School of hard Knox for Kevin
Fiz said rookie will start opener and learn on the fly
When David Fizdale announced every starting position was up for grabs, apparently the coach didn’t mean Kevin Knox’s.
Fizdale acknowledged that Knox did not earn the starting small forward spot but will be there anyway in the regularseason opener, an indication of how much the franchise is invested in its No. 9 overall draft pick.
“No (he didn’t earn it), he’s been up and down,” Fizdale said. “I think he’s shown the ability to start in the first two (preseason) games with the double-doubles. And the last three, he stunk.
“But for that position and what we’re trying to grow there I think he’s what we want to put in that spot and just let him go through the hell of it and get beat up and have some success, and all of that stuff.”
Knox produced his third straight awful performance in Friday’s 113-107 loss to the Nets, finishing with three points, two turnovers and five fouls in 12 minutes. In the last three preseason games, Knox shot 9-for-34 with 12 turnovers. He has missed 13 of his last 14 3-point attempts.
Still, Fizdale has him penciled in as the starter for opening night Wednesday against the Hawks.
“He’s got to go through it. This year is exactly for this,” Fizdale said. “I said it in the press conference, he’s got to take his lumps. That’s part of the deal. You’re a 19year-old coming in and you jump into a man’s league and you really got to go through that growth process.
“Struggles are a part of it. I think he’ll handle it fine. He’ll keep getting in the gym, getting the work done. I need to do more to help him. But his focus and his attention is in the right place and I think he’ll pull out of this. But this is expected. Who knows when slumps hit rookies? Sometimes they hit them early, sometimes they hit them right after Christmas. Sometimes it’s both. All of this is good experience for him no matter what.”
Knox agreed with his coach.
“Basically me and Fiz have the same mentality. This is all learning for me,” the rookie said. “Like he says all the time, I’m going to get my butt kicked a lot. It’s part of my rookie year. I’m going to have a lot of ups and downs. It shows how much confidence he has in me keeping me in the starting lineup and the more I get used to playing in the system, playing on this stage – Madison Square Garden, New York – I’ll get better.” WHAT’S THE POINT?
With the regular season around the corner, the Knicks’ starting point guard remains an open battle.
David Fizdale started four different point guards in five preseason games – including Ron Baker in the finale Friday against the Nets – but nobody has seized the moment.
“I am definitely undecided going into the first game,” Fizdale said. “I don’t feel a deadline for game one like everybody else does. We’re not the Warriors or Houston or somebody where we have to know who we are, a set rotation, and get guys in their roles right away.
“We’ve still got a lot to figure out. We’ve still got a lot of guys we’re evaluating, figuring out how they fit into the puzzle. So this thing is something — like I said before, it could change. Going into it I honestly don’t know right now who is the starting point guard.”
Trey Burke had the inside track at the position but underwhelmed when he started the first two preseason games. Fizdale hinted that conditioning was an issue as the Knicks try to play at a quicker pace.
“I think for him and for every guy it’s an adjustment to how fast we are trying to play, how we are trying to defend, the activity and the effort that it took to pick up 94 feet,” Fizdale said. “I think you saw that with him a lot. It’s a different level of conditioning you have to have to do both ends of the floor that way and obviously while you’re doing that and learning a whole new system, there are going to be some adjustments.”
Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina also started preseason games at point guard.
Despite the fluid approach, Fizdale is set on the other four starters so long as they’re healthy – Tim Hardaway Jr. at shooting guard, Knox at small forward, Lance Thomas at power forward and Enes Kanter at center. HARDAWAY WILL PLAY
Hardaway assured he’ll play in the regular season opener despite spraining his left wrist in the first half Friday. X-rays were negative. “I am playing (Wednesday against the Hawks) no matter what,” he said.
Kevin Knox will be in starting lineup Wednesday for season opener vs. Hawks even though both he and David Fizdale say he has a lot to learn. AP