Dennis Smith Jr.

Knicks Notes: Hardaway, Ntilikina, Smith

Tim Hardaway Sr. blames Kristaps Porzingis desire to go elsewhere for his son’s trade to Dallas, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Tim Hardaway Jr. was sent to Dallas along with Porzingis at the end of January in a deal designed to open up cap room for this summer. He had just signed a four-year, $71MM deal with the Knicks prior to last season and was hoping to be part of the turnaround in New York.

“He was disappointed,’’ Hardaway Sr. said. “He wanted to win there. He wanted to get them in the playoffs (once Porzingis got back) and see where they could go. He wanted the playoffs and have the fans cheering them in the playoffs, but there was the injury. He wasn’t disappointed about moving as much as he was disappointed he couldn’t finish what he was trying to start.’’

Hardaway Sr. had worked with Knicks coach David Fizdale in Miami and was happy that his son got a chance to play for him. He said the Mavericks made several inquiries about a deal before the opportunity with Porzingis arose.

“It’s business,’’ Hardaway Sr. said. “It’s my understanding Porzingis wanted to leave and when Dallas put the deal together, they wanted Tim in the deal. They didn’t want other guys. They wanted Tim a while back. It wouldn’t get approved if Tim wasn’t in the deal.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Frank Ntilikina‘s long-awaited return from a groin injury will likely happen Friday, Berman tweets. Fizdale told reporters before tonight’s game that he wants the second-year guard to get one more practice with the G League affiliate in Westchester before putting him in a game. Tonight will mark the 24th straight game he has missed since getting hurt in January.
  • The final three weeks of the season may determine Ntilikina’s future with the franchise, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Since Ntilikina was sidelined, the Knicks traded for Dennis Smith Jr. and have taken a long look at Emmanuel Mudiay. New York received offers for Ntilikina before the February deadline, Bondy adds, and a source says GM Scott Perry reached out to a member of the Hawks’ front office to see if they were interested. Atlanta remained committed to Trae Young as its point guard, so the talks didn’t go any further.
  • Smith will miss his fourth straight game tonight with a bad back, relays Ian Begley of ESPN (Twitter link). Fizdale said Smith may be re-evaluated next week.

Knicks Hope To Get First-Rounder For Frank Ntilikina

The Knicks will make Frank Ntilikina available in trade talks and are willing to move him if they can get a first-round pick in return, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post“The Knicks will be active on draft night,” the source predicts.

Berman adds that New York would gladly include the second-year guard in a package to acquire Anthony Davis from New Orleans, but the prospect of any first-rounder may be enough to get a deal done as the Knicks look to remake their roster this summer.

However, it’s not certain that anyone will part with a first-round pick for Ntilikina, who was the seventh player selected just two years ago. He has played just 41 games this season because of injuries and hasn’t established whether he fits as a point guard, a shooting guard or a combination of the two.

Ntilikina wasn’t included in a conversation with Hall-of-Fame point guard Jason Kidd when he addressed the team Wednesday in Phoenix, Berman notes. Kidd talked at length with Dennis Smith Jr. and Emmanuel Mudiay while Ntilikina stood a few feet away.

Another source that Berman spoke with believes the Knicks would be giving up on Ntilikina too soon.

“Don’t they have to see what they have first?” the source said. “If he turns into a bust as a lottery pick, fine. But they do not know that yet.”

Ntilikina hasn’t played since late January because of a groin strain that was originally projected to take a week or two to heal. Three days after the injury, New York traded for Smith, who appears to have the starting point guard role wrapped up.

The Knicks are committed to Smith moving forward and are still debating whether to try to re-sign Mudiay, adds Berman, who states that the only way plans will change is if they can attract Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker in free agency. Fizdale plans to use Ntilikina as a wing when he returns and his future in New York remains very much in doubt.

Knicks Notes: Durant, DSJ, Hernangomez, KP, Robinson

The Knicks are set to play the Clippers on Sunday, but the real battle between the two teams will be for Kevin Durant in free agency this summer, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Durant, who’s expected to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, will register interest from several teams across the league, including the Warriors, Knicks and Clippers. He’s currently holding per-game averages of 27.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists, shooting above 50 percent from the floor for the seventh consecutive season.

“They obviously have a plan that they have in place that they’re trying to do and execute,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said of the Clippers on Saturday, according to Berman. “To their credit, they’ve built a nice, tough team full of guys who understand their role.”

The Clippers have long been linked to Raptors star Kawhi Leonard, who’s also set to become a free agent in July, though a potential meeting with Durant shouldn’t be ruled out. New York has been linked to the likes of Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker.

Los Angeles is set to have $57MM in cap space, but the team could create additional room by trading the likes of Danilo Gallinari or Lou Williams before July. New York created a second maximum-salary roster spot by executing the Kristaps Porzingis trade with Dallas last month.

There’s more out of New York today:

  • Fizdale had a deep conversation with Dennis Smith Jr. about the importance of eating healthy and getting good sleep, Marc Berman writes in a separate story for The Post. Smith went shopping with Knicks dietitian Erika Whitman last week, but denied that his eating habits are a serious issue. “I don’t eat bad,’’ Smith said. “I’m not a bad eater. I eat good. I feel great. The arena is great. I played the whole fourth [Thursday against Cleveland] with no fatigue. I felt great. [Fizdale] wants me to get with those people, with Erika and the rest of the dieticians, and that’s what I’ll do.”
  • Former Knicks center Willy Hernangomez, a close friend of Kristaps Porzingis, weighed in on why he believes Porzingis requested a trade out of New York. “Yeah. Sometimes you can understand the plans change a little bit. I think KP wasn’t happy that they weren’t treating him the best way, the way he really deserves,” Hernangomez told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “I just think when you don’t think you’re a part of the organization or the future, you keep going. This is basketball. I think KP felt that way too. I think now he’s in a great place in Dallas to keep developing.”
  • Mitchell Robinson spoke with Steve Serby of the New York Post for a Q&A session, discussing how good he can become, his thoughts on Fizdale, how he can improve as a player and more. “When I’m not on the court, I’m chill and like just relaxed,” Robinson said. “But when I’m on the court, I bring energy, and bring good defense. I’m gonna do anything in any way to help my teammates get this win.”

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Smith Jr., Porzingis, Valuation

If the Knicks can’t trade center Enes Kanter, buyout talks will begin as soon as the 3pm Eastern deadine passes tomorrow, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Kanter, who has been unhappy with his reduced playing time, exercised his player option last summer and returned to New York on an $18.6MM expiring deal. It’s not clear how much of the remaining amount of that salary the Knicks would want him to give up to become a free agent.

Kanter has been upset with his role for much of the season, but his playing time has nosedived in recent weeks and he has drawn a DNP-CD in six of the team’s last eight games. With newly acquired center DeAndre Jordan moving into the starting lineup, there’s little hope for Kanter to ever rejoin the rotation. He has remained productive when he has been on the court, averaging 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in 44 games.

There’s more from New York City:

  • Dennis Smith Jr. is enjoying the freedom he has with the Knicks after a year and a half of playing for the Mavericks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Smith played 40 minutes last night and welcomes the chance to be freed from the micro-management of Rick Carlisle in Dallas. “I definitely feel free playing here. I love it,” Smith said. “I love going out and playing now. (Coach David Fizdale) gives that freedom to everybody on the team. I feel whenever you do that, you get guys playing hard at both ends.” Smith thought he was headed to New York after Orlando bypassed him with the sixth pick in the 2017 draft. However, the Knicks opted for Frank Ntilikina at No. 7, and Smith was taken by Dallas with the eighth pick.
  • Kristaps Porzingis‘ brother, Janis, wanted a role with the organization and was seeking jobs for entourage members, Berman adds in a separate story. Janis Porzingis also staged his brother’s missed exit meeting in 2017 and insisted that the ACL surgery be performed in Madrid.
  • Today’s franchise valuations from Forbes show that the Knicks don’t have to build a winner to turn a profit, points out Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Even though the team hasn’t been competitive for years, its value rose by 11%, reaching the $4 billion mark. Owner James Dolan said recently he believes he could get $5 billion if he ever decided to sell the team.

Details On How Porzingis Trade Talks Played Out

In his latest newsletter for The New York Times, Marc Stein takes a deep dive into the trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis from New York to Dallas, sharing several interesting new details on the negotiations leading up to the deal itself.

Here’s a round-up of the highlights from Stein:

  • The Knicks spent a good portion of January canvassing the NBA for possible Porzingis trades, according to Stein, who hears the team was rebuffed when it inquired on potential targets like Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Kings guard De’Aaron Fox. After devoting much of the month to possible trade scenarios, the Knicks were convinced that no team besides Dallas would take on the Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee contracts while also offering a player like Dennis Smith Jr. along with multiple first-round picks, says Stein.
  • New York’s management group has known for years that the Mavericks were very interested in Porzingis, with one Mavs official joking to Stein that Dallas had approached the Knicks “about a hundred times” before they finally showed a willingness to move the All-Star big man. Conversely, the Knicks had been expressing interest in Smith all season, per Stein.
  • The Knicks and Mavericks had been discussing the framework of a possible Wesley Matthews/Hardaway deal for weeks, and began expanding those talks to include Porzingis on January 28, Stein writes. The two teams then worked in person toward finalizing the framework of a deal last Wednesday when the Mavs played the Knicks in New York. However, the Knicks wanted to wait until after they met with the Porzingis brothers on Thursday to make any decisions.
  • Following that Thursday meeting between Knicks management and the Porzingis brothers, Janis Porzingis (Kristaps’ agent) provided the club with a four-team list of preferred destinations, a source tells Stein. The Nets and Clippers were on that list, but the Mavericks weren’t. The Knicks opted to move quickly on the Mavs deal in part due to concern that Porzingis’ camp would leak that list and threaten to only sign long-term with those clubs, Stein adds.
  • The Knicks were informed that Porzingis was ready to leave the team and continue his injury rehab in Spain if he remained on the roster through the trade deadline, Stein hears.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, with an interesting quote to Stein: “It was my mistake to not keep Dirk [Nowitzki] and Steve [Nash] together longer. I won’t make the same mistake with Luka [Doncic] and KP.”
  • For what it’s worth, Stein reports that the threat of Kevin Durant leaving for the Knicks has “never felt more real” to the Warriors than it does now that New York has cleared two maximum-salary slots for the summer.

Knicks Notes: Smith Jr., Kanter, Staying Woke

While there has been much discussion about the Knicks’ recently freed up cap space and what they’ll be able to do with it, it’s important to remember that New York landed a 2017 lottery pick heralded as a prized acquisition mere months ago. Ian Begley of ESPN writes about head coach David Fizdale‘s plans to utilize Dennis Smith Jr.

I want to put the ball in his hands a lot and get him out in the open court and get him a lot of space. Give him some freedom to make some mistakes,” Fizdale said. “There’s no doubt about it. The kid’s a talent, and hopefully we can bring it out consistently.”

Although his role changed dramatically in Dallas when Luka Doncic arrived, Smith averaged 17.1 points and 6.5 assists per game for the Mavs during the final 15 games of the 2017/18 season and was widely regarded as a building block for the future of the franchise.

There’s more out of New York:

  • The Enes Kanter saga continues in New York as fans clamor for the 25-year-old to see court time but the coaching staff doesn’t budge. In five of the past seven games, Kanter has recorded DNP-CDs. Today, Kanter told Jonathan Lehman of the New York Post that he awaits his future. “I have four days left,” Kanter said, referring to Thursday’s trade deadline. “I’m just going to wait four more days to see what happens, and then if something happens, it happens. If [it doesn’t happen], I’ll just go sit down with the front office, see what’s going on, see what they plan to do with me.
  • We wrote earlier today about Knicks president Steve Mills‘ comments about the Kristaps Porzingis trade, listing the various reasons why the club chose to trade their once prized franchise pillar. ESPN’s Ian Begley wrote about Porzingis’ own commentary on the situation. “The city deserves better than that,” Porzingis posted on Instagram. “My suggestion for Knicks fans is to stay woke.”
  • It’s hypothetically possible for the Knicks to land Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis but don’t expect much of a balanced roster if that happens. As Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider writes, even if New York just acquires Durant and Irving, they’ll have a steep drop-off to the team’s third-best player.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Porzingis, DSJ, Matthews, Free Agency

In his first season as Knicks head coach, David Fizdale spoke glowingly of a future in which he would coach the team’s now-former star Kristaps Porzingis. After Thursday’s trade that sent the Latvian to the Mavericks, Fizdale will not get that opportunity.

Speaking to reporters, including Marc Berman of the New York Post, about the organization’s decision to trade Porzingis, Fizdale praised their personal relationship but was on board with management’s decision.

“This is what the situation called for,’’ Fizdale said. “I never got to coach him. I was excited to coach him. We had a really good relationship, but he had to make a decision and he felt that it was best that he get a fresh start. You never want to see a player go. But where we are I’m excited about our future.

“I wouldn’t say [things were] not right. I never felt that. But like Scott [Perry] and Steve [Mills] said [Thursday] night, we felt like over a short amount of time we started to feel some distance and some indicators that we felt like we had to clear up some things to get clarity and that’s why they met.”

In dealing Porzingis, the Knicks acquired an asset in Dennis Smith Jr., two future first-round picks and cap space that could net them two max free agents this summer.

Check out more notes surrounding the Knicks:

  • With Smith in New York, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor looked back at the 2017 NBA Draft in which the point guard was drafted. Some members of the Knicks’ front office were said to be infatuated with Smith, but New York ultimately drafted teenage Frenchman Frank Ntilikina one spot earlier. However, now the organization has both players and can look to see if Smith’s upside supersedes Ntilikina’s — which was the consensus in 2017.
  • In addition to Smith, draft picks and cap space, the Knicks acquired the expiring contracts of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews. New York has heard from at least one team interested in trading for Matthews, ESPN’s Ian Begley tweets. However, if no trade is found, both Matthews and Jordan — impending free agents — are buyout candidates.
  • The widespread coverage of the Porzingis trade has yielded varying opinions on the Knicks’ future. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated writes that the deal comes with a huge risk but a potentially huge reward if the team can land two elite free agents. Michael Powell of the New York Times opines that Thursday’s trade was the latest sign of organizational incompetence.

Knicks Trade Kristaps Porzingis To Mavericks

The Knicks have traded Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first-round picks, both teams announced in press releases Thursday.

News of this deal comes just shortly after word broke that Porzingis had met with Knicks management to express frustration with the direction of the organization, leaving the team with the impression that he wanted to be moved. While Porzingis’ preference to be dealt may have jump-started these talks, it didn’t take the Knicks long to find a potential deal they liked, suggesting that they may not have been fully invested in the relationship either.

“As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various options on potential trades,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a statement. “Considering the uncertainty regarding Kristaps’ free agent status and his request today to be traded, we made a trade that we are confident improves the franchise.”

From the Knicks’ perspective, moving on from Porzingis by attaching two unwanted multi-year contracts to him creates some tantalizing free agent possibilities for the franchise. By replacing Porzingis’ cap hold ($17.09MM), Hardaway’s salary ($18.15MM), and Lee’s salary ($12.76MM) with Smith’s modest $4.46MM salary on the 2019/20 books, the Knicks will reduce their commitments by approximately $43.5MM, which should open up enough cap room for two maximum-salary free agents.

The Knicks’ only players with guaranteed contracts for 2019/20 are Smith, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson. Armed with those youngsters and a likely top-five pick, New York will enter free agency with the ability to potentially land two free agents from a group that includes Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, and others.

Besides creating substantial cap flexibility, the Knicks will acquire Smith, a second-year guard who wasn’t happy with his role in Dallas. The ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft, DSJ saw his responsibilities dialed back due to Luka Doncic‘s emergence this season. Smith has still built upon some of last year’s numbers, averaging 12.9 PPG, 4.3 APG, and 3.0 RPG with a .440/.344/.695 shooting line. He now appears poised to take over point guard duties in New York, a year after the team passed on him to draft Ntilikina.

New York also acquired a 2021 unprotected first-round pick and 2023 protected first-round pick (1-10) in the trade agreement, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley reported.

“We feel like we did the right thing,” Knicks president Steve Mills said, according to Begley. “When you try to think about how you want to build your team for the long term, you don’t want to commit a max (contract) to a player who clearly says to you he doesn’t want to be here.”

Jordan and Matthews, who are on pricey expiring deals, likely don’t have a future in New York. Rival executives expect the Knicks to explore the trade market over the next week for potential deals involving those veterans, according to Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). Both Fischer and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link) suggest that Jordan and Matthews will be intriguing buyout candidates if they’re not flipped by the Knicks.

Perry emphasized in a conference call Thursday that both Jordan and Matthews could have a positive impact on their young players for the remainder of the season, as relayed by Begley. This, of course, is provided they aren’t traded or bought out from their current deals. This statement drew a questioning response on social media from Knicks center Enes Kanter, another candidate to be traded by the deadline.

Meanwhile, the deal represents a huge swing for the Mavericks, who will pair Porzingis with Doncic with an eye toward keeping both players in Dallas for years to come. By taking on the multiyear contracts for Hardaway and Lee in exchange for Jordan and Matthews, Dallas will almost certainly give up its chance to create cap room in 2019, but will be on track to open up significant space in 2020, while Doncic is still on his rookie contract. Porzingis posted a clip of him shaking hands with Doncic after the trade became official, clearly excited for his new partnership in Dallas.

An All-Star a year ago, Porzingis averaged 22.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 2.4 BPG with a .439/.395/.793 shooting line in 48 games in 2017/18, displaying franchise-player potential. However, a torn ACL ended his season early and has sidelined him for the entire 2018/19 campaign so far. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, at which point he could sign his one-year qualifying offer, sign an offer sheet with another team, or negotiate a new deal directly with the Mavs.

[RELATED: Porzingis plans to tell Mavs he’ll sign qualifying offer?]

Dallas also created a $12.9MM trade exception in the agreement, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Additionally, Marks notes (via Twitter) that the two teams will have to account for Hardaway’s 15% trade bonus, which is currently worth $3.75MM. Assuming THJ doesn’t waive it, his cap hits will increase by $1.875MM annually for this season and next, and the Knicks will have to pay the bonus money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Mirotic, CP3, DSJ, Grizzlies

The Pelicans, already missing star big man Anthony Davis, will be without another key frontcourt player for at least the next week. The club announced in a press release on Thursday evening that Nikola Mirotic is dealing with a right calf strain and will be re-evaluated in a week. Shams Charania of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) that Mirotic may end up missing a week or two due to the injury.

Meanwhile, a division rival got some promising injury news this week. The Rockets are expected to get Chris Paul back in their lineup on Sunday, head coach Mike D’Antoni confirmed today (Twitter link via Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun). While Paul isn’t quite ready to return from his hamstring ailment on Friday night against Toronto, he’d play if it were a playoff game, D’Antoni said.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Magic Notes: DSJ, Isaac, Gordon, Vucevic

It’s unclear how serious the Dennis Smith Jr. trade talks between the Magic and Mavericks have gotten, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. However, at least one rival NBA front office official believes Smith would make a lot of sense as a target for Orlando.

“Their priority should be a starting point guard,” the official said of the Magic. “Those guys don’t grow on trees, and Dennis Smith is pretty alluring because when are you going to get (a starting point guard otherwise)?”

As Robbins observes, there will be a couple intriguing point guard prospects – Murray State’s Ja Morant and Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland – near the top of the draft, but it’s not clear if the Magic will pick high enough to have a shot at either one — and the point guard class isn’t particularly strong after those two. Currently, Orlando ranks seventh in our 2018/19 Reverse Standings.

Robbins doesn’t go too in-depth on potential free agent targets for the Magic, but suggests it seems “unrealistic” that the team will land a marquee point guard in free agency. Most of 2019’s top free agent point guards are either restricted free agents (like D’Angelo Russell and Terry Rozier) or aren’t expected to consider Orlando (Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker).

Here’s more on the Magic from Robbins:

  • Within his discussion of the DSJ rumors, Robbins notes that the Mavericks were interested in Jonathan Isaac in 2017, but Orlando remains “strongly disinclined to give him up.” The Magic also haven’t shown any signs that they’re willing to trade Aaron Gordon, sources tell Robbins.
  • Exploring the possibility of a Nikola Vucevic trade, Robbins wonders what sort of impact a Vooch trade would have on the long-term development of Isaac, Gordon, and Mohamed Bamba. Robbins also questions whether the Magic would trade Vucevic in a deal for a first-round pick that falls outside of the lottery and wouldn’t necessarily change the club’s long-term outlook significantly.
  • In a separate story on the Magic, Robbins posits that the franchise hasn’t found a “star-quality player” to replace Dwight Howard since losing him back in 2012. Head coach Steve Clifford drew attention to the star-shaped hole on Orlando’s roster after Wednesday’s loss to Brooklyn, pointing out that the Magic don’t have a player who can be relied upon to score a basket or make a play in crunch time. “It’s the most important thing that you can have in any NBA game: a guy that can go get a shot or create help so his teammate gets a shot,” Clifford said. “It’s the No. 1 thing that you want.”