Central Notes: Caruso, Pacers Workout, Bucks Draft, Haliburton

The Bulls have fielded numerous inquiries and proposals regarding guard Alex Caruso, according to Will Gottlieb of Allchgo.com.

They’ve been offered multiple protected first-round picks ahead of this year’s draft. One of those proposed deals included a Top 10 selection, with the Warriors among the teams who made a strong offer for Caruso. However, they have thus far resisted moving Caruso with Bulls ownership pushing the front office to continue competing for the postseason, rather than undergoing a major rebuild. Caruso is extension eligible this summer.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers are holding a pre-draft workout on Tuesday with some potential second-round picks in the mix. They’ll host Nikola Djurisic (Serbia), Allen Flanigan (Mississippi), Isaac Jones (Washington State), Tristen Newton (Connecticut), Donta Scott (Maryland), and Santiago Vescovi (Tennessee). Shooting guard Djurisic is ranked No. 41 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list, with forward Jones (No. 57) and Newton (No. 68), point guard for national champion UConn, also among the top 75.
  • The Bucks currently hold the No. 23 and 33 picks in the draft. What type of players should they target? The Athletic’s Eric Nehm and Sam Vecenie explore that topic with Vecenie believing Indiana’s Kel’el Ware, Purdue’s Zach Edey and Dayton’s DaRon Holmes could get a long look with one of their selections as the club seeks a long-term option at the center spot. Vecenie also mentions numerous prospects at other positions.
  • Coming off their run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers now must focus on taking the next step, star guard Tyrese Haliburton told Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. “It was a great year for us as a team, me individually, of course, but we know there’s another step for us to go, and obviously not satisfied with just Eastern Conference Finals. We want to do a lot more,” he said.

Hawks GM Fields Expects To Keep Top Pick

The Hawks are expected to hold onto the top pick in the draft, Charles Odum of the Associated Press reports.

Hawks GM Landry Fields said during a Monday press conference that while he won’t stop fielding offers for the pick, he’s inclined to keep it.

“I think we’re really excited by the draft,” Fields said. “And the more that we uncover, like we go, great, I’m glad we have No. 1. I keep joking around like I’m not giving it back. So, I think we’re in a really good position here. I’m excited about it, frankly.”

Fields wasn’t expecting to be in this position before the lottery but Atlanta had the winning combination and zoomed up from the No. 10 spot.

If the front office has settled on a player, Fields isn’t tipping his hand. He did indicate the staff had narrowed down the list in recent days.

“I would say a week ago it was wider than it is now,” he said. “The board is definitely shaping up, tearing itself out.”

Most mock drafts have the Hawks going the international route and selecting either small forward Zaccharie Risacher or power forward Alexandre Sarr. If they decide on a domestic product, UConn center Donovan Clingan or Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard could be the surprise top pick on June 26.

There are apparently a number of teams willing to move up, if the Hawks are willing to part with the top selection.

“I got a little time off (Sunday) because it was Father’s Day,” Fields said, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Lauren Williams. “But for the most part, it continuously rings and we make outgoing calls as well, just to see what the rest of the landscape is looking like.”

According to Fields, he’ll make the final decision, not team owner Tony Ressler. Atlanta doesn’t currently own any other picks in the draft. Its second-rounder was dealt to Portland as part of a trade that allowed the Hawks to acquire Saddiq Bey.

Fields said they’re looking for “a great fit for us, not just for the next day, but for the future as well.” He’s already certain they won’t have to worry about character issues.

“They’re just really good guys (and) good people in this draft and that doesn’t mean like it’s always like that,” Fields said. “But it really has been neat to kind of see especially the guys that are all projected to be at the top and guys that we’ve had in. Taking them to dinner and speaking with him, whether it’s in Chicago here in the building, on Zoom or elsewhere I mean, like we’ve had so many different mediums to do this. And just to get to know them more and more outside of just the intel that you gather around them. It’s just some really good guys.”

The Hawks would seemingly have a greater need in the frontcourt, though there’s been plenty of speculation that Fields may opt to break up his high-scoring backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

Porzingis Available To Play In Game 5

6:15pm: Mazzulla indicated during the pregame press conference that Porzingis will see action tonight, Keith Smith tweets. “Expecting to see him tonight,” Mazzulla said.

5:40pm: Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis is listed as available to play in Game 5 of the Finals tonight, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps tweets.

Porzingis went through a pregame workout before the team announced he could suit up.

Whether Porzingis actually gets into the game remains to be seen. Porzingis was available to play in Game 4 but coach Joe Mazzulla, with his team leading the series 3-0, opted to keep his usual starting center on the bench.

Porzingis hasn’t played since Game 2 of the Finals. He’s dealing with a torn medial retinaculum and dislocated posterior tibialis tendon in his left leg. The injury is unrelated to the calf strain that kept him out of action for over a month during the postseason.

Porzingis made a sparkling return in Game 1, contributing 20 points, six rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes. He also played well in Game 2, supplying 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes.

Latest On Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson has spent his entire NBA career with the Warriors after being selected 11th overall in the 2011 draft, making five consecutive All-Star teams from 2015-19 and winning four championships. However, the 34-year-old is set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent, and a return to Golden State appears far from certain.

Klay Thompson, I’m told, is open to all external options in free agency coming up,” Shams Charania of The Athletic said on FanDuelTV’s Run It Back show (Twitter video link). “He intends to test free agency.

We know the Warriors want him back — they offered him an extension before the start of the season. … What team out there could step up for Klay Thompson? That is gonna be the big question. But the Warriors will stay in touch with him.”

League sources tell Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic that there’s “mutual interest” between Thompson and the Magic, which has been rumored to be the case for at least two months. Golden State has “made clear” it wants to retain Thompson “at the right price and in the right role,” per The Athletic’s duo.

According to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area, Thompson is looking for a deal that covers a minimum of three years. Poole also hears the Warriors’ front office wasn’t alarmed by Thompson’s decision to stop following the team on Instagram, which has become common practice in contract negotiations.

He’s going to have to be really patient,” Thompson’s friend and former teammate Leandro Barbosa told Poole. “I hope he comes back to the Warriors. I don’t know what’s the situation, but it’s going to be tough. I know the money (in NBA contracts) is going up, and he’s been thinking about the money.

But I think he needs to be happy. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Poole suggests rival teams could be willing to offer Thompson more money than the Warriors. Still, as Charania mentioned, it’s unclear which teams might target Thompson beyond perhaps Orlando. Slater previously floated the Sixers and Thunder as possibilities, though Thompson would presumably be a fallback option for Philadelphia, which is reportedly focused on Paul George.

Thompson remains one of the league’s top three-point shooters, averaging 9.7 attempts per game while converting 40.0% of his looks beyond the arc over the past two seasons. However, the torn ACL and torn Achilles tendon that cost him two full seasons have sapped his lateral quickness and athleticism, so he isn’t the same player he once was, particularly on defense.

For what it’s worth, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and longtime teammates Stephen Curry and Draymond Green all expressed a desire for Thompson to return after the veteran guard/forward was held scoreless (he went 0-10 from the field) when Golden State was eliminated by Sacramento in the West’s play-in tournament.

Thompson will join the Bahamian national team for its training camp this week in Houston, but he isn’t expected to play in the country’s Olympic qualifying tournament early next month, according to Charania and Slater. Thompson would need official clearance to play for the Bahamas in international competition since he won a gold medal with Team USA in 2016, and that is not expected to occur, per The Athletic.

Thompson’s father Mychal Thompson is from the Bahamas and his brother Mychel is an assistant coach on the national team.

2024 NBA Offseason Preview: Orlando Magic

After spending a full decade alternately mired in mediocrity (in the good years) or dwelling in the NBA’s cellar (in the bad), the Magic had a breakthrough in 2023/24.

Orlando’s 47-35 record was the team’s best mark since Dwight Howard was on the roster (2010/11), and while the club didn’t win a playoff series, its three first-round wins vs. Cleveland topped its combined postseason win total (two) across the previous 11 years. It was the second straight year in which the Magic made major strides — after winning just 22 games in 2021/22, they boosted that total to 34 in ’22/23 and 47 this past season.

The good news for the Magic is that their young core is largely responsible for that surge up the standings. Orlando’s top three scorers in 2023/24 were Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Jalen Suggs, all of whom will still be on their team-friendly rookie scale contracts in ’24/25. The franchise is in position to keep those players under team control for years to come.

The bad news? Well, “bad” may be an overstatement, but Wagner and Suggs are due for rookie scale extensions this offseason, with Banchero becoming eligible for a rookie scale extension of his own in 2025. That means the young core will be getting a lot more expensive over the next couple years, and the front office still needs more talent to become a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

The Magic have managed their books well – no one made more than $17.4MM last season and there’s no guaranteed money on the cap beyond 2026 – so they’re in position to comfortably extend those cornerstone players. But the rising cost of the roster going forward means the 2024 offseason will be a critical opportunity for the Magic to continue making meaningful upgrades while they still have cap room available to do so.

The Magic’s Offseason Plan

Let’s start with the Magic’s cap outlook. They only have about $66MM on their books for the seven players on guaranteed contracts for 2024/25, but we can probably add Jonathan Isaac‘s $17.4MM non-guaranteed salary to that total.

Although Isaac – who appeared in just 11 games across the three previous seasons for health reasons – didn’t play big minutes in 2023/24, he suited up for 58 games and provided a reminder in his limited role (15.8 MPG) of why he was considered a future Defensive Player of the Year contender early in his NBA career. I can’t see him being waived, given the impact he’s capable of making on defense even as a part-timer.

Adding Isaac’s salary and a $3.6MM cap hold for Orlando’s first-round pick (No. 18) brings us to just over $87MM. Throw in three minimum-salary cap holds to get to 12 roster spots and the Magic end up with about $50MM in potential cap room.

Now, it’s important to clarify that Orlando would have to make certain sacrifices to fully take advantage of that $50MM. Joe Ingles ($11MM) and Moritz Wagner ($8MM) have team options; Caleb Houstan has a non-guaranteed salary ($2MM); and the Magic may want to try to re-sign free agents like Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, and Goga Bitadze, all of whom would have cap holds to account for (ranging from $25.5MM for Fultz to just $2.1MM for Bitadze).

While turning down those options and renouncing all those free agents would get the Magic to $50MM in room, I’m skeptical they’ll go that route, given how inclined they’ve been in recent years to retain their own players.

But let’s say the team guarantees Houston’s salary, brings back one (not both) of Fultz or Harris for a deal in the range of the full mid-level ($12-13MM), declines the Ingles and Wagner options in the hopes of bringing them back for the veteran’s minimum and $8MM, respectively, and reaches a new agreement with Bitadze. That could still leave Orlando with upwards of $36-37MM in cap room to use, since Houston’s salary and Bitadze’s cap hold are so modest and Wagner and Ingles could be re-signed after the room is used up.

This is a roundabout way of saying that even if the Magic opt for continuity, they should still be in position to open up enough cap room to splurge on at least one starter-caliber player, and perhaps multiple rotation pieces.

Orlando has been mentioned as a possible Paul George landing spot, but that feels like a long shot. I expect George’s decision to ultimately come down to the Clippers and Sixers. The Magic have also been linked to Klay Thompson, Malik Monk, and D’Angelo Russell, all of whom look to me like much more plausible targets.

As talented offensively as both Banchero and Wagner are, neither of them has been a consistent threat from beyond the three-point line (Wagner was solid in his first two seasons but plummeted to 28.1% in ’23/24), which means the Magic would ideally surround them with two or three shooters. Suggs (39.7%) and Wendell Carter (37.4%) set new career highs in three-point percentage this past season, but Orlando’s roster isn’t exactly loaded with marksmen. Adding shooting will be the top priority this summer for a team that ranked dead last among 30 NBA teams in three-pointers made per game (11.0) in 2023/24.

Thompson, Monk, and Russell aren’t perfect players. Thompson has lost a step since his prime years due to his age (34) and a pair of major leg injuries; Monk’s three-point percentage has dropped over the past couple seasons and was all the way down to 35.0% in 2023/24; and Russell is a subpar defender whose weaknesses have been exposed in the last two postseasons.

Still, there are reasons to like all three fits. Thompson is one of the best shooters in NBA history and would bring championship experience to a relatively young team. Monk would add a new level of play-making to the Magic’s backcourt and would make them less reliant on Banchero and Wagner offensively. Russell is a talented scorer, a solid distributor, and – most importantly – an elite shooter (.415 3PT% on 7.2 attempts per game in ’23/24). Any of those three players would provide some offensive punch for an unbalanced Magic team that ranked third in defensive rating and 22nd in offensive rating.

Of the three, Thompson looks to me like the most intriguing fit, assuming he’s truly willing to leave Golden State. The Magic could potentially offer him an extremely lucrative short-term deal using their cap room, overpaying him for the next two seasons and then having his contract come off the books when he’s 36 and when Banchero’s next contract is about to take effect.

If Orlando strikes out on guys like Thompson and Monk, a few other free agents I view as possible fits include Tobias Harris, Gary Trent, and Buddy Hield. Again, given how good their defense already is, the Magic don’t necessarily need to be targeting two-way impact players like OG Anunoby or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They can afford to add a below-average defender if the trade-off on offense is strong enough.

If free agency doesn’t yield the type of upgrade the Magic are looking for, turning to the trade market would be a viable option. Orlando controls all of its future first-round picks, as well as the Nuggets’ 2025 first-rounder (top-five protected), so the club could put together a strong offer that includes multiple valuable draft assets without mortgaging its future at all.

While determining how the Magic will use their cap room is a more fun subject for speculation, it’s worth stressing that trying to workout extensions for Wagner and Suggs will also be a crucial part of the team’s offseason. Those negotiations could be tricky — both Wagner and Suggs are valuable assets, but neither is the sort of player who is a slam dunk for a maximum-salary offer, so they won’t necessarily get done early in July like Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, and LaMelo Ball did a year ago.

Of the two players, Wagner is closer to max-worthy, and it wouldn’t shock me if Orlando ultimately puts that offer on the table for him. Something that comes in a little below the max (say, $175MM over five years) isn’t out of the realm of possibility either. Suggs likely won’t be in line for that sort of payday, but he substantially improved his value by making an All-Defensive team and raising his shooting percentages in year three. I could see the former No. 4 overall pick getting into the nine figures (ie. $100MM+) on a long-term extension.

Salary Cap Situation

Guaranteed Salary

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Jonathan Isaac ($17,400,000)
  • Caleb Houstan ($2,019,699)
    • Houstan’s salary will become guaranteed if he remains under contract through June 30.
  • Total: $19,419,699

Dead/Retained Salary

  • None

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

Restricted Free Agents

  • Chuma Okeke ($7,399,732 qualifying offer / $15,800,139 cap hold): Bird rights
  • Total (cap holds): $15,800,139

Two-Way Free Agents

Note: Because he has finished each of the past two seasons on a two-way contract with the Magic, Harris’ qualifying offer would be worth his minimum salary (projected to be $2,093,637). Schofield is no longer eligible to sign a two-way contract and would also have a qualifying offer worth his minimum salary (projected to be $2,244,249). Those offers would each include a small partial guarantee.

Draft Picks

  • No. 18 overall pick ($3,639,120 cap hold)
  • No. 47 overall pick (no cap hold)
  • Total (cap holds): $3,639,120

Extension-Eligible Players

  • Wendell Carter (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible as of October 1.
  • Markelle Fultz (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible until June 30.
  • Gary Harris (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible on June 30 (one day only).
  • Caleb Houstan (veteran)
  • Jonathan Isaac (veteran)
  • Jalen Suggs (rookie scale)
  • Franz Wagner (rookie scale)

Note: Unless otherwise indicated, these players are eligible for extensions beginning in July.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Other Cap Holds

Note: The cap holds for these players are on the Magic’s books from prior seasons because they haven’t been renounced. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.

Cap Exceptions Available

Note: The Magic project to operate under the cap.

  • Room exception: $8,006,000

And-Ones: Barkley, Nunn, Ibaka, Africa

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley recently said he’s going to retire from TV at the conclusion of 2024/25, which could be the final season TNT holds the media rights to NBA games. Barkley has been an analyst on Inside the NBA since 2000.

While his comments certainly seemed genuine, Andrew Marchand of The Athletic believes Barkley will cover the NBA again in some fashion after next season ends, noting the 61-year-old has frequently talked about retirement in the past but he just signed a highly lucrative 10-year contract a couple years ago.

That long-term deal with TNT could complicate matters, but potential new (or returning) media rights holders like Amazon and NBC would love to have Barkley and the entire Inside the NBA crew on board, Marchand writes. A “more plausible” scenario, according to Marchand, would be ESPN giving Barkley a “sweetheart deal” he can’t refuse, perhaps offering to let him work less frequently while still covering the most important games, such as the NBA Finals.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Kendrick Nunn, who helped lead Panathinaikos to a EuroLeague championship in ’23/24, was arrested less than a day after helping his Greek club win a domestic title, according to Eurohoops. Nunn was detained after a verbal exchange with his wife, who declined to press charges, and has subsequently been released. The 28-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with Panathinaikos last month, but he hasn’t ruled out an NBA return, as his deal contains out clauses. Nunn last played for the Lakers and Wizards in ’22/23.
  • Big man Serge Ibaka, who played 14 NBA seasons from 2009-2023, says he’s undecided on what he’s going to do next season after spending the ’23/24 campaign with Bayern Munich in Germany, per Eurohoops. Ibaka was rumored to be signing a one-year deal with Real Madrid, but he denied that’s the case.
  • Tania Ganguli of The New York Times takes an in-depth look at the NBA’s investment in Africa, which includes the Basketball Africa League. The NBA has long believed the continent could be a key way to grow the popularity of the sport and add young talent to the league’s player pool, but commissioner Adam Silver wonders if enough money is being spent to support growth. “As much as we are investing in Africa, the opportunity is so enormous I worry that we’re under-investing,” Silver said in an interview. “There’s so much opportunity, but it’s not always easy to know how to deploy capital, which government you should be dealing with, who the honest brokers are. And so we’re learning as we go.”

Southwest Notes: VanVleet, Mavs, Sweeney, Pelicans

While Fred VanVleet‘s first season with the Rockets wasn’t one of the best of his career in terms of wins and losses, he said it was “really fun” to take the leadership traits he developed in Toronto and apply them to a young team in Houston, according to Scott Leber of WTVO.

“It was probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” VanVleet said. “Just back to the basics enjoying the small moments. Once you win a championship you get a little spoiled and jaded, and you kind of forget how fun it was building up to that point, so actually it was back to square one learning.”

The Rockets had an eventful summer a year ago, using their significant cap room to bring in VanVleet and Dillon Brooks in free agency. Houston won’t have cap space available this offseason, but the team will have the mid-level exception on hand and has the assets necessary to go shopping on the trade market for additional upgrades, so VanVleet believes it’s not unrealistic to expect another major roster move.

“We’ve got the ammunition for it, so we’ll see, but I’m rolling with whatever they decide to do,” the veteran point guard said. “Obviously winning is at the forefront. I trust ownership and management that they’re going to make the right decisions.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Mavericks‘ 38-point blowout of Boston in Game 4 was certainly impressive, but does it have any predictive value for Game 5 (and possibly beyond)? John Hollinger of The Athletic explores that question, ultimately concluding that history suggests Game 4 was “probably a human nature loss more than a telling turning point.”
  • As Stefan Bondy of The New York Post writes, Mavericks assistant coach Sean Sweeney has received rave reviews from players, including Dereck Lively, who said he “wouldn’t be here without Sweene,” and Josh Green, who lauded Sweeney’s “X’s and O’s” acumen and ability to make adjustments. The highest praise for Sweeney may have come from head coach Jason Kidd, who told Bondy, “He’ll be a head coach soon.”
  • Christian Clark of NOLA.com looks at some of the biggest decisions facing David Griffin and the Pelicans this offseason, including picking a direction on Brandon Ingram‘s future, addressing the center position, and filling out a coaching staff and basketball operations department that have seen staffers depart for new teams this spring.

Celtics Notes: Porzingis, Game 5, Van Gundy, Draft

Kristaps Porzingis, who hasn’t played in either of the past two games of the NBA Finals due to a “rare” leg injury, is listed as questionable to play in Game 5. While it’s possible he’s active for Monday’s contest, like he was on Friday, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) that the big man seems unlikely to play a significant role.

“Right before Game 4, what I was told is that they would only utilize Kristaps Porzingis in situational appearances,” Charania said. “When you’re guarding the inbound, if you need to shoot a free throw, when you need to defend the rim on a lob threat with (little) time left on a possession. I would expect the same here in Game 5. … He’s just not there from a physical perspective.”

Celtics big man Xavier Tillman, who has seen some action in Games 3 and 4 with Porzingis unavailable, suggested during his media availability on Sunday that his frontcourt teammate is far from 100%.

“When we go through our practices, he’s doing some stuff, but you can still tell he’s very uncomfortable,” Tillman said (Twitter video link via Noa Dalzell of Celtics Blog). Asked if there’s been any noticeable improvements in recent days since Porzingis was diagnosed with the injury following Game 2, Tillman replied, “It’s been pretty much the same.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • As Sam Amick of The Athletic details, Jayson Tatum spoke on Sunday about head coach Joe Mazzulla‘s efforts to have his team carry a positive mindset into its second potential close-out game on Monday. “Joe did a great job today of reminding us that it’s OK to smile during wars,” Tatum said. “It’s OK to have fun during high-pressure moments. We would love to win tomorrow, more than anything. But if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. We have more opportunities. So just setting that (mindset) of ‘Don’t surrender to that idea that we have to win tomorrow.’ We would love to, absolutely. But Game 5 is the biggest game of the season because it’s the next game on the schedule. So (it’s) going with that mindset and just have fun. That’s really what we talked about today. Get back to having fun and being a team and how special we are and the team that got us here.”
  • Jeff Van Gundy joined the Celtics as a senior consultant last fall after being fired by ESPN and enduring a series of hardships in his personal life, including a death in the family, he revealed during an appearance on The Mark Jackson Show (hat tip to Brian Robb of MassLive.com). Given that context, Van Gundy appreciated the way that the franchise “embraced and welcomed” him. “I was really in an awkward place in life, not really knowing where I was going or what my purpose was, or how I’d be with this new group of people where I didn’t know anyone,” Van Gundy said. “It’s been one of the most rejuvenating things I’ve ever gone through. Brad Stevens and Joe Mazzulla threw me a lifeline.”
  • The Celtics hosted a pre-draft workout over the weekend that featured Ryan Dunn (Virginia), Justin Edwards (Kentucky), Enrique Freeman (Akron), and Judah Mintz (Syraucse), tweets Adam Zagoria of NJ.com. Boston controls the 30th and 54th overall picks in this year’s draft, while those four prospects rank between 31st (Edwards) and 78th (Mintz) on ESPN’s big board for 2024.

Knicks Rumors: Anunoby, Hartenstein, Thibodeau, Brunson, Bojan, More

The expectation around the NBA is that OG Anunoby‘s floor as a free agent this offseason is $35MM per year, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said during the latest HoopsHype podcast. Anunoby’s ceiling is a maximum-salary contract, though two general managers who spoke to Scotto said a max deal for the three-and-D star would be difficult to swallow, given his injury history.

While Scotto, Ian Begley of SNY.tv, and Stefan Bondy of The New York Post all view the Knicks as the strong favorites to sign Anunoby, they point out that the team could face some competition if Paul George returns to the Clippers, since he’s considered the top target for cap-room teams like the Sixers, who could shift their focus to Anunoby if they miss out on George. Begley and Bondy each suggests that if the Knicks re-sign Anunoby, the deal might include some protections or incentives related to games played.

As for the Knicks’ other top free agent, a pair of GMs told Scotto that they expect New York to have to offer the full Early Bird amount (four years, $72.5MM) for Isaiah Hartenstein, since the team can’t afford to lose him, though those GMs acknowledged that a contract of that size might not be very movable down the road.

Scotto hears that the Thunder, who have been cited as a possible rival suitor for Hartenstein, are likely to be focused on shorter-term deals for any top free agent targets, which could give the Knicks an advantage if they’re willing to go up to four years. According to Bondy, there’s some speculation that Oklahoma City could offer “something in the realm” of $50MM over two years for Hartenstein, perhaps with a second-year opt-out, like the deal Bruce Brown got from Indiana last summer. However, it’s possible the veteran center would prefer longer-term security.

Here’s more on the Knicks from the HoopsHype podcast:

  • A contract extension for head coach Tom Thibodeau appears to be a matter of “when rather than if,” according to Scotto. Discussing potential terms, Bondy predicts a three-year, $33MM deal, while Begley speculates that Thibodeau may just get two new guaranteed seasons, with a third-year team option.
  • Both Bondy and Begley view Jalen Brunson as more likely than Julius Randle to sign an extension this offseason, even though Brunson could potentially sign a much more lucrative deal if he waits one more year. As Bondy observes, one factor to consider is that signing an extension this summer would put Brunson on track to reach free agency in 2028, when he would have 10 years of NBA service under his belt and would be eligible for a starting salary worth up to 35% of the cap (instead of 30%). “That doesn’t mean he’s going to do it,” Bondy cautioned. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of debate with (agent) Aaron Mintz, the Knicks, and Rick and Jalen Brunson about what’s the best way to go. I think he’s going to consider it.”
  • The expectation is that the Knicks will likely guarantee Bojan Bogdanovic‘s $19MM salary for 2024/25, per Scotto. It’s currently only partially guaranteed for $2MM. The team wouldn’t generate any cap room by cutting him and would lose a big expiring contract for a possible trade, Begley adds.
  • Precious Achiuwa‘s future in New York is uncertain, especially if Hartenstein returns, since new deals for Hartenstein and Anunoby would likely push the Knicks’ team salary into tax territory. Achiuwa is eligible for restricted free agency this offseason. “I think you give him the ($6.3MM) qualifying offer and see what his market is,” Begley said. “If you need to rescind the qualifying offer for financial reasons, you can. That’s probably how it’ll go. Hartenstein’s deal is going to happen before Achiuwa, so you’ll have a chance to know whether he’ll be back before making a final decision on Achiuwa.”
  • The Knicks hold a pair of first-round picks at No. 24 and 25, but neither Bondy nor Begley expects them to use both to draft players. Assuming they use at least one of those selections, talented Virginia defender Ryan Dunn could be a target — people around the league have frequently linked him to the Knicks, per Scotto, though he could come off the board even earlier than No. 24.

NBA’s 2024 Draft Withdrawal Deadline Has Passed

The deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the 2024 NBA draft passed on Sunday at 5:00 pm Eastern time, meaning that any players who haven’t removed their names from consideration at that point will remain in this year’s draft pool.

Because the NCAA has its own draft withdrawal deadline earlier in the spring, the NBA’s deadline typically represents decision day for non-college players, including international prospects. As we relayed on Sunday, several of those international early entrants who initially tested the draft waters decided to pull out before the deadline.

The following players also withdrew from the draft ahead of Sunday’s deadline:

Additionally, there were several reports on Sunday about international prospects who decided to keep their names in the draft pool. Here are those players:

There was no word on Sunday about several of the big-name international prospects, such as Alexandre Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher, and Tidjane Salaun, but there’s no doubt they kept their names in the draft, since they’re projected lottery picks. Nikola Topic is in that group as well, despite the fact that he recently suffered a partially torn ACL.

As our early entrant tracker shows, there are still a handful of prospects whose intentions haven’t been announced or reported, but it shouldn’t be long before we get clarity on them — the NBA will likely announce its official early entrant list for the 2024 draft at some point within the next 24 to 48 hours or so.