Immanuel Quickley

New York Notes: Harden, Irving, Burks, Quickley, Claxton, Sharpe, Mills, Aldridge

The Nets’ two healthy stars had a “breakthrough” performance on Friday, James Harden told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and other media members. Harden and Kyrie Irving combined for 26 fourth-quarter points against San Antonio. Harden finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

“For sure, it was a breakthrough,” Harden said. “(Kyrie)’s capable of doing that at any moment and any point in the game. That’s one of the reasons why we need him every single game, because he’s able to do that, especially with everything that’s going on with our team. But he’s able and more than capable of doing things like that whenever he wants. I think he just tries to get us involved a little bit more, but he’s a special talent.”

Of course, Irving can only play half the time due his unvaccinated status. Kevin Durant is sidelined by a knee injury and there’s no timetable for his return.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • There are all kinds of issues with the Knicks these days, including the lack of production from guards Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley, Marc Berman of the New York Post notes. Burks signed a three-year, $30MM contract during the offseason and Quickley is on his rookie deal. They’ve tanked during the current three-game losing streak, shooting 22-for-77 (30.6%) from the field.
  • The Nets are reportedly looking for a way to deal Paul Millsap, who hasn’t been able to crack the rotation. That’s due to the increase in minutes for young players Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. That has made it difficult for coach Steve Nash to fit in the numerous frontcourt veterans dotting the roster. “Just a difficult situation that we didn’t necessarily foresee, but here we are,” Nash said. “And Day’Ron and Nic have emerged.”
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich offered high praise for two of his former players, the Nets’ Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News relays (Twitter links). Of Mills, Popovich said, “he’s always positive, a consummate pro in preparing for his job, gives everything he has in every practice and every game, supports everybody on the team and in the organization.” Regarding Aldridge, Popovich said, “LA did all the community things Patty did….He just did it quietly. … He was a great teammate with everybody, a heck of a player.”

Knicks Notes: Walker, Quickley, Grant, Randle

The Knicks are paying the price for counting on a pair of point guards in their 30s who have a history of health issues, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The team entered the season with Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose atop its depth chart at the point, but Walker has missed time recently due to knee problems and Rose is out indefinitely following ankle surgery.

As Bondy outlines, playing without a reliable point guard has created some additional offensive problems for the Knicks, who have the NBA’s 23rd-most efficient offense and rank last in the Eastern Conference in assists per game.

“The defense has pretty much been there,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said after a weekend loss in which the Knicks scored just 75 points in Boston. “It’s the offense has been inconsistent.”

New York’s injury absences have resulted in Immanuel Quickley taking on more point guard responsibilities as of late, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. Thibodeau lauded the second-year guard for the progress he has made in that role while acknowledging there’s still work to do.

“There’s stretches in the game where you have to settle the team down and get the team organized,” Thibodeau said of Quickley. “I think that will come in time. The more he does it the better he’ll get at it. I love his versatility. You can play him with the ball, you can play him off the ball, and that’s what makes him so valuable to us.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Thibodeau said on Monday that Walker is getting “close” to returning to action from what the team has called a sore left knee, Popper writes for Newsday. Asked whether Kemba remains sidelined due to healing or conditioning, Thibodeau replied, “Probably a little bit of both. Each day he’s doing a little bit more. The main thing was letting his knee calm down. It’s done that and now ramping it up again.”
  • Following up on Shams Charania’s report on New York’s interest in Pistons forward Jerami Grant, Fred Katz and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic consider whether the 27-year-old would be a good fit for the Knicks and what a trade might look like. The Athletic’s duo suggests a hypothetical package of Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Obi Toppin, and the Knicks’ 2022 first-round pick (lightly protected), but observes that a three-for-one swap could be tricky for Detroit to accommodate.
  • Last season’s Most Improved Player has seen his numbers dip so far this season and has shot just 36.7% (19.4% on threes) since Christmas, but the Knicks remain confident in Julius Randle‘s ability to battle through adversity. “I don’t want anyone get wrapped up in any personal dilemmas or any of that stuff,” Thibodeau said on Monday without directly mentioning Randle (link via Ian O’Connor of The New York Post). “…There are going to be ups and downs throughout the course of the year. You’ve got to be mentally tough when you face adversity. Everyone does, right? It’s probably the most important thing in life. Sometimes it goes our way, sometimes it doesn’t. Just navigate through it all.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo Exits Protocols, Expected To Play Saturday

DECEMBER 25, 8:53am: Antetokounmpo is expected to return to action for the Bucks on Saturday after missing the team’s last five games, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter).

DECEMBER 24, 12:17pm: Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Lowe and Wojnarowski, Antetokounmpo is expected to get on the court today and make a decision tomorrow about whether he’ll be able to suit up for the Bucks in their Christmas Day game vs. Boston. The two-time MVP will have to pass cardiac tests before he’s cleared to return following his stint in the health and safety protocols.

Although Giannis still has a chance to play on Saturday, it appears the same can’t be said for Hawks star Trae Young. League sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) that Young isn’t expected to be cleared in time to be activated for Atlanta’s Christmas Day contest in New York.

It’s an unfortunate turn of events, given the burgeoning rivalry that Young and the Hawks have established with the Knicks and the fans in New York. However, it doesn’t come as a surprise — Young just entered the COVID-19 protocols five days ago, so the odds of him testing out this quickly were low unless his initial test was a false positive.

In addition to not having to face Young on Saturday, the Knicks also may get some additional reinforcements, as guard Immanuel Quickley has exited the protocols, per the team (Twitter link). New York now has just three players still in the protocolsKevin Knox, Nerlens Noel, and Miles McBride.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau did caution today that Quickley may not be ready to play on Christmas, but said RJ Barrett, who also exited the protocols this week, has a better chance to be active (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN).

New York Notes: Quickley, Robinson, Durant, Ennis

Immanuel Quickley has become the latest Knicks player to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). Quickley joins RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox, and Quentin Grimes in the protocols, as COVID-19 continues to drain New York’s roster of available players. If Quickley tested positive for the virus, he’ll be out for the next 10 days or until he can return two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News interprets a recent Instagram story from Mitchell Robinson as the Knicks center once again cryptically griping about his role. Robinson, who scored two points in 14 minutes on Tuesday vs. Golden State, said in his Instagram story that he was “literally running for cardio,” insinuating that he wants the ball more, according to Bondy.
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash badly wants to find a way to reduce Kevin Durant‘s workload, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Durant is averaging 37.0 minutes per game this season, including 41.0 MPG over his last nine games with the team shorthanded. “I know he’s enjoying playing at the rate he’s playing at and trying to bring his teammates along with him and all the responsibility that he’s accepted and crushed, basically,” Nash said. “It’s just been incredible. But, at the same time, it’s not safe or sustainable to lean on him like that. There’s gonna be a lot of consideration and we’ll have to figure out ways to give him breaks.”
  • Blake Griffin, who played with James Ennis in Detroit, is happy that the Nets are signing his former teammate. “Great guy, plays hard, great defense,” Griffin said of Ennis (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post). “Kind of just one of those guys that can do a little bit of everything.”

Knicks Notes: Quickley, Barrett, Walker

Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley is working to avoid a sophomore slump, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Quickley has struggled through the team’s first nine games, averaging 5.7 points on just 30% shooting from the floor and 23% from deep.

“I don’t think it’s really a slump,” Quickley said. “I haven’t made some shots but it’s a long season. It’s not a 10-game season. It’s an 82-game season. I just continue to stay in the gym, work hard, trust God and I’ll keep my confidence high.”

As a rookie last season, Quickley averaged an impressive 11.4 points on 39% from three-point range. The 22-year-old is confident that he’ll find his stroke in due time.

“It’s an 82-game season,” Quickley said. “I’m not too worried about it. That just means I’ll play great the rest of the season if I’m not playing great right now. They just told me to be myself, which means have confidence, play hard and keep your energy on the floor. That’s what I continue to do.”

Here are some other notes out of New York:

  • RJ Barrett is becoming the team’s iron man due to his physical and mental toughness, Berman writes in a separate article for the New York Post. Barrett has played an average of 35.3 minutes this season, coming off a campaign where he scored 17.6 points in 34.9 minutes per contest. Head coach Tom Thibodeau is known for liking durable players who can play for long stretches, something Barrett has grown accustomed to doing.
  • Barrett praised teammate Kemba Walker during a wide-ranging interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post, explaining that the veteran point guard brings a palpable energy to the club. “He’s a great person, he’s a great human being overall. We all really get along with him,” Barrett said of Walker. “He’s really not about himself, he really wants the whole team succeeding, no matter who it is, no matter who scores or whatever, he’s cheering the loudest. That’s great to know.” Walker signed with the Knicks in free agency this past summer.

Atlantic Notes: Walker, Rose, Mills, VanVleet

Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose seem to have solved the Knicks‘ long-standing problem at point guard, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Walker and Rose are both over 30 and have troublesome injury histories, but they’re off to a strong start, averaging a combined 26.8 points, seven assists, almost six rebounds and more than two steals through the first four games.

When New York signed Walker after his buyout with the Thunder, Rose staved off any controversy by saying Walker should be the starter. The question of who will close out games appears to depend on who’s having the better night.

“There’s gonna be games where I do score like that, maybe even more. There’s gonna be games where I don’t,” Walker said following Tuesday’s win over the Sixers. “There’s gonna be games where Derrick is playing super well, and he’s gonna stay in the game. It just is what it is. … There’s gonna be games where I’m not gonna get back on the court just because guys are playing super well. And I have no problem with that, especially D-Rose, the youngest MVP ever.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • After a strong rookie season, Immanuel Quickley is fighting for playing time again in a crowded Knicks backcourt, notes Mirin Fader of The Ringer. Quickley says proving himself has been a recurring theme ever since he arrived at Kentucky.
  • The Nets didn’t know they wouldn’t have Kyrie Irving available when they added Patty Mills in free agency, but he has turned out to be exactly what they need, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Mills, who signed for the mid-level exception, was considered one of the top bargains of the summer. “He’s a winner,” coach Steve Nash said. “He plays the right way, he’s experienced. Obviously he’s skilled, but he just brings a great feel to the game, with (or) without the ball. And defensively, he makes our team communicate better. He organizes us (on) both sides of the ball. So, he just brings a lot to the table, and he’s a great addition to our team.”
  • Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet was second in the league in minutes played last year and his workload has increased in the early part of this season, according to Michael Grange of VanVleet doesn’t mind the extra playing time, saying he spent the summer preparing for it. “I feel good, that’s why you put so much work in during the offseason,” he said. “I spend every hour that I’m not on the court trying to figure out how I can get my body ready for tomorrow. So just being dedicated to the craft and trying to figure out how I can be the best pro I can be.”

New York Notes: Uptempo Knicks, Quickley, Irving, Nash

The defensive-minded Knicks that were a surprise No. 4 seed in the East last season have been transformed, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s team has a combined 259 points in its first two games and leads the NBA with 41 made three-pointers.

Thibodeau urged his players to commit to the three-point shot over the offseason, but some of the Knicks’ transformation has occurred out of necessity. The team is short-handed in the middle with Nerlens Noel dealing with a hamstring issue and Taj Gibson on paternity leave, so Thibodeau will have to decide whether to continue the new approach once they return.

“What we’re seeing in the NBA today is the premium that’s put on shooting,’’ he said. “Oftentimes, there’s at least four 3-point shooters on the floor. Now we’re seeing that there’s five. One of the things why I think we’re effective when Julius (Randle) is at the five and Obi (Toppin) is at the four is because the floor is opened up and now we have driving gaps where we can get to the basket. The great value in our team is the versatility.’’

There’s more from New York:

  • Immanuel Quickley understands that he needs to keep his offensive game sharp to stay in the Knicks‘ rotation, per Steve Popper of Newsday. Quickley got an opportunity as a rookie because New York needed scoring punch, but after signing Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier and drafting two guards, the team has a lot more options for backcourt scoring.
  • The Nets are “clearly sitting tight” in regard to a Kyrie Irving trade, a Western Conference executive tells basketball writer Jordan Schultz (Twitter link). Schultz doesn’t expect a deal for Irving to happen until much later in the season, if at all.
  • Nets coach Steve Nash is tinkering with lineups as the team gets used to playing without Irving, according to Tim Bontemps and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Brooklyn is already dealing with a revamped roster that features 10 players who weren’t with the team at the end of last season. “It is not just the new pieces, it’s the void that we are used to playing with,” Nash said. “It is a lot for us to take on at this moment in time. But hopefully in the weeks coming, we start to clear some of the debris so to speak and figure out how we can best play together.”

Knicks Pick Up 2022/23 Options On Barrett, Toppin, Quickley

The Knicks have picked up their fourth-year option on wing RJ Barrett, as well as their third-year options on forward Obi Toppin and guard Immanuel Quickley, reports Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). The three options are for the 2022/23 season.

As a result of the moves, all three players will now have guaranteed salaries for ’22/23. Barrett will make $10.9MM, Toppin will make $5.35MM, and Quickley will earn $2.32MM, as our tracker shows.

Barrett will now become eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2022 offseason, while the Knicks will have to make decisions on Toppin’s and Quickley’s fourth-year options (for 2023/24) a year from now.

Toppin struggled to make an impact as a rookie last season, averaging just 4.1 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 62 games (11.0 MPG), but Barrett and Quickley played key roles for a Knicks team that ended a seven-year playoff drought.

Barrett put up 17.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 3.0 APG in 72 games (34.9 MPG), while Quickley recorded 11.4 PPG with a .389 3PT% in 64 contests (19.4 MPG).

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Irving, Quickley, Stevens, Joe

Nets All-Star forward Kevin Durant is trying to stay optimistic as the Kyrie Irving situation drags on, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. Irving can’t practice at the team’s facility and will have to miss more than half of its games unless he changes his mind and gets vaccinated. Durant believes Irving will eventually rejoin his teammates.

“I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team,” Durant said. “Maybe I’m just naïve, but that is just how I feel. But I think everybody here has that confidence in themselves, in our group, that if we keep building, we can do something special.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks have a crowded backcourt but second-year guard Immanuel Quickley remains part of the team’s plans. Coach Tom Thibodeau believes he can play Quickley in a number of different guard combinations, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. “The great value with (Quickley) is that he plays with Derrick (Rose) and Alec (Burks), and so really the point (guard) is interchangeable with those guys. They move the ball and they make plays for each other real well,” Thibodeau said. “So, oftentimes, Quickley will bring it up. Derrick will bring it up. Alec could bring it up or we’ll get into dribble-handoffs. … We’re gonna fly around.”
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens doesn’t miss the daily grind of being the head coach, he told A. Sherrod Blakely of Full Court Press. “I haven’t had to worry about practice plan, game plan, none of that,” said Stevens. “I’ve enjoyed watching Ime (Udoka) put the team together and figure out how he wants to play, who compliments who, and all those things that go into that.”
  • Sixers second-year guard Isaiah Joe is angling for playing time and he’s gotten off to a good start in the preseason, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. He had 18 points — including four 3-pointers — three rebounds and three steals against the Raptors. “We’ve got to get him on the floor more is what I keep telling our coaches,” coach Doc Rivers said, “because those 10 guys [in the rotation] are playing so much. … I told [Joe], I don’t care what unit you’re on, just keep going back and forth.”

Olympic Notes: Bridges, Washington, Quickley, Stewart, Hernangomez

Hornets forward Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington and Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley are no longer with the U.S. Select Team scrimmaging against Team USA’s Olympic roster in Las Vegas, tweets ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The three players have been removed from the mix due to the coronavirus protocols.

A person with knowledge of the situation told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press that one of those three players tested positive for COVID-19, while the other two were deemed close contacts and are being held out for precautionary reasons. According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (via Twitter), Quickley entered the protocols for contact tracing purposes rather than a positive test, which suggests that one of the Hornets forwards was the player who tested positive.

Here’s more on the Olympics:

  • The U.S. Select Team is down another player, according to Windhorst, who tweets that Pistons center Isaiah Stewart suffered an ankle injury during a scrimmage and left the game to receive treatment. There’s no indication at this point that Stewart’s injury is a significant one.
  • Timberwolves forward Juan Hernangomez, who had been preparing to represent Spain in the Olympics, dislocated his left shoulder during an exhibition game and will miss the Tokyo games, Reynolds writes for The Associated Press. The Wolves put out a statement indicating they’re aware of Hernangomez’s injury, but there’s no timeline yet for his recovery and return to the court.
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry said it was a “hard decision” not to play for Team USA at the Olympics this summer, but he has “no regrets at all” about opting to skip the event, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN. “You take everything into account,” said Curry, who has won a pair of FIBA World Cup gold medals but hasn’t played in the Olympics. “I take how I’m feeling physically, mentally, what’s happening around the league, all those things. It’s not one specific reason or a part of it, but just knowing at the end of the day do I want to play or not? And the answer was no at the end of the day. And getting ready for next season (with a) relatively quick turnaround is important to me and I have a plan of how to do that and get ready for when training camp starts.”