Courtney Lee

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.

Trade Deadline Notes: Evans, Hill, Hood, Mavericks

One of the most important deadlines on the NBA calendar is less than 24 hours away, and teams are preparing their best offers as we head for 2:00pm Central. We’ll find out soon if any more franchise-altering moves are in store for this season, but in the meantime here are some Wednesday night trade rumors:

  • The Celtics remain in the running for Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans, but there’s a sense that Memphis is getting better offers elsewhere, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. A GM from another team tells Bulpett that Boston is waiting to swoop in if talks with those other clubs fall apart. Evans’ value figures to have increased after Lou Williams agreed to an extension with the Clippers today, taking one high-scoring guard off the market.
  • Multiple teams have shown interest in George Hill, but the Kings don’t want to take on bad contracts, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The Cavaliers have been the team most prominently linked to the veteran guard, but Jones says the Rockets and others have contacted Sacramento about Hill. Houston could match salaries with Ryan Anderson, but he is owed more than $41MM over the next two seasons and the Kings want to avoid cutting into their future cap space. They are seeking young players and draft picks in return for Hill.
  • Teams have also called the Kings about veterans Garrett Temple, Vince Carter and Kosta Koufos, Jones adds in the same story. Both Temple ($8MM) and Koufos ($8.74MM) have player options for next season, while the 41-year-old Carter is on an expiring deal.
  • Jazz swingman Rodney Hood told Shams Charania of The Vertical that he expects to be traded. “I’ve had great times in Utah, but regardless of where I’m playing, whether it’s there or somewhere else, I’m going to stay professional,” Hood said. “I’m going to stick with it. My gut feeling is that I won’t be here by the deadline. I’ve enjoyed my time here, but I’ve felt isolated the past month and I would not be surprised if I was moved.” 
  • The Mavericks are being offered players by teams trying to unload salary, but they aren’t getting enough incentives to make the deals worthwhile, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Sefko lists Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle of the Lakers and J.R. Smith of the Cavaliers as players who would be available if Dallas doesn’t mind committing the cap space.
  • The Knicks may be in the market for more deals after sending Willy Hernangomez to the Hornets, writes Adam Zagoria of Kyle O’Quinn and Courtney Lee are the most likely players to be moved.

Trade Rumors: Chriss, Knicks, Belinelli, Hood

Over at USA Today, Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt broke down trade deadline goals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams. While the duo’s round-up mentioned several players already known to be trade candidates, Amick and Zillgitt also identified a few new names.

Kings center Georgios Papagiannis, Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford, and Nuggets big man Darrell Arthur are among the players who could be available this week, per Amick and Zillgitt. The duo also suggested that a handful of teams are open for business on nearly all of their players. The Hawks are willing to discuss anyone except John Collins; the Mavericks would talk about anyone besides Dirk Nowitzki, Dennis Smith Jr., and Harrison Barnes; and the only players off the table for the Thunder are Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Steven Adams.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Suns appear to be exploring deals involving second-year big man Marquese Chriss, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who tweets that the Lakers are one of a few teams involved. However, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, who is well-connected in Phoenix, tweets that those rumors are “totally false,” suggesting that the club hasn’t discussed deals involving Chriss. Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic also gets involved, tweeting that the Suns would only consider parting with Chriss in a deal for an established player like Kemba Walker.
  • Having sending Willy Hernangomez to Charlotte, the Knicks continue to take calls about Kyle O’Quinn and Courtney Lee, and are still trying to trade Joakim Noah, says ESPN’s Ian Begley.
  • The Jazz aren’t one of the teams in the mix for veteran guard Marco Belinelli, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. According to Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link), Belinelli isn’t making the trip to Orlando with the Hawks, as the team continues to mull its trade options.
  • As many as 15 teams have called the Jazz to inquire about trade candidate Rodney Hood, tweets Tony Jones.
  • In an in-depth look at where things stand for the Kings, James Ham of NBC Sports California says the club doesn’t want to take on a bad contract that runs past 2018/19 or impact its young core led by De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Knicks Rumors: Payton, Noah, Biyombo, Hernangomez

The Knicks got some devastating news on Tuesday night, as an MRI revealed that Kristaps Porzingis suffered a torn ACL, sidelining him for the rest of the 2017/18 season — and likely for the start of next season too.

After a solid start to the year, there was speculation that the Knicks could remain in the playoff picture in the East, with key contributors like Porzingis and Enes Kanter publicly encouraging the organization to push for the postseason rather than selling off assets. Already mired in a slump though, the Knicks are now nine games below .500 and their playoff hopes appear to be on life support.

With the Porzingis injury further reducing the Knicks’ chances of making a late-season run, members of the franchise have already discussed giving the team’s young players more minutes for the rest of the year, sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN (Twitter link). While Begley says it’s not clear yet whether that’s the definitive plan, it would certainly make sense to shift in that direction.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks have checked in on Magic guard Elfrid Payton, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who notes that Knicks GM Scott Perry was a member of Orlando’s front office when the club drafted Payton. Berman adds that Perry and the Knicks view Payton as the type of athletic player they covet, and believe the fourth-year point guard has more upside as a defender than the advanced metrics suggest.
  • According to Berman, the Knicks and Magic have engaged in preliminary talks about Payton, and the two teams have discussed the possibility of including highly-paid bigs Joakim Noah and Bismack Biyombo in a deal. Still, these talks occurred before Porzingis went down on Tuesday, so it’s not clear how that injury impacts New York’s plans.
  • The Nuggets are one of about a dozen teams that have inquired on Willy Hernangomez, but the young center isn’t being discussed in talks with the Magic, sources tell Berman. The Knicks would likely move Hernangomez if they could get a first-round pick or a promising young player at a different position in return, says Berman.
  • With Porzingis potentially sidelined until the 2019 calendar year, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton examines how the injury will affect the Knicks’ offseason plans. If Porzingis misses a good chunk of the 2018/19 season, the team may end putting off any major veteran additions until at least 2019, Pelton notes. He adds that the injury could make a Courtney Lee trade more viable for the Knicks, since Lee is more of a win-now piece.

Pistons Rumors: Failed Trades, S. Johnson, Love

The Pistons had originally planned to approach this season’s trade deadline by aggressively pursuing upgrades on the wing, writes Jake Fischer of League sources tell Fischer that Detroit looked into several potential trade candidates around the NBA, including Danny Green, Jordan Clarkson, Tyreke Evans, Rodney Hood, and Courtney Lee. The Magic also called to discuss a deal that would have included Evan Fournier, Elfrid Payton, and Luke Kennard, per Fischer.

As a result of all that research and legwork on wing players, the Pistons came to a realization that prompted them to change direction. “It’s becoming a wing league, and not many teams are willing to move those players,” a Pistons source told Fischer. “We were willing to give up ours.”

Rather than looking to build up on their own wing depth, the Pistons decided to part with Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris in a deal that would bolster their frontcourt instead. It remains to be seen whether that approach will pay off, but the team will start to find out tonight, with Blake Griffin set to make his Pistons debut. “It’s time to make a run now,” one team source told Fischer, who notes that seven of Detroit’s eight remaining games before the All-Star break are at home.

Here’s more on the Pistons from Fischer:

  • The Pistons, who explored trading for Eric Bledsoe last summer, circled back to him in November and came “within inches” of acquiring him in a three-way deal with the Suns and Pelicans, according to Fischer. That trade, which would have included Reggie Jackson, fell through.
  • The Pistons will continue to keep an eye out for opportunities to acquire wing players, and Fischer hints that Stanley Johnson is more likely than Kennard to be included in such a deal.
  • Detroit’s front office worked with Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and GM Michael Winger on the Griffin deal. Head coach Doc Rivers, who served as the Clippers’ head of basketball operations until this past offseason, didn’t find out about the deal until Sunday — by that point, every detail except the first-round pick protections had already been agreed upon, a league source tells Fischer.
  • If the Pistons had been unable to finalize a deal for Griffin, they were planning to shift their focus to Kevin Love, says Fischer. Obviously, that was before Love suffered his hand injury, though there’s no indication that the Cavaliers would have seriously considered moving him.

Knicks Rumors: RHJ, O’Quinn, Lee, Dotson

The Knicks have inquired about Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, an NBA source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. However, Brooklyn asked for a first-round pick in exchange for the Hollis-Jefferson, and with the Knicks likely headed for the lottery, that pick is “virtually untouchable.”

In addition to wanting to hang onto that first-rounder, the Knicks’ front office is “vehemently opposed” to taking on any more bad contracts, writes Berman. I imagine the only exception would be if another team was willing to take on Joakim Noah‘s deal — in that scenario, the Knicks may be open to absorbing an unwanted contract that perhaps isn’t quite as bad as Noah’s.

While New York is receiving more calls about Willy Hernangomez than any other player, sources suggest to Berman that Kyle O’Quinn and Courtney Lee are more likely to be dealt. Lee, in particular, has generated increasing interest recently, though Berman says that the Knicks won’t move him unless they get “significant value” in return.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • Most opposing executives and scouts surveyed by Fred Kerber of The New York Post believe that the Knicks should approach the deadline as sellers, looking to collect more assets. However, that view wasn’t unanimous — one opposing team official advocated for an attempt at a playoff push, though he cautioned that the Knicks shouldn’t move their first-round pick “under any circumstance.”
  • Al Iannazzone of Newsday takes a closer look at the Knicks’ prime trade candidates, with the deadline fast approaching.
  • The Knicks have been reluctant to send lottery pick Frank Ntilikina to the G League to get him extra work, but playing with the Westchester Knicks is paying off for fellow rookie Damyean Dotson, Berman writes in an article for The New York Post.

Atlantic Notes: Williams, Hayward, Lee, Raptors

Lou Williams seemed like a reasonable target for the Celtics a few weeks ago, but his recent scoring surge and the Clippers’ rise in the Western Conference standings has put him out of their reach, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Williams is posting career-best numbers at age 31, averaging 23.3 points per game and shooting better than 40% on 3-pointers. L.A. has climbed back to .500 after a slow start and is just a half-game behind Denver for the final playoff spot.

The Celtics are hoping to find additional scoring punch to make up for the loss of Gordon Hayward, who suffered a devastating ankle injury on opening night. With Williams out of the picture, Blakely suggests the Grizzlies’ Tyreke Evans might be able to provide short-term help in Boston.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Hayward continues to make progress and could begin traveling with the Celtics on a regular basis in March, Blakely adds in a separate story. He’s with the team on its western swing and will remain in California after tonight’s game to get a change of scenery as he recovers. The team wants to make sure Hayward can handle rehab work without an ultra-gravity machine before he becomes a regular on road trips. Coach Brad Stevens cautioned that Hayward has “a long way to go” before he can think about playing again.
  • After a decade in the league, Knicks guard Courtney Lee isn’t easily affected by trade rumors, relays Anthony Rieber of Newsday. Lee is scoring a career-best 13.7 points per game, but there have been whispers that New York may send him to a contender before next month’s trade deadline. “I’ve been in this league 10 years, been traded a couple times,” Lee said. “It’s nothing new. Only thing you can do is control what you can control, show up, be professional, do your work, go hard and leave it all out on the floor and whatever happens happens. I understand a lot about this NBA. It’s a business first and foremost. It comes with the territory, so I definitely understand.”
  • The Raptors have a legitimate chance to land the top seed in the East, but they still have problems that might not be fixable before the trade deadline, according to Michael Grange of SportsNet. Toronto ranks 26th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage, Norman Powell has nearly fallen out of the rotation and the offense relies on DeMar DeRozan as much as ever. An extra shooter or two would help, but Grange expects the team to focus on the players already on the roster rather than go after a short-term addition.

Begley’s Latest: Walker, Knicks, Warriors, Capela

The latest article from Ian Begley of ostensibly focuses on the Knicks as they consider their approach to the trade deadline. However, in the process of exploring potential trade partners for New York, Begley also slips in a couple tidbits of interest related to other teams around the NBA. Let’s dive in and round up a few highlights from the piece…

  • If the Hornets move Kemba Walker at the deadline, there’s an expectation that they’ll also look to move other players on long-term contracts, according to Begley, who identifies Jeremy Lamb as one such trade candidate.
  • Speaking of Walker, while the Knicks are viewed as a possible trade partner for the Hornets, Begley says opposing executives have gotten the impression that New York doesn’t want to trade draft picks or take on long-term salary unless it means acquiring a “transformative” player. It’s not clear if Walker qualifies.
  • Opposing execs think the Knicks will deal at least one of their four centers at the deadline. Enes Kanter, Willy Hernangomez, and Kyle O’Quinn have all received interest, with the Warriors among the teams inquiring on O’Quinn, sources tell Begley. League execs believe O’Quinn will turn down his player option for 2018/19 this summer, which may impact his trade value.
  • Members of the Clippers and Rockets discussed the possibility of a DeAndre Jordan deal. However, those talks went nowhere after Clint Capela‘s name came up, since Houston doesn’t want to move Capela, writes Begley.
  • Knicks forwards Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas continue to draw trade interest , but opposing execs have come away with the impression that New York would only move Lee if it results in a “significant” return. According to Begley, Lee has been a strong presence in the Knicks’ locker room, and the club views that sort of veteran as important for building a winning culture.

Atlantic Notes: Wright, Okafor, Whitehead

Nearly a month after dislocating his shoulder injury, Delon Wright will make his return to the Raptors lineup, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun tweets. Wright last saw action on November 16.

Prior to the injury, Wright had been enjoying a solid season serving as a vital part of a Raptors second-unit that has yielded plenty of credit this season. While his absence was noticeable, third-string guard Fred VanVleet filled in admirably as the primary backup.

Wright, who had averaged 7.6 points and 2.6 assists in just over 20 minutes per game this season, is expected to be on somewhat of a minute restriction, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Tonight is the night that recent Nets acquisitions Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas make their debut, Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets. The pair, he adds, are expected to get a “healthy dose of playing time” in their first Brooklyn appearance.
  • The Celtics will be without Marcus Morris for at least a week. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets that the forward who has missed four of the past five games with a lingering knee injury isn’t expected to be back until, perhaps, December 23 or Christmas Day.
  • Second-year Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead has changed his representation, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. The point guard and former Andy Miller client will now be represented by Sam Permut of Roc Nation.
  • The Knicks have thrived without Carmelo Anthony on board but veteran guard Courtney Lee doesn’t think that his absence is why the team is winning. “If Melo was here, we would’ve made that adjustment with him,” he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “So you can’t just pinpoint it at him and say, ‘Well he left and we made these adjustments.’ The style of play was going to be different from last year regardless.

New York Notes: Lee, Porzingis, Crabbe, Russell

With Tim Hardaway Jr. expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks – and possibly longer – the Knicks’ performance during his absence may go a long way toward dictating the team’s approach to the trade deadline, writes Ian Begley of If New York can tread water and remain in the playoff hunt during that time, the front office could stand pat or even attempt to bolster the roster in February. If not, perhaps the Knicks will become deadline sellers.

In the event that the Knicks do decide to move veterans, Courtney Lee is one player to watch. Lee, who scored 24 points on Wednesday, continues to draw interest from opposing teams, league sources tell Begley. Lee’s contract, which is guaranteed through 2019/20 at about $12MM per year, is somewhat onerous, limiting his trade value, but his shot-making ability (.465 3PT%) should certainly appeal to teams around the NBA.

Here’s more on the two New York teams:

  • Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis was represented by Andy Miller, who relinquished his certification as an agent this week, but his primary agent is his brother Janis Porzingis, who also works at ASM Sports. As such, Porzingis is expected to remain at the agency with his brother despite Miller’s situation, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.
  • Knicks owner James Dolan was named as a defendant in a civil suit filed against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Begley has the details at
  • Nets guard Allen Crabbe was fined $15K by the NBA after throwing a ball at the basket stanchion on Monday (link via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today). Crabbe is set to earn more than $19.3MM this season, so the $15K hit to his salary is a drop in the bucket.
  • While Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson didn’t provide an official update on D’Angelo Russell‘s recovery timetable this week, his comments suggest that Russell’s return isn’t exactly imminent, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details.