New York Knicks

Atlantic Notes: Valanciunas, Celtics, Knicks

The Raptors feel confident that center Jonas Valanciunas, who signed a four-year, $64MM extension with the team this offseason, will continue to develop and that he will justify the long-term commitment from the franchise, Holly MacKenzie of NBA.com writes. “JV is 23 years old,” Toronto GM Masai Ujiri said. “The contract gives him some security and lets him now concentrate on playing basketball and winning. It’s big for us, but we feel he made progress. He’s a great kid. Loves the city, loves the fans, loves everything about Toronto and that’s what we want to embrace here. He showed us a lot on the basketball court and we think he’ll get better.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens believes that the team’s roster continuity from the 2014/15 campaign will lead to improvement this coming season, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com relays. “[Continuity] should be a benefit. Again, I think my phrase will be, ‘Time will tell,’” said Stevens. “I mean, we’ll see. I think my curiosity lies in how we go to work, how we come together, how much we’re willing to sacrifice for one another and see how this thing plays itself out. But I think you’d rather have guys for a longer period than not and that continuity is a good thing. We have basically nine guys back from our roster that played quite a bit. That’s a good thing, too.
  • The Knicks are still in a state of flux because they still lack a second star player, even a borderline one, to team up with Carmelo Anthony, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes in his preview of the team. Powell does praise team president Phil Jackson for not overspending on second-tier free agents this Summer after New York’s top targets signed elsewhere.
  • In his look ahead at the Celtics‘ 2015/16 season, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com opines that Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, and Jonas Jerebko are all poised to have breakout seasons for the team.

Eastern Notes: J.R. Smith, Wizards, Contracts

J.R. Smith‘s new two-year contract with the Cavaliers has an unusual structure that includes partial guarantees for both this season and next, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (Twitter links). This year’s salary, worth $5MM, is guaranteed for only $2MM, and next year’s salary, a player option, has a $2.15MM partial guarantee on the full $5.4MM value, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (All four Twitter links). However, this season’s salary becomes fully guaranteed if the team keeps him through Monday, Pincus adds. That’s almost certain to happen, but the reason that clause is in the contract is so that his 2016/17 salary can become fully guaranteed if he sticks on the roster through the same date next year, in a structure similar to the deal that Kostas Papanikolaou signed with the Rockets last year, Pincus explains. The Cavs formally announced Smith’s signing Wednesday, nearly two weeks after Smith revealed that he would be rejoining the team.

See more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Coach Randy Wittman likes the grit that Wizards camp signee Toure’ Murry has shown in the past, but the shooting guard will have to make quite a convincing case for the Wizards to keep him over one of the 15 players on their roster with a fully guaranteed contract, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Jaleel Roberts, the other Wizard with a non-guaranteed deal, won his training camp roster spot more so by his performance at Tim Grgurich’s private camp than through his play with the Wizards summer league squad, Michael hears. Still, Roberts is more likely to make the regular season roster in 2016/17, when the team will ostensibly have greater flexibility, than he is this year, according to Michael.
  • Kelly Dwyer, Ben Rohrbach and Eric Freeman of Yahoo! Sports weighed in on which 2015 NBA draftee ended up in the best situation to succeed next season. Dwyer chose the KnicksKristaps Porzingis, while Rohrbach tabbed Justise Winslow of the Heat, and Freeman’s pick was the Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay.
  • The Cavs had possessed one of the most tradeable contracts in the league in Brendan Haywood‘s non-guaranteed pact, which they had dealt to the Blazers at the end of July. Pincus, in a separate post, ran down some of the most desirable trade chip contracts around the NBA , including Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko of the Celtics, the WizardsKris Humphries and Martell Webster, as well as Ersan Ilyasova‘s deal with the Pistons.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Latest On Ricky Rubio

The Timberwolves no longer believe in Ricky Rubio as the long-term solution at point guard and have surveyed the trade market for him, as Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher hears (video link). They’re not engaging in trade talk about him now, Bucher adds, nonetheless suggesting a decent chance exists they again explore the subject when the season starts. The dispatch comes despite Rubio’s continued insistence that he would prefer to remain in Minnesota and a recent report from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that the Wolves weren’t shopping him.

Bucher said that the Nets, Mavericks, Knicks and, most of all, the Bucks make sense for him as a trade destination, though that appears to be speculation. The Knicks “tested the waters” to see if they could trade Jose Calderon, according to Bucher, though it’s unclear if he’s referring to the team’s reported attempts to deal Calderon before the trade deadline this past winter or if he’s heard of more recent efforts on that front.

Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders made mention of Rubio in June when he listed some of the team’s cornerstone players, referring to him as “a great point guard,” so that would run counter to the idea that the Wolves are ready to move on from the former fifth overall pick. Reports in May conflicted on whether Rubio’s camp, which includes agent Dan Fegan, was trying to convince the Wolves to trade him, but Rubio came out shortly thereafter to deny that he wanted out of Minnesota, and Rubio’s most recent comments reiterated that.

The incentive-laden four-year, $55MM extension that Rubio signed last fall kicks in for this coming season, when he’s slated to make $12.7MM. The 24-year-old who turns 25 next month is the highest-paid player on the Timberwolves. He played in a career-low 22 games this past season, chiefly because of injuries to his left ankle.

Do you think the Wolves should part with Rubio or keep him? Leave a comment to let us know.

And-Ones: Cherry, Jones, O’Quinn, Hibbert

Will Cherry is expected to sign with Germany Alba Berlin, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports tweets. An official for the club told international journalist David Pick, who first reported the team’s interest, that the signing will indeed take place (Twitter links). Cherry played in Lithuania last season after being waived by the Cavs. The point guard saw action in eight games with Cleveland early last season and averaged 1.9 points, 1.0 assists and 0.8 steals in 8.6 minutes per game.

Here are some notes from around the league:

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of CSSNE.com names Rockets forward Terrence Jones as a “glue guy” to watch this season. Jones is eligible for a rookie scale extension and will make slightly under $2.5MM in the last season of his current deal.
  • Blakely also names Kyle O’Quinn as a player to watch this season. The Knicks acquired O’Quinn via sign-and-trade with the Magic. The 25-year-old’s contract is worth $16MM over four years.
  • Fran Blinebury of NBA.com examines possible nominees for the 2015/16 Comeback Player of the Year Award. Some notable players on the list are Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kobe Bryant and Chris Bosh. Blinebury also includes Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson as candidates to improve upon their 2014/15 performances. Both players changed area codes this offseason. Hibbert was sent to the Lakers in exchange for a second round pick. Stephenson was traded to the Clippers in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes.

2015/16 Salary Cap: New York Knicks

The NBA’s salary cap for 2015/16 has been set at $70MM, which is an 11% increase from this past season, and the luxury tax line will be $84.74MM. The last cap projection from the league had been $67.1MM, and the projection for the tax line had been $81.6MM. We at Hoops Rumors are in the process of breaking down the cap commitments for each NBA franchise for the coming season. Next up on the list is the New York Knicks, who currently have a roster count totaling 17 players:

  • 2015/16 Salary Cap= $70,000,000
  • 2015/16 Luxury Tax Line= $84,740,000
  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $72,660,545
  • Partially Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $295,000
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $1,075,152*
  • Total Salary Cap Commitments= $74,030,697
  • Remaining Cap Room= -$4,030,697
  • Amount Below Luxury Tax Line= $10,709,303

*Note: This amount does not include the non-guaranteed camp deals for Darion Atkins and Wesley Saunders.

Cap Exceptions Available:

  • None

Cash Available to Send Out In Trades= $3,300,000

Cash Available to Receive Via Trade= $3,400,000

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Anthony, Scott

The Knicks need to show that the team has some forward momentum this season if the franchise wants to have a shot at landing premier free agents next offseason, Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes. Doolittle points to the Bucks as an example, who despite their small market, managed to sign Greg Monroe this Summer, a player who the major market Knicks had their sights on. If the Knicks are unable to show improvement in the win column over last year’s squad, then no amount of available cap space will be able to convince stars like Kevin Durant that New York is a preferred free agent destination, Doolittle concludes.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There’s an excellent chance that the Knicks will explore trading Carmelo Anthony this season, Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report opines (video link). New York will likely wait to see how the roster performs at the start of the season, and if the team doesn’t look to be headed toward the playoffs, then it could look to deal Melo, possibly to the Bulls, Bucher notes. Anthony’s contract does include a no-trade clause, so the forward would have to be on board with any potential swap.
  • The Raptors gave recent training camp signee Shannon Scott a partial guarantee of $25K on his minimum salary deal, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (Twitter link).
  • Despite some skeptics saying that the Nets have the worst starting point guard in the league in Jarrett Jack, forward Thaddeus Young said during an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio, that the team has full confidence in Jack’s ability to lead them, Tom Lorenzo of NetsDaily writes.

Carlos Boozer Unlikely To Sign Before Season Starts

Carlos Boozer is likely to remain unsigned for the rest of the offseason and instead seek a deal with a playoff contender after the season starts, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Thus, it appears as though the 13-year veteran simply isn’t seeing an offer that he likes for now, though it casts doubt on the idea that he would bite on apparent interest from the Chinese league, an option that had reportedly intrigued him earlier this month.

Boozer, who turns 34 in November, made $16.8MM combined last season from the Bulls, who waived him via the amnesty clause in July 2014, and the Lakers, who submitted a partial claim of $3.251MM to snag him off waivers. He’d be hard-pressed to make even the amount of that amnesty claim on an NBA contract this season, simply because most teams have no more than the $2.814MM room exception to spend. The Mavericks, one of the latest three NBA teams reported to have interest in him, have only the room exception to use, while the Knicks, another of those interested parties, are limited to the minimum. The Rockets have more than $2.274MM left of their mid-level exception, but using it would impose a hard cap on them, and they still have yet to sign No. 32 overall pick Montrezl Harrell. The Spurs, Raptors, Pelicans, Nuggets, Nets, Lakers and Heat were reportedly interested in the Rob Pelinka client earlier this summer, but none of them have the capacity to give him as much as the Lakers paid for him last year. The Lakers renounced their Bird rights to him last month.

The two-time All-Star put up 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in 2012/13, but his numbers have declined in each of the two seasons since, and his 6.8 boards and 23.8 minutes per contest last season were career lows. Former Nets executive Bobby Marks wouldn’t be surprised if Boozer waited until Christmas to sign (Twitter link). I’d speculate that a decent chance exists that he stays on the market even longer. Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal, two other aging former All-Stars, chose to carry on as free agents into the season last year but never wound up signing.

What do you think Boozer will end up doing? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Atlantic Notes: Bargnani, Scott, Smart

Former Knicks forward Andrea Bargnani indicated that he will “gladly” respond to team president Phil Jackson‘s criticism of his work ethic, but now is not the time, Robert Windrem of NetsDaily relays. “There is a right time for everything,” Bargnani told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have the answers, but it would be selfish to trigger controversy. Today, the only important thing is the national team. Later, gladly.” In an interview earlier this month Jackson had told ESPN’s Charlie Rosen that Bargnani “was and still is a big tease who seemed like a malingerer,” and that the Zen Master didn’t like the way Bargnani refused to engage in non-contact activities while he was recovering from an injury, nor his on-court intensity. Bargnani, 29, inked a two year deal with the rival Nets this offseason.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The minimum salary training camp deal that undrafted Ohio State point guard Shannon Scott inked with the Raptors is partially guaranteed for $25K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter).
  • In a look ahead toward 2015/16 the ESPN Summer Forecast Panel was asked to name which member of the Celtics would have a breakout season, and the majority predicted that player would be second year guard Marcus Smart. A number of the panel members pointed to Smart’s increased confidence and leadership that he demonstrated during summer league play as a positive sign of things to come.
  • You can see our full roster counts for the Celtics, Knicks, Nets, Raptors, and Sixers by clicking on the link over the desired team’s name.

Atlantic Notes: Valanciunas, Zeller, Rozier, Hunter

Grantland’s Zach Lowe finds the four-year, $64MM extension that Jonas Valanciunas received from the Raptors more surprising than fellow Leon Rose client’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s apparent agreement to sign for $52MM over that same span of years, given the center’s potential earnings (Twitter links). Valanciunas could have come away with a four-year deal worth closer to $75MM if he’d waited until the extension deadline in the fall, and the max if he’d passed on an extension in favor of restricted free agency, Lowe opines. Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Chances are 50-50 that Tyler Zeller will sign an extension with the Celtics before the deadline this fall, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The sides have talked about the idea, Kyler writes. Grantland’s Zach Lowe speculated earlier this summer that the C’s might agree to a deal as long as it was for less than $12MM a year.
  • The Celtics took Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick, a dozen spots in front of R.J. Hunter, but Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com and the majority of ESPN’s Summer Forecast panel argue that Hunter will make the more significant impact this season.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson shared his thoughts about the team’s offseason additions, but Marc Berman of the New York Post believes the Zen Master’s outlook is far too positive. New York didn’t add a single All-Star caliber player despite its bevy of cap room, Berman writes.

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 8/24/15

The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have been among the NBA’s most glamorous franchises for decades. They play in two of the country’s biggest cities with large media followings and passionate fan bases.

The Lakers have also been the league’s most successful franchise outside of the Celtics, collecting 11 championships since moving from Minneapolis in 1961. Knicks fans have been thirsting for a title since New York beat the Lakers in the Finals twice in the early ’70s, though they made two trips to the Finals in the ’90s.

It’s hard to believe that a franchise with a winning tradition like the Lakers and a team with the advantage of playing in storied Madison Square Garden like the Knicks could fall on such hard times the past two seasons. Los Angeles won 27 games in 2013/14 and, thanks to Kobe Bryant’s torn rotator cuff, plunged even further into the abyss with a 21-61 mark last season. The Knicks also went from bad to worse, finishing eight games under .500 two seasons ago and then winning just 17 games in last season’s painful campaign marred by Carmelo Anthony’s knee issues, which limited him to a career-low 40 games.

Things appear to be looking up on both Coasts, thanks to trips to the lottery, trades, free agent signings and improving health. The Lakers drafted D’Angelo Russell to be their floor leader, signed free agents Brandon Bass and Louis Williams and traded for center Roy Hibbert. They’ll also have last year’s lottery selection, Julius Randle, back in action after a season-long injury and Bryant on the comeback trail.

The Knicks drafted European big man Kristaps Porzingis, signed free agents Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez to fill starting roles and retooled their bench. They’ll also have Anthony back to lead the offensive attack while playing in a division that had just one team finish above .500.

Neither club is expected to make the postseason but with the upgrades, they should be much more competitive or, at the very least, watchable. So our question of the day is as follows: Which team will win more games this season, the Lakers or the Knicks?

Take to the comments section below to sound off with your thoughts and opinions. We look forward to what you have to say.

Note: Since these Shootarounds are meant to be guided by you the reader, we certainly welcome your input on the topics we present. If there is something you’d like to see pop up here for a discussion, shoot us a message at hoopsrumorsmailbag@gmail.com.

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