Frank Ntilikina

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Hollis-Jefferson, Ntilikina

The Celtics had a historically busy offseason, Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes, involved in so many major transactions that it’s hard to pinpoint just one single deal to to summarize the commotion. In early July it was announced that the C’s had agreed to a deal with Gordon Hayward, the only thing they lacked was cap room.

Given that it was a known fact around the league that the Celtics would need to shed salary, Boston executives were swamped with calls from teams looking to facilitate their Hayward signing by helping the club clear space. The eventual deal that was agreed upon – the one that would send Avery Bradley – to the Pistons – was struck at the last minute.

News of the deal was initially kept quiet while the Celtics and Pistons set out to inform the respective players involved but Detroit managed to get in contact with Marcus Morris well before the C’s were able to reach out to Bradley. Bradley, it’s said, had to find out that he was traded through Google.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Entering his third season with the Nets, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has yielded praise from head coach Kenny Atkinson, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. “I’ve really been kind of thrilled with his performance and that’s from the first day of training camp,” Atkinson said. “He’s matured. I think he’s more level, even-keeled, I think he’s more consistent. It’ll be huge if he can continue that type of demeanor, that type of approach.
  • In response to comments that Isaiah Thomas would, possibly, never talk to Danny Ainge ever again, the Celtics‘ general manager said the guard would forever be a part of franchise history. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg posted a transcript of Ainge’s exact comments on Twitter.
  • The Knicks have been impressed with Frank Ntilikina‘s eye for Xs and Os, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. The guard apparently picked up on new plays that Jeff Hornacek added to the rotation while watching a preseason game from home as he nursed a knee injury.

New York Notes: Noah, Ntilikina, Zeller, Whitehead

The Knicks may finally be getting the version of Joakim Noah they thought they signed last summer, writes Howie Kussoy of The New York Post. After agreeing to a four-year, $72MM contract, Noah had a disastrous first season in New York, marked by poor play, a 20-game suspension for using a banned substance and a left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery in February.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said Noah’s performance in training camp has been a pleasant surprise. “Coming off those injuries, literally, I’m shocked of how well he’s played just because I didn’t think he was gonna be ready this early,” Hornacek said. “I’m extremely happy with how he’s playing. He’s playing the right way. He sets great screens, he rolls hard, which opens up other things for guys if he doesn’t get it. He’s been finishing with driving layups. He’s been playing great. He wants to come back and show everybody what kind of player he is and he’s worked hard to do that over the summer.”

Noah still has 11 games left on his suspension, so he won’t be available until mid-November. Hornacek plans to use him on a limited basis in the preseason to make sure the knee is fully recovered.

There’s more news from New York:

  • First-round pick Frank Ntilikina has performed well enough in camp to convince Hornacek that he has a bright NBA future, Kussoy relays in a separate piece. The French point was drafted because former team president Phil Jackson liked his potential fit in the triangle offense, but Hornacek says he has adjusted well to the new, faster-paced approach. “The guys are already talking about him and the plays that he’s making,” Hornacek said. “When you have the respect of those older guys, you’re doing something right.”
  • Nets coach Kenny Atkinson is confident that his centers can exceed expectations, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn traded for Timofey Mozgov, drafted Jarrett Allen and signed Tyler Zeller over the summer to form a center by committee. Zeller, who had a productive year in 2014/15, can’t understand why the Celtics cut his playing time over the past two seasons before waiving him in July. “It was one of those things I was trying to figure out all year,” he said. “They had a great year, so I can’t say they made the wrong decision. But at the same time, I wish I was a part of it. I felt like I could’ve contributed more.”
  • Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead will keep Andy Miller as his agent, tweets Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog. Miller’s ASM agency has been tied to the college basketball scandal uncovered this week and is the target of a $13.5MM arbitration claim filed by Clippers center Willie Reed.

Knicks Notes: Noah, Ntilikina, Anthony, McDermott

The addition of Enes Kanter in Saturday’s Carmelo Anthony trade makes center Joakim Noah a stronger candidate for the stretch provision, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks signed Noah to a four-year, $72MM free agent deal last summer, and he is owed $55MM over the next three seasons. Kanter will make $20.5MM+ this season and has a player option worth more than $18.6MM for 2018/19, so that’s a lot to pay two centers when Willy Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn are also on the roster.

Noah had a nightmarish first season in New York marked by disappointing performance, shoulder surgery and a drug suspension that will carry through the first 11 games of this year. Knicks management may want to get him off the roster, but the deadline to stretch this season’s salary passed on August 31, so the team is stuck with his $17.765MM and the accompanying cap hit. It could use the stretch provision on the $37.825MM Noah is owed over the final two years of his contract, paying $7.565MM a year over the next five seasons.

There’s more from New York this morning:

  • The Knicks view Frank Ntilikina as their point guard of the future, but veterans Ramon Sessions and Jarrett Jack will probably compete to be the opening-night starter, Berman adds in the same piece. A bruised knee forced the rookie to miss summer league, and the Knicks want to let him grow into the job, which GM Scott Perry believes is as difficult as being an NFL quarterback. Ron Baker, who re-signed this offseason, will spend more time at shooting guard.
  • Anthony was popular in the locker room, but was never seen by his teammates as a leader, Berman writes in a separate piece. Two of his former coaches, Mike D’Antoni and George Karl, thought he valued individual achievements and his personal agenda more than winning. Berman also wonders how much of Anthony’s prime is still left at age 33.
  • The Knicks hope Doug McDermott, who was also acquired in the Anthony deal, will give them a three-point threat who can handle both forward positions, Berman adds. One scout calls him a taller version of Kyle Korver.
  • If Kanter opts in for next season and McDermott isn’t re-signed, the Knicks will have saved about $8MM by trading Anthony, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Fultz, Caboclo, Hornacek, Ntilikina

Joel Embiid gave the Sixers a glimpse of the impact he could have on the court last season, averaging 20.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG. However, injuries once again limited Embiid as he appeared in just 31 games due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. During a media lunch. Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown discussed their oft-injured forward and gave contradicting statements, Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Brown said that Embiid has yet to play in a five-on-five scenario but also added the team will “soon” know if and when he will do so. Then, Brown and Colangelo refused to give a clearer update on Embiid’s future in terms of his involvement — or lack thereof — in training camp or the preseason. Then, Colangelo provided a statement that contradicted itself within seconds.

“It’s not about being ready for the first practice or the first game,” Colangelo said. “And he will be out there on the first practice and the first game. The question is how much, how little, if at all.”

Embiid is not the only injured Sixer as last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, is also looking to return to full health.

Below you can read more news from the Atlantic Division:

Knicks Expect Carmelo To Open Camp With Team

After a full offseason of trade rumors, Carmelo Anthony remains a Knick, and the club’s brass doesn’t expect that to change within the next few days. Speaking today to reporters, including Ian Begley of ESPN (Twitter link), Knicks president Steve Mills says he expects Anthony to be with the club on Monday for Media Day and on Tuesday for the team’s first practice.

While general manager Scott Perry says the Knicks will “continue to listen” to trade possibilities for Anthony, the team is currently planning to head into the season with Carmelo in its starting lineup, as head coach Jeff Hornacek confirmed today (Twitter links via Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog).

We’ve heard all summer that Anthony’s preference is to be traded, but Perry and the Knicks expect nothing but professionalism from the veteran forward, and believe he can set a good example for the team’s young players (Twitter links via Begley). Meanwhile, Mills – who confirmed that the team has been in regular contact with Anthony recently – indicated that he doesn’t expect the Knicks’ chemistry to be negatively impacted by the trade rumors surrounding the club’s leading scorer (Twitter links via Begley).

Here’s more out of New York:

  • Various reports over the offseason, including one this week from Marc Berman of The New York Post, indicated that Hornacek has a strained relationship with Kristaps Porzingis. However, the Knicks head coach said today that his relationship with Porzingis is good, and that he won’t comment on reports that state otherwise.
  • Hornacek suggested today that rookie Frank Ntilikina could compete for the starting point guard job, but Perry, likening the point guard position to a quarterback in football, cautioned that Ntilkina may need some time to get comfortable in the NBA (Twitter link via Berman).
  • Joakim Noah has been medically cleared to get back on the court following his rotator cuff injury, per Mills (Twitter link via Zagoria). Now that he’s been deemed healthy enough to play, Noah will open the regular season by serving the remaining 12 games on his 20-game suspension.
  • Based on Hornacek’s comments today, it sounds like the Knicks’ offense will change significantly, with the triangle no longer the focus, tweets Begley.

Knicks Notes: Beasley, Anthony, Rambis, Jack, Triangle

The Knicks unveiled one of their latest signings, journeyman Michael Beasley, during a press conference at their Westchester training facility on Tuesday. Beasley, a former second overall pick from the 2008 draft class, is confident as he joins his fifth team in six seasons, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Beasley, 28, averaged 9.4 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 56 games (six starts) with the Bucks last season. It was Beasley’s first season playing more than 55 games since his 2012/13 campaign with the Suns. Beasley feels that if Carmelo Anthony stays, and the rest of the team performs up to expectations, the Knicks can be a “five, six seed” in the Eastern Conference.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and myself — those are four guys that can score 25 points per game,’’ Beasley said. “Then you add in Lance Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn, Joakim Noah — let’s not forget about that All-Star,” Beasley said. “It’s up to us to put it together just like it was up to them last year. Whatever happened last year is what happened. But I’m here now, and I’m going to do everything I can to get everyone on the same page, even if that page is beating me up every day in practice.”

As we wait to see whether Beasley and the Knicks can deliver on his optimistic forecast, here are a few more Knicks notes:

  • In a separate story, Berman of the New York Post, dubbing Beasley as a possible Anthony replacement, notes that Knicks assistant coach Kurt Rambis played a role in bringing Beasley to New York. Beasley played under Rambis in Minnesota, and he confirmed that his former coach “had a lot to do” with him joining the Knicks, per ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter link).
  • After missing most of the last two seasons, 13-year veteran Jarrett Jack signed a deal with the Knicks last week. As Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes that the veteran likes the Knicks’ 2017 first-round pick, Frank Ntilikina. “He’s a solid kid, man,” Jack said. “Really, really can play. Really long arms, really active defensively. Great size. Just looking forward to giving him all the game that I’ve gotten over these 13 years.”
  • Berman of The New York Post writes that early indications are that the triangle offense may be a thing of the past, as expected after Phil Jackson‘s departure. The aforementioned Jack, who spoke to reporters about his experience at voluntary workouts, said that coach Jeff Hornacek has not mentioned the offensive scheme once.
  • Whether Anthony stays or traded elsewhere, his Knicks future is a no-win situation, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes.

Knicks Rumors: Blatt, Porzingis, Ntilikina

David Blatt’s connections to the Knicks front office could land the former Cavaliers head coach in New York during the upcoming season, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Blatt would like another NBA job and he’s close friends with team president Steve Mills and recently-hired front office executive Craig Robinson, both of whom were college teammates of Blatt’s, Isola points out. The Knicks’ schedule could also put current coach Jeff Hornacek on the hot seat before the All-Star break as they play 16 of 20 games on the road right after Christmas, including the Warriors and Spurs, Isola notes.

In other items regarding the Knicks:

  • The club should not give up Kristaps Porzingis in order to acquire disgruntled Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News argues. Porzingis is a unique player who should be considered an untouchable, a 7’3” big man who protects the rim and stretches the floor, Bondy notes. Porzingis is not even eligible to become a restricted free agent for another two seasons, and even shedding the contract of Carmelo Anthony or Joakim Noah isn’t worth giving him up, Bondy continues. If Irving wants to play in New York, he can sign with the franchise as a free agent in two years, Bondy adds. Currently, the Knicks regard any attempt by the Cavs to acquire Porzingis as a non-starter in trade talks involving Irving.
  • Frank Ntilikina has picked the brains of former NBA players in Europe and believes he’ll have to play more on instinct than he did overseas, he explained to Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times in an in-depth feature. Former Knick Mardy Collins and former Maverick Rodrigue Beaubois instructed him that talent and athleticism rule in the NBA, while the European game is more focused on basketball I.Q. and a cerebral approach. “They told me like when you go here, you don’t have to think too much, because I used to think a lot,” the Knicks lottery pick told Vorkunov. “I used to play the game as a chess game. So they told me when you go there, you just have to play your game and not think too much.” Ntilikina has been studying tapes of top NBA point guards in an effort to refine his game, Vorkunov adds.

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, Okafor, London

While the plan has always been to bring rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina along slowly, the fact that the Knicks failed to land a notable veteran at the position this offseason gives the first-year player an opportunity to sneak into the starting lineup.

Of course [I want to start],” Ntilikina told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, before stressing that he’s a team player more concerned with simply improving over the course of his first campaign with the Knicks.

The Knicks added Ramon Sessions over the summer but while Sessions brings a source of veteran leadership, he hasn’t been a consistent starter previously in his 10-year career.

Regardless of where he ends up in the rotation, the Knicks’ eighth-overall pick acknowledges a need to work on his body and brace for the physical challenges of stepping into the NBA.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Although his name has frequently come up in trade rumors, Sixers big man Jahlil Okafor “couldn’t be happier” in Philadelphia. The center spoke with Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times about the idea of suiting up for another squad.
  • The Celtics aren’t about to plan their offseason around what the Cavaliers are doing. “We have our own problems and our own challenges and trying to put players together that can win and compete in the league today is very difficult,Danny Ainge said recently on the Dan Patrick Show (via CSN New England).
  • The Celtics and Sixers will take their talents to the United Kingdom this season, an press release reveals. The two division rivals will square off in NBA London Games 2018 on January 11.

Poll: Best Rookie Point Guard Season

The 2017 NBA Draft was loaded with talented point guards, including first overall pick Markelle Fultz, No. 2 selection Lonzo Ball, and fellow lottery picks De’Aaron Fox, Frank Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith Jr. 

Fultz showed flashes of brilliance in the NBA Summer League amid overall inconsistent play before he ultimately injured his ankle in his Las Vegas debut. The 76ers guard was promptly shut down for the remainder of Summer League. This season, the rookie figures to be a regular fixture in the Philadelphia backcourt.

After dominating his freshman season at UCLA, Ball won Las Vegas Summer League MVP honors, racking up assists (9.3 APG) and steals (2.5 SPG), as well as points and rebounds. Although it is not clear whether Ball will start for the Lakers right out of the gate, he will certainly be the beneficiary of a hearty amount of playing time.

Fox is also expected to see his fair share of action this season, but averaged just 21.3 minutes per game in four Las Vegas Summer League games. Like Fultz and Ball, Fox exhibited tantalizing athleticism. The Kentucky product averaged a solid 11.8 points per contest and 3.0 assists. Fox’s 2.3 SPG were extremely impressive.

The Knicks drafted Ntilikina eighth overall because of his speed and agility. Last season, the point guard averaged just 15.5 minutes per game for Strasbourg in France but displayed tremendous promise and improved noticeably as a shooter. With D. Rose out of town, it appears as if the keys to Madison Square Garden are about to be Frank’s.

In six games in Las Vegas, Smith averaged 17.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 4.2 APG, shooting 45.7% from the floor and electrifying with the occasional powerful dunk. The Mavericks prospect also tallied 2.2 SPG.

This brings us to today’s poll: Which of these point guards will have the best rookie season in 2017/18?

Knicks Sign Frank Ntilikina To Rookie Contract

The Knicks’ new point guard has a new contract, according to the team, which announced today (via Twitter) that Frank Ntilikina has officially inked his four-year rookie deal. As Marc Berman of The New York Post tweets, Ntilikina’s mother was in attendance to witness the event.

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

As the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Ntilikina is in line for a first-year salary of about $3.5MM, with a four-year total of $18.69MM on his new deal. The third and fourth years will be team options.

While Ntilikina projects to be the Knicks’ point guard of the future, it’s not clear whether he’ll get a chance to play major minutes right away. The club has been fairly quiet in free agency, but continues to seek a veteran point guard to act as a mentor for Ntilikina, who will turn 19 later this month.

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