B.J. Armstrong

Knicks Plan To Hire Leon Rose As Head Of Basketball Operations

The Knicks and CAA player agent Leon Rose are nearing a deal that would make him the team’s new head of basketball operations, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported with Ramona Shelburne that Rose had become a top target for the Knicks, confirms that the team plans to hire the veteran agent as its next president (Twitter links). Ian Begley of SNY.tv first reported (via Twitter) that the Knicks had interest in Rose.

As Wojnarowski details (via Twitter), Rose has been one of the NBA’s top agents for years and has a star-studded list of clients that includes Joel Embiid, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Karl-Anthony Towns. The Knicks have plenty of experience dealing with Rose, as he also represents Carmelo Anthony.

Rose is expected to assume control of a front office that was previously run by Steve Mills, who was dismissed from his position as president of basketball operations earlier this week.

General manager Scott Perry took over as the top man in New York’s front office on an interim basis following Mills’ ouster, and he appears to be running the show for today’s trade deadline. He and the Knicks have a mutual option for 2020/21, meaning both sides would have to pick up that option for Perry to remain with the team, so we’ll see how that situation plays out. Newsday’s Steve Popper (Twitter link) hears that Perry is not expected to stay on under the new regime.

William Wesley, better known as “World Wide Wes,” is a strong candidate to join the Knicks’ front office under Rose, a source tells Begley (Twitter link). Wes, who is well-connected with players around the NBA, is a CAA consultant and has a strong relationship with Rose, according to Begley.

After firing Mills, the Knicks were immediately linked to Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, who has long been considered New York’s dream candidate. However, given how quickly New York moved forward on its front office search, it seems as if Ujiri wasn’t a serious option, despite rumblings that he might have interest in the job.

Begley had reported this morning (via Twitter) that there was “serious pessimism” surrounding the Knicks’ pursuit of Ujiri, in part due to the compensation that would have been required to get him out of his Raptors contract. With the Knicks moving in another direction, fans in Toronto can rest easy.

Before deciding on Rose, the Knicks were said to be considering a handful of other player agents as they look to emulate a model that has succeeded for the Warriors and Lakers, who hired former agents Bob Myers and Rob Pelinka, respectively.

Austin Brown and Roger Montgomery were among the agents reportedly receiving consideration from the Knicks, along with B.J. Armstrong, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News reported this morning (via Twitter).

Once Rose is officially hired by the Knicks, one of his first tasks this spring will be making a decision on the team’s head coach. Mike Miller has held that position on an interim basis since replacing David Fizdale earlier in the season.

Central Notes: Rose, Griffin, Young, Bulls

Derrick Rose hasn’t ruled out a reunion with the Bulls, his agent said in a radio interview on Monday. B.J. Armstrong said Rose is “open” to signing with the Bulls as an unrestricted free agent. He spent the first seven years of his career in Chicago after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Armstrong commented on Rose’s interest in the Bulls during an interview with 670 The Score which was relayed by the Sporting News.

“We’ll see what the Bulls have,” Armstrong said. “There’s no secret, there’s no doubt that in his heart, Chicago will always be there. We’ll see. I don’t know what the Bulls are going to do at this particular time. … If it presented itself, we’d be open to that conversation.”

Rose was enjoying a bounce-back season with the Timberwolves, averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.3 APG, before it was cut short due to injury. The former Bulls MVP had bone chips removed from his right elbow last month.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons All-Star forward Blake Griffin probably would be sitting out due to a left knee injury if they weren’t desperately trying to make the playoffs, coach Dwane Casey admits. The Pistons have lost four straight and need to win their last two games to ensure they’ll make the postseason for the second time in a decade. Griffin missed three games because of the sore knee but has played the last two, including a poor-shooting 16-point outing against Charlotte on Sunday. “We need him and we appreciate his effort, what he’s giving to us right now,” Casey said.
  • Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young feels he can keep going for several more years, Scott Agness of The Athletic reports. Young will be participating in the playoffs for the eighth time in 12 seasons. “It doesn’t look like I’m slowing down anytime soon. The good thing for me is I’m very, very healthy. I’m about 98 percent right now,” he said. “I’m just very happy that I’m able to play and able to continue to play. But I wouldn’t put a cap on what I’m going to play or what I’m trying to play. I have plenty left in the tank.” Young will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely seek a multi-year deal.
  • Coach Jim Boylen said the Bulls could use more versatile defenders to compete in the division but he’s unsure if they should pursue a big-ticket free agent and divide up their cap space, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “How we spend the money and how it’s split up … I mean do we hope to get two good players for that chunk of money and add depth, improve our bench maybe or do we get one guy? It really depends on who shakes out [in free agency], who is available, and what happens to the rest of the teams in the league,’’ Boylen said.

Pistons Notes: Stackhouse, Budenholzer, Armstrong, More

Jerry Stackhouse and Mike Budenholzer are two of the prominent names to look out for in the Pistons’ coaching search, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Detroit parted ways with coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy on Monday. Stackhouse is a former Detroit player and served as the Raptors’ G League coach this past season. Stackhouse met with the Knicks before they hired David Fizdale and also surfaced as a candidate for the Magic and Hornets’ jobs. Budenholzer, the former Hawks coach, is arguably the top experienced head coach on the market. Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin is another name to watch as the Pistons seek a new front office leader, Ellis adds.

Former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, ex-Warriors coach Mark Jackson and ex-Pacers and Magic coach Frank Vogel could also be coaching candidates. Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Chauncey Billups has previously been mentioned as a possible front office candidate, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News notes. Spurs assistant James Borrego and former Cavaliers coach David Blatt are among the other names to watch in the coaching search, Deveney adds.

In other news involving the Pistons-Van Gundy split:

  • Player agent and former Bulls executive B.J. Armstrong could be a candidate for a front-office position, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Armstrong has strong ties to Pistons chairman Arn Tellem and is a Detroit native. Goodwill adds.
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson was blindsided by the news of Van Gundy’s departure, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Jackson told Beard he was “stunned by the whole thing…it’s difficult right now to take the whole thing in.” Fellow point guard Ish Smith told Beard he would miss Van Gundy, adding that “he was really instrumental to my growth as a player.” (Twitter links)
  • Van Gundy’s coaching replacement needs to build the attack around the skills of Blake Griffin, Kevin Pelton of ESPN argues. His front office replacement will have to come up with creative ways to upgrade the roster around him despite salary-cap restraints, Pelton adds.
  • Griffin had some positive things to say about Van Gundy earlier Monday before the news of his departure broke. He made the comments during a podcast, which were relayed by USA Today’s Andrew Joseph“He’s actually a very cool guy. Very nice guy. Funny. And actually genuinely cares about people. That’s kind of rare.”

Latest On Derrick Rose And The Knicks

B.J. Armstrong, the agent for Derrick Rose, said that his client “wants to be in New York,” Ian Begley of ESPN.com writes. Rose was the subject of trade rumors leading up the trade deadline, but his representatives believe the Knicks had his best interests in mind when negotiating with other teams. Rose told the local media on Friday that he holds “no grudges and no hard feelings” about the trade chatter.

“It was an opportunity to see what his value truly was throughout the league,” Armstrong said. “So as you can see, through all the reports, there were teams that were interested in him and what he does and what he brings to the court.” 

Begley notes that several teams contacted the Knicks regarding a Rose trade. The Knicks had discussions with the Wolves regarding a Ricky Rubio-Rose swap, but those talks stalled when New York demanded additional assets. Shortly before the deadline passed, the Knicks backed off those demands, but Minnesota backed out of talks because it feared Rose wouldn’t be open to re-signing with the club.

“I wasn’t surprised that he wasn’t traded,” Armstrong said of Rose. “Derrick is putting together, game by game, coming back and really beginning to play at a consistent level to where he’s at and what he’s going to be at this stage of his career. So I think there was a lot of rumors, his name was out there. But in the end, I think the Knicks did what they thought was in their best interests.”

Rose would like to remain in town, but it’s unclear whether or not the Knicks would like to continue the relationship past this season, according to Begley.

Rose is averaging 17.6 points while shooting 46.2% from the field this season. However, the raw numbers don’t tell the whole story, as Dan Favale of NBAMath details. Rose prioritizes scoring when he’s on the court and his decision making has hurt the team this season. New York’s assist percentage drops significantly when Rose is in the lineup and Favale believes Rose has taken opportunities away from other players, especially Kristaps Porzingis.

Earlier in the year, it was reported that Rose would seek a max deal when he hits free agency this summer. It’s unlikely that he receives the max offer, but with a plethora of teams in need of a point guard, he’ll have plenty of suitors. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him land a deal in the $12-15MM/year range, though that is simply my speculation.

Western Notes: Ingram, Motiejunas, Daniels, Warren

Friday’s injury to Ben Simmons has validated Brandon Ingram‘s decision to be careful about adding weight, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com. Earlier this week, Simmons told reporters that he put on 33 pounds since leaving LSU. Ingram knows he needs to bulk up his 190-pound frame to handle the rigorous NBA game, but he prefers to do it slowly to reduce the risk of injury. The Lakers rookie has abandoned a 5,000-calorie-per-day program that he was practicing before the NBA draft. “As I’m going through the process, it’s as much good weight I can put on during the year,” he said. “Of course in the summer, you can go a different route and try to gain as much weight as you can. During the season, [I’m] just trying to maintain a weight.” 

There’s more news out of the Western Conference:

  • The agent for Donatas Motiejunas took another shot at the Rockets on Twitter as today’s midnight deadline for his client’s $4.4MM qualifying offer approaches. “When analytics can measure human behavior, then and only then will I find them useful,” tweeted B.J. Armstrong. It was an apparent swipe at Houston GM Daryl Morey, who is known as one of the NBA’s top believers in using statistical analysis to rate players. A technicality gives the Rockets the option to extend the offer past the deadline, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders, but he doubts that they will. Motiejunas is the last restricted free agent still without a contract.
  • Troy Daniels will have plenty of freedom to shoot from new Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, according to Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis picked up the sharpshooter in a sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets in July. The Grizzlies are Daniels’ fourth team as he enters his fourth NBA season, and Fizdale said the light for him to put up 3-point shots is “beyond green.” “I told him if you pass up a 3-pointer you’ll be sitting next to me,” Fizdale said. “I’d rather him shoot it and get it blocked or shoot an air ball before he passes up a 3.”
  • The SunsT.J. Warren is fully recovered from the broken foot that ended his season in January, writes Tyler Emerick of NBA.com. The third-year player could see increased minutes at the start of the season with P.J. Tucker recovering from a back injury. “T.J. has been great all training camp,” said teammate Eric Bledsoe. “I can’t stop talking about him. He looks great.”

Agent For Donatas Motiejunas Blasts Rockets

Restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas has gone all summer without a contract offer, and now his agent is turning up the heat on the Rockets, writes Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. B.J. Armstrong, who serves as Motiejunas’ representative, said the team hasn’t made a serious offer and then issued a warning about his client’s plans.

“Our moment of truth will be October 1,” Armstrong said. “We’ll make a decision on that day.”

The only move regarding Motiejunas this summer has been the $3.4MM qualifying offer the Rockets made to retain the right to match offers from other teams. His status as a restricted free agent and lingering back problems that limited him to 37 games last season have combined to cool interest in the 25-year-old power forward/center. The Rockets traded him to the Pistons in February, but Detroit voided the deal after Motiejunas failed to pass a physical. He was able to play for the Rockets after returning to Houston, averaging 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game after the failed deal.

As a stretch four with 3-point range, Motiejunas figures to be an important weapon in new coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Watkins reports that Motiejunas has met with D’Antoni, who promised him a significant role with the team if he re-signs.

Armstrong indicated that Motiejunas may not sign the qualifying offer if the Rockets don’t put together a better deal. However, he recognizes that his client’s options are limited.

“There’s only so much we can do based on the current CBA,” Armstrong said. “I’m not frustrated, this is what it is. We’ll know where the Rockets stand by [Oct. 1]. All deals get done in the 11th hour.”

And-Ones: Spurs, Celtics, Sixers, Pistons, Nuggets

Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili aren’t certain whether they’ll retire, as Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com details, but they’re not the only Spurs liable to hang it up in the wake of the team’s playoff elimination Thursday night. Andre Miller has strongly considered retirement, though he, too, hasn’t made up his mind yet, as he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). San Antonio’s contract with the 40-year-old Miller expires at the end of next month while Duncan, also 40, and Ginobili, who turns 39 in July, have player options. David West also has a player option, and though he turns 36 over the offseason, the talk surrounding him isn’t of retirement but of the lack of regrets he has about sacrificing roughly $11MM to sign his two-year minimum-salary contract with San Antonio last summer, as Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio News-Express relays (Twitter links).

“It’s been a great experience,” West said of his season with the Spurs. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

See more from around the NBA:

  • The Celtics, Sixers, Pistons, Nuggets, Pacers and Trail Blazers all benefited this season from set-off rights, reducing their obligations to waived players who had guaranteed salary remaining on their contracts, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details. Boston saved $620,306 from the money it owed David Lee because he signed a deal with the Mavs that paid more than $845,059, a figure equivalent to the one-year veteran’s minimum salary, Pincus writes. The Sixers saved $227,241 on JaVale McGee the same way. The Nuggets were spared $68,144 on Pablo Prigioni, the Pacers avoided paying $159,900 to Toney Douglas and the Trail Blazers shaved $327,064 from their bill for Mike Miller, according to Pincus. The Pistons saved $341,353 on Josh Smith, though that figure will be spread evenly over each season of the five-year obligation Detroit still has to him because the team used the stretch provision.
  • The Pistons also got cap relief for Aaron Gray, whom they owe $452,049 each season from 2015/16 through 2017/18, Pincus points out. Gray had to retire because of a heart condition, but a team can remove the cap hit for a player who had to retire because of a medical reason one year after his final game. Gray last played in 2014. Detroit still must pay the money to Gray, but it doesn’t count against the team’s cap, Pincus notes.
  • Agent Jason Glushon and the Wasserman agency mutually agreed to part ways, and Glushon will start his own agency, a source told Spears (Twitter link). Glushon has a short list of clients, with none more prominent than Hawks soon-to-be free agent Al Horford, who left Wasserman, Glushon and B.J. Armstrong to sign with Bill Duffy of BDA Sports last fall only to rejoin Wasserman a couple of months later. Jrue Holiday and Norman Powell are other Glushon clients.

Draft Rumors: Harrison Twins, Wiggins, Parker

In studying NBA history, one would be hard-pressed to find a championship team that didn’t draft and develop at least one star player who eventually led them to the Larry O’Brien trophy. As far as recent history is concerned, the 2003/04 Pistons appear to be an exception and Kobe Bryant technically wasn’t selected by the Lakers (he was traded for on draft night), but for the most part, fostering homegrown talent has been an undeniable component of the title equation.

Although not every team finds their future franchise cornerstone in every draft, the possibility of finding a young prospect who shows promise or presents a skill set that fills a need is enough to make the event an important one for the development of every NBA franchise. Sean Deveney of the Sporting News passes along the latest of what he’s heard regarding the 2014 Draft, and you can find it below:

  • Kentucky coach John Calipari has been telling people from around the NBA that his twin recruits, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison, won’t be entering the 2014 NBA Draft. Deveney adds that many of the mock drafts worth reading have already moved the two to their 2015 projection.
  • With that being said, a source with knowledge of the situation doesn’t think the Harrison twins should be counted out of this year’s draft just yet. Both are still reportedly giving strong consideration to entering their names for 2014, and while Calipari will be influential, their family – who played a big part in their commitment to Kentucky last year – will help make the final decision.
  • Although there are restrictions against college players accepting anything from agents, there is no rule prohibiting them from forming relationships, even during the college season. According to Deveney, it’s no secret that potential number one pick Andrew Wiggins has been tied with Rich Paul of LRMR Marketing, the same agency that represents LeBron James. Most fellow agents expect the Kansas star to sign with Paul once he declares for the draft.
  • Paul is also believed to be a candidate to represent Duke’s Jabari Parker, although Deveney writes that former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong – an associate of reputable longtime NBA agent Arm Tellem – is also in the mix, especially since Parker is a Chicago native.
  • Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State – currently projected to be a top five pick – has been linked to Aaron Mintz of the CAA, who represents Pacers star Paul George among others.