Charles Oakley

Atlantic Notes: Dolan, Oakley, Knox, Sixers, Celtics

Although they were ordered earlier this month to personally participate in a March 31 conference call to media their long-running dispute, Knicks owner James Dolan and former NBA big man Charles Oakley will no longer be required to do so, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details. Instead, their lawyers will take part in the call. According to Bondy, there was a sense that a conference call might not be conducive to mediation between Dolan and Oakley themselves.

Oakley sued Dolan after the Knicks owner had him arrested and banned from Madison Square Garden in 2017. While Tuesday’s call could offer some form of resolution, a face-to-face meeting may be necessary for Dolan and Oakley to truly bury the hatchet. And, as Bondy notes, it’s not clear when that sort of meeting might be viable, given the social-distancing measures enacted in New York, not to mention Dolan’s positive coronavirus test.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Former Knicks head coach David Fizdale and interim replacement Mike Miller both felt that second-year forward Kevin Knox had a tendency to play “soft,” a league source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks have been impressed by Knox’s effort level and the strides he made on the defensive end, but Berman hears from a source that Miller, who was still tasked with winning games following the trade deadline, didn’t feel as if giving Knox heavy minutes was the best way to achieve that goal.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Derek Bodner takes a look at how things might have been different for the Sixers if they hadn’t traded up to select Markelle Fultz in the 2017 draft. Bodner refers to the decision as “the turning point of when the Sixers’ team-building became complicated.”
  • Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald takes a look at what the Celtics got out of each player on their roster in 2019/20 and what the team might have expected from those players if the season hadn’t been postponed.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a few Nets-related rumors and notes earlier this afternoon.

Knicks Notes: Ellington, Rose, Miller

Following the trade deadline in February, there were multiple teams that would have had interest in Wayne Ellington if he and the Knicks had reached a buyout agreement, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. A source tells Berman that general manager Scott Perry and Ellington’s agent Mark Bartelstein had several conversations about the possibility, but ultimately elected not to move forward.

As Berman explains, Perry wanted Ellington around the Knicks’ young players because he felt as if the veteran guard was a positive influence, and the 32-year-old was happy to take on that mentor role.

Although Ellington is now on track to finish the season with the Knicks – whenever the season may end – he may end up moving on to a new NBA home for 2020/21. New York is unlikely to guarantee his $8MM salary, Berman notes.

“He might be back to a minimum-salary player next season,” an NBA personnel person told Berman. “I think maybe he’s a lost a step and he was never too athletic to begin with. He’ll hang around a couple more years because of his shooting profile.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Although new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose was on the job for less than two weeks before the NBA suspended its season, he came away with “a positive feeling” about interim head coach Mike Miller, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Sources tell Begley that Rose was impressed by the way Miller handled the team and respected the job he’d done since taking over for David Fizdale.
  • Rose is still expected to conduct his own head coaching search after the season, but some “prominent people at Madison Square Garden” would like to see Miller remain with the organization in some capacity, sources tell Begley.
  • Appearing this week on ESPN Radio, former Knicks great Patrick Ewing addressed the feud between his former teammate Charles Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan, as Scott Thompson of SNY.tv details. “Whatever is going on with (Oakley) and Mr. Dolan, like I’ve said before, it’s something that needs to stop,” Ewing said. “He’s one of the best players that I’ve played with. He’s a part of the Knicks’ history. He and Mr. Dolan need to get in a room somewhere and figure that out.” The two sides have been ordered by a federal appeals court to mediate their dispute.
  • In case you missed them, we’ve published stories this week on Damyean Dotson, Reggie Bullock, and more Knicks-related subjects. Check out their team page right here.

And-Ones: Oakley, Perkins, EuroLeague, Expansion Draft

Knicks owner James Dolan and former player Charles Oakley have been ordered to mediate their dispute by a federal appeals court, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. A conference call has been scheduled for March 31, requiring that Dolan and Oakley to attend with their attorneys. The order, which was uncovered by sports legal analyst Daniel Wallach, is the latest development in Oakley’s civil lawsuit. Oakley sued Dolan for defamation, assault and false imprisonment after he was arrested and banned from Madison Square Garden in 2017.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA center and ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins has been ordered by his physician to lose weight or risk becoming diabetic, he tweets. Perkins said he’s gained 75 pounds since retiring two seasons ago. Perkins appeared in one game with Cleveland in 2017/18 season, his lone NBA outing since a 37-game stint with New Orleans in the 2015/16 season.
  • Former Wizards forward Chris Singleton said the EuroLeague should use a March Madness-style format to complete its season, Sportando’s Nicola Lupo relays. Singleton suggested splitting the 18 teams into two groups with a host city for each group. The No. 8 and 9 seeds in each group would play an extra game. A third city would then host the EuroLeague Final Four. Singleton plays for Anadolu Efes in Turkey.
  • How would an expansion draft look? NBC Sports conducted a mock expansion draft for mythical Seattle SuperSonics and Flint Tropics franchises. See which players Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman selected for their teams here.

Knicks Notes: Oakley, Lee, Rose, Harkless

Charles Oakley offered his opinion on the Knickscontroversy involving Spike Lee during a radio interview this morning, relays Steve Popper of Newsday. Appearing on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo,” Oakley said the dispute stems from an organizational philosophy set by owner James Dolan.

“When you see a business like this year after year … having problems off the court, trying to get people to come to games and they’re not coming because it’s a toxic situation, because it’s so much control going on … egos,” Oakley stated. “These people who run a team, sometimes owners sit back and watch; this guy wants to be the CEO, the head of operations, he wants to be in control. It shouldn’t be run like that. It should be run by a group of people, not a control freak.”

Oakley also suggested that these incidents alienate players who might think about joining the team. New York had an embarrassing experience last summer when it failed to land any top talent despite having enough cap room for two max offers.

“Even Dwyane Wade said, they treat you like that, how you think they’re going to treat us?” Oakley added. “… The thing that kills the team, kills their hope for the future, you get a new president [Leon Rose] and don’t get to introduce him to the press, to the people because of this. It just wiped the whole thing out. You did something positive and you’re right back at ground zero.”

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Rose took a low-key approach to his first day as president of basketball operations, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Rose didn’t hold a press conference or talk to any media. He met with players and staff and promised to build relationships. “We’ve been through a lot of up and down this year — coaching changes, president changes, a lot of family tragedies — but he really wants to stick with us,” Kevin Knox said. “He’s going to make sure we get better, the team gets better. As a player, that’s what you want to hear.”
  • Warriors general manager Bob Myers tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that Rose’s background as a successful agent will help him succeed as an executive. Myers was the pioneer for that transition, leaving Arn Tellem’s agency in 2012 to take over Golden State.
  • Maurice Harkless has made an impression on the coaching staff since being acquired from the Clippers at the trade deadline, observes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “People use the term versatility a lot but when I watch the games, and then I go back and I watch in on video again, I see more things that he did that maybe I didn’t even notice,” interim coach Mike Miller said.

Charles Oakley’s Civil Suit Dismissed

The civil lawsuit that former Knicks player Charles Oakley filed against Madison Square Garden and team owner James Dolan was dismissed today by a federal judge in Manhattan, according to Andrew Denney and Gabrielle Fonrouge of The New York Post.

Oakley sued following a 2017 incident that saw him ejected from the arena and arrested after a scuffle with security guards. Oakley’s suit claimed he was unfairly targeted for taking verbal jabs at Dolan, while the owner accused Oakley of being drunk and belligerent. The lawsuit, filed in September of 2017, alleged defamation, assault, false imprisonment and other similar charges.

Judge Richard Sullivan ruled today that Oakley failed to make a plausible legal argument against the defendants.

“From its inception, this case has had the feel of a public relations campaign, with the parties seemingly more interested in the court of public opinion than the merits of their legal arguments. That is perhaps understandable, given the personal and public nature of the dispute,” Sullivan wrote. “But while basketball fans in general, and Knicks fans in particular, are free to form their own opinions about who was in the right and whether Oakley’s ejection was motivated by something more than the whims of the teams owner, the fact remains that Oakley has failed to allege a plausible legal claim that can meet federal pleading standards.”

Sullivan also determined that Dolan and MSG had the right to eject Oakley because they serve as landlords of the arena.

MSG issued a statement praising the decision. The company called the dispute with Oakley an “incident that no one was happy about,” adding, “Maybe now there can be peace between us.”

However, Douglas Wigdor, who serves as Oakley’s attorney, indicated his client isn’t ready to call off the legal battle.

“Charles is not one to give up,” Wigdor said. “While we are disappointed with the ruling, it’s just the beginning of the fourth quarter and we are confident that we can turn this around with an appeal that we plan to file in the coming days.”

Eastern Notes: Giannis, Raptors, Heat, Thompson

If Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes a free agent during the summer of 2021, the Raptors are likely to be one of his “chief pursuers,” sources tell John Hollinger of The Athletic.

It’s entirely possible that Antetokounmpo won’t even reach the open market, since the Bucks intend to put a super-max extension offer on the table for him next summer as soon as they’re eligible to do so. And even if the star forward does opt for free agency, it’s not as if the Raptors won’t face competition from just about every other team in the NBA.

Still, it makes sense that the Raptors would zero in on Antetokounmpo specifically as they consider future targets. President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri reportedly helped Giannis and his family emigrate from Nigeria to Greece, and tried to trade into the 2013 draft to select him. The Raps haven’t had much luck luring top American-born free agents to Toronto in the past, but might believe they’d have a better shot with an international star like Antetokounmpo, especially now that they have a championship under their belt.

It’s far too early to draw any conclusions about Giannis’ future, but until he re-ups with the Bucks or ends up elsewhere, it’s safe to assume the Raptors will be retaining their 2021 cap flexibility in the hopes he considers them.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Dion Waiters and James Johnson both practiced with the Heat today, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. However, only Johnson will travel to Atlanta with the team, as he has reached his conditioning targets while Waiters hasn’t, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). Neither player has suited up for the club yet this season due to conditioning issues.
  • Tristan Thompson, who is in a contract year with the Cavaliers, has never made an All-Defense team, but wants that to change this season, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays. “I want to guard the best wings and big on every team,” Thompson said. “I want to make their night tough, to gain that respect defensively around the league. [A] goal of mine is to make first team All-Defense. The way you do that is guarding the best players.”
  • Appearing on Big Apple Buckets, the New York Post’s podcast, Charles Oakley suggested that he’s open to trying to bury the hatchet with Knicks ownership after a contentious saga that saw him banned from MSG, writes Greg Joyce of The Post. Oakley also weighed in on how the Knicks should respond to Kevin Durant‘s comments about the team not being “cool.”

James Dolan Won’t Rule Out Possibility Of Selling Knicks

While there are no indications that Knicks owner James Dolan plans to sell the franchise anytime soon, he didn’t entirely rule out the possibility during a recent discussion with Ian O’Connor of ESPN.com. Noting that his family has no interest in selling the Knicks, Dolan told O’Connor that he has a responsibility to his shareholders to keep that option open in case the right offer comes along.

“You have a responsibility as the guy who runs the place to deliver on that for them, that’s being open and transparent. And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks,” Dolan said. “Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote.

“As a majority owner, I don’t want to sell, either,” Dolan continued. “As the head of the public company, you can’t say you can’t sell, because then you’re telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won’t invest with you if you do that.”

When Forbes released its NBA franchise valuations early in 2018, the Knicks were once again viewed as the league’s most valuable team, with an estimated value of $3.6 billion. In his discussion with O’Connor, Dolan acknowledged that there have been some “feelers” of offers that would far exceed that number. However, those feelers never led to any concrete offers for the franchise.

“You hear numbers all the time,” Dolan told O’Connor. “… I think people have sent feelers out, but never any that were pursued. Yeah, [the feelers are] around that number [$5 billion], but those things, it’s like a stock price. It’s only important if you’re going to buy or sell.”

Dolan also addressed a handful of other topics during his wide-ranging conversation with O’Connor, so the piece is worth checking out in full for Knicks fans.

Here are some of the other notable comments from the Knicks’ owner:

On Phil Jackson’s unsuccessful stint as the Knicks’ president of basketball operations:

“I think it was much more about this triangle thing. It was much more about his philosophy, that he couldn’t get the group to buy into it. And I think he got ‘yessed’ a lot. I think they’d be underneath their breath going, ‘This is not a great idea,’ and he got into conflict with some players over it. But I think he tried hard to get his system in. I just don’t think he ever got it in.”

On Jeff Van Gundy telling ESPN that he had interest in the Knicks’ head coaching job this past spring:

“I never heard that. He wanted the job? Look, I’ll do whatever’s necessary to help the team. If [GM] Scott [Perry] and [president of basketball operations] Steve [Mills] said Jeff’s the right guy, fine, but it was really their call. I didn’t meet anybody else other than [David Fizdale]. They said, ‘Look, he’s our pick, I want you to meet him.’ So I did. I wasn’t involved in the selection process at all.”

On whether he has any regrets about having Charles Oakley ejected from Madison Square Garden during a 2017 game:

“He was out of control. Anybody else who went even half the way that he went would have been ejected from the venue. It just got too bad. He had to be taken out.”

Charles Oakley Files Suit Against Dolan, MSG

2.24pm: The Knicks have issued a response to Oakley’s suit, calling it “frivolous” and a way to get attention, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN.

1:39pm: Former Knicks star Charles Oakley filed a civil suit today relating to his removal from Madison Square Garden in February, according to Victoria Bekiempis and Stephen Rex Brown of The New York Daily News. The suit accuses Knicks owner James Dolan and MSG of defamation and discrimination, saying they falsely smeared him as a drunk in the wake of the incident.

“One person who could not abide by Mr. Oakley’s refusal to meekly submit to people in positions of power was Defendant James Dolan,” the suit alleges. It also claims Dolan wouldn’t shake hands or make eye contact with Oakley, refused to invite him to fan appreciation gatherings and made him pay for tickets to games. Oakley was a frequent critic of Knicks management and had a strained relationship with Dolan before the public incident.

Their feud reached a boiling point February 8 when Dolan ordered security guards to remove Oakley from Madison Square Garden. Oakley resisted and claimed in the suit that he was “treated like a common criminal.” The clash was caught on camera and turned into a huge public relations fiasco for the team.

Oakley was arrested and charged with assault, but that was dropped in an August plea agreement that requires him to stay out of trouble for six months and avoid Madison Square Garden for a year. Dolan issued a lifetime ban from MSG for Oakley that was later rescinded and accused him of having a drinking problem.

“Dolan and MSG have caused irreparable harm to his name and career and discriminated against him based on the false perception that he is an alcoholic, all in a transparent attempt to denigrate his standing among Knicks fans,” the suit reads. “However, as he did throughout his playing career, Mr. Oakley has refused to walk to the bench in shame. Instead, holding his head up high, Mr. Oakley files this complaint to set the record straight.”

The suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court cites defamation, assault, battery, false imprisonment and abuse of process claims. Oakley is also suing under the Americans With Disabilities Act, along with city and state human rights laws, claiming Dolan and MSG denied him entrance to the Garden “based on their perception that he suffers from alcoholism, a disability.”

Knicks Notes: Rubio, Anthony, Oakley

A majority of the past few months has fixated on the Knicks‘ interest Ricky Rubio and several people in the organization want the team to continue pursuing the point guard, ESPN’s Ian Begley writes. Rubio, who will turn 27 in October, was linked to New York up until the trade deadline this past regular season, when a Derrick Rose-for-Rubio swap nearly completed.

Rubio enjoyed arguably his best season ever, posting career-highs in PPG (11.1), APG (9.1), and field goal percentage (40.2 percent) through 75 games. However, Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau has indicated that the team views 2016 draft pick Kris Dunn as a mainstay at point guard. Begley reported last month that the Timberwolves view the aforementioned Rose as a target in free agency, which would displace Rubio and make a trade more likely.

The Knicks — who own the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft — are also currently in talks with the Trail Blazers about potentially acquiring another first-round pick. So whether it’s Rubio or the draft, the Knicks figure to be one of the most active teams in free agency and the trade market this offseason.

  • In a separate piece for ESPN, Begley examines how Carmelo Anthony‘s $8.1 MM trade kicker impacts his value this offseason. The kicker would have different ramifications if he’s dealt on or before certain dates. If Anthony is traded before June 30, the kicker can be spread out over the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons; if he’s traded before July 1,  it’s spread out over two seasons; if he’s traded after July 1, the entire kicker is factored into his 2017/18 salary. Begley’s thorough examination also includes information on how several potentially interested teams would need to free up salary to accommodate the 10-time All-Star.
  • Knicks legend Charles Oakley appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court yesterday and rejected a deal to drop charges stemming from a February 8 incident at Madison Square Garden. Once again from Begley, Oakley’s trial date was set for August 4; he was hit with five charges after a physical run-in with MSG security, including two misdemeanors of assault, two misdemeanors of harassment and one misdemeanor of trespassing. Oakley, who played in New York a decade, has historically had a bad relationship with team owner James Dolan, who Oakley accused of unfairly kicking him out of The Garden.

Knicks Notes: Draft, Lottery, Jackson, Oakley

With the NBA draft lottery a mere hours away, the Knicks organization will soon learn where it will draft next month. The Knicks stands a 5.3% chance of grabbing the first overall selection and, at worst, will pick 10th overall. The team has trained its focus on wings and guards, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com.

The Knicks delegation made up of Phil Jackson, GM Steve Mills, assistant GM Allan Houston, and head coach Jeff Hornacek interviewed Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, and Frank Jackson, at the combine, per Zagoria. Fox beamed about his desire to play for the Knicks in another piece Zagoria wrote for FanRagSports.com.

“I don’t know too much about the triangle,” Fox said. “Everyone says it’s hard to learn but if I go in there I’ll have to learn quickly. And Porzingis, he’s amazing, watching the NBA this year. I really paid attention to the NBA this year knowing I’m about to go into this business; I had to stop watching it as a casual fan and start thinking of it as a business aspect. He’s great and if I get to play with him, I feel like we can do something special.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Phil Jackson is furious about the coverage he and the team are getting by the New York media, but it is Jackson who must take accountability for his failures for the Knicks culture to improve, writes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. In particular, Jackson should question the effect of his treatment of star players on the team, argues Isola. Jackson claims that NBA commissioner Adam Silver agreed that media coverage has become problematic when the pair recently met, but Isola is skeptical.
  • Jackson has tempered his expectations for the lottery and the draft, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Jackson knows that there are no guarantees and is approaching the draft in a holistic manner: “We don’t expect a whole lot. Even our franchise, the New York Knicks, deigned to draft guys back in the ’90s, went with all veterans, gave up a lot of their picks. There’s that feeling too. As this talent pool is narrowed, it really is important to have both draftable players, tradeable players and free agents. We want to look at all these options before we get into it.”
  • Lonzo Ball and Fultz top the list of Knicks possible targets, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. That’s no surprise, as those are considered the top two prospects in the draft by nearly every expert.
  • Charles Oakley is still facing charges stemming from his infamous February expulsion from Madison Square Garden and says that James Dolan should have been fined or suspended, writes Ted Berg of USA Today Sports. Oakley made his comments on the For the Win podcast.