Caris LeVert

Atlantic Rumors: Green, LeVert, Marks, Williams

Danny Green believes Kawhi Leonard will have a tough time leaving the city of Toronto once he settles in during his first season with the Raptors, Kurt Helin of NBC Sports relays. Green, who was included in the blockbuster deal that sent Leonard to Toronto, made the comment during an Inside the Green Room Podcast. “The city of Toronto is gonna be hard to turn down after being there. I’ve been going every summer for the past 10-plus years. It’s a great city and the fans are amazing. … I’m getting a great amount of feedback, a great amount of love and all types of different stuff from the fans. So it’s gonna be tough for him to turn down.” Leonard can opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • LeVert played a total of 30 games at the point last season when D’Angelo Russell was injured, Milholen notes, and posted averages of 13.2 PPG and 4.8 APG in 27.2 MPG. Russell will start for Brooklyn and the Nets also have free agent addition Shabazz Napier at that spot. LeVert can also be viewed as a long-term insurance policy since Russell could become a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension, Milholen adds.
  • The early returns on Sean Marks‘ first-round picks bode well for next June’s draft, Jason Max Rose of NetsDaily.com opines. The Nets GM found two valuable assets during the last two drafts in LeVert and starting center Jarrett Allen, even though those picks were in the bottom third of the first round, Rose notes. Thus, Marks and his staff have shown they can not only identify talent but develop players as well, Rose adds. The Nets could have two first-rounders in June, their own pick plus the Nuggets’ top-12 protected pick acquired this summer.
  • Dominating at the G League level would make for a successful rookie season for Celtics first-rounder Robert Williams, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. That’s where Williams will spend a good portion of the season, Blakely notes, and the big man must prove the left knee injury he’s dealing with won’t be a major issue. Williams also needs to show more maturity off the court, Blakely adds.

Atlantic Notes: Vonleh, LeVert, Tatum, Simmons

Badly in need of rebounding help, the Knicks may have found it at a bargain price with the signing of Noah Vonleh, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. While other parts of his game have been questioned, Vonleh is considered very good at getting boards. He collected a career best 5.8 in about 16 minutes per game with the Trail Blazers and Bulls last season.

Chicago acquired Vonleh from Portland at the trade deadline, but didn’t make him an offer in free agency. The Knicks were able to sign him to a partially guaranteed one-year deal that will pay $100K if he’s still on the roster September 25.

“Free agency was pretty tough this year,’’ Vonleh said. “I didn’t get anything. There were a lot of teams with interest. But I love the game of basketball. I’m happy to have another year in the league. I’m going to play this year out and see how things go and try to be in the league for many years to come.”

There’s more this morning from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets forward Caris LeVert believes a relaxed practice schedule in the NBA has helped him overcome the injuries he had in college, relays Ethan Sears of The New York Post. Foot issues forced him to miss a large part of his junior and senior seasons at Michigan and caused him to slide to 20th in the 2016 draft. “I think that a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, he only — he got hurt in the college season, where they only played 40 games. How is he gonna play 82 games in the NBA season?’” LeVert said. “They don’t really look at the fact that in college, you practice way harder than in the NBA. Cause in the NBA, you can’t necessarily practice that hard, ’cause there’s a game basically every other day.”
  • After a stellar rookie season, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has spent the summer working on his strength, tweets ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “That’s probably been the biggest focus,” Tatum said. “I’m still young so it’s hard to really just throw on a bunch of extra pounds. But I’ve definitely gotten a lot stronger. … I just wanted to get my body right and keep getting stronger.”
  • Ben Simmons isn’t concerned about the Sixers missing out on LeBron James in free agency. Simmons talks about James’ decision to join the Lakers in a video tweeted by the Australian Daily Telegraph. “He did the right thing for him and his family,” Simmons said. “But it would’ve been great to learn from him, him being on the team and obviously competing for a championship. But we have pieces to get there.”

Atlantic Rumors: Lessort, Fizdale, Ojeleye, LeVert

Sixers’ draft-and-stash prospect Mathias Lessort has signed a two-year deal with Spain’s Unicaja Malaga, according to Eurohoops.net. The 6’9” Lessort, 22, played in Serbia last season for Red Star Belgrade and averaged 8.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 30 games. Lessort was the 50th overall pick in 2017.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks’ brass is thrilled over coach David Fizdale’s five-day visit with star player Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. The front office has been impressed by Fizdale’s ability to connect with the young players, Berman continues. No one in the Knicks’ front office visited Porzingis in Europe last summer and there were lingering concerns about his feelings toward the organization after his fallout with previous team president Phil Jackson, Berman adds.
  • Celtics swingman Semi Ojeleye is focused on becoming a more consistent offensive threat, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders writes. “Definitely knocking down open shots,” Ojeleye said of his offseason focus. “Just gotta do a better job being consistent with that. Then offensively, I think making more plays.” Ojeleye was an afterthought in the Celtics’ attack last season, even though he appeared in 73 games as a rookie. He averaged 2.7 PPG in 15.8 MPG while shooting 34.6% from the field and 32% from long range.
  • Nets guard Caris LeVert has received little attention this offseason but he could be poised for a breakout season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post opines. LeVert averaged 13.8 PPG on 46.5% shooting, including 44.1% on 3-point tries, heading into the New Year last season before minor injuries piled up. LeVert generated more trade interest before the February deadline and prior to this year’s draft than any other Brooklyn player, Lewis continues, but the organization chose to hold onto him. “For me it’s just staying healthy and continue to maximize my potential. I’m not really worried about anybody else but myself, honestly,” LeVert told Lewis.

New York Notes: Young, Ntilikina, LeVert, Lin

The Knicks are scheduled to host Oklahoma point guard Trae Young for a private workout at the organization’s practice facility on Tuesday, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. We relayed earlier this week that the Knicks were one of a “handful” of teams Young will work out for privately.

Young has long been linked to the Knicks, but the chances of him being available when the team picks ninth are unlikely. Nonetheless, Berman wrote a feature in which Young’s style of play and attitude are highlighted as a match for the bright lights of New York City.

“After two years,’’ said Sooners assistant Chris Crutchfield, “he’ll be an NBA All-Star. One, he’s quick with the ball. Two, he can really, really shoot it. And three, he can pass it. Based on the way the NBA is designed with defensive rules, it’s ideal for a guy like Trae to have success. If you don’t guard him at 35 feet he may shoot it. If you do, he’s going to go by you.’’

Berman compares the Knicks’ interest in Young to the team’s 2009 interest in Stephen Curry, who was selected by the Warriors one spot before New York picked. There is concern that comparisons to Curry may impact Young’s career early, but he appears to be welcoming the pressure.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Frank Ntilikina returned to the United States from his native France this week with a new look inspired by his desire to improve as part of the Knicks future, Berman writes“I’ve added some weight and muscle,” Ntilikina said. “I spent a lot of time working on my body in France. I’m getting better and more comfortable with my skills and body. I had the chance to maximize my time and work on my body, which I didn’t have time to do during the season.”
  • Nets forward Caris LeVert spent time in India this week working with young kids as part of the Basketball Without Borders program, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. LeVert said he enjoyed going to Taiwan last year for a camp hosted by teammate Jeremy Lin and that he wants to see more of the world.
  • Speaking of Lin, his season ended on opening night when he ruptured the patella tendon in his knee. Lin reflected on how faith helped him overcome the grief of an injury ending his season, Net Income of NetsDaily writes. “The injury was like the last straw for me. This was the biggest setback in my life. It took place at the moment of my life’s most anticipated and highest peak,” Lin said. “I’m 30 years old. As a basketball player, I’m 30 years old already entering the end of the line.”

And-Ones: BWB Asia, Gambling, Williams, G League

The Thunder’s Corey Brewer, Nets’ Caris LeVert, Heat’s Kelly Olynyk and Mavericks’ Dwight Powell will coach top high school age campers from the Asia-Pacific region in the 10th edition of Basketball Without Borders Asia, according to an NBA release.

BWB Asia 2018 will be held May 30–June 2 at The NBA Academy India in Delhi National Capital Region. Players and coaches will lead the campers through a variety of activities on and off the court, including movement efficiency, positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, 5-on-5 games, and daily life skills seminars.

In other developments from around the league:

  • New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney voiced strong opposition to the sports’ leagues request for sports betting fees, ESPN Chalk’s David Payne Purdum tweets. “They are calling this extortion attempt an integrity fee, even while fully aware that providing participants a stake in the volume of betting would amount what could more accurately be called an anti-integrity fee,” Sweeney said. The NBA later defended its position, saying its games are the foundation of what will be bet on, the Associated Press reports. “We believe it is reasonable for casinos to compensate the NBA with a small percentage of the total amount bet on our games,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.
  • The NBA is projecting the salary cap to inflate by $7MM in 2019 and some of that projection might include some anticipated new gambling-related revenue, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. While the cap could rise due to gambling-related income, it won’t cause a dramatic increase in the future, Windhorst adds.
  • Former NBA guard Mo Williams will join Mark Gottfried’s staff at Cal State Northridge, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweets. Williams played for Gottfriend at Alabama, Goodman notes.
  • The G League showcase has been moved from January to December and Las Vegas is a strong contender to host it, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Orlando is also being considered as a host site, according to 2ways10days.com. League expansion is a major reason why Las Vegas and Orlando are potential landing spots for the showcase.

Nets Notes: FA Mini-Camp, RFA Market, LeVert

The Nets hosted a three-day mini-camp this week for veteran free agents, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link), who identifies former Thunder guard Semaj Christon and 2016 first-round pick Brice Johnson as a pair of the participants.

Per Kennedy (Twitter link), other players with previous NBA experience who took part in Brooklyn’s mini-camp include Xavier Silas, Josh Gray, Naz Mitrou-Long, Jarrod Uthoff, and Byron Mullens. Walt Lemon Jr., who saw a little action with the Pelicans this season, was also in attendance, tweets NetsDaily.

While the Nets may not end up adding any of those players to their roster for next season, the mini-camp gives the club a chance to get a closer look at some players who might have flown under-the-radar, and perhaps some candidates for two-way contracts next season.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The Nets have been the NBA’s most active club in restricted free agency over the past two years, with little success. The club signed Allen Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, Donatas Motiejunas, and Otto Porter to offer sheets, but saw all four of those offers matched at the time (Crabbe was later traded to Brooklyn). With that recent history in mind, NetsDaily explores whether the club will foray into the RFA market again in 2018, with Aaron Gordon looming as a possible target.
  • The first draft pick of the Sean Marks era in Brooklyn, Caris LeVert showed impressive potential and versatility during his second NBA season in 2017/18, writes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. LeVert, who could become a long-term starter for the Nets, won’t be eligible for restricted free agency until 2020.
  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is on the wrong end of a lawsuit in New York State Court, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. Prokhorov is being counter-sued by Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistle-blower who exposed Russian cheating in the 2014 Olympics, for backing a libel lawsuit that Rodchenkov viewed as an intimidation tactic.

New York Notes: Okafor, Lee, LeVert

Jahlil Okafor hasn’t found much success on the court since being traded to the Nets, but coach Kenny Atkinson believes the big man is simply a “victim of circumstance,” as Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays.

“Sometimes it’s just circumstances,” Atkinson said. “I’d say his approach, his buy-in to what we’re doing, has been phenomenal. His buy-in to our performance team and getting his body, improving his body has been phenomenal. So, very pleased.”

Atkinson had shortened his rotation before giving the Duke product some run against the Sixers on Sunday. Okafor, who will be a free agent after the season, had four points in his five minutes of action and he may see more court time during the last month of the season.

“He has some days where he gets a little down, which is normal,” the coach added. “But he picks it right back up and has really busted his tail. So hopefully in these last games we can find opportunities for him to get there. I’d like to see more, so hopefully we get to that point.”

Here’s more from the Big Apple:

  • Courtney Lee, who was the subject of trade rumors earlier this season, isn’t happy with the Knicks‘ effort on the court lately. “Effort is the key to everything,” Lee exclaimed (via Fred Kerber of the New York Post). “It takes no talent to run from the paint out to contest a 3-point shot, that’s just all effort. We have to get everybody’s effort. Everybody’s got to be locked in.” The shooting guard is under contract with New York through the 2019/20 season.
  • Nets GM Sean Marks always believed former No. 20 overall pick Caris LeVert would develop into a reliable playmaker despite criticism from naysayers who argued that the team made a mistake by taking the Michigan product that high, as Bryan Fonseca of SB Nation relays. LeVert, whom the team gave up Thaddeus Young in order to acquire, is averaging 5.3 assists per contest this season.

New York Notes: Noah, Ntilikina, Okafor, Nets

Although March 1 isn’t an official deadline for the Knicks to make a decision on Joakim Noah, the team will have to waive him on or before that day if he wants to retain his postseason eligibility. That makes it a date worth watching, and according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the National Basketball Players Association will have an eye on the situation.

Berman hears from sources that the NBPA will “intensify its interest” in the Noah situation if he remains on the Knicks’ roster – but not with the team – beyond March 1. If the veteran center wants to return to the Knicks at that point and the club wants him to remain in exile, things “could get ugly,” per Berman.

Sources tell Berman that the Knicks were within their right to suspend Noah for insubordination after he cursed out head coach Jeff Hornacek last month, but chose not to do so — Noah continues to receive his full salary during his absence. If the big man isn’t released this week, one potential scenario, Berman suggests, would see the Knicks brass telling him to sit tight and prepare for the 2018/19 season, when Hornacek may no longer be the club’s head coach.

While we wait to see what happens with Noah, let’s round up a few more items from out of New York City…

  • In a separate article for The New York Post, Berman examines the upcoming summer for Frank Ntilikina. The rookie point guard has suggested he’ll spend much of his offseason in his home country of France, but the Knicks will likely want him to play for their Summer League team in July.
  • Jahlil Okafor hasn’t seen any action for the Nets since February 12, but still believes he’s capable of fitting in with Brooklyn’s fast-paced style of play, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. “I wish we’d had him since training camp,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of Okafor. “It makes it easier. We’re scrambling here trying to find a lineup so he’s a little bit of a victim of that.”
  • Speaking of the Nets‘ lineup, it got a boost on Monday, as both Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned from injuries. Tom Dowd has the details at the club’s official site.

New York Notes: Beasley, Hardaway, Burke, LeVert

With Tim Hardaway Jr. back in the fold, Michael Beasley will likely see his role diminish moving forward, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. Beasley played 16 minutes on Friday against the Grizzlies, the same night that Hardaway’s long-awaited return took place.

Before Hardaway’s injury, the Knicks’ bench was rotational with Beasley, Lance Thomas, and others seeing the court when the situation called for it. While Beasley played well in Hardaway’s absence, notching a pair of 30+ point outings in that time, he will have to readjust to the role he filled to start the season.

 “Every one of (our bench players) lends us something and it could be situational,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Lance (Thomas) has done a great job defending some of these guys. Prior to when Tim was here, there were nights when Lance didn’t play. There were nights Mike didn’t play. So we’ll probably end up going back to that.”

  • Speaking of Hardway, he notched 16 points in 25 minutes for the Knicks in Friday’s loss. After missing 20 games, it was a welcome sight for the Knicks to have Hardaway back, and he felt much better than he expected, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays.
  • The Knicks‘ signing of former lottery pick Trey Burke is official. Burke has arrived in New York and will be in uniform the Knicks’ tilt against the Pelicans, Grey Joyce of the New York Post writes.
  • Quincy Acy got his first start of the season – and second in his 70-game career with the Nets – and played well, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. The veteran center posted eight points, six rebounds, and made a crucial three-pointer late in the game.
  • Caris LeVert has played well in his second NBA season and despite his early shooting struggles, he has shown the Nets the potential of a standout player, Tom Dowd writes in a profile for NBA.com. LeVert, 23, was the 20th overall pick in last year’s draft and after missing most of his rookie season due to injury, he has made great strides in his sophomore campaign.
  • The Nets will file with the NBA to receive a disabled player exception for Jeremy Lin before tomorrow’s deadline, tweets Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Lin went down with a season-ending ruptured patella tendon in his right knee on opening night.

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, LeVert, Saric, Bayless

Knicks lottery pick Frank Ntilikina has played 20 or more minutes in 13 of the last 15 games, as coach Jeff Hornacek continues to gain trust in the French point guard, Roger Rubin of Newsday writes. Ntilikina had a 9-point, 11-assist outing late last month against the Spurs. He’s not posting big numbers like some other rookie guards around the league but the Knicks are pleased with hiss progress. “I think I’m making a step moving forward. The coach gives me more trust, more minutes,” Ntilikina told Rubin and other media members. “I think I’m getting more comfortable on the court. He sees that. I think I can help more than I was doing before. I just have to keep going, keep working on it.”

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Swingman Caris LeVert is justifying the Nets’ 2016 draft-night trade to snag him with No. 20 pick, according to Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily.com. Brooklyn dealt veteran forward Thaddeus Young to the Pacers for LeVert, even though he underwent three foot surgeries during his collegiate career at Michigan. Last month, LeVert averaged 14.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.3 APG and 1.2 SPG in 28 MPG. “He’s been coming in with that second unit and he’s really been our spark right now and doing a great job,” coach Kenny Atkinson said.
  • Forward Dario Saric can step into a starring role if needed, as he showed during the final three games of the Sixers’ recent road trip, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. He averaged 24 PPG and 7.3 RPG while making two-thirds of his 3-point tries. “I need to stay focused and believing in myself, believing in what I’m doing on the court,” Saric told Pompey.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown considers guard Jerryd Bayless as the team’s hardest worker, as he relayed to Brian Seltzer of the team’s website“His day starts when mine does. You go in at like 6:00 a.m., 6:30, and shortly thereafter you hear the tom toms, and he’s in a gym with a ball. That could be after a game,” Brown said. “He’s just a maniacal worker. … When he doesn’t perform like he wants to perform, he doesn’t shoot like he wants to shoot, he wakes up early and tries to fix it quick.”