You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Knicks.
Why can’t the Knicks build superior training facilities like the Nets if that is what it takes to attract top talents? — Jean
The Knicks’ practice headquarters in a corporate park in Tarrytown just underwent a major renovation last summer. Location, not the “superior’’ facilities of the Nets, is the drawback. The commute from Tarrytown to the Garden is 40 minutes without traffic, over an hour with. Kevin Durant claimed it was a factor in discounting the Knicks and signing with the Nets. Their facility overlooks New York Harbor in Brooklyn, where all the players live. Former Knicks coach David Fizdale told confidants he, too, thought the commute on game day was not ideal for his players, most of whom live in the White Plains area.
The new renovation, however, is glorious. Giant windows were installed around the practice courts, allowing natural light to pour in. The Knicks built a barber shop for players and brought in chefs from the Tao Group — which James Dolan owns — to cook more nutritional fare. The new lobby has a Garden-like ceiling. I don’t believe the Tarrytown commute caused seven straight losing seasons.
Why don’t the Knicks have RJ Barrett as the small forward? He isn’t guarding the 2 guards very well (see Bradley Beal games). I feel like he could guard the league small forwards much better. — Patrick Joseph Grondin
Bradley Beal torches every Knick, but in the team’s second-to-last game before the season was suspended, in Washington on March 10, Barrett and the whole starting five got pulled after four minutes when the Wizards ran off to an 18-4 lead. Barrett logged 30.4 minutes per game — a huge haul for a rookie — partly because the coaches trusted him on the defensive end. He has a high motor, unlike 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox.
The best thing about Barrett, too, is that versatility. Barrett can play all over the place — and maybe eventually can defend 1-through-4.
He’ll be fine offensively at shooting guard with a scoring point guard — the Knicks’ largest need. If the Knicks go smallball, Barrett can play small forward, too. Plus, Barrett can be a secondary ball handler if they wanted to play really big. There’s a lot of ways to use him, which helps make up for his poor perimeter shooting.
Will the Knicks try to get Melo again??? — Charlee Kessee
If former president Steve Mills were still running the show, not a chance. Mills harbored ill will over how things ended with Carmelo Anthony, who demanded a trade with a one-team wish list — the Rockets. The Knicks finally got Anthony, who had a no-trade clause, to accept a move to the Thunder. If he had nixed Oklahoma City, they were hopeful Anthony would have approved Portland.
Anthony resurfaced with the Trail Blazers this season, and admitted to me upon the Knicks’ visit to Portland he felt an extra bounce following nearly a year off from the NBA grind. Anthony played 50 games, averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting a solid 37.1 percent from 3.
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Anthony was one of Leon Rose’s favorite clients, and the new Knicks president tried to get Anthony on the Knicks’ training-camp roster last September. Rose thinks the world of Anthony. He believes he can help with winning and be a role model for young prospects such as Barrett. Mills was never sure Anthony would accept a mentorship role. Fizdale commented recently he thinks the Knicks need a starting stretch 4.
The Brooklyn-born Anthony turns 36 in May and would love to end his career in New York. The expectations would be lower. It seems a match made in NBA heaven. The room exception (around $5 million) seems fair.
What is the holdup in bringing Kenny Wooten up to the Knicks, he sure looks like he could help!!! — George Shakelton
If the NBA restarts in early July with an abbreviated five-to-seven-game end to the regular season, Wooten’s surgically repaired thumb likely will be healed and the rookie 6-foot-8 shot-blocking forward could make his NBA debut.
Wooten suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb while playing for G League Westchester on Feb. 19. He underwent surgery Feb. 23 and figured to be out for the season without getting a single NBA minute.
If you recall, the undrafted former Oregon defense-minded acrobat did well during the Las Vegas summer league, but was hurt during Knicks training camp and signed with Westchester with no NBA contract.
Wooten averaged 3.6 blocks with Westchester, prompting Mitchell Robinson to say Wooten can jump higher than he can. After the Knicks gave Wooten a two-way contract on Jan. 13 and waived Fizdale’s guy, Ivan Raab, Knicks executives still felt Wooten was better served honing his offensive game in the G League. One of the treats if the regular season commences could be viewing Wooten and rookie second-rounder Ignas Brazdeikis get some minutes.
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