Arron Afflalo

Atlantic Notes: Bargnani, Afflalo, Williams

All four Nets who have player options for next season are planning to opt out, as NetsDaily hears (Twitter links). None of them have particularly lucrative options, with Wayne Ellington‘s nearly $1.568MM topping the list, followed by Shane Larkin at $1.5MM, with Andrea Bargnani and Thomas Robinson at minimum salaries of close to $1.552MM and almost $1.051MM, respectively. Their agents believe the inflated salary cap will yield a market too fertile to pass up, NetsDaily adds. Brooklyn has about $45MM in guaranteed salary on the books for next season against a projected $89MM salary cap, so the opt-outs would allow the team to retain flexibility. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks consider Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams core players, while Robin Lopez and Lance Thomas are also part of the team’s “inner circle,” writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Afflalo and Williams have player options for next season, worth $8MM and $4.598MM, respectively, that the team is hoping they’ll pick up, while Thomas is on a one-year contract. Lopez is in the first season of a four-year deal.
  • The Sixers have given executive Brandon Williams more latitude on player development, agent relations, recruiting and other areas as part of a promotion to a new chief of staff position, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. Williams, who had been GM of the team’s D-League affiliate while serving as an assistant GM of sorts to GM Sam Hinkie, will retain his D-League duties and continue to report to Hinkie, as Wojnarowski details. The team has yet to make an official announcement.
  • P.J. Tucker might help the Raptors as a stopgap option at small forward, but Markieff Morris isn’t the long-term solution the club’s needs at power forward, opines Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the Raptors are interested in both Suns players.

Eastern Notes: Afflalo, Mirotic, Jennings

Knicks shooting guard Arron Afflalo is fine with playing second fiddle to small forward Carmelo Anthony in New York, but he’s ready to answer the call as the team’s go-to player if needed, Mike Coppinger of USA Today writes. “[Anthony] is one of the best scorers of all time, so I don’t mind being second fiddle to that,” said Afflalo. “But, for example, if he ever was to get hurt, or if he’s out of the game for any reason, I don’t have any issues with stepping into that role.”

Most NBA players begin to decline when they reach the age of 30, but Afflalo, who turned 30 in October, believes he can buck that trend, Coppinger relays. “I think I’m only going to get better as I get older because of my style of play,” Afflalo said. “I like to play a more post game, spot-up 3s, coming off screens. These are things that as long as you’re in good condition – I’m not really relying on heavy speed or heavy athleticism – I’m more relying on my footwork and skill and my body. So I feel as I get older with more experience, I’m just going to get better with age.

Here’s the latest from the Central Division:

  • Bulls combo forward Nikola Mirotic is struggling with his confidence this season after losing his spot as a starter, but he understands he needs to keep working to regain his form, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune writes. “I’m struggling a little bit now and not shooting well,” Mirotic said. “I’m not feeling the same confidence I was before. The only way to get it back is to work hard and stay positive. I need to forget what happened yesterday. I’m not scoring easy baskets. I’m not running like before. I’m not making those open 3s. I’m not doing things in the low post. But if I can do it last year in March, I can do it this year, too. I think it will come soon.
  • Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy is pleased with Brandon Jennings‘ performance leading the team’s second unit, but he doesn’t think the point guard will be back to full speed until training camp next season, MLive’s David Mayo notes. “For the most part, our team has played well with him on the court, I think because of the way he pushes the ball, and moves the ball, and everything else,” Van Gundy said. “Not only are you coming back off injury, but you miss 30-plus games, and you missed all of the summer. It just takes time to get back into it.
  • The Celtics have assigned James Young to their D-League affiliate in Maine, the team announced.

Knicks Seek Backcourt Help

Some within the Knicks front office recently said they’re interested in adding a young scorer or a shooter to the backcourt, sources told Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Still, New York isn’t near any significant move and don’t intend to bring in anyone who would significantly impinge upon their future cap flexibility, Begley also hears.

Knicks team president Phil Jackson apparently likes Jimmer Fredette, Begley writes, but the former 10th overall pick who’s playing for New York’s D-League team said in the days following his initial arrival to the Westchester Knicks roster that he hadn’t heard from Jackson or coach Derek Fisher. Ticket sales, and not strictly Fredette’s on-court ability, fueled the team’s decision to select Fredette in the D-League draft, as Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote at the time.

Few Knicks players are thought of as all that valuable on the trade market, a group that includes only Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez, Begley writes. Carmelo Anthony is presumably part of that group, too, but the Knicks have given no indication that they’ve thought about trading him, according to Begley. Anthony has a no-trade clause.

New York reportedly expressed interest in Jamal Crawford this summer, and the Clippers have apparently surveyed interest in him around the league in recent weeks. The Timberwolves have apparently made Kevin Martin available in trade discussions, though it’s unclear if the Knicks are eyeing him, and he has a player option worth nearly $7.378MM for next season, a number that could cut into cap flexibility. Brandon Jennings is on an expiring contract, but he’s only now returning from a torn Achilles tendon and Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said a few days ago that he’d yet to have a single trade conversation about him with other teams.

The Knicks have more than $55MM in guaranteed salary for next season. The team also has an open roster spot, giving them a measure of flexibility most of the league doesn’t have.

Who do you think the Knicks should target? Comment to share your ideas.

Atlantic Notes: Afflalo, Porzingis, Marshall

Arron Afflalo‘s ability to score and his smooth transition to the triangle offense have proven him an effective offseason addition for the Knicks, observes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Still, Afflalo’s time in New York could be short-lived, since he can turn down a player option worth $8MM and hit free agency again next summer.

“He’s been really valuable,’’ coach Derek Fisher said. “He has that attacking, aggressive mindset that is contagious. You need guys on the floor who have to play in the moment, willing to make the plays and take the shots.’’

See more on the Knicks amid our check around the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Afflalo, ‘Melo, Okafor, Porzingis

The Knicks knew Kristaps Porzingis would perform well, but they had no idea he would burst out of the gates so spectacularly, GM Steve Mills told Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. The pick is a potential game-changer for New York, as Lowe examines. Mills said to Lowe that agents have remarked of how players “feel really good” about the Knicks but want to see the team start to win, a sentiment that Arron Afflalo understands. The shooting guard with an $8MM player option for next season contends “the city isn’t enough for people,” but is convinced for himself that the Knicks are for real, as he explained to Lowe.

“I want to finish my career here,” Afflalo said. “Having a good young player and a winning team should help us get other guys.”

Afflalo has been sold on the Knicks for a while, as he and Mills said to Lowe that the Knicks and Nuggets had trade talks last season that would have fulfilled Afflalo’s desire to go to New York even amid last season’s 17-win debacle. See more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics went after the Hornets’ pick at No. 9 with the idea of flipping it to the Knicks, along with another first-rounder, for the No. 4 overall pick, which Boston would have used to take Justise Winslow, sources told Lowe for the same piece. Boston offered Charlotte four first-rounders for the ninth pick, as Lowe reported earlier, but the Hornets refused, putting the kibosh on the scenario in which Boston would have vaulted to No. 4. The Knicks listened to the idea, Mills admits, but a deal was never close, he told Lowe.
  • The Knicks have “never” thought about trading Carmelo Anthony, Mills insists to Lowe, who nonetheless hears skepticism from other teams that the subject hasn’t at least been the topic of internal discussion.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson would have drafted Jahlil Okafor over Porzingis if he had the chance, a source said to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
  • Okafor’s off-court troubles are likely a shock to the Sixers, given the meticulous background checking they did before the draft on the center from Duke, a league executive told Berman for the same piece.
  • Porzingis decided against working out for the Sixers but wouldn’t have been opposed to playing for them, seeing it as an opportunity to perform in a low-pressure environment and viewing Nerlens Noel as a strong frontcourt complement to his game, a source close to Porzingis said to Berman.

Atlantic Notes: Joseph, Calderon, Rozier

Point guard Cory Joseph, who inked a four-year, $30MM deal with the Raptors this summer, has been impressing the team with his solid two-way game, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun writes. Joseph said he wasn’t feeling any added pressure to perform up to his new deal, Wolstat notes. “I don’t know how to answer that because I don’t really base my game on what people think,” Joseph said. “I just try to get better every day. I try to maybe prove that I can play within the organization, but outside the organization, I don’t really look at that stuff.

Joseph’s new teammate, Luis Scola, praises the reserve playmaker’s ability, and predicts good things for Joseph this season in Toronto, Wolstat adds. “He’s a good player, he’s trying to explore his game, take his game to the next level,” Scola said. “I think he’s going to have a lot of opportunities here. He’s in great shape right now, he looks very good, very confident, so, hopefully he can keep that momentum going into the season. We’re expecting a great year from him.

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Jose Calderon noted that there were some teams this offseason that were interested in trading for him, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. New York was reportedly trying to find a taker for the veteran this summer as the team attempted to free up cap space.
  • 2015 first-rounder Terry Rozier‘s place in the Celtics‘ rotation is unclear with a number of players ahead of him on the depth chart currently, but coach Brad Stevens has noted the impact that former third-string point guard Phil Pressey had on Boston teams in recent seasons, a role that Stevens hopes the rookie can fill, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes.
  • While injuries have kept Arron Afflalo on the shelf for the bulk of the preseason, the Knicks are banking on his skill as a post player to help him thrive in the triangle offense this season, Begley writes in a separate piece. “Post-ups aren’t as popular of a scoring opportunity in terms of efficiency and points per possession. But we still view it as penetration,” New York coach Derek Fisher said. “The ball is still closer to the basket than it is if you’re standing out by the line. And we believe we have some guys who are good enough to force teams to make a decision on how they’re going to defend us. [We] think Arron’s good enough.

And-Ones: Young, Afflalo, Pelicans

Rookie Joseph Young has earned the Pacers’ backup point guard job, according to Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star. Pacers coach Frank Vogel announced on Monday that the second-round pick had taken that spot after making a strong impression through the first three preseason games, Taylor continues. Young, who is averaging 11.3 points, has displayed the quickness needed to get to the rim and make shots over taller defenders, Taylor adds. “He’s going to struggle at times,” Vogel told Taylor. “We’re committed to getting [Young and first-round rookie Myles Turner] some minutes early on as long as they keep proving themselves and having the right approach. We want to see how they develop early on.”

In other news around the league:

  • The opportunity to play with Carmelo Anthony again was a major reason why Arron Afflalo signed with the Knicks, David Aldridge of NBA.com reports in his weekly column. Afflalo and Anthony were teammates on the Nuggets from 2009-11. “It was a mixture of individual opportunity, and maybe some unforeseen potential,” Afflalo told Aldridge. “I get to play with ‘Melo again, and I knew the coaching staff. I knew the management. I knew what they were trying to build.” Afflalo signed a two-year, $16MM contract with a player option in July.
  • The Pelicans could add another point guard to their training camp roster in the next few days, John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Backup Norris Cole suffered a high ankle sprain in practice on Sunday which could jeopardize his status for opening night, according to the team’s website.
  • The NBA is exploring the possibility of having a D-League team in Omaha, Nebraska, Chris Reichert of UpsideMotor.com reports. Gary Green, who owns a minor league baseball team in Omaha, said in a recent interview with Omaha.com that he has talked to NBA and D-League representatives and a deal is in place, Reichert continues. However, Green is struggling to find an affiliation because NBA teams prefer to have their D-League team close to home, Reichert adds.

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 ESPN.com. 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 ESPNNewYork.com (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 ESPN.com. 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.

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: