PHILADELPHIA — With his two 2018 draft picks regressing, Knicks coach David Fizdale said he’s not planning to ever send Kevin Knox or Mitchell Robinson to the G-League for a game with the Westchester Knicks.
After Wednesday’s 117-91 blowout loss to the Sixers, Fizdale said he saw good signs from Knox and Robinson, but they were baby steps. Knox shot just 3-of-9 for nine points, but he impressed the Knicks coach with a couple of moves to the basket.
“I thought Kevin had good flashes of aggression,’’ Fizdale said.
Fizdale celebrated on the sideline after one of his fancy fourth-quarter driving baskets, but there hasn’t been a lot to celebrate lately with Knox.
Though player development director Craig Robinson said last season he wants playing in Westchester not to be viewed as a negative by prospects, Knicks brass and Fizdale apparently don’t look at it that way.
“I’m keeping both of them with us,’’ Fizdale said. “Through whatever tough times we go through, that’s what we have to go through with them right now. But I want them with our guys, playing with our guys, interacting with our guys, having successes and suffering with our guys.”
Sending Robinson to the G-League would hardly be viewed as odd. He’s a second-round pick (36th overall), drafted as a project center and never played college basketball.
The 19-year-old Knox, however, is a lottery pick and comes attached with a certain status despite being the second-youngest player in the draft. Last season, Charlotte had lottery pick Malik Monk play in the G-League.
“I want him with us,’’ Fizdale said of Knox. “Even if he’s not playing a lot of minutes on [some] nights. I want him around the group and NBA, watching games from that perspective. It’s all experience and learning. I don’t want him spending a minute there right now.’’
Knox suffered through low-energy clunker Tuesday in Detroit. He shot 1-of-7 for four points and zero assists.
After heavy expectations created by a resounding Las Vegas summer league, Knox’s field-goal percentage has plummeted to 32.5 percent. He’s averaging 7.5 points.
“Everyone knows summer league isn’t the real deal,’’ Knox said. “I worked really hard in the summer and I played really well. But that doesn’t mean it set expectations. I knew it would be harder coming up here playing in the NBA and get used to adapting to playing up here.’’
Knox said his 16-day absence with an ankle sprain only affected him at the beginning of his return, which came Nov. 5.
“It was hard working my way back playing,’’ Knox said. “Now I’m back fine. I don’t think it’s messing anything up. At the beginning it did, but now I’m fine. I’m playing with no pain.’’
The Knicks coach still is confident Knox is going to shine one day.
“These games keep showing up, these games don’t stop coming,’’ Fizdale said. “I like the way he keeps coming to work every day. I love the way the team keeps rallying around him and pushing him. We keep putting him out there and getting him battle-tested. Teams aren’t going to let up. He has to keep learning. In the end, I think he’s going to turn out to be pretty damn good.”
Mario Hezonja had his best game as a starter, scoring 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting. … Point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke had their second straight poor outings, combining to shoot 2-of-11.