Month: February 2017

Knicks Notes: Rose, Jennings, Randle, Ndour

The Knicks appear to be done with buyouts. After parting ways with Brandon Jennings, Frank Isola of the Daily News reported the team’s interest in releasing Derrick Rose (Twitter link). Ramona Shelburne of ESPN quashed this rumor, however, noting that the team is done with buyouts unless “a player they like becomes available.” (Twitter link)

Despite Jeff Hornacek‘s words to the contrary, the Knicks appear to be in full-on tank mode at this point. Sporting a 24-35 record, the Knicks are four games behind Detroit for the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference.

More from The Garden…

  • Hornacek has been a fan of Chasson Randle‘s game, Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times writes. The Knicks always viewed Jennings as a stopgap, Vorkunov writes, whose absence will now allow Randle to receive NBA minutes over the next several weeks. “We loved Chasson, his ability, how he can play,” Hornacek said. “He’s a smart player, knows how to play the game, shoot the ball. Chasson can play.”
  • Frank Isola of the Daily News commended the team for cutting Jennings, as Brandon “was never going to be a part of the Knicks future.” Jennings wasn’t happy with the Knicks, as he’d begun to lose minutes to rookie Ron Baker. Isola speculates the reason Jennings was released before Sasha Vujacic was Vujacic’s willingness to run the triangle offense. Additionally, the Knicks attempted to trade Jennings prior to the deadline, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, but no team was interested in giving up an asset for him.
  • Isola is skeptical  that the Knicks will cut Rose (link above). The Knicks still view themselves as a playoff-caliber team, and waiving Rose would be an admission of a “colossal mistake” from Phil Jackson. Had the Knicks dealt Rose-for-Ricky Rubio, Isola observes, Jackson essentially would have traded Rose, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez for Rubio. Isola suggested the team look to the future; “acquiring as many lottery balls as possible” rather than playing for the eighth seed. Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis‘ minutes should be limited, and Ndour appears to be a cut candidate.
  • In trade deadline negotiations, the Timberwolves wanted Mindaugas Kuzminskas in addition to Rose, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com. The Knicks and Wolves couldn’t get on the same page for a deadline swap, as we’d previously heard the Knicks insist Minnesota include Nemanja Bjelica alongside Rubio.

Cavs Announce Deron Williams Signing

The Cavs have made their signing of Deron Williams official, announcing the deal through a press release (link). Williams cleared waivers on Saturday, and is likely to debut Wednesday against the Celtics. The signing will cost Cleveland $908,431, bringing the team’s payroll to over $126.9MM.

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, Williams will wear the number 31 (Twitter link). Williams discussed the signing with media outlets, saying “At the end of the day I felt like this was the best team for me. I felt like I would have a significant role here.” (Source)

Andrew Bogut, Jose Calderon Finalize Buyouts

Andrew Bogut and Jose Calderon have completed their buyouts, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter links). Per Marc Stein of ESPN, neither player can sign with a team until clearing waivers Wednesday. While Bogut is likely to join the Cavs, he will hold talks with the Spurs, Rockets, and Celtics before reaching a decision (Twitter links).

Both the Lakers and Sixers have announced the transactions via press release. Now presumed to join the Warriors, Calderon and his agent released a statement commending the Lakers’ accommodation.

“I’m very appreciative of the Lakers doing this,” Mark Bartelstein told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News. “This is something we had gone to them and talked about since Jose wasn’t playing much…I’m very appreciative of Magic [Johnson] doing this. Jose’s got a lot of basketball left in him and can play at a high level. But with the Lakers being in a rebuilding state, it didn’t make sense from a playing perspective.”

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com discussed obstacles in Bogut’s path to Cleveland, noting Houston’s interest in the Australian big man. Following their signing of Isaiah Taylor, the Rockets should have more than $3MM of cap space to offer Bogut.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 2/27/17

Here are the D-League transactions for Monday:

  • The Knicks have recalled Ron Baker, Marshall Plumlee, and Maurice Ndour from Westchester, the team announced via Twitter (link). Including the recently signed Chasson Randle, Jeff Hornacek will have four fresh bodies available for tonight’s match-up against the Raptors.
  • The Thunder assigned Josh Huestis to the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced on its official website (link). Huestis has made just one NBA appearance this season.
  • The Cavs recalled Kay Felder from the Canton Charge, the team announced on its official website (link). Felder impressed in his most recent D-League assignment, scoring 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting against the Maine Red Claws.
  • The Raptors assigned Bruno Caboclo to Raptors 905, the team announced via Twitter (link). Caboclo has averaged 9.9 points through 26 games with Raptors 905 this season.

Bulls Likely To Waive Guard

Early indications are that the Bulls will release one of their guards to address the logjam at the point guard position, reports K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). As Johnson notes, making a move by March 1 (Wednesday) would allow that player to retain his playoff eligibility for another club.

While it’s not clear yet which player the Bulls will waive, Johnson tweets that Michael Carter-Williams and Isaiah Canaan are candidates. Both players are essentially on expiring contracts — Carter-Williams will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, while Canaan only has a small partial guarantee ($200K) on his salary for 2017/18.

Rajon Rondo is also on an expiring deal of sorts, as his $13.4MM salary for next season is only guaranteed for $3MM until June 30. However, GM Gar Forman has said Rondo will finish the season with the Bulls. As Johnson notes, Rondo is also a decent fit with the club’s second unit and his contract could be a trade chip around the time of the draft.

The Bulls were already fairly deep at point guard prior to the trade deadline, with Carter-Williams, Canaan, Rondo, and Jerian Grant among their options. Chicago added Cameron Payne to that mix last week in a trade with the Thunder, and given how much the team gave up to land Payne, he’ll likely be given an opportunity to play significant minutes down the stretch.

Free Agent Notes: T. Jones, Celtics, Butler, Hawks

Having cleared waivers and reached free agency, Terrence Jones had interest in joining the Celtics, and his camp initiated talks with the club, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, according to Himmelsbach, the former Pelicans big man is unlikely to land with the Cs.

While Jones is one of the more appealing options available on the buyout market, a source tells Himmelsbach that the 25-year-old is hoping to find a team that would allow him to play significant minutes. The Celtics could use a big man, but they have a fairly deep rotation and are carrying 15 players on guaranteed contracts, so Jones may not get the opportunity he’s seeking in Boston.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA related to free agency:

  • Caron Butler hasn’t played on an NBA team this season, but the veteran forward hasn’t opted for retirement yet, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, who tweets that Butler is interested in catching on with a playoff team.
  • In a conversation with TNT’s David Aldridge, free agent center Larry Sanders says that he believes he’s more mature and mentally stronger now than he was during his last stint in the NBA. According to Aldridge, Sanders has told NBA teams that he’s willing to play in the D-League if they want him to go there first.
  • The Hawks are in no hurry to sign a free agent to fill the open spot on their roster, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution details. “We will probably take a few days and see what happens over the next few days and maybe more,” Budenholzer said. “It’s good to have that flexibility to figure out what we want to do. We won’t rush to do anything in the next day or two.”

Latest On Brandon Jennings

2:55pm: Despite Van Gundy’s assertion, the Hornets are happy with their signing of Weber and are currently unlikely to pursue Jennings, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link). Stein adds (via Twitter) that multiple teams are eyeing Jennings, with the Wizards apparently at the “front of the line.”

1:53pm: David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com (Twitter link) is hearing from “several places” that Jennings-to-Charlotte isn’t necessarily a done deal. The Wizards are among the team still working on landing Jennings, per Aldridge.

12:35pm: Having been released by the Knicks today, Brandon Jennings is on track to clear waivers and become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday, assuming he goes unclaimed. However, it sounds like Jennings may have already have a new team lined up. Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy told local reporters today that Jennings is headed to the Hornets (Twitter link via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com).

As the Pistons’ president of basketball operations, Van Gundy is plugged into player movement around the league, but an agreement between the Hornets and Jennings has yet to be reported elsewhere, so we’ll wait for further confirmation. It’s also worth noting that Jennings will have to clear waivers first — Charlotte doesn’t have the cap room or exception available to claim him, so if the Hornets do land him, it would be in free agency.

A former 10th overall pick, Jennings signed a one-year contract with the Knicks last summer, and averaged 8.6 PPG and 4.9 APG in 58 games to go along with a .380/.340/.756 shooting line. New York waived Jennings today, and at least one report indicated that the veteran guard had asked for the opportunity to join a playoff team.

The Hornets are currently just one game ahead of the Knicks in the standings and sit 11th in the East, so Charlotte would be a somewhat unusual landing spot. Having signed Briante Weber today, the Hornets also have a full 15-man roster, though because Weber and Johnny O’Bryant are on 10-day contracts, it wouldn’t be hard to open up a roster spot if it’s needed.

According to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Wizards also have interest in Jennings.

Kyle Lowry To Undergo Wrist Surgery, Aims To Return For Playoffs

2:22pm: Sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link) that Lowry has a chance to return in four or five weeks and play in regular season games prior to the postseason.

2:11pm: Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is scheduled to undergo wrist surgery on Tuesday morning to remove loose bodies from his wrist, the team announced today (via Twitter). While an exact timeline for Lowry’s recovery isn’t provided, the club suggests that he’s aiming to return for the playoffs, so it sounds like the All-Star guard will be sidelined for at least a few weeks, if not longer.

As we noted on Saturday after Lowry was originally ruled out indefinitely, the 30-year-old injured his wrist prior to the All-Star break, but participated in the three-point contest and the All-Star Game in New Orleans since he didn’t think it was a serious issue.

“Honestly, I thought I’d slept on it wrong — I thought it would go away,” Lowry said last week. “It was a little sore, but I paid no attention to it.”

Without Lowry in the lineup, the Raptors have won their first two games following the All-Star break. Cory Joseph has started in Lowry’s spot, DeMar DeRozan has averaged 38 points per game, and newcomers Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker have fit in well. Still, Lowry has been the Raptors’ most important player in recent years, and his absence will be felt by the team in the coming weeks. As NBA.com’s advanced stats show, the club has a +8.0 net rating this season when Lowry is on the court, and a -3.5 rating when he’s not.

Lowry, who is earning a $12MM salary this season, has a $12MM player option for 2017/18. This injury is unlikely to affect his decision on that option — he’ll turn it down, though the Raptors are viewed as a strong favorite to re-sign him.

Joakim Noah Likely To Miss Rest Of Season

2:03pm: The Knicks have confirmed that Noah underwent a left knee arthroscopy today to remove a loose body (Twitter link). According to the team, Noah will be re-evaluated in three to four weeks, though I imagine the center would only try to get back on the court this season if the Knicks push for a playoff spot. They’re currently four games back of the No. 8 seed, with four teams to pass.

11:01am: Knicks center Joakim Noah is expected to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, which would sideline him for the remainder of the 2016/17 season, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Noah’s injury, which has kept him out of action for most of February, had been classified as hamstring soreness, but it seems his knee is an issue as well.

Noah, who turned 32 on Saturday, signed a four-year, $72MM contract with the Knicks last summer. New York received some criticism at the time for that deal, and it doesn’t look any better now than it did then. Noah has struggled to produce for his new team this season, averaging 5.0 PPG and 8.7 RPG in 46 games (all starts). As NBA.com’s advanced stats show, the Knicks have a -6.0 net rating with Noah on the court, compared to -2.5 when he’s on the bench.

Assuming Noah is indeed ruled out for the season, he’ll join Brandon Jennings in having played his last game for the Knicks this year. Unlike Jennings though, Noah won’t be released, since he still has three more years left on his contract.

Jazz, Favors Unlikely To Renegotiate Contract Before Deadline

The Jazz and Derrick Favors are unlikely to renegotiate and extend the big man’s contract before Tuesday’s deadline, Favors’ agent tells Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Assuming his contract is unchanged this week, Favors will remain on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2018.

There are only about two dozen NBA veterans currently eligible for contract extensions, since the new Collective Bargaining Agreement won’t take effect until July and the old CBA is fairly restrictive on extensions. Of those veterans eligible for an extension, fewer still are eligible to have their contracts renegotiated. However, Favors and teammate George Hill are intriguing renegotiation candidates due to Utah’s salary cap situation.

Generally speaking, players are limited to small raises on veteran extensions, which would dissuade guys like Favors ($11.05MM salary) and Hill ($8MM salary) from working out a new deal early. However, teams below the cap have the option to give a player an immediate raise using cap room, allowing for a more lucrative extension. And as we noted on Saturday, no NBA team is further below the cap in 2016/17 than the Jazz, who have about $13.64MM in cap room. So if Utah wanted to extend either Favors or Hill, the team could use that leftover cap space to bump one of the two up to a near-max salary, and tack on extra years from there.

The deadline for teams to complete contract renegotiations is February 28, so the clock is ticking for the Jazz and their extension candidates. For Favors, at least, it looks like such a deal probably isn’t in the cards. It’s possible that Utah is focused on Hill instead, but I’d expect the veteran point guard to want to explore the open market now that he’s so close to free agency — while Favors has an additional year left on his contract, Hill’s deal expires at season’s end.

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