The Post reported in December Towns was a target in the Knicks’ pursuit of a star demanding a trade — which has become vogue in the NBA.
Towns, a product of Piscataway, N.J. who was raised a Knicks fan, is dealing with a lot now after losing his mother to the COVID-19 virus. The Wolves, though, are not part of the restart. Towns’ desire to stick in Minnesota was enhanced after the Wolves traded for his close friend, D’Angelo Russell.
The Thibodeau-Towns relationship was strained. One source told The Post Towns felt jealous when the Wolves traded for Thibodeau favorite, Jimmy Butler. Towns no longer was “The Man’’ in Minnesota in Thibodeau’s eyes. Butler was.
Butler was hard on Towns. As was Thibodeau.
Last July, Towns said of Thibodeau’s dealings with young players as “a disrespect and a slap in the face to their development.” Towns continued the Thibs digs.
“The culture we’re building here is very special,’’ Towns said. “I’m very glad we’re introducing [rookies] [Jarrett] Culver and [Jaylen] Nowell to a culture that we possess now. I don’t think the situation before would have been very beneficial to them.”
According to sources, Butler and Thibodeau felt Towns’ work ethic needed to go up a notch or two. A reconciliation seems unlikely, though Towns was named an All-Star under Thibodeau’s watch. Ironically, the Knicks never faced Towns this season. Their two matchups were scheduled for April.
The Knicks have a scoring forward (and) a pretty good (point) guard in the G-League. Why don’t they use what they have instead of spending big money on old, broken down, expensive free agents? — Sydney B
You are referring to their 2019 second-round pick, small forward Ignas Brazdeikis and point guard Lamar Peters. Rose didn’t draft Brazdeikis, the lefty 3-point shooter from Michigan, so he doesn’t have that attachment. But GM Scott Perry traded up from 55 in the draft with Sacramento for $1 million to nail Brazdeikis at 47. So Perry still has belief. It’s a bad break the final 16 games were scrapped as The Post reported Rose wanted to get a good look at Brazdeikis in the final games. Maybe if the Knicks sign Carmelo Anthony, the 35-year-old vet can be a good influence on Brazdeikis.
Submit your Knicks questions to be answered in an upcoming mailbag
As for the undrafted Peters, he put up strong numbers for G-League Westchester (17.7 points, 7.2 assists, 40-percent from 3). Another reason the Knicks will be determined to peddle point guard Dennis Smith Jr. on draft night. The Mississippi State ballhandler is 21 but not part of the 17-man NBA roster so he is a free agent.
Are the Knicks looking to trade (Julius) Randle this offseason? Doesn’t seem like he fits with RJ or LaMelo [Ball] (fingers crossed!). — Allan Guce
Undoubtedly the Knicks are open to it. His contract for next season ($18.9 million) is manageable but the downside is he will count $4 million on the 2021 cap if they don’t exercise his team option after next season. The 2021 free-agent class is golden. Randle had his moments as a double-double force and is still early in his prime. But Randle’s defense is below average and it’s been reported here his knack of over-dribbling frustrated some teammates, including RJ Barrett. And a bigger disappointment was Randle lost his magic from the 3-point line (27.7 percent). As David Fizdale noted recently, the Knicks could use a 3-point shooting stretch 4. Someone like, say Kristaps Porzingis.
Did the Knicks halt the growth of the young players such as Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier and Dennis Smith Jr. by acquiring the veterans? — Luis Matthew
I heard someone in the organization once say the signing of Marcus Morris had a downside even if they got the Clippers’ first-round pick in the February trade. (The Knicks would select 27th but subject to change after the eight-game restart).
Kevin Knox was buried on the bench behind Morris and lost his confidence during a sophomore-jinxed campaign. Too, the signing of Elfrid Payton helped their won-loss record but definitely put Dennis Smith Jr. as odd man out with Ntilikina earning backup duties. You can make the case it ruined Smith, whom sources say was concerned at the time of the Payton signing.
Finally, Allonzo Trier was indeed buried behind a mélange of shooting guards that included veterans Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock. In summation, since those veterans didn’t help the Knicks even compete for the eighth seed, it all backfired and that’s why former president Steve Mills is out.