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Kyle O’Quinn takes dig at Knicks on way out

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Kyle O'Quinn was a great signing by the Indiana Pacers (who have quietly had a really good summer, no superstar moves but landing Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott was smart). O’Quinn is a distinct upgrade over Al Jefferson (who will play next season in China) and he comes at a $4.4 million deal that will not break the bank.

O’Quinn spent last season in New York and couldn’t resist a shot at the Knicks on the way out the door.

Ouch.

That’s also pretty accurate. While rookie Kevin Knox has had a nice start in Summer League, with Kristaps Porzingis out for most if not all of the season, New York is going to struggle. The Knicks won 29 games last season and with KP out it’s hard to imagine the 14-game jump (give or take) it would require to get invited to the postseason dance.

On the other hand, the Pacers won 48 games last season, got better this offseason, and will be a second-tier team in the East this season. They are playoffs bound.

Quinn got what he wanted.

Kyle O’Quinn opts out of Knicks contract

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The Knicks have the No. 9 pick, and tomorrow’s draft will be the most important part of their offseason.

Will they also have cap space to add talent in free agency? That hinges on Enes Kanter‘s player option.

If Kanter opts out, New York will have even more room to operate thanks to Kyle O'Quinn declining his $4,256,250 player option.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Knicks expected this for a while, and they’re probably not disappointed. Steve Mills and Scott Perry want to put their stamp on the franchise. O’Quinn is a leftover from the Phil Jackson era and a reminder of the recent tumult in New York.

O’Quinn’s combination of block percentage (6.1) and defensive-rebounding percentage (27.8) was unmatched last season. He just really struck a nice balance between contesting shots and remaining in position on the glass. He’s also a smooth mid-range shooter with an improved ability to distribute.

How much is that player worth?

It’ll be a tight market, especially for bigs. For his sake, I hope the 28-year-old O’Quinn already has assurances from other teams. He might get a similar salary or, more likely, a larger overall guarantee on a multi-year deal. But it’s also possible he comes out behind by testing free agency.

Report: Knicks prepared to open cap space if LeBron James wants to play for David Fizdale

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The Knicks’ eternal pursuit of LeBron James has reached another chapter.

New York is hiring David Fizdale as coach. He might or might not succeed, but he definitely built a relationship with LeBron while a Heat assistant coach.

And that, of course, has started a buzz.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

after Thursday’s hiring of former Memphis head coach and Heat assistant David Fizdale, the Knicks are prepared to open salary-cap space this summer in the unlikely event they get an inkling LeBron James has some interest in coming to the Garden this summer, according to an NBA source.

The easiest route for the Knicks opening max cap space: Enes Kanter opting out without a promise of a long-term contract from New York (he shouldn’t, but who knows?), Kyle O'Quinn opting out, trading Courtney Lee and unloading any other player.

Of course, even if Kanter clears the way, luring LeBron won’t be nearly that easy.

Why would LeBron want to join such a crummy team? Why would LeBron want to play for James Dolan?

Because of Fizdale?

That was far-fetched when tied to the Lakers, and it’s even less believable here. At least the Lakers will have cap space to lure an additional star and multiple promising young players. The Knicks with Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina and a bloated cap sheet don’t cut it.

LeBron has frequently praised Madison Square Garden and Fizdale. But it takes far more than an arena and a coach to lure a player of his caliber.

It never hurts to be prepared, and as easy as it is to mock the Knicks for leaking this story, we’d drag them mercilessly if LeBron somehow wanted to sign and they couldn’t make it happen.

But I just hope they hired Fizdale for other reasons than pursuing LeBron. They need a good coach, not a conduit to a pipedream.

Report: Knicks fire Jeff Hornacek

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Jeff Hornacek wanted an answer about his future as Knicks coach.

He got it.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Hornacek went 31-51 and 28-53 in two seasons with New York. The Knicks’ struggles were far bigger than him, but he didn’t do nearly enough to save his job amid a regime change.

The since-deposed Phil Jackson hired Hornacek. Jackson’s successor as president (and, in such Knicks fashion, predecessor), Steve Mills, held no allegiance to Hornacek.

Neither did multiple players by the end. Hornacek reportedly clashed with Kristaps Porzingis, Joakim Noah and Kyle O'Quinn. Hornacek tried to be a good company man, but that – especially his acceptance of Jackson’s triangle offense – hurt his credibility in the locker room.

Knicks owner James Dolan, for all his faults, is often willing to spend. That could help lure a big-time replacement. But expectations are always oversized in New York, and with Porzingis injured, the next coach could face an uphill climb. That could turn off candidates with other options.

The Knicks need far more than a coaching change. To some degree, Hornacek is a scapegoat.

But Mills also deserves a chance to put his imprint on the team, and he can’t fire the owner. So, this is a logical step.

Knicks’ Kyle O’Quinn on shouting match with coach Jeff Hornacek: ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’

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Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek’s confrontation with Joakim Noah led to the center being sent away from the team.

During Friday’s loss to the Timberwolves, Hornacek got into it with another New York center – Kyle O'Quinn, who didn’t properly contest a Karl-Anthony Towns shot. After O’Quinn missed a couple shots and got roasted by Jamal Crawford, Hornacek and his player yelled at each other during a stoppage.

O’Quinn, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:

“I’ll be the first one to say my reaction was the wrong one,’’ O’Quinn said Sunday. “Someone yelled at me, I yelled back. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

“I like that s–t,” he said. “It was heat of the moment, heat of the game. He’s a competitor, ex-player. I’m sure if he’s in that position, he would’ve done something different back in his day. I was fired up at the game. I felt it was a winnable game. They were going to let us dance a bit and we were going to be in it. It’s just a reaction. You know how I am on the floor — fiery.”

Hornacek, via Berman:

“We like guys who are fiery,’’ Hornacek said. “Kyle’s done a great job all year long with his activity and intensity.’’

Tempers sometimes flare like this, including on functional teams. People are just usually disciplined enough to avoid doing it in front of cameras. Wait until everyone is in a closed locker room or practice.

That Hornacek and O’Quinn didn’t speaks to how upset they were.

This could affect Hornacek’s reputation in particular. When the Suns fired him, they said players stopped responding to him. This is more circumstantial evidence his message wears thin on players over time.

Not that the Knicks will need that excuse. Hornacek’s dismal record – even though more a product of an underwhelming roster – will probably give president Steve Mills cover to fire the coach he inherited.