The Knicks officially announced today that they’re going to own a D-League team in White Plains, New York starting next season. The expansion squad will be the D-League’s 18th franchise. The Knicks on Friday confirmed a report from late last month that they were ending their relationship with the Erie BayHawks and planning to set up a team in Westchester County, where White Plains is located.
The Magic may replace the Knicks in Erie, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel suggests, noting that the Magic are seeking a one-to-one affiliation in which they would run the basketball operations of a D-League club but leave the business side to local ownership (Twitter links). Orlando is sharing the Fort Wayne Mad Ants with five other NBA teams this year.
The Knicks become the seventh NBA team to own a D-League affiliate outright, while several others have the sort of “hybrid” partnerships the Magic want to arrange for next season. The Timberwolves are investigating the possibility of buying a D-League team, too, notes Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston will serve as the White Plains D-League club’s GM, so it appears he’ll remain with the organization regardless of whether Phil Jackson joins the Knicks as an executive.
The new affiliate of the Knicks will play at the Westchester County Center, about 30 miles north of New York City. The Knicks also have their training and practice facility in Westchester County, so it appears the Knicks plan to make heavy use of D-League assignments in the future. This year, they’ve only made five, as our D-League assignment/recall log shows.
While the NBA’s trade deadline passed over two weeks ago, the D-League’s window for trading players between teams closed today. While deals between D-League teams don’t affect NBA player rights, they can still have an impact on which NBA teams and development staffs get the closest look at prospects at that level. Here are some notes from the D-League, including today’s deadline deals:
- The Timberwolves are looking at owning their own D-League team, a source tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Wolfson says the Iowa Energy, who currently serve as an affiliate for the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Bulls, Pelicans, and Wizards, are open to a singular partnership with Minnesota.
- Sources tell Gino Pilato of D-League Digest that a multi-team trade sent William Buford to the Canton Charge, Vander Blue to the Idaho Stampede, and Richard Howell‘s returning player rights for next year to the Santa Cruz Warriors, among other D-League draft considerations.
- In the same post, Pilato passes along a trade sending Santa Cruz’s Dominic McGuire to the Tulsa 66ers in exchange for Dominic Sutton‘s returning player rights.
- Pilato reports one final deal between the Charge and the Delaware 87ers. Kyrylo Fesenko was sent to Canton in a trade that also saw the teams swap second round draft picks.
The Lakers are privately concerned about the quality of the free agent market this summer, and they’re worried about the prospect of a third straight season outside of the title picture next year, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports. Stein’s note comes within a piece in which he and other ESPN.com writers examine the early-termination option decisions facing LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Most of them believe the quartet of stars, all of whom are in the top 10 of our Free Agent Power Rankings, will indeed become free agents. While we look forward to the summer, here’s the latest from around the league:
- Phil Jackson “went out of his way” to clarify in an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today that Joe Dumars made the decision last summer to hire Maurice Cheeks as Pistons coach, Amick writes. Jackson served as a consultant during the team’s coaching search last year, and Amick wonders if the Pistons would make a play to replace Dumars with Jackson, who reportedly has an offer to join the Knicks front office.
- The Bulls haven’t begun to seriously crunch the numbers for a pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, downplaying the idea that Chicago is gearing up to chase the Knicks star.
- League sources tell Berger that Nikola Mirotic will be seeking salaries worth $3-4MM from the Bulls this summer, as Berger writes in the same piece. That’s a surprise, since an earlier report indicated that Mirotic would probably ask for significantly more than the mid-level exception, worth a starting salary of $5.305MM next season.
- The Wolves were in deadline talks about trading J.J. Barea, but they aren’t so eager to get rid of him that they’d waive him this summer and use the stretch provision on his more than $4.5MM salary for next season, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cites.
Carmelo Anthony isn’t changing his mind about his desire to opt out of his contract this summer, a source tells Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, who adds that the Knicks, long confident about keeping their star, are starting to worry. Windhorst nonetheless believes Anthony would be better served opting in for 2014/15 and testing free agency next year, when a more attractive list of teams will have cap flexibility. Here’s more on a Knicks franchise producing more news than victories these days:
- Joakim Noah calls the report that he attempted to recruit Anthony to the Bulls “gossip,” but when asked whether it’s accurate, he said the answer doesn’t matter, observes Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com. Sam hears that Anthony also had a conversation with Kevin Love, though Sam doesn’t make it entirely clear if they spoke about teaming up.
- The Knicks will place their D-League affiliate in Westchester, New York, Jonah Ballow of Knicks.com confirms via Twitter. A formal announcement is due Monday. A report late last month indicated a Knicks-owned affiliate in Westchester was in the works to replace New York’s relationship with the Erie BayHawks, who will remain but have a different NBA affiliation next season.
- The “general consensus” when the Knicks hired GM Steve Mills was that they would eventually seek a talent evaluator to complement him, according to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, who wonders if that’s the role the team is considering for Phil Jackson.
Joakim Noah attempted to sell Carmelo Anthony on the idea of joining the Bulls this summer when the two spoke at the All-Star break, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard. The Knicks star was non-committal, though he expressed admiration for the way Chicago plays, Broussard notes, adding that the conversation began with Anthony asking Noah what it’s like to play for Tom Thibodeau (All four Twitter links). Broussard also hears that Derrick Rose, who’s notorious for refusing to recruit other players to the Bulls, would love Anthony to join Chicago and would reach out to him if the team asked him to (Twitter link). I touched on the possibility of the No. 2 player on the Hoops Rumors 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings joining the Bulls when I examined Anthony’s free agent stock Wednesday. Here’s more on Anthony’s current team as we check the latest from the Atlantic Division:
- The Knicks have been linked to 2015 free agent Kevin Love on numerous occasions, but if Anthony re-signs, Love’s poor defense and an offensive game that’s too similar to Anthony’s would make him a poor fit, opines Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal.
- Soon-to-be free agent Jordan Crawford has fond memories of his time with the Celtics, who traded him to the Warriors in January, and he greeted Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge warmly before Golden State’s game in Boston on Wednesday. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald has the details.
- Rudy Gay will hear plenty of boos when he returns to Toronto with the Kings on Friday, but Raptors ownership deserves blame for setting up the compromising situation that led to Gay’s acquisition last year, argues Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.
Should the Knicks decide that it’s in their best interest to keep Carmelo Anthony and try to surround him with the requisite pieces needed for title contention, it’s almost a given that one plan would involve adding a big-name free agent during the summer of 2015 – when names such as Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo could hit the open market and New York would have plenty of cap room to work with. Such a plan might not be that appealing to Anthony, as rumblings indicate that the Syracuse star’s camp is only interested in what gets done this summer and not in 2015, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
Here’s a roundup of more significant points from Isola’s piece:
- By July 2015, Anthony will be 31 years old; the thought of added mileage from another NBA season without the proper reinforcements could possibly be enough to dissuade the Knicks star from committing to New York long-term,
- James Dolan would be wise to bid farewell to Carmelo this summer rather than give him five years and $127MM to stay, especially when the alternative involves clearing valuable cap space and still having a first round pick in what would most likely be a rebuilding year in 2014/15.
- As for Love, Isola hears word that the 6’10″ big man’s current train of thinking involves either re-signing with the Timberwolves or heading to the Lakers once he hits free agency.
- While Rondo’s success includes a championship in Boston, Isola adds that the 28-year-old point guard’s personality, his clashes with Celtics coaches in the past, and that he played a role in Ray Allen‘s decision to leave for Miami make him a less-than-ideal fit next to Carmelo.
This summer, the Knicks will have a load of expiring 2015 contracts, including Tyson Chandler, who could be used as a pawn in a trade bid for Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (Marc Berman of the New York Post). One league source didn’t mince words when commenting about New York’s chances at dealing for the 6’10 big man, telling Berman: “They’re selling New York fans land in New Mexico.’’
Carmelo Anthony recently spoke about Love’s game, and when specifically asked about the similarities between them as stretch-fours, Anthony didn’t see a comparison: “I didn’t know we had similarities…He’s a guy who became a stretch 4 but never was a stretch 4. He worked on his shot, his 3-ball and stretching the floor and spreading the floor out. He can also go inside. He’s one helluva rebounder. He’s a big load. He’s gotten better every year since been in the league and still is.’’
Here are more miscellaneous news and notes to pass along tonight:
- Former NBA coaches George Karl, Avery Johnson, and P.J. Carlesimo weighed in on the state of the Knicks, the Warriors‘ title hopes, and who should have been moved during the trade deadline, among other topics (ESPN Insiders only).
- The Suns are poised to make their first postseason appearance since the 2009/10 season, thanks in large part to an All-Star caliber season from Goran Dragic. The 27-year-old point guard recently shared his thoughts on the season with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, speaking with the confidence one would ideally expect from a seasoned veteran: “I’m more relaxed…I know all of the situations I’m put in and I know how the opposing teams are going to guard me. I’m just more relaxed. It feels like I’m playing basketball with my friends back home, with no pressure. I just go out there and do my job. I’ve gotten some great support from my teammates and I’m just having fun. It’s not like I’m thinking too much or anything. I’m just having fun.”
- Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat are two players that the Mavericks should go after in free agency this summer, opines Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW.
- Brad Stevens’ emphasis on establishing a winning culture along with the players’ continued commitment toward playing hard is proof that the Celtics haven’t given up on the season just yet, explains Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston.
Steve Nash worked hard to return to the court this season and eliminate the Lakers‘ ability to use the stretch provision, he reveals in a video at Grantland. Nash dispels the notion that he would consider joining the Clippers if the Lakers were to release him, saying, “It’s either back with the Lakers next year or this is it.” (Transcription via Bill Oram of Orange County Register on Twitter.) Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders told Dan Barreiro of KFAN 100.3 that he’s confident coach Rick Adelman will complete this season with Minnesota (as transcribed by Andy Greder of St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter). Adelman contemplated leaving the Timberwolves prior to the season due to concerns over his wife’s health, and has spent time away from the team this year tending to her issues.
- The Nuggets aren’t planning to shut down point guard Ty Lawson for the season, coach Brian Shaw tells Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “Going forward, we’re pretty much out of the mix in terms of the playoffs, being realistic at this point. But you still want to see combinations of guys working together,” says Shaw. “Our young guys get a chance to have the focus a little more on them and play in combination with Ty, looking forward to the rest of the season and what possibly lies ahead for next season as well.” Lawson has battled multiple injuries this year, and is currently missing time due to a fractured rib while the Nuggets slide further out of contention.
- The Mavs have recalled Jae Crowder, Bernard James, and Shane Larkin from their D-League affiliate, while reassigning Ricky Ledo to the Texas Legends, reports Adam Wermuth of Mavs.com. This was the reversal of a one-game assignment/recall of the same players the Mavs made yesterday.
- Rockets center Greg Smith is out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear, reports Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle. A lengthy recovery could put the rest of his regular season in jeopardy. The second-year big man played in 70 games for the Rockets last year, but injuries and Houston’s acquisition of Dwight Howard have limited Smith’s role this season.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey said today that he asked Mark Cuban about acquiring Dirk Nowitzki this summer out of fears the Warriors would keep Dwight Howard from coming to Houston, according to ESPN (Twitter link). Cuban didn’t realize Howard hadn’t committed to the Rockets, and interpreted the proposal as a taunt over the Mavs‘ failed pursuit of Howard. Morey made his remarks at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and we’ve got more from that meeting of the minds as we pass along the latest from the NBA:
- Former Raptors and Suns GM Bryan Colangelo admitted that he attempted to tank a few seasons ago, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. Presumably, that happened during his Raptors tenure.
- Jimmer Fredette piqued the interest of the Celtics, but it ”wasn’t a good fit for either side,” as president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told reporters today, including Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
- The Timberwolves have no interest in Fredette for “myriad reasons,” according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).
- Some within the Lakers organization wanted to retain Pau Gasol through the trade deadline to keep his Bird Rights, but Gasol writes in his blog that L.A.’s financial advantage to re-sign him won’t play into his decision (translation via HoopsHype). The 7-footer says he wants to go where he can help a team win a title, but he’s not ruling out a return to the Lakers.
- Caron Butler‘s role on the Heat would have been similar to the one Mike Miller played in recent years, and part of his decision to instead join the Thunder centered on the chance for more playing time, notes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Twitter links).
- The top half of the lottery picks in this year’s draft will be a star-studded bunch, but there are still other potential franchise-changing players in the mix, writes Zach Harper of CBSSports.com, who examines five potential steals.
After years of futility and being seen as a less than desirable location to play, the Clippers have officially become a draw for players, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. With the recent signing of Glen Davis and the team possibly inking Danny Granger, it definitely is a departure from the past. The fact that a veteran player in pursuit of a championship ring would consider signing a minimum deal to join the Clippers over teams like the Spurs and the Heat is yet another example of how far the Clippers have come as both contenders on the court and in the minds of players as a destination franchise, opines Markazi. Doc Rivers, weighing in on the matter, said, “I don’t know if we’re going to make it THE destination, but we want it to be one of them. That’s our goal. Bringing in Big Baby when he could have gone to a lot of other places was a good thing. Darren Collison could have gone to a lot of other places and came here. At the end of the day we just have to keep being a good basketball team and the rest of the stuff will follow. I think the key to this is showing that we have a shot and we’re a good team. Players follow that. They’ll go anywhere for that.”
More from the west:
- Speaking of Granger, he is expected to make a decision on Friday, and the Clippers are his likely destination, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- In a video for the Journal Times, Gery Woelfel says the Jazz were considering Nate Wolters for the 21st overall pick last summer. Wolters wound up going 38th overall and has been a mainstay for the Bucks this season.
- The Kings have been entertaining the idea of signing Royce White to a 10-day contract. Tom Ziller of SB Nation details the reasons why this pairing could work out, and also looks at some possibilities for why the Sixers traded for him this past summer.
- Rockets center Greg Smith is going to have surgery on his knee, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. It is unknown if and when he will return to the court this season.
- A scout claims the Timberwolves tried to trade J.J. Barea at the deadline because team executives want Ricky Rubio finishing games, writes Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). The scout also weighs in on why he thinks Rubio is overrated as a player.