Knicks coach David Fizdale likes undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier's one-on-one ability
In an ideal world, David Fizdale wants the Knicks to be a team that shares the ball unselfishly and quickly, not holding the ball and quickly moving it to the next man -- a one-second rule to make a move or move it on. But there is one exception.
It’s not lottery pick Kevin Knox, not the top returning scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr., and maybe not even Kristaps Porzingis when he returns from his knee rehabilitation. It’s undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier, and in the first two preseason games he’s rewarded the faith of his coach.
After scoring 13 points off the bench in the preseason opener, Trier poured in 20 first-half points Wednesday night, finishing with a game-high 25 points in 26 minutes as the Knicks beat the Nets, 107-102, at Barclays Center.
“That rule is gone out of the door for Zo,” Fizdale said. “They call him Iso Zo. I’m going to let the kid be who he is. Some kids are just naturals. He’s a natural scorer. I’m smart enough to know when to stay out of the way.”
Trier said: “Let’s not say it doesn’t apply to me, but he gave me a little more leeway to use my abilities to help this team, and I just try to do that to the best of my ability. I’m still figuring out ways to do that and fitting in with the team, so taking advantage of that, but not overdoing it.”
Whether that’s enough to find a spot for Trier on the roster is the more complicated question. Trier signed a two-way deal with the Knicks and they have 15 guaranteed contracts, a full complement of roster spots.
While the plan may call for Trier to play at Westchester in the G-League to start the season with a crowd of guards on the roster, the Knicks could squeeze him in with Joakim Noah taking one of those roster spots right now. With the two-way deal Trier can spend 45 days with the NBA squad before the Knicks would have to open up a roster spot to keep him.
“He’s got a real spirit for the game,” Fizdale said. “The kid really puts in a lot of time. Maybe the most of the team, to be honest with you. The kid comes back at night most nights. But we’ve got a lot of those guys. It’s hard to say. But he really is a competitor. That’s the one thing about him. He fears nothing. He’s starting to show that it’s rational to think that way.”
Trier likely would have been drafted a year earlier, with some reports that he could have been a lottery pick, but he was suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs at Arizona. He tested positive a second time during his junior year, but the suspension was rescinded when it was believed the that test was a residual of the first test - which he said came from a supplement he didn’t realize contained a banned substance.
After earning PAC-12 Tournament Most Valuable Player honors as a sophomore, he returned to school and averaged 18.1 points last season. But when the draft came and went he was still looking for a home.
“Sure it’s motivation, but I believe in myself whether I was picked any pick or not at all,” Trier said. “So that didn’t change my mindset of how I approach the game, how I believe in myself. I’m just coming in here every day, trying to be part of this team, compete and do my job.
“I certainly expected to get drafted. It didn’t happen. But that’s in the past. That’s not something to worry about anymore. My job is to continue to get better. I’m glad to be here to be with an organization like the Knicks. They believed in me and took me, so I’m very happy to be where I’m at. I’ll continue to work and get better every single day.”
Notes & quotes: Rookie Mitchell Robinson suffered a sprained right ankle and did not return. He said he believed it wasn’t serious and he could have returned, but he left with crutches, which he said was just precautionary ... Enes Kanter had 22 points and 20 rebounds.