Arron Afflalo

Phil Jackson On Williams, Afflalo, Vujacic

Phil Jackson has endured his share of criticism since becoming team president of the Knicks, but he defended his offseason additions in the latest of his interviews with Charlie Rosen for The Knicks failed to land a superstar in this summer’s free agency, instead taking a piecemeal approach with their cap space as they used it on Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and others. The executive made his lengthiest comments about Williams, who, according to Jackson, is confident that he already knows the triangle because of the time he spent watching Jackson’s Lakers in the 2000s and videos he found more recently on YouTube.

The entire piece is a must-read, especially for Knicks fans, and we’ll pass along a few highlights here:

On Derrick Williams:

“I mean, there’s no doubt that Derrick has the talent, size and strength to be a more-than-capable NBA player. However, his development has been hindered by several factors. From the start of his pro career, being the second overall draft pick has been like an albatross around his neck, something that he, and lots of other people, felt a lot of pressure to live up to. I told him that right now he’s an NBA player and it no longer makes any difference where he was drafted. He just has to learn how to play the game the right way. That means developing a defensive mindset, developing an intermediate game and improving his long-range shooting.”

On Arron Afflalo:

“Some NBA watchers have questioned whether or not Arron has anything left as he nears his 30th birthday, but I’m positive that he does. He has a gym in his Las Vegas home and he works out religiously. Actually, he’s such a hard-worker that he holds his teammates accountable if they try to cut corners in any way. I look for Arron to be a leader on this team. He wanted us and we wanted him, so Arron and the Knicks is a very good match.”

On Sasha Vujacic:

“Except for a 10-day contract with the Clippers in 2014, Sasha hasn’t played in the NBA for four years, but at age 31 he still has plenty of game. He’s a classic streak-shooter who, when he’s zeroed in, can totally change a game in three minutes. He’ll be a significant force for us coming off the bench.”

Eastern Notes: Afflalo, Hilliard, Bucks

Arron Afflalo, who inked a two-year deal worth $16MM with the Knicks this offseason, told Ian Begley of (Twitter link) that Carmelo Anthony played a big part in his decision to come to New York. The guard indicated that he spoke with Anthony prior to and during the free agent signing period, and Afflalo believes that Melo was instrumental in his signing with the team, tweets Al Iannazzone of Newsday, and Afflalo also noted that the Knicks received a glowing recommendation regarding himself from Anthony, who was a former teammate of Afflalo’s in Denver, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News adds (on Twitter).

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Afflalo also indicated that he and Anthony are extremely optimistic about the Knicks‘ chances at making the playoffs this coming season, Begley adds (Twitter links).
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker plans to sign a bill next week that will provide $250MM in taxpayer money to pay for a new arena for the Bucks, the Associated Press reports. The public funding plan for the proposed arena had previously been approved by the Wisconsin State Assembly by a 52-34 vote.
  • Darrun Hilliard, who the Pistons drafted with the No. 38 overall pick and officially signed to a three-year deal, will have the first year of his contract with Detroit fully guaranteed, and he received a $500k partial guarantee for the second year, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (via Twitter).
  • Adonis Thomas received a partial guarantee of $60k for the 2015/16 campaign from the Pistons, Pincus tweets. The forward inked a training camp deal with the team in July.

Atlantic Notes: Jackson, Celtics, Boatright

Knicks team president Phil Jackson tacitly questioned the wisdom of spending max-level money on Marc Gasol in an interview that took place in February with longtime confidant Charley Rosen, who transcribes it as part of a series on Still, it seemed more of a remark about spending max money in general, and indeed, the Knicks wound up spreading their cap space around on multiple second-tier free agents. Jackson admits that he pursued Goran Dragic at the trade deadline in February, when the Knicks were one of the preferred teams on the point guard’s wish list of destinations, with the Zen Master adding that he might have spent too much time on the pursuit of Dragic, as Rosen’s piece also shows. Jackson also expressed interest in Arron Afflalo, whom the Knicks eventually signed this summer, and Enes Kanter, whom they reportedly spoke with this month. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
  • The Celtics are unlikely to use their $2.814MM room exception, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s not surprising, since the C’s already have 17 fully guaranteed contracts, including Zoran Dragic, whom the team is expected to either waive or trade.
  • Ryan Boatright‘s minimum salary deal with the Nets is already partially guaranteed for $75K this season, according to NetsDaily (Twitter link). A previous report indicated that guarantee wouldn’t kick in until August 1st. Boatright will lock in $200K if he sticks on the roster for the regular season, NetsDaily adds. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders shows Boatright only with a $75K guarantee until November 15th, when that guarantee would increase to $125K.
  • The Knicks are letting go of interim D-League head coach Craig Hodges, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post. Hodges had reportedly been expected to remain as a D-League assistant.

Atlantic Notes: Afflalo, Shved, Tokoto

Arron Afflalo is excited to be a member of the Knicks, and said the lure of playing in New York, as well as the team’s emerging culture, were the main reasons why he signed with the organization, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. “It was just the fan base, the environment, the chance to play with Carmelo Anthony again, the chance to play with other great players, the mutual interest from the coaching staff and [front office], and the culture they’re trying to build,” Afflalo said. “I just thought it was a good fit for me.” The veteran guard believes he can thrive in the triangle offense, Kennedy adds. “I’ll fit well,” Afflalo said. “I’m pretty versatile with my game, being able to post up or shoot threes to create small pockets of space or get my teammates some shots. I think I’ll fit fine.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The first year of Pierre Jackson‘s four-year deal with the Sixers carries a guarantee of $750K, tweets Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Alexey Shved‘s contract with Khimki Moscow will pay him a total of $10.2MM, making him the highest paid player in Europe, David Pick of relays (Twitter link). The 26-year-old had reportedly turned down a contract offer to return to the Knicks.
  • Sixers second-rounder J.P. Tokoto understands he’s unlikely to see regular minutes this season, but is willing to do whatever the team asks of him, Pompey writes in a separate piece.
    I know what it is,” the No. 58 overall pick said of his role. “I’m a realist. I know what it is coming into it. Being a defensive guy coming in, whether it’s garbage minutes or giving the vet, you know the guy playing more minutes than me, giving him a breather, coming in disrupting the other team’s offense.

Atlantic Notes: Johnson, Afflalo, Nets

Amir Johnson signed a two-year, $24MM deal with the Celtics because Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was the first person to phone him at midnight on July 1st. Johnson also was lured because he learned how much of a good fit the team believes he will be in the offense, Chris Forsberg of writes.

“I love the way they approached me during [free agency],” Johnson said. “Nine o’clock, Pacific Time, Boston was the first one to call. Danny Ainge called me first then coach [Brad] Stevens. They approached me well. They respect the type of player I am. And they gave me a number and it was a no-brainer from there.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Johnson also told Forsberg how much he liked the idea of the Celtics adding David Lee, who the team is set to acquire“Very versatile big, kind of like me, runs the floor, great pick-and-roll guy,” said Johnson. “I definitely think he’ll fit into the system, just like me. I think it’ll be a more fast-paced team.”
  • Arron Afflalo made it clear to the Nuggets at the trade deadline that he preferred to play with the Knicks and is very happy to be with New York now, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Despite his preference, Afflalo was dealt to the Blazers. He opted out from the Blazers in June and later signed a two-year, $16MM deal with the Knicks. “We told Denver the Knicks were where he wanted to be,’’ said Afflalo’s agent Sam Goldfeder. “Portland was never mentioned.’’
  • Deron Williams leaves the Nets as perhaps the single-most forgettable would-be superstar in the history of New York sports, Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post opines. Brooklyn waived the former All-Star Saturday after years of declining performance. Williams differs from other failed stars, Vaccaro writes, because it seemed like the Dallas-native never truly wanted to play for the Nets, even when the team signed him to a $99MM max extension in July 2012.
  • Nets guard Jarrett Jack told reporters, including Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News, that he is ready to step in and start at point guard in place of Williams. “If that’s the position they want me to fill, I’m definitely very ready to do so,” Jack said. “It’s not my first rodeo as far as being thrust into the [starter’s] role if that were to be the case. So it’s something that’s not foreign to me and [I’m] definitely ready for the challenge.”

Knicks Ink Arron Afflalo

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

JULY 9TH, 12:43pm: The deal is official, the team announced (on Twitter).

JULY 2ND, 8:01am: The Knicks will sign Arron Afflalo to a two-year deal worth $16MM with a player option on the final season, reports Ramona Shelburne of The agreement gives the Sam Goldfeder client slightly more in average annual value than he would have made had he picked up his $7.75MM player option with the Blazers.

The deal comes as no surprise, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports on Monday identified the Knicks as the front-runners for the shooting guard who turns 30 in October, and Chris Mannix of reported Tuesday that Afflalo was open to a deal that allowed him to hit free agency again in a year or two. The Knicks were to meet with Afflalo today, and it sounds like they either met early this morning or reached agreement before having a sitdown.

New York will use part of its nearly $30MM in cap flexibility on the eight-year veteran, but plenty of room is left over to sign Greg Monroe to a max contract. Monroe is reportedly meeting with the Knicks and three other teams, including Portland.

Knicks Front-Runners For Arron Afflalo

WEDNESDAY, 4:24pm: The Knicks and Afflalo have a meeting scheduled for Thursday, Frank Isola of The New York Daily News tweets.

TUESDAY, 12:28pm: Afflalo is open to signing a short-term deal that allows him to become a free agent again in a year or two, and he may ultimately seek such an arrangement, tweets Chris Mannix of

MONDAY, 2:03pm: The Knicks are the front-runners for Arron Afflalo, who opted out of his deal with the Blazers last week, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter). The same is true of the Knicks and Greg Monroe, though New York will take meetings with LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and others. Carmelo Anthony has put in a recruiting call to Afflalo and others, as ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported minutes earlier.

League sources who spoke with Wojnarowski estimate that Afflalo’s next deal will be for $36-38MM over three years. The Knicks have only about $31MM in guaranteed salaries for next season, not counting a $3,443,100 cap hold for Kristaps Porzingis and a $1,310,300 cap hold for Jerian Grant, the two players New York wound up with from the first round of Friday’s draft. That, combined with minimum-salary roster charges for open spots, would still likely leave about enough room against the cap, projected at $67.1MM, for a max deal for Monroe and a contract for Afflalo starting around $12MM a year.

Eastern Notes: Nets, Acy, Pistons

The Nets will be looking to add depth through free agency and trades and Thomas Robinson, Wesley Johnson and Sasha Kaun are players they will target, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post reports. Robinson could provide some rebounding and energy off the bench and Johnson would give them an athletic wing who can shoot 3-pointers, Bontemps continues. Both are unrestricted free agents. Kaun, a Russian center whose rights are owned by the Cavaliers, would be an ideal backup if they can re-sign Brook Lopez and work out a deal with Cleveland, Bontemps adds.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks have declined to extend the qualifying offer of $1.181MM to Quincy Acy, making the forward an unrestricted free agent, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. The Kings, Nuggets, Magic and Pelicans have expressed interest in Acy, a source told Spears (Twitter links).
  • DeMarre Carroll, Arron Afflalo, Tobias Harris and Kosta Koufos are the free agents the Pistons will most likely court, Terry Foster of the Detroit News reports. The Pistons believe Carroll might be easier to sign than some other unrestricted free agents, Foster continues. Danny Green and Wesley Matthews are longshot possibilities to come to Detroit, Foster adds. The Knicks also want to be “in the mix” for Green, league sources told Ian Begley of (Twitter link). It’s unclear if Green has any interest in the Knicks, Begley adds.
  • Harris’ pricetag will be at least $10MM annually in the eyes of several league executives, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets. One of those executives believes Harris’ value is in the $12-14MM range, Mannix adds. The Magic forward is a restricted free agent.

Aldridge To Meet With Lakers, Six Others

10:33pm: Aldridge is leaning toward signing with the Lakers, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

9:33pm: The Lakers will indeed be the first team to meet with Aldridge, followed by the Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Mavericks, Raptors and Knicks in that order, David Aldridge of tweets. He does not need to meet with the Trail Blazers since he already knows their offer, Aldridge adds.

9:10pm: Coach Gregg Popovich and veteran stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker will attend the Spurs’ meeting with Aldridge, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports tweets.

8:35pm: The Lakers’ meeting with Aldridge will occur immediately after the free agency period begins at 12:01 AM Eastern Time on Wednesday, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

2:57pm: Aldridge will meet with the Raptors, too, reports Shams Charania of RealGM, and he’ll think about a visit with the Rockets, Charania adds. Toronto has max-level cap room following its trade of Greivis Vasquez to Milwaukee, but Houston would have to clear salary.

1:54pm: LaMarcus Aldridge is almost certain to leave the Blazers and will meet with the Knicks, Spurs, Mavs and Lakers, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN colleague Tim MacMahon first reported that Dallas would sit down with the big man. The Knicks are a long shot for him, just as is the case with DeAndre Jordan, according to Broussard.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that the Spurs and Lakers were in the lead for Aldridge, a client of Arn Tellem and Thad Foucher, shortly after Blazers GM Neil Olshey denied a report that Aldridge has already told the Blazers he’s leaving. Portland can offer Aldridge a five-year deal with 7.5% raises, somewhat better than the four years and 4.5% raises he can end up with elsewhere, though apparently that advantage may not be enough.

The Knicks, Lakers and Mavs should have plenty of cap room to chase Aldridge with a max offer that will likely start around $19MM a year. The Spurs are apparently confident they can find the same amount of room even if they re-sign Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

New York will also meet with Aldridge teammate and close friend Wesley Matthews, Broussard reports. Carmelo Anthony has reached out to Aldridge and Jordan as well as Greg Monroe and fellow Blazer free agent Arron Afflalo, sources tell Broussard.

Northwest Notes: Afflalo, Wolves, Thunder

The Thunder are reaching out to teams with the hope of unloading a contract to solidify their ability to re-sign Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler, both of whom are restricted free agents this summer, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweets. OKC has reportedly dealt Jeremy Lamb and his $3,034,356 salary for 2015/16 to the Hornets, so it’s unclear if further moves are in the works. The deal includes Matt Barnes and his $3.543MM salary for next season coming to Oklahoma City, though only $1MM of that amount is guaranteed unless he remains on the roster past July 1st, at which point the team would be on the hook for the entire amount. The Thunder aren’t expected to keep Barnes, though it wasn’t specified if a third team was involved, or if he would simply be released.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Blazers shouldn’t prioritize re-signing unrestricted free agent Arron Afflalo this offseason, opines Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Freeman notes that Afflalo and Portland were never a good match, with the swingman struggling to find his place and never looking completely comfortable in the Blazers’ system. Couple that with the late-season emergence of C.J. McCollum, and Portland re-signing Afflalo becomes less of a need, regardless of what transpires with fellow unrestricted free agent Wesley Matthews, Freeman concludes.
  • When asked what the Timberwolves would be targeting in the second round of the draft and in free agency this summer, coach/executive Flip Saunders said backcourt [depth], shooting and ball-handling, Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press tweets. Saunders not mentioning a big man seemingly reinforces the opinion that the team will select Karl-Anthony Towns with the No. 1 overall pick, Krawczynski adds.
  • The Timberwolves are expected to extend their lease on the Target Center with the city of Minneapolis through 2035, Charley Walters of The Pioneer Press relays (Twitter link).

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