Alec Burks

Eastern Notes: Clifford, Pistons, Smart, Raptors, Sixers

Although the Hornets fired him as head coach following the 2017/18 season, Steve Clifford still had a good relationship with general manager Mitch Kupchak and owner Michael Jordan, writes Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Those ties resulted in Clifford getting his old job back after Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson pulled out of an agreement to coach the team.

“You want to evolve and get better at what you do,” Clifford said Tuesday at his introductory press conference. “I have coached a lot more games than I had when I was here the first time and worked with another team. You learn a lot from that.”

Clifford was brought in to fix a defense that ranked 22nd in the league this season, and he told reporters that will be an emphasis. Clifford doesn’t plan major changes to the offense, which will continue with a fast-paced philosophy led by LaMelo Ball.

“We are going to play offensively with a very similar emphasis that they have played with the last couple of years,” Clifford said. “Offense starts with playing through the strengths of your best players and Ball is a great talent with a passion for the game and a flair for playing in the open court and we want to take advantage of that.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Acquiring Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks from the Knicks will give the Pistons greater flexibility next offseason, observes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Detroit will have team options on both players for 2023/24 and can create $19MM in cap room by letting them go. With Cory Joseph and Hamidou Diallo both on expiring contracts, Kelly Olynyk holding a $3MM partial guarantee and DeAndre Jordan‘s $7.9MM in dead money coming off the books, the Pistons should have north of $45MM in cap space for 2023, Edwards writes.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart barely notices anymore when he’s the subject of trade talks, tweets basketball writer Mark Murphy. “Every year my name is in talks, and I’m still here,” Smart said. “I’m still the longest tenured Celtic. So I take it as a compliment. It means you’re valued pretty high and if your name is talked about people want you. But I don’t pay much attention.”
  • The Raptors are expected to target centers in free agency with Isaiah Hartenstein and Thomas Bryant being players to watch, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice examines the Sixers‘ options in free agency and looks at how James Harden‘s option decision will impact the team’s cap situation.

Knicks To Trade Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks To Pistons

The Knicks are trading center Nerlens Noel and guard Alec Burks to the Pistons, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The Knicks will unload more than $19MM in 2022/23 salary in the deal, providing ample cap space to sign free agent guard Jalen Brunson. Noel has a $9.24MM salary next season, while Burks is due approximately $10MM.

Both players are signed through the 2023/24 season, but there are team options in the final year of their respective contracts — Noel at $9.68MM and Burks at approximately $10.5MM. Thus, those salaries could come off the Pistons’ cap next summer.

New York will send Detroit back its 2023 second-round pick, plus the Heat’s 2024 second-round pick (top-55 protected) and $6MM in cash as sweeteners to take those contracts off its books, Wojnarowski reports in a separate tweet. The Pistons can absorb those salaries without sending out any contracts, since they project to have more cap space than any other team.

The Knicks and Pistons were involved in a three-way draft-night deal that included the Hornets. In that trade, Detroit also took Kemba Walker‘s contract off New York’s books. While the Hornets and Knicks have completed their half of that trade, the Pistons’ and Knicks’ half isn’t yet official, so it could be folded into Tuesday’s agreement.

New York won’t necessarily have to waive Taj Gibson‘s non-guaranteed contract now in its pursuit of Brunson, John Hollinger of The Athletic observes (via Twitter). The trade will give the Knicks approximately $30MM in total projected cap space, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

As Marks notes (Twitter link), there’s no way Dallas can offer Brunson that kind of money without serious tax implications. Signing Brunson to a $30M starting salary would cost the Mavericks a total of $130MM in salary and tax penalties in one season alone, Marks says.

The Pistons plan on keeping Burks and Noel, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Burks, a 38% career 3-point shooter, will give the Pistons a perimeter threat on the wing who can help mentor the young backcourt of Cade Cunningham and rookie Jaden Ivey. Noel provides depth in the middle behind Isaiah Stewart and rookie Jalen Duren.

Despite the addition of Noel, the Pistons are still committed to bringing back restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III, Omari Sankofa of the Detroit Free Press tweets.

New York Rumors: Knicks, Brunson, Burks, Nets, Claxton, Kyrie

The Knicks have “legitimate optimism” about their chances of signing free agent point guard Jalen Brunson, Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports, citing people in touch with the organization since the draft.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report conveyed a similar sentiment during his latest podcast, suggesting that the Knicks may have moved ahead of the Mavericks as the favorites to lock up Brunson long-term this offseason (hat tip to HoopsHype).

As Begley observes, the Knicks still have some work to do if they want to create the cap room necessary to make Brunson a strong offer — trading either Alec Burks or Nerlens Noel may be the most likely path to opening up that space.

Burks underwent foot surgery this spring after the Knicks’ season ended, and while that procedure has reportedly hurt his trade value, Begley says there are still multiple teams with some interest in the veteran guard, including the Celtics.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic spoke to 16 officials in NBA front offices to get a sense of how much they’d be willing to offer RJ Barrett in extension talks this offseason if they were running the Knicks. According to Katz, the responses ranged from $15-30MM per year, with no one saying they would go up to the max. A four-year, $100MM offer was the most-cited suggestion, Katz adds.
  • In the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that restricted free agent center Nic Claxton appears likely to remain with the Nets (audio link via Jac Manuell of Nets Republic). “The word is amongst executives, I’ve talked to a couple of executives today who believe that Nic Claxton will be back with the Nets, that that’s been worked out,” Windhorst said. “I shouldn’t say it’s been worked out. There’s an understanding.”
  • In the same podcast, Windhorst wondered whether or not the standoff between the Nets and Kyrie Irving has truly been put to bed after Irving announced he’ll pick up his player option for 2022/23. “I was told that the option pick-up came as a total surprise to the Nets, that they found out when everybody else did,” Windhorst said, per NetsDaily. “… The people that I talk to in the league are skeptical that Kyrie is going to be ‘all for one and one for all’ on this. … The people who are in the business to earn the business are telling me, ‘No, Kyrie actually has leverage here,’ because now he’s making the $36 million, he’s got his money and he can make life hell.”
  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton considers what’s next for the Nets now that Irving has decided to opt in.

Scotto’s Latest: Wizards, T. Jones, Brunson, Knicks, Ayton, More

The Wizards used their No. 10 overall pick on Thursday night to land one of the top guards in this year’s draft, selecting Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis. However, the Wizards remain in the market for veteran help at the point guard spot, and Grizzlies free agent Tyus Jones is among the players on their radar, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

As Scotto explains, Washington should have the flexibility to use the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception and could make a compelling bid for Jones. The club could potentially give him the opportunity to start, which Jones “ideally desires,” writes Scotto.

The Grizzlies hold Jones’ Bird rights, giving them the ability to make a strong offer to retain Jones. Memphis’ decision to trade De’Anthony Melton to Philadelphia perhaps signaled that re-signing Jones will be an offseason priority, though the team did draft a potential backup point guard in Kennedy Chandler on Thursday night.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • Rival NBA executives believe the Knicks are “all-in” for Jalen Brunson after making efforts to open up cap space on Thursday. Taj Gibson and his $5MM+ non-guaranteed salary will likely be waived to create more cap flexibility, says Scotto.
  • The Knicks will have to open up more cap room to make a serious bid for Brunson, and Scotto reiterates that Cam Reddish and Alec Burks are possible trade candidates. Reddish was part of one of the offers New York sent to the Pistons for Jaden Ivey, according to Scotto, who says Burks has been offered to the Cavaliers and Pacers, among other teams.
  • In considering potential landing spots for Suns RFA center Deandre Ayton, Scotto writes that people around the NBA have speculated about a possible sign-and-trade deal involving Pacers center Myles Turner — both players are represented by the same agent, Bill Duffy. Previous reports have indicated the Pacers spoke to the Suns prior to the trade deadline about Ayton.
  • The Trail Blazers have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Ayton, but they remain intent on re-signing incumbent center Jusuf Nurkic, league sources tell Scotto.
  • Although EuroLeague star Vasilije Micic is interested in coming to the NBA for the 2022/23 season, he wants to join a playoff contender and is interested in a salary worth close to the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception, says Scotto. The Thunder may have to trade Micic’s draft rights for those goals to come to fruition.

Point Guard Rumors: Brogdon, Knicks, Wizards, Morris, Murray

Although the Wizards and the Knicks are the two teams that have most frequently discussed a possible Malcolm Brogdon trade with the Pacers, people around the league are skeptical that either team would include its 2022 lottery pick in a package for Brogdon, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

If those league officials are right, that means a Brogdon trade could end up looking more like Portland’s deal for Jerami Grant. The Trail Blazers are giving up future picks (and a swap of 2022 second-rounders) for Grant, but aren’t including this year’s No. 7 overall pick. The Wizards and Knicks pick 10th and 11th, respectively, and will likely attempt to keep those picks as they pursue Brogdon.

According to Fischer, the Wizards have been open to discussing Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in trade conversations, while the Knicks have explored trade options involving Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and Cam Reddish.

Here are a few more rumors related to the point guard market:

  • With the Wizards widely believed to be seeking a trade for a veteran point guard, one potential target worth keeping an eye on is Nuggets guard Monte Morris, according to Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Responding to rumors about Dejounte Murray‘s possible availability, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the Cavaliers have had conversation with the Spurs about Murray dating back to the trade deadline in February.
  • Besides Brogdon, Morris, and Murray, some other point guards believed to be available via trade this offseason include Mike Conley of the Jazz, Terry Rozier of the Hornets, Devonte’ Graham of the Pelicans, and D’Angelo Russell of the Timberwolves, according to Fischer.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Mills, Kyrie, Knicks, Burks, Celtics

Asked on Tuesday about what the Raptors‘ offseason might look like, general manager Bobby Webster suggested it might be a fairly quiet summer in Toronto, but didn’t rule out the possibility of that changing if favorable trade opportunities arise.

“You look at it two ways: We have a couple free agents, we have a mid-level (exception). Maybe in that sense it’s just adding to the group,” Webster said, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “Obviously if you have trade discussions, it’s different. There are kind of just two different paths you can go.”

OG Anunoby has been at the center of some trade rumors this offseason, with one report indicating the Raptors forward wants a bigger role on offense going forward. Asked about Anunoby, Webster dismissed the idea that there’s any real tension between the team and the 24-year-old, but he also didn’t exactly slam the door on the idea that Anunoby could be traded.

“We have great communication with OG,” Webster said. “He’s even up here (in Toronto) now. For one, it doesn’t make sense to comment on all the trade speculation. If we talked about every call we got or every player we discussed we’d be here for hours, so I don’t think it’s all that noteworthy.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Nets guard Patty Mills still hasn’t decided whether or not he’ll pick up his $6.2MM player option for 2022/23, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Insider link). In a story for NetsDaily, Collin Helwig looks at what Mills could bring to the table for Brooklyn next season if he returns and is slotted into the role the team envisioned for him last year, before Kyrie Irving‘s extended absence resulted in him being thrust into the starting lineup.
  • Speaking of Irving, both Fred Katz of The Athletic and Ian Begley of SNY.tv explored whether the idea of the Nets guard joining the cross-town Knicks this offseason is realistic. A Shams Charania report on Monday linked Irving to the Knicks, but New York is believed to be more focused on Jalen Brunson and Malcolm Brogdon, while there’s a belief that Kyrie and the Nets can still work out a deal.
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News provides a few more details on Alec Burksfoot surgery, reporting that the affected left foot had been bothering the Knicks guard for a while. Burks, who previously underwent procedures on his left ankle in 2015 and 2016, has seen his trade value negatively affected by the surgery, league sources tell Bondy.
  • The Celtics brought in Michigan State forward Gabe Brown on Wednesday, just a day before the draft, for a second workout, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Brown, the No. 78 prospect on ESPN’s big board, could be a target for Boston with the 53rd overall pick or as an undrafted free agent.

Knicks’ Alec Burks Underwent Foot Surgery

Knicks guard Alec Burks recently underwent foot surgery, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports that Burks is expected to be available for the start of training camp in the fall.

The procedure was completed shortly after the Knicks’ season ended in the spring, a source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link). Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link), confirming Katz’s report, also hears from a source that Burks is expected to be ready to go for the start of the 2022/23 season.

Burks has missed time in past seasons due to foot issues, but they didn’t prevent him from appearing in a career-high 81 games for the Knicks in 2021/22 — he missed just a single game in December for personal reasons. His field goal percentage dipped to a career-worst 39.1%, but he was otherwise solid, averaging 11.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 3.0 APG with a .404 3PT% in 28.6 minutes per contest.

Burks will be entering the second season of a three-year, $30MM deal he signed with the Knicks in the 2021 offseason. The third year of that contract is a team option, so the veteran guard, who will turn 31 next month, is essentially on an expiring deal.

Multiple reports this offseason, including at least two this week, have identified Burks as a strong candidate to be traded. New York is in the market for a starting point guard and may move Burks either in a trade for that player or to help clear salary cap space to sign one in free agency.

It’s unclear how significantly the status of Burks’ foot will impact his value on the trade market, but it’s safe to assume any team acquiring him would want to get a look at his medicals before signing off.

Stein’s Latest: Beal, Robinson, Gobert, Hornets, Atkinson

The comments made Monday by president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard seemed to indicate the Wizards don’t have any reservations about giving Bradley Beal a full maximum-salary contract, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column. Beal, who missed the final 33 games of the season because of an injured left wrist, is eligible for a new five-year deal worth a projected $247MM+.

Stein states that Sheppard had “ebullience” when talking about Beal and the chance to team him up with Kristaps Porzingis next season. Beal has to make a decision by next week on a $36.4MM player option for 2022/23, but it sounds like a long-term offer will be waiting no matter what he does with the option.

Sheppard said Beal can be a franchise centerpiece and notes that he has improved his defense and become more versatile since he arrived in the NBA. He points out that Beal can handle either backcourt spot, adding, “We have no problem playing Bradley Beal at point guard.”

There’s more from Stein:

  • While the Knicks would like to clear cap space before free agency kicks off, Stein has heard strong rumblings that they’re prepared to sign Mitchell Robinson to a new multiyear contract. The fourth-year center is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 8.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 72 games, and his minimum-salary cap hold means that retaining him won’t complicate any efforts to create cap room. Stein confirms a report that New York is looking for takers for Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, along with Kemba Walker, to make a run at a free agent guard like Jalen Brunson or possibly Kyrie Irving.
  • Appearing Monday on Spotify Live, Stein suggested that the Bulls are the most likely destination if the Jazz decide to trade Rudy Gobert. He clarifies that statement in today’s column, saying Chicago has “ongoing reservations” about dealing for Gobert, while the Raptors are still a team to watch. Stein adds that Gobert isn’t considered a sure thing to be traded this summer.
  • In the wake of Kenny Atkinson‘s decision to remain with the Warriors, the Hornets are still in the market for someone with experience as a head coach, such as Mike D’Antoni, the other finalist, who is scheduled to meet with owner Michael Jordan today. Stein suggests that family reasons factored into Atkinson’s decision, as did the fact that Golden State was willing to pay him more than assistant coaches usually make.

Fischer’s Latest: Kyrie, Collins, Barnes, Knicks, Magic

Monday’s report stating that Kyrie Irving is at an impasse in contract discussions with the Nets and could consider other destinations is widely viewed as an attempt by Irving’s camp to create leverage in those negotiations, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst stated during an appearance on Get Up on Tuesday (video link).

Still, even if that’s the case, the Nets and Irving have some work to do to bridge the gap in their contract talks, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says the team prefers a shorter-term deal that includes incentives, while Irving naturally wants a longer-term commitment.

Despite the report of an “impasse,” talks between Irving and the Nets are expected to remain fluid as his option decision deadline and the start of free agency near, says Fischer. There still appears to be mutual interest in figuring something out, and Brooklyn team officials have been operating as if Irving, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons will all be back in 2022/23, Fischer adds.

According to Fischer, word has circulated among league personnel since May’s draft combine that Irving has interest in the Lakers and Knicks, but most team executives haven’t given much credence to that chatter, given how challenging it would be for either team to acquire him.

Here’s more from Fischer’s newest round-up of NBA rumors:

  • Fischer is the latest reporter to reiterate that John Collins is viewed as one of the NBA’s most likely offseason trade candidates, writing that Collins and the Hawks seem to have mutual interest in finding him a new home. Fischer also confirms a previous report which stated that the Collins talks between the Hawks and Kings haven’t included the No. 4 overall pick, though he notes that Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes is believed to be available.
  • The Knicks are considered likely to trade Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, according to Fischer, who says the team is exploring ways to create $25MM in cap room, possibly to pursue free agent point guard Jalen Brunson. However, Fischer cautions that league personnel still widely expect Brunson to re-sign with the Mavericks.
  • Teams looking to shed a contract or two will likely be in touch with the Magic. Fischer hears from sources that Orlando – one of the only teams projected to have cap room – has emerged as a possible landing spot for unwanted salary. Any team looking to dump a contract on the Magic would have to be willing to give up an asset or two to make it happen.

D’Angelo Russell May Be Option In Knicks’ Point Guard Search

If the Knicks can’t get their preferred choices at point guard, the TimberwolvesD’Angelo Russell could become an option this summer, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

New York has a strong connection to Russell in Gersson Rosas, who was recently named senior basketball advisor after spending time with the organization as a consultant. Fischer notes that when Rosas was president of basketball operations in Minnesota, he traded Andrew Wiggins and a lottery pick to the Warriors for Russell in 2020 after missing out on him in free agency.

Russell, who has a $31.4MM expiring contract next season, took some heat after a disappointing performance in the Wolves’ brief playoff run. The emergence of other backcourt options in Minnesota might make him expendable as the team looks to the future.

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell remains the Knicks’ dream choice, but getting him appears unlikely even if Utah decides to shake up its roster, Fischer writes. He cites “healthy skepticism” around the league that New York can make the best offer for Mitchell, noting that Miami could potentially put together a deal centered around Tyler Herro and multiple first-round picks.

The Knicks have also been linked to Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, who is headed toward free agency, but Fischer hears there’s a “growing sense” around the league that Brunson will remain in Dallas. Fischer expects Brunson’s new contract to top $20MM per season and says John Collins‘ five-year, $125MM extension could be a good comparison.

New York can only offer four years to Brunson and would need to clear out significant cap space first. Sources tell Fischer that the Knicks unsuccessfully tried to move Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel ahead of the trade deadline to begin opening cap room. Fischer cites league executives who believe New York would have to include either the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft or Immanuel Quickley in any deal to unload salary.

Fischer adds that one factor working in the Knicks’ favor in their pursuit of Brunson is that they can offer him the chance to be the undisputed leader of the offense, which he won’t have in Dallas playing alongside Luka Doncic. Fischer notes that if Brunson signs with the Pistons, who are also reported to be interested, he would be in the same situation with Cade Cunningham.

Sources also tell Fischer that New York won’t be among the teams pursuing Cavaliers free agent guard Collin Sexton. Cleveland is interested in keeping him, but it could be difficult considering the team’s salary commitment to other players. Fischer hears that the Pacers, Pistons and Wizards will all be in the market for Sexton.