Knicks president Rose says Julius Randle wants to stay in New York

Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks
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On Sunday, reclusive Knicks president Leon Rose conducted just his third public interview since taking the job more than two years ago, and he chose the friendly confines of Knicks-owned MSG Network to do it. No risk of facing a battery of hard questions following a disappointing 37-45 season in this setting (with all due respect to Mike Breen).

Still, some of his answers were illuminating. Here is what Rose said, via Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

• On Julius Randle, the big man’s struggles this season and his demeanor on the court (including giving the fans a thumbs down at one point).

“Things happened on the court, we saw some emotion coming out, saw some things happening. I think it affected his play at times. He felt remorseful for some of those things, as he expressed to the fans in his letter he sent. He kept working and worked through it to the end of the season…

“(He) was just not comfortable at times. It was just not being comfortable. He gave it his best effort. The three-point shot just didn’t go like last year and you had teams keying on him more this year. At the end he made some adjustments. He carried the burden. I was proud of the fact he did fight through it.”

Maybe most importantly, Rose also said Randle told him he wanted to stay in New York, refuting a report he had asked for a trade. Saying the player doesn’t want a trade is different from saying Rose wouldn’t trade him (teams did call at the deadline), but Randle’s trade value is at an all-time low after this season, making it more likely he is back than that not.

• Rose had the back of coach Tom Thibodeau, who was one of Rose’s first hires as president.

“As far as Thibs performance goes, I mean, again, he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA. So obviously none of us are happy with the results this year. But he’s a guy who prepares our team better than anybody. I feel that he’s done a good job under the circumstances.”

While there had been rumors (and maybe some wishful thinking from Knicks fans) that Thibodeau could be in trouble, the most trusted reports are Thibodeau will return to coach the team next season. Now if that season doesn’t start well, all bets are off.

• Rose spoke glowingly of the young stars on the Knicks — RJ Barrett stepped up this season and is now the heart of the team’s offense — and continued to talk of being patient building the Knicks. Rose, to his credit, has not made the kind of impulsive trade for an aging big-money superstar that has characterized previous Knicks regimes (and the entire Dolan ownership era). Rose emphasized New York as 13 picks over the next three drafts and that he wants to build things one block at a time.

However, if the chance to bring in a young/in his prime superstar presents itself, that’s when Rose has to take his swing. So far he has laid off the bad pitches and not panicked after a down season, but there need to be more concrete signs of the franchise moving forward — meaning wins — in the coming season. Or it might not be just the coach’s seat that gets warm.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.