New York Knicks: David Fizdale anticipates ‘big’ lineup combinations

Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks (Photo by Di Yin/Getty Images)
Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks (Photo by Di Yin/Getty Images) /

At Day 1 of training camp, New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale spoke on his potential lineups and his excitement for Frank Ntilikina.

The excitement of New York Knicks Media Day has waned and now it’s time to get down to business. Some players stated their cases, but on Tuesday, the first day of training camp, it was mainly about what head coach David Fizdale had to say about his new team.

The second-year leader said the team was very competitive, concentrated on defense and a smart group that learns fast and the energy in the gym was “fantastic.”

One of the first questions asked of him and you can see it starting at the 1:02 mark on the video, was about Frank Ntlikina. Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith, Jr. spoke on Media Day, but not the Frenchman. Payton did say, however, that “Frank is eager to learn, wants to be in the league.” In part what Fizdale said Tuesday was how difficult Ntilikina’s season was due to injury, as he missed 43 games and a groin injury ended his season.

At practice, Fizdale added, “I was happy the way he (Frank) came in. He had a great summer and a real competitive practice.”

Fizdale may have been happy, but per Steve Popper of Newsday, on Ntlikina’s rookie-scale contract option, general manager Scott Perry said, “We have until Oct. 31 to do that and we won’t discuss any contract things in detail. So that’s all I’m going to tell you right now.”

At the 3:08 mark, when asked about how big the lineups can go, the 45-year-old said:

"Knox and Morris at small forward, that there makes you pretty big, so you can just see the pecking order down the line. I could play Bobby and Mitchell together with Morris; RJ is no small guy at the 2 or 3 either. Frank and Elfrid are big guards, Dennis might not be as big but he can touch higher on the backboard. Happy about size and length, now it’s just using it appropriately."

When asked about using Julius Randle at the 5, Fizdale laughed about how numbers are placed on his guys, but said, “if Julius is at 5, I could put him out there with Morris at the 4.”

Fizdale went on to talk about the player development of Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox and related what a help DeAndre Jordan was to the young center’s development.

The emphasis was mainly on defense. This will be a defensive-minded team that will use defense to win games. With players like Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis and the self-proclaimed leader, Randle, the Knicks will definitely be better than last year. How much better remains to be seen.

When asked about his new team, Fizdale said:

"We changed a lot. We changed a whole lot. Now I feel like we have a team that can retain information and execute what you trying to do a little better. The versatility that we have a team that can retain information and execute what you trying to do a little bit better. I feel like again the versatility that we have I want to do that maximizes it as much as possible."

On the full-court workout:

"One on one full court, the bigs, the wings, and the guards had to defend each other full court live just to get them to understand we have to play defense like that if we want to have a chance to win games."

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Defense to win games: Fizdale mantra for the 2019-20 New York Knicks, and as the preseason starts on Monday, Oct. 7, against the Wizards, it will be interesting to see if what he said translates to the court.