Courtney Lee

Knicks Notes: Rotation, Hernangomez, Lee, Burke

Coach Jeff Hornacek is planning to use nine or 10 players in his rotation, which means some Knicks won’t get the playing time they’re expecting, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Three starting slots seem to be set heading into Thursday’s opener, with Kristaps Porzingis at power forward, free agent addition Tim Hardaway Jr. at shooting guard and veteran Ramon Sessions at point guard because first-round pick Frank Ntilikina missed much of the preseason with an injuries.

Hornacek hasn’t decided whether to make Courtney Lee his starting small forward or go with a bigger option such as Lance Thomas, Doug McDermott, Michael Beasley or Mindaugas Kuzminskas. At center, Enes Kanter, Willy Hernangomez or Kyle O’Quinn are all in contention for the opening-night start, and Joakim Noah may join the rotation once he returns from his suspension. Begley suggests that Hornacek will have some disappointed players to deal with regardless of what he decides.

There’s more out of New York:

  • Hernangomez got the least playing time of the three centers during preseason, but that doesn’t mean the minutes will be divided that way going forward, Begley notes in another ESPN Now post. Hornacek wanted to see how Kanter, who was acquired from the Thunder three weeks ago, would fit with his new teammates. “We know what Willy can do with a lot of our players, especially [Kristaps Porzingis and others] that were here last year,” Hornacek said. “We’re trying to see Enes with that group.”
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post expects Lee to get the start on Thursday as Hornacek tries to add speed to his defensive unit. That means Lee will be matched up with former teammate Carmelo Anthony, who was traded to Oklahoma City last month. Hornacek plans to use different starters at the three spot depending on matchups, but Lee is confident he can guard anybody. “We got to do what’s best for the team,” he said. “If somebody’s starting at small forward that’s 6 [-foot-] 10 and starts posting me up, it only makes sense to get a bigger body on him. But if you put me on anybody, I’m going to fight him. I’m going to try to get the stop. That’s my job. Maybe I am blocking that 6-10 guy’s jump hook and I stay in.”
  • After waiving Trey Burke on Saturday, Knicks are hoping he will play for their G League affiliate in Westchester, Berman adds in the same story. Burke didn’t sign with New York until Wednesday, and Hornacek believes he needs more evaluation before giving him a roster spot. “Trey was probably in a tough position there coming in at the last minute,’’ Hornacek said. “The other guys are able to show some stuff. We like Trey, what we can do.”

Knicks Notes: Cap Space, Lee, Noah, Porzingis

The Knicks need to concentrate their rebuilding efforts on the draft rather than free agency, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. If Enes Kanter, Ron Baker and Kyle O’Quinn all exercise player options for next season, New York will have about $10MM available and almost all of that will be consumed by a $9.8MM cap hold for Doug McDermott. The Knicks have a Monday deadline to reach a rookie-scale extension with McDermott, but sources tell Begley that’s unlikely to happen. New York also has to factor in the cost of what is expected to be a high draft pick. Frank Ntilikina, who was the eighth overall selection this year, has a starting salary of $3.5MM.

The outlook is somewhat brighter for 2019, as the Knicks will enter that summer with about $50MM in guaranteed salaries. The team could give Kristaps Porzingis a rookie extension by then, which would add about $27MM, but with the Latvian star having a $17.1MM cap hold, it may make more sense to work out a deal in 2019. Add in a $4.8MM option that is expected to be picked up on Ntilikina, plus $1.6MM options on Damyean Dotson and Willy Hernangomez in addition to another draft pick, and Begley estimates about $19.5MM in available cap space, which isn’t nearly enough to compete for an elite free agent.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • One way to open cap space is through trades, and the Knicks’ front office seems willing to deal Courtney Lee, Begley notes in the same story. With three years and $55MM left on his contract, Joakim Noah is considered virtually untradable, but former team president Phil Jackson tried to include him when he talked to teams about Porzingis deals earlier this year.
  • Teams have contacted the Knicks about O’Quinn and Lance Thomas during the preseason, Begley adds. New York has a surplus of big men after acquiring Kanter from the Thunder in the Carmelo Anthony trade.
  • The Knicks aren’t making much effort to hide their desire to tank this season, with coach Jeff Hornacek comparing himself to Sixers coach Brett Brown, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. There is some concern that rebuilding will take its toll on Porzingis and may affect his desire to sign an extension in New York. “We’re building something and want to move forward as a team. We’re far from a championship right now,” Porzingis said. “We need to have a progression and move forward as a team and get better every year. I don’t know how long, if we do all the right things and grow, we’ll be there one day.’’
  • The Knicks unveiled Squarespace this morning as the new team sponsor, according to The New York Daily News. They are the 17th NBA team to add an official sponsor, and the uniform patches will debut in Friday’s game.

Knicks Rumors: Hill, Rubio, Lee, Baker, Griffin

George Hill appears to have emerged as the Knicks’ top free agent target, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.com. According to Begley, the team has been making an effort to unload some salary in order to make a competitive offer to a free agent point guard, and Hill has emerged as the name atop that list. Although the Knicks have made their interest in Hill known, they didn’t formally reach out to his camp during the early hours of free agency, says Begley.

Here are a few more Knicks-related rumors and notes:

  • The Knicks had some interest in trading for Ricky Rubio, but weren’t willing to part with a first-round pick for the veteran point guard, a source tells Begley.
  • If the Knicks are able to move a salary, Courtney Lee is the prime candidate, though Carmelo Anthony would be another option. We heard on Friday night that New York and Houston had discussed Anthony, but there’s currently no traction there.
  • Terms of Ron Baker‘s new deal with the Knicks aren’t yet known, but Begley says people in touch with the team expect New York to use an exception to re-sign Baker. That’s a little vague, but assuming the Knicks go under the cap, the exceptions available for Baker would be the room ($4.3MM), minimum ($1.3MM), and Non-Bird ($1.6MM).
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com provided an update on the Knicks’ front office situation on Friday, tweeting that if David Griffin were to join the franchise, he would likely become the general manager, with current GM Steve Mills ascending to president of basketball operations. It remains to be seen whether that situation would appeal to Griffin.

Atlantic Notes: C. Lee, Celtics, Raptors, Nicholson

A year after signing Courtney Lee to a four-year, $48MM contract, the Knicks are “absolutely open” to the idea of dealing him, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who tweets that the club is “moving in a different direction.” Lee didn’t have a great first season in New York, but he’s still a capable three-point shooter, and his contract isn’t as much of an albatross as some of the other deals signed following 2016’s salary cap spike. He’ll be a player worth keeping an eye on if the Knicks delve into the trade market in the coming weeks.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • Guerschon Yabusele, who was selected with the No. 16 overall selection in the 2016 draft, appears to be on his way to joining the Celtics, Olivia Healy of WEEI writes. Yabusele will miss this year’s summer league as he recovers from surgery, but Healy believes that the French native could find himself in Boston’s rotation next year due to his size and strength.
  • Gary Tanguay of CSNNE.com makes the case for why the Celtics‘ top – and only – target this summer should be Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, and why Danny Ainge should be willing to deal any pick and/or player to make it happen.
  • The Raptors find themselves at a crossroads this summer, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical, who breaks down many of the crucial personnel decisions facing the team, as well as the increasing “cost of being good.”
  • Andrew Nicholson was a throw-in when the Nets sent Bojan Bogdanovic to Washington at the trade deadline earlier this year. Since Nicholson remains under contract for a few more seasons, Charles Maniego of Nets Daily explores whether Brooklyn can salvage some value out of the former first-round pick.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Knicks, Clippers Expected To Re-Open Trade Talks

Another early playoff exit for the Clippers may reignite trade talks with the Knicks involving Carmelo Anthony, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

The teams had extensive discussions before the February deadline, but New York’s front office turned down several L.A. proposals. The difference this time might be shooting guard J.J. Redick, whom the Clippers were not willing to include before, but may be available now in a sign-and-trade.

Like many observers, Berman expects a shakeup in Los Angeles this summer. Chris Paul is almost certain to opt out and re-sign, and he would love to see the team acquire Anthony, a long-time friend. An offer centered around Redick and Austin Rivers might be enough to make it happen.

The 32-year-old Redick would replace Jamal Crawford in the package that the Clippers were offering in February. An 11-year veteran, he averaged 15.0 points per game this season and shot .429 from 3-point range. One of the top long-distance shooters in the league throughout his career, Redick would fill an obvious need in New York.

Rivers, 25, would fill another need with his defensive prowess and his flexibility to play three positions. He re-signed with the Clippers last summer and is under contract through next season, with a $12.65MM player option for 2018/19.

Berman estimates a new deal for Redick starting at $11MM, which would combine with Rivers’ $11.8MM salary to get the Clippers close to Anthony’s $28MM price (including a 15% trade kicker). Another Knick who might be included in the deal is Courtney Lee (more than $11.7MM next year), whom the Clippers asked about in February, so the trade could become much larger. L.A. doesn’t have a first-round pick to offer until 2021.

With a no-trade clause in hand, Anthony will have final approval on any deal. While the thought of joining Paul, DeAndre Jordan and possibly Blake Griffin on a contending team might appeal to him, Berman notes that personal matters could affect his decision. Anthony recently separated from his wife, LaLa, and may not want to move far away from his son.

While that will play out over the summer, it’s clear that the playoffs have changed the dynamics of the deal, just as Knicks president Phil Jackson predicted at his press conference last month.

“You lose in the first round, it didn’t work out, we gotta change some people on our team,’’ Jackson said. “So there may be some quick outs may change some people’s minds as to what they’re going to do.”

Community Shootaround: Shooting At The Buzzer In Decided Game

Count Courtney Lee among the latest NBA players to complain about opponents putting up shots in the final seconds of a decided game. On Friday night the Grizzlies laid waste to Lee’s Knicks, culminating in rookie Wade Baldwin IV standing at half-court with the ball and a 10-point lead as the game clock neared expiration.

Just before time ran out, however, Baldwin hoisted a deep three and nailed it. The basket pushed the Grizzlies above the triple-digit mark earning Memphis fans in attendance free chicken.

Lee, unhappy to lose by 10 but considerably angrier losing by 13, went after the rookie but was thwarted by a handful of Grizzlies veterans.

For him to do that, what are you doing it for, bro?,” Lee told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Think about the people who’s doing it. They got bad luck in this league. … I don’t know what made him want to do it.”

Lee’s reaction is a common one among NBA players but should it be?

Just last week Lance Stephenson incited his own commotion by adding a layup in the final seconds of a win over the Raptors. Then, Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan called the moot field goal “disrespectful to the game“. This, naturally, was followed up by Stephenson exposing an instance of DeRozan’s teammate Norman Powell doing similar to the Sixers earlier this season.

Ultimately, the NBA and fan community that drives it need to decide what is permissible in the waning seconds of a ball game and what’s just sour grapes. In response to the Stephenson/Raptors theatrics, Bobby Marks of The Vertical  tweeted “I’m so tired of these unwritten rules in basketball. If you don’t want a player to shoot at the end of the game then play some D.

On one hand, it’s easy to empathize with players like Lee or DeRozan who see the unnecessary field-goal attempts as salt in the wounds of a fresh defeat. On the other, its a thin line expecting everybody to subscribe to the same unwritten rules of a game.

Should players adopt Marks’ stance and play defense if preserving a spread is so important to them? Or should players on the winning end know not to shoot when the game is out of reach?

Factors to consider are that some veterans will go so far as to let the shot clock expire before hoisting a shot at the buzzer resulting in their being assigned a turnover. Another is the fan factor, such as that which was in effect for Baldwin IV. Reaching certain point milestones, usually 100 points, can sometimes trigger benefits for fans in attendance. Does this impact the appropriateness of a last second basket?

You tell us in the comments below!

Jeff Hornacek Talks Defensive Struggles

The Knicks‘ defensive inconsistencies have haunted them all season. Per “Defensive Efficiency,” a metric devised by John Hollinger of ESPN, the Knicks rank 26th in the league with a 108.9 rating. Jeff Hornacek has previously voiced frustration at his team’s defensive effort- in early January he conceded “we just must not be good enough defensively”- but he doubled-down on his criticisms prior to Monday’s match-up with Detroit.

“Defensively, we’ve got a lot of work,” Hornacek told reporters, including Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. “We’ve got to try to figure out what’s going to be best for us. The personnel, we were trying to mix things up a little bit, see if we can find something that worked. We never really found anything. But going into next year we need to really stay with one way and keep practicing until we get it right.”

Hornacek alluding to next season is a recent development. Only in mid-March, when the Knicks were already 6.5 games out of the eighth seed, did Hornacek acknowledge “the playoffs may not be in reach.” (Daily News link) Hornacek’s job security appears to be intact, per a March 16 report from Marc Berman of the New York Post.

With Hornacek at the helm for a second season, however, the Knicks will have to make roster adjustments to improve on each end of the court. As Bondy points out, Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Carmelo Anthony have all had bottom-35 defensive ratings around the league.

“We can use some more defensive players. They’ll look at that. Steve (Mills) and Phil (Jackson) and the front office will look at whatever can help us out. We know we need some help there,” Hornacek said.

Trade Rumors: C. Lee, Clippers, Pacers, Jazz, Kings

Earlier today, we heard that the Clippers recently showed interest in Courtney Lee, and according to Ian Begley and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, the Clips and Knicks continue to talk. New York has been seeking draft picks in discussions on Lee and other players, and the Clippers don’t have any immediate first-rounders to offer, as Begley notes. So if the Knicks want to send Lee to Los Angeles, they may have to settle for a player or get a third team involved.

Here are more of the latest trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Pacers have been talking to teams about possible trades that would allow them to clear roster spots, tweets ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. As Windhorst notes, teams suspect that might be related to their talks with the Celtics regarding Paul George. Of course, Indiana may also just be doing due diligence as well in case Boston ups its offer — the Pacers wouldn’t want to be stuck having to waive useful players to make a deal work.
  • The Jazz don’t appear likely at this point to make a deal, says Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (via Twitter). TNT’s David Aldridge notes (via Twitter) that Utah could still make a move for Deron Williams, but if Williams isn’t dealt, the veteran point guard won’t ask for a buyout from the Mavericks.
  • The Kings continue to mull their options, but don’t appear to be moving forward with talks for players like Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo for now, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post (Twitter link), who adds that Sacramento’s asking prices may be too high. If those prices come down, things could change.
  • The Wizards continue to work the phones, but aren’t overly optimistic about getting another deal done by the deadline, tweets Bontemps.
  • The market for Iman Shumpert appears to be cooling as the deadline approaches, per Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter link). Amico says that teams are asking for a draft pick from the Cavaliers, and Cleveland doesn’t have many picks left.

Knicks Rumors: Lee, O’Quinn, Jennings, Rubio

Courtney Lee has been cited this week as a possible trade candidate, and according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, the Clippers recently displayed interest in the Knicks shooting guard. However, one team that was in touch with the Knicks didn’t get the impression that Lee will be going anywhere, says Begley.

Here are a few more notes out of New York:

  • Another team that has spoken to the Knicks said New York is seeking a first-round pick and has talked about packaging Kyle O’Quinn and Brandon Jennings together in a trade, Begley reports.
  • Although the Knicks are shopping O’Quinn, it’s unclear if they’ll be able to get equal value for him, leagues sources tell Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link). On Wednesday, we heard that New York has been seeking a first-round pick for O’Quinn, so if the team believes that constitutes “equal value,” it makes sense that it may not happen.
  • A report earlier today indicated that Ricky Rubio remains a “significant” trade target for the Knicks. However, Sam Amick of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that the Timberwolves continue to shop Rubio to teams besides the Knicks. Jake Fischer of SI.com adds (via Twitter) that Minnesota is willing to part with Shabazz Muhammad to help accommodate a Rubio trade.

Trade Rumors: Knicks, C. Lee, Raptors, Collison

As of this afternoon, Carmelo Anthony still hasn’t been approached by Knicks management about any trade scenarios, and reiterated that he expects to remain in New York through the deadline, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN.com. However, even if Anthony stays put, the Knicks could look to move a veteran player or two. Derrick Rose‘s name has surfaced in several rumors this week, and Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders makes a case for why New York should send him to the Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio. Elsewhere at Basketball Insiders, Steve Kyler reports that veteran guard Courtney Lee is believed to be available.

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

  • The Raptors remain in the market for a big small forward or a wing who can shoot, sources tell Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050 (Twitter link). Lewenberg suggests that Toronto could dangle Jared Sullinger‘s expiring contract, a point guard, and a draft pick as the team searches for a deal.
  • In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Kings point guard Darren Collison told reporters that he has spoken to Vlade Divac and the Sacramento GM said there are no plans to trade Collison (video link via ABC10). Given how Divac and the Kings dealt with Cousins, it’s probably fair to take those assurances with a grain of salt.
  • Speaking of that Cousins deal, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post provides some additional details on the first-round pick sent to the Kings in the swap. According to Bontemps (Twitter link), if the Pelicans keep the top-three protected pick in 2017, it will become protected only for the No. 1 overall pick in 2018.
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