Clarence Gaines Jr.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Knox, Dotson, Hezonja

Knicks coach David Fizdale has enjoyed the presence of Kristaps Porzingis at practice and games, with Porzingis still months away from a potential return to the court after tearing his ACL in February.

Porzingis, 23, has mostly been away from the team rehabbing his injury, but was at Madison Square Garden when the Knicks took on Boston Saturday night. He sat on the bench supporting his teammates and was available for advice when needed.

“It’s good for his mindset,” Fizdale said, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter link). “When you’re out that long and you’re dealing with injury and you’re dealing with, (you think) ‘if I don’t come back the same and man I can’t even play and these guys are having fun and competing’ and all of that. For him to be around helps. 

“It’s very easy to go into some depression if you stay away from the team when you’re going through something that big. So I think it’s really good for him. I know it’s good for us. The young guys look to him for advice. And for encouragement. And he sees the game very clearly. The film sessions have been fantastic with him. Just him taking over the film sessions and (saying) hey, we have to do this, do this. I know he needs that right now. To feel connected and like I said he’s been fantastic from that point. Totally engaged.” 

There’s more out of New York today:

  • Kevin Knox sustained a sprained left ankle in Saturday’s game against the Celtics, an MRI confirmed. Knox is set to be re-evaluated in one week and won’t make the team’s upcoming two-game road trip.
  • The sudden injury to Knox will free up minutes for young forward Damyean Dotson, Peter Botte of The New York Post contends. Dotson scored 20 points on 4-8 shooting last game, with coach David Fizdale later telling reporters, “I told him this. I told him all through preseason — I trust the kid — ‘You’re a player. You’re exactly what we’re looking for in a player.’ And he earned the right to get on the court. I’m really happy how he kept himself ready, real professional approach.”
  • Former Knicks executive Clarence Gaines Jr. ripped Mario Hezonja following the team’s loss to Boston, tweeting that Hezonja is a “huge liability as an individual defender” (link). Knicks general manager Scott Perry is a longtime Hezonja supporter, with Gaines Jr. being a former right-hand man to Phil Jackson during his time with the Knicks.

Atlantic Rumors: Gaines, Nurse, Celtics, Knox

Clarence Gaines Jr. is no longer with the Knicks’ organization, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports. Gaines was the team’s VP of player personnel under former team president Phil Jackson, who credited Gaines for lobbying to select Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 lottery. Gaines did scouting for the current regime last season. Several newcomers have been hired by the front office and Gaines did not have strong ties to GM Scott Perry, Ian Begley of ESPN notes. Gaines’ contract expired after last season.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Challenging DeMar DeRozan to become a better defender is just one of the things new Raptors coach Nick Nurse has in mind for next season, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes. Nurse is trying to devise ways to play two smaller guards, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, together and still minimize the issues that it presents defending pick-and-rolls, Wolstat continues. Playing Serge Ibaka more often at center is another wrinkle Nurse plans to employ, Wolstat adds.
  • The Celtics are planning to hold onto their $8.641MM mid-level exception for the balance of the offseason, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets. Their priority is to re-sign restricted free agents Marcus Smart and Jabari Bird and see what develops during the season, Smith adds.
  • Strong summer-league showings by first-round pick Kevin Knox and second-rounder Mitchell Robinson have made the Knicks look wise in their selections, ESPN’s Andre Snellings writes. Knox should jump right into the Knicks’ starting lineup at small forward, while Robinson could eventually work his way into the rotation. While neither player shows superstar potential, they both have skill sets that should translate to the league, Snellings adds.
  • The Nets have positioned themselves to make a big splash next summer, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype notes. They can create enough salary-cap room to sign two first-tier free agents to go along with two first-round picks, provided that the protections on the pick the Nuggets sent them don’t kick in.
  • Knicks coach David Fizdale will head off to Latvia on July 22nd to visit with Porzingis and check on his progress from knee surgery, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports.

Knicks Notes: Front Office, Dotson, Perry

The Knicks announced a series of hires for the team’s front office on Tuesday, which included Gerald Madkins (assistant general manager), Craig Robinson (vice president, player development and G-League operations), Harold Ellis (director, player personnel), Michael Arcieri (director, basketball strategy) and Fred Cofield (scout). Clarence Gaines Jr. will remain with the team as a scout as well.

“Last month, the day after I was hired, I started a full evaluation of the entire basketball operations staff,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a press release. “My first goal was to build-up the highest level front office in the NBA. We are adding a host of highly-regarded and respected basketball people to work with the Knicks to fortify the franchise for years to come.”

Madkins and Cofield both have ties to the Knicks organization, whereas Ellis and Arcieri worked on Perry’s staff in Orlando. Robinson, the brother-in-law of former president Barack Obama, had a prominent role in the Bucks’ front office before joining New York. As ESPN’s Ian Begley notes (via Twitter), Gaines was hired by since-departed president Phil Jackson, who credited Gaines with the team’s decision to draft Kristaps Porzingis.

Read below notable tidbits of news surrounding the Knicks:

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that Perry has been able to come in the Knicks’ front office and make the personnel moves he desires. Creating a staff of preferred people was reportedly one of the hurdles that kept former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin from coming to New York, so Perry seems to have at least some power in the early stages of his Knicks tenure.
  • Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter), Damyean Dotson is the fourth second-round pick in 2017 to sign a contract worth over $1MM for the coming season. Dotson’s deal guarantees him $1.1MM in 2017/18 and $1.4MM in 2018/19. As for the $1.6M salary in 2019/20, it is non-guaranteed with trigger dates during the season to guarantee it.

Reaction To Phil Jackson’s Firing

Phil Jackson is gone, but owner James Dolan’s next move will determine how soon the Knicks can rebuild, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. It’s not clear yet whom New York is targeting to take Jackson’s place, but the author points out that Dolan has a history of poor decisions when it comes to choosing someone to run his basketball team. An obvious choice, Bontemps notes, is former Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who couldn’t reach a new agreement in Cleveland.

GM Steve Mills will run the Knicks until a new president is hired, and Bontemps says he should start building the team around Kristaps Porzingis. He adds that Jackson’s feud with Porzingis, not the long-running one with Carmelo Anthony, is what led to today’s decision. Jackson shopped Porzingis around the league last week, and although there was plenty of interest, no offers were deemed acceptable.

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, Lowry, Pasecniks, Goodwin

Clarence Gaines Jr., the closest advisor to Knicks president Phil Jackson, is the latest team official to get a first-hand look at Frank Ntilikina, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post. Jackson’s preference for big guards may be enough for New York to draft Ntilikina at No. 8, although Berman notes that North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr.  and Kentucky’s Malik Monk both have supporters in the front office. Ntilikina is 6’5″ with a 7-foot wingspan, a reputation for defensive intensity and a high basketball IQ. Jackson has developed a liking for European prospects after his success with Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez. Ntilikina’s case isn’t helped by his modest numbers — 5.2 points and 1.2 assists in about 18 minutes per game in the French League — but he says he is becoming a more aggressive player.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Saturday’s trade between the Sixers and Celtics removes a potential destination for Raptors free agent Kyle Lowry, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. Philadelphia had been considered a threat to sign Lowry because it’s his hometown and the Sixers have considerable cap space. But with point guard Markelle Fultz headed to Philadelphia, there’s no need to spend money on Lowry.
  • The Nets may gamble on Latvian star Anzejs Pasecniks with one of their two picks late in the first round, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. A former teammate of Porzingis, the 7-foot-2, 226-pound center will have to develop his body to handle the NBA game. “Pasecniks is one of those guys that’d be perfect for a team with multiple [first-round] picks. Brooklyn’s got multiple picks,” said ESPN international analyst Fran Fraschilla. “Portland, and maybe even Utah may have multiple picks. He’s one of those guys that you could draft [and stash] him. Although he’s 21 and he’s anxious to get over here and start his NBA career.”
  • Brooklyn guard Archie Goodwin is a rare player with four years of experience who is volunteering for Summer League, tweets NetsDaily. Goodwin played briefly for the Pelicans and Nets this season, but spent most of the year in the D-League. He is hoping to secure a spot on the team after signing a two-year deal in April that contains several guarantee dates.

New York Notes: NBA Finals, Gaines, Mitchell, Draft

Personnel decisions by the Knicks and Nets helped turn the Cavaliers and Warriors into the NBA’s best teams, writes Fred Korber of The New York Post. New York gave Cleveland two much-needed pieces in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in a January 2015 trade that also involved the Thunder. Backup big man Channing Frye was drafted eighth overall by the Knicks in 2005, and reserve forward Derrick Williams spent time in New York. The Knicks were hoping Stephen Curry would fall to them with the eighth pick in the 2009 draft, but Kerber says they didn’t try to trade up because they didn’t believe the Warriors would take him at No. 7. New York has been through 23 point guards since then, and may be looking for another with Derrick Rose headed to free agency. Recent Golden State signee Matt Barnes was also briefly a Knick.

The Cavs’ bench is filled with players who have ties to the Nets. Richard Jefferson spent eight years with the team, including two finals appearances. Kyle Korver was drafted by the Nets in 2003 and shipped to the Sixers. Deron Williams spent nearly four years in Brooklyn before being bought out in 2015. Dahntay Jones signed a training camp deal last year, but was cut in preseason. The Nets sent the 35th pick in the 2012 draft to Golden State along with Troy Murphy in a 2011 deal that brought them Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric. The Warriors used that pick on Draymond Green. Shaun Livingston revived his career with the Nets in 2013/14, but they couldn’t afford to keep him and he signed with Golden State.

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • Clarence Gaines Jr. is Phil Jackson’s secret weapon when it comes to draft preparation, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Formerly a scout with the Bulls, the vice president of player personnel was the first executive Jackson hired when he took over as team president. Gaines was a strong advocate for Kristaps Porzingis two years ago and pushed the team to sign Langston Galloway out of the D-League.
  • The Knicks have “more than a casual interest” in Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell, Berman writes in a separate story. At 6’3″, Mitchell was an undersized shooting guard for the Cardinals, but he projects as a point guard in the NBA. That’s a position of need for New York, which holds the eighth pick. That may be high for Mitchell, although he is reportedly rising on draft boards, but the Knicks might trade down and take him later in the lottery. New York’s front office requested an interview with Mitchell at the combine, though it wasn’t granted, and hopes to work him out before the draft.
  • Brooklyn, which has about $27MM in cap space available this summer, will see that figure trimmed slightly by the draft, tweets NetsDaily. If the Nets sign, rather than draft-and-stash, all three of their picks, it will cost them about $3.9MM — about $1.7MM for No. 22, $1.3MM for No. 27 and $852K for No. 57.

Knicks Rumors: Rose, Anthony, Gaines Jr.

Knicks point guard Derrick Rose shot down a rumor that he mulled retirement during his one-game absence from the team on Monday, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. “That’s something I don’t even want to speak into existence by commenting on it,’’ Rose told Berman. “I don’t know who would do that. Not at all. I was with my family.’’ Rose was fined $193,848, or 1/110th of his salary, for missing the game without giving the club prior notice. Rose claimed he went to Chicago to visit his mother for what he called a family crisis, though there are indications he went there to see his son, Berman adds.

In other developments surrounding the club:

  • The hurdles that must be cleared to trade Carmelo Anthony prevents the Knicks from rebuilding with younger players like the Sixers are doing, Fred Kerber of the New York Post argues. Finding a trade partner willing to take on the final two years of Anthony’s contract will be nearly impossible, Kerber notes — not only would a potential trade partner have to commit to $54MM+ in salary over the next two years, but a 15% trade kicker would force that team to cough up another $10MM. On top of that, Anthony would have to waive his no-trade provision, Kerber adds.
  • Rose hopes his one-game absence doesn’t affect the club’s feelings toward him when he enters free agency this summer, as he relayed to Ian Begley of “I hope one incident didn’t change their minds,” he said. “Who knows? This is a business and if it was to happen I’m still going to play the way I normally know how to play no matter where I’m at.”
  • The Knicks have not gotten any better defensively under first-year coach Jeff Hornacek, one of several reasons why the team will only get worse, Berman opines in a separate piece. Berman cites the Rose drama and Kristaps Porzingis recent struggles with a sore Achilles as two other factors in the team’s continuing demise.
  • The rising influence of Clarence Gaines Jr. is the main reason why the team chose forward Maurice Ndour over point guard Chasson Randle on the opening-day roster, Berman writes in still another piece, citing a source. Gaines was promoted from an advisory role to vice president of player personnel under president Phil Jackson. Randle signed a 10-day contract with the Sixers on Monday after a strong D-League showing.

Knicks Notes: Smith, Prigioni, Galloway

Carmelo Anthony believes that the trade that sent J.R. Smith to the Cavaliers was the best thing that could have happened to the former Knicks guard, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “I’ve seen him play a couple of games,’’ Anthony said. “He’s playing well. I know the type of game he has and what he can do. He looks comfortable out there, looks like he’s settling in very well. I’m actually happy for him — a change of environment for him, a new thought process, new mindset mentally. It looks like he has some clarity right now. I believe LeBron [James] will help him make that adjustment that much better.’’

Here’s more out of the Big Apple:

  • ‘Melo didn’t necessarily dispute Smith’s parting statement that the Knicks’ players were “walking on eggshells” under the franchise’s new regime, Berman adds. “I don’t know exactly what he meant by that,’’ Anthony said. “I’ve heard him say that before in conversations we’ve had. Anytime something is new, trying to incorporate something, everybody’s trying to do the right things, so it can be a tense situation where you can feel like walking on eggshells. Because you don’t want to do the wrong thing. You want to impress the coaches, want to impress the front office, impress your teammates. If that’s what he’s coming from that standpoint, I agree with it.’’
  • With 10-day signee Langston Galloway continuing to impress, Pablo Prigioni has seen his playing time wither, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the veteran is done with the team, Berman adds. “I don’t think it’s where we are in the season,’’ coach Derek Fisher said. “It’s just continuing to find ways to help the team be successful. Sometimes that means personnel changes and adjustments. It’s the way it’s working right now. It doesn’t mean it will stay that way. It’s just the way the last couple of games have worked. If I feel it’s something that can stay that way for a while, I’d try to pull them to the side and let them know it’s the direction we’re going.” The Knicks are reportedly looking to deal Prigioni for a second round draft pick.
  • Clarence Gaines Jr., team president Phil Jackson‘s top adviser, deserves much of the credit for bringing Galloway to New York, Berman writes in a separate article. Gaines first noticed Galloway during a pre-draft camp last spring, and he believed the undrafted rookie fit the profile of the type of player whom Jackson sought, Berman adds.

Knicks Rumors: ‘Melo, Woodson, Jackson

Carmelo Anthony offered another qualified endorsement of the Knicks today in his exit interview with reporters, saying “I want to come back. I want to come back. But I also want to win,” as Newsday’s Al Iannazzone notes via Twitter. There’s more from ‘Melo amid our look at the latest from the aftermath of a disappointing season for the Knicks:

  • Anthony said that he doesn’t know if he “can afford another season of losing,” and added that he’s “not at the point in my career where I want to rebuild,” as Frank Isola of the New York Daily News and Ian Begley of pass along via Twitter.
  • The Knicks star said at the All-Star break that he’d take a discount to re-sign with the Knicks under the right circumstances, and he reiterated today that money isn’t his priority, Isola tweets.
  • Anthony would endorse Mike Woodson if the Knicks consult him about the coach’s future, as Marc Berman of the New York Post observes.
  • A source tells Berman that Knicks president Phil Jackson doesn’t intend to “clean house” and make sweeping changes to the team’s front office personnel, as the Post scribe writes in a separate piece. Jackson has brought former Bulls scout Clarence Gaines Jr. aboard to help him, but Gaines has no official role with the team yet, Berman notes.
  • Kenyon Martin‘s one-year contract is up, but he’d like to remain with the Knicks, as Berman observes in the same piece in which he covered the front office news. “I’ve got a lot of basketball left and I hope it will be here,’’ Martin said.