Courtney Lee

Lowe’s Latest: Kings, Butler, Sixers, Lee, Klay

In his final piece previewing the 2018/19 NBA campaign, ESPN’s Zach Lowe offers up a few dozen bold predictions for the coming season. He also relays several tidbits of note on trade candidates and 2019 free-agents-to-be within those predictions, so we’re going to dive in and round up some of the highlights…

  • Lowe is skeptical that the Kings will be able to use their $11MM in remaining cap room to land a first-round pick, since he hears from sources that the team is wary about taking on multiple years of bad money.
  • Although teams like the Heat, Nets, and Clippers have been cited as Jimmy Butler‘s preferred destinations, the Timberwolves wing also “has eyes” for the Sixers, per Lowe. However, sources tell ESPN that Philadelphia has shown “almost no interest” in trading for Butler.
  • The Knicks are still trying to trade Courtney Lee, sources tell Lowe. While it’s not clear if they’ve made progress in any trade talks, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer notes that Lee has generated interest, adding that the Hornets discussed a trade for the veteran swingman at last season’s deadline.
  • Klay Thompson – who will be a free agent in 2019 – has no plans to accept a discount on his next contract, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, reports Lowe. Still, O’Connor says that sources he has spoken to would be “shocked” if Thompson left Golden State.
  • It’s a moot point now, but if LeBron James had committed to staying with the Cavaliers this summer, Cleveland would have sent the No. 8 pick in the draft to the Hornets as part of a trade package for Kemba Walker, according to Lowe.

New York Notes: Lee, Porzingis, RHJ, Kurucs

While Courtney Lee would prefer to have the Knicks enter the season with serious playoff – or championship – aspirations, he’s willing to play the role of the veteran mentor on a young, rebuilding club, as Howie Kussoy of The New York Post details.

“When I first came in, I had guys like Mickael Pietrus, Keith Bogans, J.J. Redick, they did what I’m doing right now, they helped me a lot, they passed the torch to me, and it’s only right for me to do the same thing,” Lee said. “If that’s what’s asked of me, I gotta do that. Would I want to win right now? Of course. Everybody wants to win, but you gotta go through something to get to something, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

Lee also acknowledged that, at 33 years old, he’s not really a part of the Knicks’ young core and won’t have a guaranteed role if the team focuses on developing its young players. However, he believes he can still make an impact by being a “vocal leader” and a “player’s coach on the court.”

Here’s more on the two New York clubs:

  • Echoing what we heard in September, Ian Begley of tweets that the Knicks are not expected to reach a rookie scale extension agreement with Kristaps Porzingis in advance of today’s 5:00pm CT deadline. Assuming that doesn’t change at the 11th hour, Porzingis will be eligible for restricted free agency next summer.
  • Although the Nets didn’t gain traction in Jimmy Butler talks with Minnesota, they’ve already been “active in their pursuits of trades” this fall, as Shams Charania of Stadium details (link via NetsDaily).
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s status for the Nets‘ first game of the season on Wednesday has been up in the air, but the forward is “trending in the right direction,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said on Sunday, per Greg Joyce of The New York Post. “I’ll definitely listen to the medical team and the performance team,” Atkinson said. “We can’t play him 40 minutes that first night, obviously.”
  • In a separate piece for The New York Post, Joyce takes a closer look at Nets second-rounder Rodions Kurucs, who is making a case for regular minutes to start his rookie season.

Knicks Notes: Lee, Trier, Robinson, Ntilikina

An injury is hampering Courtney Lee’s efforts to earn a spot in the Knicks’ rotation, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Lee sat out his second straight preseason game Wednesday while recovering from a neck strain he suffered while being fouled on a layup last week in training camp.

“I’m losing my conditioning — I was in top shape,’’ Lee said. “With the conditioning drill and how we are playing fast, I was in elite shape. That’s the main thing I’m missing now is my wind. All the things they are putting in with plays and sets I’m picking up. It’s about building the chemistry that I’m missing right now.’’

Lee, who calls it “a little whiplash,” is receiving treatment and hopes to return soon. However, he’s falling behind in the competition for playing time as new coach David Fizdale has declared an open competition at all positions. The Knicks explored trade offers for the 33-year-old Lee this summer, and he doesn’t seem to be in their long-range plans.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Rookie Allonzo Trier put on a show with 20 points in the first half of Wednesday’s game, Berman adds in a separate story. Trier finished with 25 points in 26 minutes, causing Fizdale to say afterward that he’s “got a chance” to make the 15-man roster. Trier signed a two-way contract with the Knicks in July after being passed over in the draft. New York probably would have taken him with the 36th pick if Mitchell Robinson hadn’t been available, according to Berman.
  • Fizdale is defending Robinson after a clash with Markieff Morris that resulted in the Wizards’ forward being ejected, Berman writes in another piece. Morris made derogatory remarks about Robinson after the game, but Fizdale liked the way his rookie center handled the situation. “I’m always going to protect my guy,” he said. “… I like the fact he didn’t back down. But I felt like he was the one who kept his composure — the one who showed the maturity.”
  • The Knicks are still searching for the best role for second-year guard Frank Ntilikina, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. He has been used off the bench in three-guard lineups in each of the first two preseason games and has been assigned to guard small forwards. Trey Burke, who was picked up from the G League last year and has an expiring contract, has been getting the starting nod at point guard.

Courtney Lee Says He’s Not Seeking Trade

Responding to rumors that he’s seeking a trade out of New York, veteran swingman Courtney Lee tells Ian Begley of (Twitter link) that he’s happy to be a Knick, refuting the idea that he prefers to be dealt. According to Begley, Lee has not expressed a desire to be moved.

A story from Marc Berman of The New York Post jump-started the Lee rumor mill, though for what it’s worth, Berman’s report doesn’t say that the 32-year-old wants to be traded. If he gets traded, Berman writes, Lee’s preference would be to join a playoff team or contender. According to the Post scribe, the Knicks have explored the trade market in search of a possible Lee deal.

Trading Lee would make sense for the Knicks, who aren’t expected to be in the playoff mix this season with Kristaps Porzingis still recovering from his ACL tear. Lee, who will turn 33 next month, is under contract for two more years, but probably isn’t part of New York’s long-term plans, and he’s coming off one of his best seasons, meaning his trade value should be higher than in the past.

In 76 games (30.4 MPG) in 2017/18, Lee averaged 12.0 PPG on .454/.406/.919 shooting, chipping in 2.9 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.1 SPG. While he might not be a difference-maker for a contending team, Lee is the sort of three-point marksman on the wing that many playoff clubs could use.

While it remains to be seen if the Knicks will push to move Lee before the season or at the trade deadline, the franchise has been sending some subtle signals this season that he’s not a future building block.

A Knicks Instagram post in August on the “Future of New York” featured a montage of nine players, including Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Lance Thomas, but didn’t include Lee. Earlier this week, new head coach David Fizdale referred to Thomas as a “natural” lader, but didn’t mention Lee, who was a co-captain last season alongside Thomas.

Knicks Looking To Trade Courtney Lee?

The Knicks are exploring the possibility of trading Courtney Lee and his multiyear contract, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Lee will make $12,253,780 in the upcoming season and $12,759,670 in 2019/20, which could disrupt the team’s plans to offer a maximum-salary contract next summer.

If the Knicks want to lock up Kristaps Porzingis to a contract extension this offseason, it would cut into their projected 2019 cap room, so moving Lee for expiring salary would help retain some of the their ’19 flexibility and create a clearer path to a max-salary slot. Porzingis, who is expected to miss at least part of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, is eligible for a extension worth a projected $155MM.

Lee, 32, will likely fall out of the rotation under new coach David Fizdale, Berman writes. Sources tell The Post that rookie Kevin Knox is expected to take Lee’s spot as the starting small forward, while Damyean Dotson will have a bigger role as the backup to Tim Hardaway Jr. at shooting guard and Frank Ntilikina will also see time there. Fizdale reportedly doesn’t view the 6’5″ Lee as a small forward.

Lee has spent the past two seasons with the Knicks after signing as a free agent in 2016. He appeared in 76 games this year, starting 69, and posted a 12.0/2.9/2.4 line.

And-Ones: Warriors, Trade Block, Howard

The Warriors are likely to carry only 14 players heading into the season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). The move would save the team money against the luxury tax and leave the organization with room to add a player during the season. Slater notes that the pair of players it signs under two-way deals can fill-in for minutes if needed.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Wilson Chandler, who officially opted into his 2018/19 contract with the Nuggets last week, is available in trade talks, David Aldridge of reports (Twitter link). Chandler will make slightly over $12.8MM this upcoming year.
  • The HawksKent Bazemore and the KnicksCourtney Lee are both available in trade talks as well, Aldridge adds. The scribe also confirms that there are no untouchable players on the Raptors.
  • The Warriors insist they are not interested in signing Dwight Howard once the center reaches a buyout with the Nets, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes. Charlotte dealt the big man to Brooklyn after one uninspiring season with the club.
  • LeBron James has indicated that family considerations will play a big role in his free agency decision. Stein (same piece) can envision James choosing the Lakers with a belief that President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson can assist him and his family with their off-court needs.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Lee, Porzingis

With David Fizdale being welcomed as the next coach of the Knicks, Marc Berman of The New York Post examines what went wrong for him in Memphis. Fizdale, who inherited a perennial playoff team, took the Grizzlies to the postseason last year before being fired after 19 games this season with a 7-12 record.

Former NBA player Brevin Knight, who serves as a broadcaster in Memphis, suggests that Fizdale tried to infuse too much of an uptempo approach into a veteran team that was comfortable with its “grit and grind” philosophy.

“It’s hard to give a true assessment of him as a bench coach because he was trying to change a culture when he came to Memphis,’’ Knight said. “It wasn’t just him running his offense. It was almost a hybrid of what he would’ve liked to have done — coupled with guys who were comfortable and accustomed to doing something else for so long.’’

Fizdale also had a long-running feud with center Marc Gasol, which raises concerns about how he might relate to Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis. Knight said Fizdale had a “learning experience” in Memphis about coaching international players after years with the Heat where LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh served as team leaders.

There’s more news today out of New York:

  • Knicks guard Courtney Lee, who remains close to some of his former Grizzlies teammates and has heard the inside story of Fizdale’s time there, is ecstatic about his new coach, relays Al Iannazzone of Newsday“Even in his time in Memphis, you can tell he was focused on a team or getting better — whether it was holding your best player accountable or your worst player accountable,” Lee said. “He wasn’t afraid to be confrontational and get his message across. So that’s a quality I like about him.”
  • Fizdale’s plan to travel to Latvia to meet with Porzingis is the latest sign that the Knicks are committed to building the franchise around their young star, notes Ian Begley of ESPN. The rift between Porzingis and the organization that caused him to skip his exit meeting last year hasn’t been fully repaired, Begley adds. Porzinigis is eligible for a five-year, $157 million extension this summer, but it’s uncertain whether the Knicks are willing to commit to that while he’s recovering from a torn ACL.
  • It’s now up to Fizdale to end the cycle of coaching changes in New York, writes Mike Lupica of The New York Daily News. The Knicks have employed 11 coaches in the past 14 years, he adds, and nearly all have left with damaged reputations.

New York Notes: Kanter, Lee, Russell, Allen

Despite starting the season with four centers, that could become a position of need for the Knicks this summer, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Enes Kanter has signed with Mark Bartelstein, one of the NBA’s most powerful agents, as he ponders whether to opt out of an $18.6MM salary for next season, adds Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Backup center Kyle O’Quinn has a $4.3MM opt out that he is expected to exercise, as he recently expressed a desire to join a playoff contender. Joakim Noah is on an extended leave of absence from the team, and Willy Hernangomez has already been traded to the Hornets. Berman expects the Knicks to use the stretch provision on Noah once September 1 arrives to open up future cap space.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Trade rumors have surrounded veteran Courtney Lee, but he hopes to remain with the Knicks, relays Chris Iseman of Lee doesn’t fit in with the youth movement in New York and may not have a future spot in a crowded backcourt. “All I can control is what I can control,” Lee said. “And that’s showing up here and being a professional and continuing to do the things I’ve been doing, encouraging and helping the young guys. And then when Coach calls my name, going out there and playing hard.”
  • Lee also came to the defense of embattled coach Jeff Hornacek, Iseman adds, blaming injuries for a disappointing season. The Knicks were 11-10 when Tim Hardaway Jr. suffered a stress injury to his left leg in late November, and Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL shortly after Hardaway returned. “For what, injuries?” Lee responded when asked about Hornacek. “For Tim having a stress fracture? For KP going down? How do you blame coach for that?”
  • D’Angelo Russell understands the need to improve after mixed results in his first season with the Nets, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Russell averaged 15.4 points and 5.1 assists, but missed 32 games after knee surgery and did little to calm fears about his defense. “Yeah, it could be better. I think it’s just learning. I’m feeling it out,” said Russell, who will be eligible for an extension this summer. “Everything I’m doing is new, playing with new coaches, new teammates. Everything is new. So I think it’s a feeling-it-out type deal with me, so it could always be better.”
  • Rookie center Jarrett Allen has been a pleasant surprise for the Nets, but coach Kenny Atkinson wants him to improve as a rebounder, Lewis notes in a separate story. Allen averages 5.3 boards per night, which ranks 46th among centers.

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.