Knicks eager for this benefit of missing NBA’s Orlando restart

#Knicks eager for this benefit of missing NBA’s Orlando restart

The Knicks were ambivalent about being part of the NBA restart in Disney World, as they didn’t want to significantly delay their head-coaching search.

However, in lieu of playing in the Mickey Mouse tournament, James Dolan’s club is anxious about having an elaborate “OTA” restart structure of their own, according to an NBA source.

“The eight teams who are not playing need parameters and guidelines for offseason work,” one league official told The Post. “The hope is to get clarity at some point soon so these teams can start organizing and planning their offseasons.”

No one would be more eager to stage practices of some form this summer than presumptive Knicks coaching favorite Tom Thibodeau.

There’s been talk of an NFL version of “OTAs” (organized team activity) in July, August and September. According to an NBA source, the league is motivated to arrange OTAs for the eight teams to prevent players from showing up at random, uncontrolled summer league pickup-game environments.

The Knicks are waiting for the NBA to review the several options on the table for the non-Orlando eight. Multiple sources say the league and Players Association’s top priority is first nailing down the Disney World coronavirus complexities.

The Knicks are hopeful they will get at least a mandatory two-week camp after the Oct. 15 draft and before the tentative opening of training camp Nov. 6.

Essentially, this would enable the Knicks, Warriors, Hawks, Hornets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons and Timberwolves to start training camp earlier than the 22 teams that would have competed for the title in Orlando.

The Knicks, who finished 21-45, have three picks in the upcoming draft — their own lottery pick, the Clippers’ first-round pick and Charlotte’s second-round pick.

That will give them three picks in the top 38 for rookie president Leon Rose’s first draft, and they won’t have the benefit of the traditional Las Vegas summer league to get a look at the new players.

According to ESPN, the NBA is looking at a two-week training camp in July for the ousted eight and a few summer-league contests in August to keep the young players engaged.

That’s a nice bonus for any new Knicks coach, especially Thibodeau, whose summer-league practices when in New York in the early 2000s were epic in length. As long as John Calipari doesn’t throw his hat in the ring, Thibodeau is the strong favorite.

Knicks NBA Orlando OTAs
Knicks GM Scott Perry and president Leon RoseCorey Sipkin

Several Knicks players from the 2019-20 roster won’t be back next season because of a slew of team options. But eight of the 17 players are under contract for next season — most of them young and in need of retraining since being shut down during the pandemic.

RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Ignas Brazdeikis, Julius Randle and two-way player Kenny Wooten are under contract. (Wooten has a team option that likely will be exercised).

Meanwhile, the Knicks are in full support of having next season begin Dec. 1, according to a source. The Players Association balked at that Dec. 1 date during Friday’s vote to restart the season and want it pushed back.

Sources told The Post the union is concerned about too quick of a turnaround with the NBA Finals possibly ending Oct. 12.

The Knicks prefer to get back as soon as possible. Even starting as soon as Dec. 1 means they’d have not played a regular-season game in nearly nine months — since March 11 in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Rose, GM Scott Perry and VP of strategy Brock Aller were prepared to start coaching interviews this week – likely by video conference. Thibodeau is the strong favorite but interim coach Mike Miller, Kenny Atkinson and Mike Woodson will also be interviewed. The Post previously reported Miller was likely to remain on the staff in some capacity.

The Knicks have the big edge in obtaining Thibodeau because interested suitors with better rosters like the Nets and Rockets — and even the 76ers — will be engaged in the restart into mid-August.

Sources told The Post that Thibodeau would have had interest in the Rockets job with Mike D’Antoni set to become a free agent after the Orlando restart.


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