Immanuel Quickley

Knicks Notes: Playoff Seed, Fans, Success, Randle

The red-hot Knicks carried a seven-game winning streak into their game against Atlanta on Wednesday. They sit in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference with new aspirations of getting home court advantage in the opening round, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. If they finish fourth, they’ll achieve that goal.

“We have a mentality there is no seventh, eighth seed for us. It’s strictly focused on the 4-5-6 and making sure we have a solid spot,” center Nerlens Noel said. “We worked really hard this season. It would be tough to put in that much work in and have a play-in thing. We have to take advantage of the position we’re in now and finish strong through this last stretch of the season so we’re in position to have one of those locked-in spots.”

We have more on the Knicks:

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that indoor capacity for both the Knicks and Nets can increase from the current 10% to 25% for the playoffs, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. The relaxed restrictions will kick in May 19, though the Knicks might have a play-in game on May 18.
  • The team’s season has already been a massive success regardless of how the rest of the campaign plays out, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes. Julius Randle has proven he can carry a team offensively, Immanuel Quickley has shown he’ll a long-term backcourt starter, and coach Tom Thibodeau’s offensive and defensive schemes have given the franchise a much-needed identity.
  • Randle has reached another potential bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Randle has appeared in 58 games and if the Knicks get a top six spot in the Eastern Conference or reach the first round via the play-in tournament, he’ll add another $945K to his bank account. He’s already earned a $945K bonus for being an All-Star.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Henson, Quickley, Barrett

Knicks guard Derrick Rose still doesn’t have his wind back after contracting the coronavirus last month, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Rose, who missed 10 games due to the virus and an ankle sprain, had significant symptoms and described his bout as having the flu “times 10.” He’s served as a key cog for New York this year, averaging 11.9 points, four assists and 25 minutes in 16 games.

“Having COVID, coming back in, missing the game, just trying to get my rhythm, trying to get my timing down, trying to get my wind, but that’s going to come,” Rose said, as relayed by Berman. “I’m trying to use these last 20-something games to prep myself for a playoff series.

“It’s going to take some time, but it’s going day by day, practice by practice, and in the game, quarter by quarter. I had a pretty good half last game and now the goal is to have two legit halves and just play as hard as I can so I can build up my wind.”

There’s more out of New York today:

  • John Henson will miss Friday’s game against Memphis due to a calf strain, according to Berman (Twitter link). Henson is under a 10-day contract with the team and may not see time due to the injury. The 30-year-old is in his ninth NBA season and holds past experience with Milwaukee, Cleveland and Detroit.
  • Immanuel Quickley denied that he’s hitting the well-documented “rookie wall,” Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. As Bondy details, Quickley is shooting just 31% in his last seven games, working to get through a slump. “As far as the rookie wall, I don’t really feel it,” Quickley said. “I’m just gonna continue to do whatever’s got me here,” he said. “There’s gonna be ups and downs throughout a season, ups and downs throughout a game.”
  • RJ Barrett continues to make strides in his second NBA season, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Barrett has increased his scoring average from 14.3 to 17.5 points per game this year, also raising his shooting marks from 40% to 45% from the field and 32% to 38% from deep. “He’s coming into his own and knowing who he is as a player,” teammate Julius Randle said. “Down the stretch, he’s getting to his spots. He’s playing well. Very comfortable and continuing to grow as a player.”

Atlantic Notes: Quickley, Bembry, Johnson, Reed

Immanuel Quickley had an impressive start to his rookie season with the Knicks. The 6’3″ guard, who was the 25th overall pick out of Kentucky, scored at least 19 points in 11 of his first 36 NBA games. However, over the last few weeks, Quickley has hit a wall and fallen into a shooting slump. The Knicks have also dropped four of their previous five games. 

With Quickley struggling, Marc Berman of the New York Post wonders whether the rookie has a future as a starting NBA point guard or if he’ll end up as a bench scorer. Berman elicits opinions from multiple scouts in his look at Quickley’s future role.

“He played above his pay grade the first few months,’” said former Sixers scout Michael VandeGarde, who now runs a scouting service. “He’s coming back down to earth. It happens a lot with kids for short periods when they play so well early. Only time will tell what he really is.’”

More from the Atlantic Division: 

  • Veteran guard DeAndre’ Bembry signed a two-year deal with the Raptors before the season, and while the signing went under the radar, he has been vital to his new team. As Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes, Bembry is capable of guarding at least three positions on defense and has shown enough on offense to earn himself regular playing time.
  • Celtics big man Tristan Thompson appears ready to make his return after a lengthy absence due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Thompson last played on March 14.
  • While he doesn’t receive as much attention as his star teammates, Alize Johnson who’s currently on his second 10-day contract in Brooklyn, is providing the Nets with strong production. “There are some nights where it might not look like he’s showing up on the stat sheet, but he does all the little stuff all the time. And then when we need him to come up for us offensively, he typically does,” Nets guard Joe Harris said of Johnson, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post.
  • Rich Hofmann of The Athletic profiled Sixers rookie Paul Reed, taking a look at the NBA G League MVP known as “Bball Paul.” While Reed may not see a ton of playing time the rest of the way, he’s “now very much part of the Sixers’ team fabric,” Hofmann writes.

Knicks Notes: Front Office, Thibodeau, Quickley, More

In an entertaining, in-depth story for The New York Post, Yaron Weitzman takes a deep dive into the inner workings of the Knicks‘ front office, exploring how president of basketball operations Leon Rose has skillfully managed a handful of competing viewpoints and voices in the basketball operations department.

As Weitzman details, Rose has had to consider input from head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has little patience for a rebuild and wondered if RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson could be traded for “seasoned veterans”; from executive VP William Wesley – aka “World Wide Wes’ – who frequently zeroed in on players who attended the University of Kentucky or signed with CAA; and from cap expert Brock Aller, who advocated for a patient, flexible approach to using the team’s cap room.

Rose has managed to make everybody happy so far — he acquired Derrick Rose, like Thibodeau wanted, drafted Immanuel Quickley, which Wesley “pushed for like crazy,” and used the Knicks’ cap room primarily on affordable one-year signings, which was Aller’s preference.

“His job is to sort through different opinions from different people and make the best decision,” a rival executive said of Rose. “It certainly seems like he’s doing that well.”

Here are a few more highlights from Weitzman’s story, which is worth checking out in full:

  • Wesley, who had been hyping up Quickley for months, badly wanted the Knicks to select him at No. 23 and was “furious” when the team made a last-second decision to trade back to No. 25, loudly declaring, “Coach says we need shooting, Quickley’s the best shooter.” The Knicks ultimately landed the Kentucky point guard with the 25th pick.
  • According to Weitzman, when conversations in the front office focused on players who had no connections to Kentucky or to CAA, Wesley would often close his eyes. “When Wes said ‘we,’ people weren’t sure if he was referring to the Knicks or Kentucky,” one source said of World Wide Wes, who has a long-standing friendship with Wildcats coach John Calipari.
  • Meetings between Thibodeau and Aller sometimes became heated, given their diametric points of view on winning now vs. rebuilding. Weitzman says Thibodeau would sometime mockingly refer to Aller as “Hinkie,” a reference to Sam Hinkie, who infamously took an extreme long-term view when he rebuilt the Sixers.
  • Thibodeau pushed for the Knicks to use their cap room to pursue veteran free agents such as Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, per Weitzman. While the Knicks were said to be in the mix for Hayward, they ultimately used their space to sign veterans like Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, and Elfrid Payton to one-year deals.

Knicks Notes: Randle, Quickley, Rose, Noel

With the addition of Derrick Rose to the Knicks‘ roster, nominal point forward Julius Randle (averaging a career-best 5.8 APG) will have to make changes to his game, writes Peter Botte of the New York Post.

“He’s gonna be extremely helpful,” Randle said of the Rose addition. “It gives us not just a veteran presence but a guy who can go out there and create plays, just a steadiness about him, just a confidence about him.”

Botte notes that thus far Randle and Rose’s minutes have been relatively staggered.

There’s more out of New York:

  • Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley, not even the first Knicks first-round pick in the 2020 NBA draft, has been impressing around the league thus far in his first season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Though fans fretted that the arrival of a proven veteran scorer like Rose could cut into Quickley’s minutes, the rookie point guard has been playing alongside the former MVP in reserve lineups. “I’m learning a lot of stuff [from him],’’ Quickley said. “He’s a dog, an alpha dog, he’s a leader. It’s great to have somebody like that in my corner.’’
  • Rose is already proving a welcome addition to the Knicks, according to Peter Botte of the New York Post“He’s a great student of the game,” coach Tom Thibodeau raved about Rose, who has played for Thibodeau in all three of his head coaching stops thus far. “I think that is what has allowed him to adapt, grow and change.” Rose is averaging 14.7 PPG and 4.0 APG with New York, while posting an impressive shooting line of .548/.529/.778.
  • The injury that will keep starting center Mitchell Robinson sidelined for at least six weeks is creating a huge opportunity for backup big man Nerlens Noel, as Marc Berman of the New York Post details. “Mitchell is a big piece on this team,” Noel said. “Everything he brings to the table. I hope he has a speedy recovery. Until then, I’ll definitely man the defense, man the paint. Just make sure I’m playing at a high level for this team.”

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Noel, Beal, Quickley

The Knicks may use some small-ball lineups while center Mitchell Robinson is sidelined with a fractured hand, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. The team is planning a group effort to replace Robinson, who anchors the defense with 1.5 blocks, 1.2 steals, and 8.4 rebounds per game. Nerlens Noel will likely become the starter, with Taj Gibson seeing increased playing time, but coach Tom Thibodeau is willing to use Julius Randle in the middle beside Kevin Knox or Obi Toppin.

“It’s always part of what we can do,” Thibodeau said. “I think in looking at what Mitch provided and what Nerlens provided, I thought that was a strength, and then maybe what Taj provides, as well. But I think Obi is playing at a high level right now, and that second group has a lot of speed and they can get up and run the floor.”

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Noel was the team’s starting center during the preseason while Robinson was learning Thibodeau’s system, and the coach is confident he can slide back into that role, Popper adds in a separate story. “Any time a player like Mitch goes down, you don’t replace him individually,” Thibodeau said. “You have to do it collectively. And that’s where we feel good about our team. I think Taj, going in, his experience will help. Nerlens has done a terrific job for us. We want to make sure we maintain the defensive component of our team and I think those two guys can do that.”
  • The Knicks have plenty of assets on hand and the new front office is willing to package several of them in return for a star player, sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. One possible target is Wizards guard Bradley Beal if he changes his mind about wanting to stay in Washington. An unidentified general manager tells Bondy it would likely take three first-round picks, two pick swaps, a young player and an expiring contract to land Beal. Rockets guard Victor Oladipo and Bulls guard Zach LaVine have also been mentioned as possibilities if the Knicks don’t want to pay that price.
  • John Wall keeps close tabs on fellow Kentucky players and is impressed by the progress of Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. “He’s someone I respect,’’ Wall said. “I’m very happy for him to get the opportunity. I’m glad he’s showing people he’s more than just a shooter. That’s a lot of what people thought. The way he runs the point-guard position has been good. It’s going to be good to go against him.”

Knicks Notes: Rose, Rivers, Knox, Ntilikina, Beal, Oladipo

After making his Knicks debut on Tuesday, veteran guard Derrick Rose spoke about the “synergy” he shares with head coach Tom Thibodeau and admitted that reuniting with Thibodeau – and Knicks executive William Wesley – was his top choice when he decided he wanted to move on from the Pistons, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“Even though I couldn’t say that at the time, I just wanted to be comfortable,” Rose said. “Like I said, I’ve been knowing these guys ever since high school, eighth grade, high school, so coming here, like I said, it’s family. I never really thought about anything else but really getting here and understanding they wanted me to help grow the young guys they’ve already got here.”

One of those “young guys” Rose will get a chance to mentor is rookie guard Immanuel Quickley. In Rose’s debut, the two guards shared the court as part of New York’s second unit, which is a pairing Thibodeau expects will continue going forward. As Bontemps details, the Knicks’ head coach said after the game that Austin Rivers, who was replaced in the rotation by Rose, figures to be a “situational” player for the time being.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, and all of the Knicks’ first-round picks were off limits in the trade for Rose, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who says the Knicks want to save as many assets as possible for a possible bigger splash down the road.
  • The Knicks are among the teams keeping an eye on Bradley Beal and Victor Oladipo, Berman adds in the same story. There’s no indication that Beal will be moved by the Wizards anytime soon, but sources tell The New York Post that the Rockets are considered “amenable” to flipping Oladipo after acquiring him in January. A report last week indicated the Knicks still have interest in Oladipo after eyeing him in the offseason.
  • The Knicks announced plans today to allow approximately 2,000 fans at their home games beginning on February 23 (Twitter link). The announcement came on the heels of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo permitting large sports venues to reopen at 10% capacity, which will pave the way for the Nets to begin allowing fans at Barclays Center later this month as well, as Malika Andrews of ESPN writes.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Ntilikina, Rose, Quickley, Flynn

Sixers center Joel Embiid is having the best season of his career and has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. In addition to anchoring a defense that ranks first in the Eastern Conference with a 107.4 rating, Embiid is having his best offensive season, with career highs in points per game (29.3), field-goal percentage (55.3%), and three-point percentage (39.0%), among other categories.

Even if he doesn’t earn MVP honors, Embiid is on track to be named to one of the league’s three All-NBA teams, which would bode well for his future earnings. If he earns an All-NBA spot this season, the Sixers star would become eligible to sign a super-max contract extension that would start at 35% of the 2023/24 salary cap instead of his standard limit of 30%.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina has been ruled out for Tuesday due to entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per the team (Twitter link). Ntilikina hasn’t tested positive, but is subject to contact tracing after having been in proximity to someone who tested positive, reports Steve Popper of Newsday (Twitter link). If Ntilikina is determined to have been a close contact of that person, he may be sidelined for the next week.
  • While there’s some concern among Knicks fans that newly-acquired point guard Derrick Rose will steal minutes from promising rookie Immanuel Quickley, the two guards have already begun to bond, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “First of all he gave me his number — said anything I need just hit him,” Quickley said of Rose on Tuesday. “But he sat down with me a little bit, me and Obi (Toppin) actually, just told us he’s here to help us, he’s here to help us grow and things like that.”
  • As he heads to the G League bubble to gain regular playing time and experience, Malachi Flynn is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Raptors teammate Fred VanVleet, who won an NBAGL title as a rookie before emerging as a key player for an NBA championship team two years later. Blake Murphy of The Athletic has the story.

Atlantic Notes: Quickley, Harris, Randle, Free Agency

Immanuel Quickley has quickly emerged as a bright spot for the streaky Knicks, becoming a high-scoring option off the bench in his rookie campaign. He added to his impressive start with a 25-point performance against the Cavaliers on Friday, helping New York end a three-game losing streak.

After a recent 31-point showing in a loss to the Trail Blazers, Quickley was connected with Portland’s perennial MVP candidate Damian Lillard. As Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes, Lillard provided some advice and insight to Quickley in the midst of his standout introduction to the NBA.

“I took everything away, honestly, from the type of person he is first of all, the type of player he is, [the] competitor [he is],” Quickley said. “Then really just giving me advice on obviously the point guard position, but what it takes to win in this league, what it takes to help your team win, how to bounce back from good games, bad games, staying even-keeled throughout the whole season.

“It was good to just have someone like to be able to go to, someone that’s been through a lot, Western Conference finals, the MVP [race], things like that.”

Check out more news and notes from the Atlantic division:

  • After his impressive start to the 2020/21 season, Tobias Harris is earning himself serious All-Star consideration, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Of note, the Sixers forward has shown defensive improvements while averaging 20.1 PPG with career bests in field-goal percentage (52.5%) and three-point shooting (46.2%).
  • Given Julius Randle‘s monstrous performance to begin this season, it’s time to stop viewing the forward as an athletic underachiever and more as an All-Star keeping a streaky team within playoff contention, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Randle showed up in great shape and has since been the Knicks‘ key to the offense, as an improved scorer, passer and defender.
  • The Nets will have to fill one of their two open roster spots by Sunday and it’s likely the team looks outside the organization to fill it, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “I guess it’s possible to sign one of our two-way guys,” Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash said. “But I think we’re probably looking to sign somebody on a free-agent deal here.”

Knicks Keeping Eye On Zach LaVine

The Knicks are closely monitoring Bulls guard Zach LaVine and the possibility of acquiring him via trade before the March 25 deadline, Ian Begley of SNY reports.

It’s uncertain whether Chicago is listening to offers on LaVine but the Knicks have some draft capital that may intrigue the Bulls, Begley notes. New York owns its future first-rounders and has 2021 and 2023 first-rounders coming from the Mavericks from the Kristaps Porzingis deal, though the latter of those picks has protections.

The Bulls would likely ask for another young star in any deal involving LaVine, Begley presumes.

An Immanuel Quickley-LaVine pairing could be the Knicks’ long-term solution in the backcourt, provided they re-signed him.

LaVine, 25, becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2022. He’s making $19.5MM this season and the same next season. He might seek max money, or close to it, in his next contract.

Prior to the season, the Bulls rebuffed overtures for LaVine. He’s once again posting big stats — 27.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 39.7% from 3 — but he’s also committing 4.3 turnovers a game. Moreover, LaVine’s efforts have not translated to wins. Chicago heads into the weekend with a 7-10 record.

The Nets also had interest in LaVine prior to acquiring James Harden, Begley adds.