Morning Knicks 6/15: Knicks Hire Alex Kline, Players Concerned About NBA Return, Atkinson Still Has a Chance, and More

Chris Molicki

-Leon Rose has added some youth—to his front office. On Friday, the Knicks hired Pelican's scout Alex Kline to be a member of the organization. Kline has already garnered some impressive scouting experience at only 26. You can read more about the new hire of Kline from our own Kris Pursiainen, as well as an interesting piece from Forbes's Adam Zagoria, who knows Kline very well.

-There is a growing concern from some players about the NBA's return plan. On Friday, Kyrie Irving led a call of more than 80 NBA and WNBA players discussing whether returning to play this season is the right call. Some of the concerns touched on were bringing back the league in the midst of the ongoing racial injustice crisis in America, COVID-19, and the safety of players in the NBA bubble. You can read more about the call itself, who participated, and what was said, from The Athletic's Shams Charania.

The entire situation is tricky, and both sides have sound points. Some players believe that playing basketball during a time when racism and police brutality is on the forefront in this country would make people forget about these important issues. Others are worried this plan, while the country is still in the midst of a pandemic, would be too unsafe for those that are and aren't involved. Then, there are players who rightfully want to get back to playing basketball and still are hoping to get as much of their salary as they can. I am hoping for an NBA return as much as every fan out there, but ultimately, it is up to each player as to what decisions they make in both the short-term and the long-term. Whatever they choose to do, fans should respect it.

-Kenny Atkinson's shot at Knicks' head coach isn't dead yet. SNY's Ian Begley reported that "there is legitimate internal support within the organization" for Atkinson to get the job. While Begley said that Tom Thibodeau is still the clear favorite, this is a glimmer of hope for any Knicks fans rooting for Atkinson. All news in the past month or so has made Thibodeau to the Knicks sound like a done deal. 

There are even some current NBA coaches who are voicing their opinions on the two candidates. Marc Berman of The New York Post spoke with Bucks' head coach Mike Budenholzer, who hopes that Atkinson gets the job. Atkinson coached under Budenholzer when he was the head coach of the Hawks. Berman also spoke with Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who said there was a misconception surrounding Thibs as a head coach. Clifford believes Thibodeau is great with developing and connecting to young players, something that may go against public opinion. The two coached together in both New York and Houston.

-With the new transaction window allowed for all 30 NBA teams to make moves, it's time for Leon Rose's front office to strike. The Knicks don't have a roster spot open, but they could make one available. With all the new additions in New York's front office should now focus on finding players in the fringes and taking advantage of every opportunity, no matter how small. If the Knicks do decide to waive one of their current players, our own Jonathan Macri has five guys that the team could take a flier on in hopes of finding someone who eventually plays a role on the team.

-If the Knicks don't finish high in the lottery, dreams of LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, and Tyrese Haliburton, could be toast. However, our own Kris Pusiainen has some other guards the team could look into as backup plans. Kris profiled Kentucky's Tyrese Maxey as another option and wrote about his fit with R.J. Barrett. Maxey can get to the rim, and he's a solid playmaker and defender, but concerns about his shooting and shot selection should not be dismissed. Kris also wrote about Kira Lewis Jr. from Alabama, another point guard New York could select. Lewis Jr. is a quick and athletic ball-handler with the potential to develop into a better shooter and defender. Personally, I would prefer Lewis Jr., as I'm more confident in his offensive game than Maxey's.

-Our own Lauren Russell is back with your Knicks' social media check-in as the players hit the offseason. The Knicks may not be going to Disney World, but that doesn't mean they aren't posting updates on their social media. Mitchell Robinson caught a fish, Damyean Dotson is grinding in the gym, Bobby Portis did a Q&A. What more could you want? Check out Lauren's article for plenty more Knicks' social media posts.

-Did you forget about Steve Stoute? The Knicks branding consultant has faded behind the scenes after his ESPN First Take interview. Marc Berman has an update on Stoute, who was instrumental in finally getting James Dolan to release a statement on the murder of George Floyd. You can read more about Stoute and other pressing Knicks topics in Berman's latest mailbag. 

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