Amar'e Stoudemire

New York Notes: Brunson, Stoudemire, Baldwin, Sotto

The Knicks’ top executive, Leon Rose, needs to go all out this summer to sign free agent Jalen Brunson, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post opines. The Knicks settled for Kemba Walker last summer instead of engaging in an all-out bidding war for Fred VanVleet. The same mistake can’t be made this time around, in Vaccaro’s view, so Rose must figure out a way to clear more cap space and give Brunson a competitive offer. Vaccaro also notes Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson, was Rose’s first ever client as a player agent.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire clarified comments he made on ESPN shows regarding Kyrie Irving and the Nets organization in an Instagram post (hat tip to Chris Milholen of NetsDaily.com). Stoudemire told coach Steve Nash he was leaving his post as a player development coach due to his religious obligations prior to his TV appearances and has no issue with Nash or GM Sean Marks. He also said he wasn’t trying to blast Irving when he said Irving “hurt us” due to his lack of availability during the season. “You’re not going to turn me against Kyrie. You’re not going to turn me against the Nets. You’re not going to turn me against anyone. So you can forget about it,” Stoudemire said.
  • The Knicks have quietly added Vince Baldwin — a longtime Nike talent scout — as a “talent evaluator,” Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Baldwin has extensive contacts in the high school and college ranks and is close with Knicks senior executive William Wesley. The Knicks also hired Tim Hardaway Sr. as a scout without making an official announcement.
  • Center prospect Kai Sotto will work out for the Knicks on Monday, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com tweets. The 7’3” big man from the Philippines spent last season in Australia’s National Basketball League, averaging 7.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Adelaide 36ers.

Amar’e Stoudemire To Leave Nets Job, Criticizes Irving

Amar’e Stoudemire is leaving his post with the Nets and said the franchise needs to take a harder stance with star guard Kyrie Irving.

Stoudemire worked under head coach Steve Nash as a player development assistant this season.

Stoudemire made his comments on ESPN’s morning talk shows. He appeared on both the Get Up show with Mike Greenberg and the First Take show with Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams (hat tip to NetsDaily.com).

Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated played a large part in the Nets’ demise, according to Stoudemire.

“Yeah, I think it hurt us. It definitely hurt us because we didn’t have consistency enough with Kyrie to build chemistry with the group, with the team,” he said. “He’s playing only away games depending which city it is … can’t play in New York … therefore we had different lineups, different matchups depending on the game schedule. So it made it difficult for us coaches to figure out who’s going to play in spite of Kyrie.”

Stoudemire, a former All-Star forward/center, said Irving has to make a greater commitment to the franchise in order to solidify his superstar status. Irving was left off the NBA’s 75th anniversary Top 75 squad.

“I feel Kyrie has to make a commitment himself to the game of basketball. on how committed he is to being a great player because I feel like Kyrie should have been on the Top 75 list,” Stoudemire said. “But at the same time, you have to now take that as motivation going into next season and proving, prove to yourself that you are a top player and do it consistently throughout the season. “

Irving is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent this summer. Stoudemire believes that GM Sean Marks needs to get assurances about Irving’s commitment before re-signing the enigmatic guard. Marks indicated that his conversations with Irving this summer will include whether Irving is motivated to playing regularly going forward.

“You can say you’re available and ready to play next season, but are you actually going to do that or are you going to renege on that and not play and if that’s the case you’d have this situation where he says he’s going to be available but he doesn’t, now what do we do? So now you have to negotiate that into the contract, in the writing, try to figure out a way to have the writing set in the contract to where if he doesn’t play these things happen,” Stoudemire said.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics’ Trade Exception, VanVleet, Ntilikina, Stoudemire

The Celtics are in no rush to use the $28.6MM traded player exception they acquired in the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade with the Hornets, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. With the trade deadline approximately two months away and most teams still trying to win, potential suitors won’t look to ship out an elite scorer for a draft-heavy trade package at this time, Himmelsbach adds. The exception could also be used during the 2021 offseason. Check out all outstanding trade exceptions here.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is among the 60 players who received an invite from USA Basketball to compete for a spot on this summer’s Olympic team, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star reports. It will be the first time the 26-year-old VanVleet has been included in a USA senior team player pool. Teammate Kyle Lowry also received an invite, Smith adds.
  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina suited up on Sunday night but didn’t play, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. Ntilikina had been sidelined since December 29 with a right knee sprain. Ntilikina could become an unrestricted free agent this summer unless the organization extends a $7MM+ qualifying offer, which would make him restricted.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire will not be on the Nets’ bench for some of their weekend games due to religious reasons, as Marc Stein of the New York times explains (Twitter link). The former All-Star big man, who is now a player development coach under Steve Nash, has maintained his Orthodox observance of Shabbat, which precludes him from working from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Brooklyn’s management has given him that time off every week with its blessing, Stoudemire wrote on his Instagram page.

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Point Guards, Stoudemire, Thibs

Ahead of the first game of the 2020/21 Knicks season, point guard Frank Ntilikina stated that the sore left Achilles that had limited his preseason availability had fully recovered, according to Ian Begley of SNY (Twitter link). Ntilikina, the No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft, also noted that he and the Knicks did not discuss a potential contract extension ahead of Monday’s deadline, as we previously detailed.

The future of Ntilikina, the final lottery pick of former Knicks team president Phil Jackson, remains unclear, as Steve Popper of Newsday details. He will be eligible to become a restricted free agent in the 2021 offseason.

There’s more out of the City That Never Sleeps:

  • Reserve point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Ntilikina would not have made the cut for the club’s 10-man rotation in the Knicks’ season opener, a 121-107 loss to the Pacers, had rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley not gotten injured in the second quarter with a hip pointer, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. Both guards are former top-10 2017 NBA draft picks. Head coach Tom Thibodeau opted to play shooting guard Alec Burks as his initial replacement before ultimately bringing in Ntilikina for five minutes of relatively ineffective play. “We wanted to keep as much shooting on the floor as we can to try to create the opportunities that we’re looking for factored into it,” Thibodeau explained.
  • New Nets player development assistant Amar’e Stoudemire was reticent to make the leap from player to coach this summer after another productive season with the Israeli Basketball Premier League club Maccabi Tel Aviv, per Marc Stein of the New York Times. A six-time All-Star with the Suns and Knicks, the 38-year-old Stoudemire is reuniting with former Phoenix running mate Steve Nash, now Brooklyn’s head coach, and former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni, now another assistant on Nash’s bench. “We wanted him to come in and share all the things that he learned from his experiences — but also to learn about coaching, video analysis, analytics and the front office,” Nash said. “I get to learn from all departments,” Stoudemire said, “to see where I want my career to go.”
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is smartly prioritizing building good habits and player development rather than worrying about the club’s win-loss record, according to Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post. “You either win,” Thibodeau said, “or you learn.”

New York Notes: Knicks, Greer, Nets, Ivey, Stoudemire

Three Knicks employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the team to temporarily shut down its practice facility while the building gets a “thorough cleaning,” the team announced on Tuesday night in a press release.

The NBA recently allowed teams to begin conducting group workouts at their facilities, though players who are participating in those group activities must return daily negative coronavirus tests. There’s no indication that the Knicks employees who tested positive for COVID-19 were players. However, the temporary shutdown of the team’s facility is an early sign of the challenges the league will face in the coming weeks as teams all over the U.S. ramp up for the 2020/21 season without the safety of a bubble.

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

  • Larry Greer, who was an assistant coach in Phoenix last season, is joining the Knicks as an advance scout, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Marc Berman of The New York Post first reported that the Knicks may hire Greer, whose brother Andy Greer joined the team as an assistant coach in the summer.
  • The Nets have added another coach to Steve Nash‘s staff, announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve hired Royal Ivey as an assistant. Formerly a Knicks player development coach, Ivey is good friends with Brooklyn forward Kevin Durant.
  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at another Nets assistant, exploring why Amar’e Stoudmire is getting into coaching and why he should be a good fit in Brooklyn.
  • News that the 2020/21 NBA season will start next month comes at a good time for Nets owner Joe Tsai, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who writes that Tsai recently lost over $1 billion in net worth due to the impact of new China regulations on the value of his company Alibaba.

Amar’e Stoudemire To Join Nets As Assistant Coach

Nets head coach Steve Nash is adding a very familiar face to his bench. Nash’s longtime Suns running mate Amar’e Stoudemire will serve as an assistant coach on his former point guard’s staff, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium tweets.

Stoudemire, a hyper-athletic power forward, and Nash overlapped for six seasons in Phoenix, where they led the trailblazing offensive attack of the famous “Seven Seconds Or Less” Suns, the subject of a fascinating Jack McCallum behind-the-scenes book.

Charania adds in a separate tweet that Stoudemire will specialize in player development while in Brooklyn. Assuming All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving can remain healthy, the Nets look to be a formidable force in the East during the 2020/21 season.

Stoudemire joins former Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn on the bench. Assistant Adam Harrington appears likely to remain with the club for this new regime. Former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, who coached Stoudemire on the Suns from 2003-08 (and both Stoudemire and Nash from 2004-08), has been floated as a potential addition to Nash’s staff as well.

A six-time All-Star with the Suns and Knicks, Stoudemire most recently played for Israeli basketball club Maccabi Tel Aviv. He led the team to a 2020 title while winning the Israeli League Finals MVP award in the process in July.

Stoudemire last suited up in the NBA with the Heat for the 2015/16 season. He signed a contract with the Knicks after his stint in Miami was over to officially retire with New York. Since last playing in the NBA, Stoudemire also logged time in the CBA and in two separate stints for another Israeli basketball team, Hapoel Jerusalem.

And-Ones: Stoudemire, Ndour, COVID-19, Poirier

Veteran power forward Amar’e Stoudemire isn’t ready to end his career, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. After signing with Maccabi Tel Aviv in January, the big man is close to reaching an agreement to return to the Israeli team.

Stoudemire, who will turn 38 next month, averaged 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 17 games with Maccabi Tel Aviv, then captured the Israeli League Finals MVP award after leading the team to the championship. Stoudemire played 14 NBA seasons with the Suns, Knicks, Mavericks and Heat, but has been out of the league since 2016. He has spent time in Israel and China, as well as the BIG3.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Power forward Maurice Ndour, who played for the Knicks during the 2016/17 season, has signed with Rytas Vilnius in Lithuania, tweets JD Shaw of HoopsRumors. Ndour has played in Russia and Spain since leaving the NBA.
  • The coronavirus continues to disrupt overseas basketball, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The Dutch Basketball League has postponed all its games for the next four weeks due to an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the country, while games in the Ukraine will be played behind closed doors until at least the end of December. The Ukrainian league had been permitting fans to attend at 20-25% of each arena’s capacity.
  • Celtics center Vincent Poirier says winning an Olympic gold medal for France would mean more to him than an NBA title, relays Antonis Stroggylakis of EuroHoops. Poirier made the comments during an interview with the French site Konbini Sports. “I take the Olympic title,” Poirier said. “French Olympic champions are rare. If I’m one of the 12 players who win the gold at the Olympics, I will be a legend.” Poirier won a bronze medal with the French team last year at the FIBA World Cup. France has just two Olympic medals in basketball, capturing the silver in 1948 and 2000.

John Wall Played Pick-Up With Amar’e Stoudemire, Others During NBAGL Assignment

It has been 14 months since Wizards point guard John Wall ruptured his Achilles and the point guard was progressing nicely before the NBA suspended its season. Wall had been practicing with the Capital City Go-Go – Washington’s G League team – leading up to the hiatus, Fred Katz of The Athletic passes along in detailed piece.

“It just gets harder as you go along to collect guys off the street,” GM Tommy Sheppard said. “You want a highly competitive deal, so we sort of decided with John, it was time to play with the Go-Go (and) practice. And when we can, we’d have a scrimmage for him. It’s just been wonderful. It validates our process we have in place, to be able to utilize the Go-Go for so many functions to help the Wizards. And for them, I think those kids were freakin’ thrilled to play with John.”

The Wizards have been careful with the former All-Star’s recovery. There was never an expectation that he would play this season and even if the league resumes this summer, he won’t see the court.

Wall was scrimmaging every three days or so prior to the NBA suspending its season. He started going through controlled scrimmages with the team’s player development staff, Katz writes. He also participated in casual pick-up games with some former NBA players like Amar’e Stoudemire, Michael Beasley, and Jeremy Tyler.

The G League team would hold scrimmages roughly twice a week and Wall would get in 20-to-25 minutes of action in those contests.

Wall has publicly stated that he wanted to be a player development coach or a GM after he hangs up his jersey. He’s already begun that kind of work, helping the Wizards’ young guys improve on the court.

“He’s been an extra coach for me,” teammate Admiral Schofield said. “And it’s great hearing it from John Wall, a player you’ve grown up watching and playing against. Just feedback and little things and hearing him get excited when you make shots and him being confident in you knocking down shots is great.”

Amar’e Stoudemire Signs With Israeli Team

Veteran forward Amar’e Stoudemire is returning to Israel and has signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv for the rest of the season, according to Michael Bachner of The Times of Israel.

We relayed last month that Stoudemire was working out in South Florida in hopes of getting another chance at the NBA. The 37-year-old played briefly in China at the start of the season, but left after 11 games because he wasn’t happy being so far away from his family.

As Bachner explains, Stoudemire’s latest move sent shock waves throughout Israeli basketball because he is still a part-owner of his former team, Hapoel Jerusalem, which is an arch rival of Maccabi Tel Aviv. Because he has become a citizen of Israel, Stoudemire qualifies as an Israeli player. He will make roughly $55K a month.

“I am very humbled for the opportunity, happy to be in Israel, the place that I love,” Stoudemire said in a statement on Maccabi’s website. “I have a chance to play in the highest level in Europe, which is a dream come true.”

Maccabi is leading the Israeli league and has been successful in the EuroLeague, but has been hurt by injuries to several key players, including Omri Casspi.

Amar’e Stoudemire Returns From China, Hopes For NBA Comeback

Amar’e Stoudemire‘s brief stay in China is over and he’s now working out in South Florida in hopes of getting another shot at the NBA, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

The 37-year-old had some success with the Fujian Sturgeons, including a recent 33-point, 17-rebound game, but didn’t like being so far away from his family, Stein adds (Twitter link).

Stoudemire hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2015/16 season, when he averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 52 games for the Heat. He announced his retirement following that season and signed a one-day ceremonial contract with the Knicks.

However, Stoudemire never stopped playing. He agreed to a two-year deal with Hapoel Jerusalem, which he co-owns in the Israeli Basketball Premier League, and helped the team capture the league title. He announced his retirement again in 2017, but joined the BIG3 the following year. Stoudemire spent last season playing in Israel before going to China.