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Report: Knicks are Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer’s top choice for job

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Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from the Suns coaching search, but that he was even involved with another opening while under contract with Atlanta is telling. It probably wasn’t about the Phoenix job being special. He’s also talking with the Knicks – and maybe that goes somewhere.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Mike Budenholzer is genuinely interested in the Knicks’ job, according to an NBA source who has spoken to the Hawks coach.

“New York’s his top choice,’’ the NBA source said. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.’’

“Phoenix and the Knicks are trying to win every game,’’ said the NBA source who has spoken to Budenholzer recently. “There’s a good chance Atlanta is not looking to win games the next two years. This wasn’t Mike’s decision. He didn’t expect it. He doesn’t want to lose games.’’

Going to the Knicks to win? What a time to be alive.

But the Hawks are only one year into what appears to be a multi-year rebuild. Relative to that, New York is ahead.

When Kristaps Porzingis returns is the biggest variable. But Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke are all in their primes. Atlanta is much thinner.

The Knicks would probably also offer Budenholzer a raise and the Hawks compensation. Though dealing with James Dolan carries downside, this could be a financial boon to everyone else involved. It’s no wonder Budenholzer and the Hawks are both into this.

The big question is whether New York, which is casting a wide net, tabs Budenholzer. He doesn’t have a clear connection to Knicks president Steve Mills or general manager Scott Perry. But Budenholzer is a demonstrably good coach, and that ought to matter plenty.

Kemba Walker comes up big in OT, Hornets top Knicks despite Trey Burke’s 42

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker had 11 points of his 31 points and three assists in overtime, and the Charlotte Hornets outlasted the New York Knicks 137-128 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.

Walker hit a late 3-pointer to help send the game into overtime and then took over.

Walker was 4 for 4 in the extra period with three 3-pointers to outduel New York’s Trey Burke, who finished with a career-high 42 points on 19-of-31 shooting and 12 assists.

Walker needs 20 points Wednesday night against Cleveland to pass Dell Curry as the franchise’s career leading scorer.

Dwight Howard had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Hornets, and Marvin Williams finished with 13 points.

Michael Beasley added 27 points for the Knicks, who fell to 9-30 on the road. Enes Kanter had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

The Hornets led by as many as 17 in the second half, but Burke helped the Knicks rally to a tie with 9:07 left.

Tim Hardaway Jr. knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 40 seconds left to give New York a 117-114 lead, but Walker hit a clutch 3-pointer from the right wing to tie it up again.

Walker then made a big play on defense.

Burke never got a chance to get off a last shot off as Walker tipped the ball away at the top of the key to send the game into overtime.

 

Report: Knicks trade Willy Hernangomez to Charlotte for Johnny O’Bryant, two second-round picks

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The #FreeWilly campaign worked — popular Spanish center Willy Hernangomez, buried on the Knicks bench this season, is going to get his chance in Charlotte.

The Knicks and Hornets reached a deal that sends Hernangomez to Charlotte for Johnny O'Bryant and two second-round picks, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by others.

Charlotte is sending forward Johnny O’Bryant and its own 2020 and 2021 second-round draft picks to the Knicks, league sources said.

Hernangomez’s agents had told the Knicks he wanted to be traded. Last season Hernangomez played more than 18 minutes a night in 72 games for the Knicks and showed promise scoring 8.2 points and grabbing 7 rebounds a game, shooting fairly efficiently, and making the All-Rookie team. But this season he has only played in 26 of the Knicks 55 games with Kristaps Porzingis playing some center, and Jeff Hornacek getting good minutes out of Enes Kanter started and Kyle O’Quinn. Hernangomez was the odd man out. Now O’Bryant will be glued to the Knicks bench.

In Charlotte, Hernangomez will back up Dwight Howard and get steady run and a chance to improve, show he has a place in the league. If there is a clear winner in this trade, it’s Hernangomez. The Hornets also save a little money in this deal and get a quality center on a good contract (Hernangomez will make $1.5 million next season then has a non-guaranteed $1.7 million in 2019-20) which is good for a team going up against the luxury tax.

For the rebuilding Knicks, they moved a guy out of their rotation and got a couple picks to help them with rebuilding.

Five Things to Know: Porzingis is out, changing Knicks plans for summer, next season

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA — except last night was so insane here are the five things you need to know.

1) Kirstaps Porzingis tears his ACL, surgery upcoming and he is done for the season. “It sucks, man, it sucks.”

Tim Hardaway Jr. speaks for all of us as the news came down that The Franchise, The Unicorn, the Knicks best player and All-Star Kristaps Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee on a dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo — and it looked bad the second he landed.

It was later determined to be an ACL tear, and Porzingis will have surgery. While no timetable was given, the recovery on those is generally 8-12 months, which means this likely stretches into the start of next season. As an example, Chicago’s Zach LaVine injured tore his ACL on Feb. 3 last season and only returned to action a couple of weeks ago in mid-January. Even when Porzingis gets back on the court, it will take him a little time to fully trust the knee again and be his old self.

The injury doesn’t change the calculus for this season, the Knicks had only a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs before Porzingis went down (according to fivethirtyeight.com). It will change plans for next season if KP misses the first couple of months of games, at the very least putting the Knicks in a hole to dig out of to make the postseason, and possibly keeping them out of the playoffs all together again. The injury could have the Knicks thinking more about the 2019-20 season than the next one. It also raises the question of if the Knicks still will give Porzingis the expected max contract extension they can this summer, something that was a given 24 hours ago. Because of Porsingis’ track record and the fact he’s a franchise cornerstone player they a most certainly do, but this gives them a little pause to think about it.

Now the Knicks move their focus to the summer, when they will try to add to the Porzingis/Hardaway core through the draft and trades (they are already capped out so free agency is not going to be a big market). Enes Kanter can opt out of his contract and the Knicks will want to bring him back (at what price will be interesting), and they have to figure out what to do with Joakim Noah, who is away from the team and will still be owed two years and $37.8 million (a trade is not on the table unless the Knicks want to throw a couple of first-round picks and other sweeteners in that deal).

2) Here’s a list of the All-Stars injured before the game this year — it’s depressing. On the night of the All-Star draft, we all praised LeBron James for putting together the better team, but it turns out maybe it was a curse. With the addition of Porzingis now, four players selected by fans or coaches for the All-Star game are going to miss it due to injury, and every one of them is on Team LeBron:

DeMarcus Cousins: Torn Achilles
Kevin Love: Broken hand
John Wall: Knee surgery
Kristaps Porzingis: Torn ACL

That sucks some of the fun out of the Feb. 18 game.

The NBA league office will announce Wednesday the replacement for Porzingis. It will be the highest rated player remaining from the Eastern Conference in the coaches voting. My guess is it’s Kemba Walker, but Ben Simmons is a possibility.

3) Giannis Antetokounmpo had the dunk of the year. We can stop the voting now. It’s over. We know who won the dunk of the year — Antetokounmpo leaped over Tim Hardaway Jr. to finish an alley-oop. He Frederic Weised him. Remember Hardaway is 6’6″.

4) Cavaliers collapse vs. Magic, Isaiah Thomas calls team out, LeBron sticking around. Another game, another ugly Cavaliers loss. Early on in this one, LeBron James was engaged and active — something we haven’t seen a lot of the past month. He can still put this team on his back and carry it, as he has done for a couple of months this season already, and in the first quarter Tuesday the Cavaliers dropped 43 on one of the worst teams in the NBA in Orlando. Cleveland led by as many as 21.

But the third quarter was flat-out ugly, and the fourth was worse. Orlando scored 41 in the third the Cavaliers scored nine points in the fourth (and just 31 for the half). Orlando got the win, 116-98.

After the game, LeBron reiterated he is not waiving his no-trade clause, he is not going anywhere. This season.

“I’m here for this season right now to try and figure out a way we can still compete. I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause.”

Also, Isaiah Thomas (after another rough game) called out the team saying they come apart when faced with adversity.

The Cavaliers keep finding new lows. But Dan Gilbert is back in charge of basketball operations, so no need to worry now *cough*.

5) Toronto beats Boston in what well could be an Eastern Conference Finals preview. Cleveland is vulnerable. Not just “they may not get out of the East” vulnerable, but “they may not make the Eastern Conference Finals” vulnerable the way they are playing right now. (There are a couple of months until the playoffs start, and the trade deadline is coming up, but the Cavaliers problems are systemic. And again, Dan Gilbert is back in charge of basketball operations. That is not a sign of hope.)

Is Boston vs. Toronto our Eastern Conference Finals? Maybe. Tuesday night was a little taste of that.

The Raptors handled Boston easily, 111-91, on a night Kyrie Irving returned to action but was off, and with him the Celtics offense was not right. Especially in the face of an underrated Raptors defense. On the other end DeMar DeRozan was playmaking, Kyle Lowry was engaged and attacking (23 points), Serge Ibaka was sharp, and the Toronto bench was superior. It led to an easy Toronto win.

No game in February is a true playoff preview, you can’t take much from that game into a potential Eastern Conference Finals, save for this — Toronto is legit. The Raptors have been good for years, but their isolation ball got them in trouble in the postseason. This is the best Raptors team of this run, and if you think they’ll just fold in the playoffs you’re going to be disappointed.

Watch Giannis Antetokounmpo’s spin move, driving layup game winner vs. Knicks

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Jabari Parker returned to the Bucks lineup for the first time this season — coming off his second ACL injury — and had 12 points on seven shots in limited minutes. It’s a good sign for the Bucks.

But not as good as Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s driving layup game-winner.

The Knicks had Kristaps Porzinigis on Antetokounmpo — and KP had a rejection of one of the Greek Freak’s shots earlier in the game, he’s one of the few players long enough to potentially bother Antetokounmpo — but John Henson came out, set the screen and forced the switch. That left Enes Kanter on Antetokounmpo, and while Kanter had a good night (his third consecutive game with at least 17 points and 17 rebounds) he’s not a defender, and nobody came over to help early or fast enough.

The result: Bucks win.