Knicks great and Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing was hospitalized due to coronavirus.
Patrick Ewing Jr.:
— Patrick Ewing Jr (@pewingjr6) May 25, 2020
This is great news.
It’s the lure of the New York market, that a coach would consider passing on coaching Giannis Antetokounmpo and a team on the rise in Milwaukee to take the job.
In the summer of 2018, Mike Budenholzer was out in Atlanta and the best established name on the coaching market. At the time, it was known Coach Bud was the top choice of the Knicks, but he was reportedly close to taking the job, according to Ian Begley at SNY.TV.
Discussions between the Knicks and Budenholzer in the 2018 offseason advanced to a point where some people who would have come with Budenholzer to New York were talking about places to live in the city because they felt Budenholzer was close to taking the job, per SNY sources…
One official from an opposing team involved in searches at the time confirmed that coaching the Knicks intrigued Budenholzer. “Bud was definitely interested,” the team official said recently.
Budenholzer, however, chose Milwaukee, which had Antetokounmpo and a roster that was talented but needed a more modern offensive style and more focus. Budenholzer brought that and the team won 60 games last season, and is a title contender this season (if and when the NBA season restarts).
The Knicks hired David Fizdale, who lasted less than a season and a half before being let go. New team president Leon Rose now has to hire a new coach, and that will say a lot about the direction he wants to take the team.
He’d be lucky to find someone as good as Budenholzer.
As of today, 19 NBA teams have their practice facilities open for players to come in for individual workouts, but 11 have yet to open the doors. Some it’s the decision of the team, some it’s that the municipality or state had not allowed it.
The Knicks and Nets — in the heart of New York, the part of the nation hardest hit by COVID-19 — are two of those teams whose facilities are closed. However, on Sunday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said they could open the door for practice.
Starting today, NY professional sports leagues can begin spring training.
On Tuesday, veterinarians can reopen statewide.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 24, 2020
“I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena — do it! Do it!” Cuomo said at his press conference. “Work out the economics, if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible. And we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”
While the teams have not formally announced anything yet, it is likely at least the Nets will open soon for the players still in market to workout (the majority of players from the New York teams went home to other parts of the country). The Knicks, well out of the playoff picture, may be much slower to open their facilities back up.
Most of the Knicks and Nets players are not in the NY area. The Knicks, in particular, don't know if they'll be part of the restart in Orlando. In other words, the New York teams are awaiting guidance from the NBA and Cuomo's announcement doesn't change anything.
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) May 24, 2020
When they happen, the workouts come with considerable restrictions: one player and one coach at each basket, the coach is wearing gloves and masks, the balls and gym equipment are sanitized, and much more.
One part of a potential plan for the NBA to return to play called for a couple of weeks of a training camp at the team facilities, followed by 14 days of a quarantined training camp in Orlando at the bubble site. Multiple teams reached out to the league about doing their entire training camp in Orlando to avoid having players quarantine twice (once when the player reports back to market, once when the team goes to the bubble city).
LaMelo Ball has the highest upside of any player in the 2020 NBA Draft, according to NBC’s own Rob Dauster. He’s a 6’7″ guard who has fantastic handles and elite court vision, which makes him dangerous off the pick-and-roll. Ball’s supporters see a guy who could have a Trae Young, All-Star kind of offensive impact.
There are also serious questions and doubts about whether Ball can reach that ceiling. He lacks a consistent shot, especially from deep, his decision making needs work, his defense is not good at all, and there are lingering questions about his work ethic. Ball is a high variance pick, maybe he can be developed into an elite player, but his floor is also pretty low.
The Knicks, in need of a star, are willing to take a big swing and hope Ball can be a home run. He is the top point guard on the team’s draft board, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.
The Post has learned unequivocally LaMelo Ball is currently the top-rated point guard on the Knicks’ board.
That should hardly be surprising, knowing new president Leon Rose likes to shoot for the stars. Knicks officials believe the 6-foot-7 playmaker/driver has one of the higher upsides in the entire draft despite his lack of a 3-point shot. Rose has already dealt with outspoken father Lavar Ball when his sons were briefly with Creative Artists Agency.
A couple of quick thoughts. First, teams are blowing a lot of smoke around their draft intentions at this point, so take every report like this with a grain of salt. Second, teams are not going to seriously factor Lavar Ball into their choice. He will be at most a challenge for the PR staff, but teams have dealt with overbearing parents before. With Lonzo Ball and the Lakers, LaVar was doing television and making a splash early on in the market, but he was a much bigger deal outside the locker room than in it.
This is a draft without a star at the top, so teams are going to look both at potential and the ability of that player to reach it. Does Anthony Edwards have as high a ceiling as Ball? Maybe not, but he’s more likely to reach it and has a higher floor. Fit also may matter to teams more than in other drafts.
The Knicks need a ball handler and Rose may be willing to give Ball a shot to be that guy (RJ Hampton interests the Knicks as well), but he’d be smart to bring in a veteran who can play that role as well.
The Knicks have the sixth-worst record in the NBA as things stand today (it’s unclear if there will be more regular season games). New York a 37.2 percent chance of landing in the top four picks (9 percent they get the top pick) where Ball potentially will be on the board, but a 50.4 percent chance they draft No. 7 or 8, at which point he is likely already taken.
The 2020 NBA Draft is still technically scheduled for June 25, but with the draft lottery and combine already postponed, the draft itself will be pushed back. Likely into the fall.
More than two-thirds of NBA teams have opened up their practice facilities and players are going in now for individual, socially-distanced workouts. It’s expected that for many teams, those practice facilities will be home to the coming “training camp 2.0” phase as teams get back into form for a restart of the season, whatever form that takes.
What about teams in locations that have not opened, such as the Knicks, Celtics, and Raptors?
Those teams could be headed to the bubble city or cities early, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Among marketplaces where governmental restrictions are keeping practice facilities shuttered, teams are asking the NBA whether players can bypass returns to those cities and report directly to the league’s proposed campus environment for the start of training camps, sources told ESPN…
Teams want to avoid having to quarantine significant portions of their rosters twice — once upon returning to more restrictive markets, and again, at the bubble site.
In anticipation of the league’s expectation of restarting the season, the NBA has told those teams that it plans to work with them on solutions that possibly include redirecting some teams directly to campus/bubble sites instead of team facilities to hold training camps, sources said.
It makes sense that some teams will want to do their training camp inside the bubble. The downside of that is that it becomes three more weeks at the hotel/campus for those players — before some regular season and potentially some playoff games — and that’s a long time away from home and in a hotel. A lot of players are not fans of all that hotel time, but also understand the situation and tradeoff, and they want to get back to playing.
When teams do report to a bubble/campus city, they are going to have to trim their normal traveling staff down, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
League sources say NBA teams have been informed they would likely be allowed to bring (roughly) 35 players/coaches/staff into a "campus" environment if the 2019-20 season, as increasingly expected, resumes in July
In normal circumstances, team travel parties routinely exceed 50
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 22, 2020
Teams are not going to cut back on training staffs, considering the fast ramp-up and condensed schedules that await players. That means equipment staff, some assistant coaches, and other personnel around the team could be left off the trips. Some people (likely some assistant coaches) are not going to be happy they didn’t make the essential staff lists.
How teams and players react to the bubble environment is going to be one of the interesting things to watch going into June and July.