Jalen Brunson

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Rose, Barrett, Robinson

A right quad contusion may force Jalen Brunson to miss his first game since signing with the Knicks, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post. Brunson suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Friday’s loss to Portland. He sat out today’s practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday when New York hosts the Grizzlies.

Brunson has been worth the $104MM investment that the Knicks made in free agency, leading the team with 21.8 points and 6.5 assists per game through the first quarter of the season. He has also become an on-court leader for a franchise that spent years searching for an answer at point guard.

“The leadership, I think point guard is a leadership position, and it helps you to manage and control the team,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think Jalen is so team-oriented, I think it makes your team play unselfishly. I think we’re scoring a lot of points, and he gives us an attack, a pace to the game, downhill, guys are playing off each other. And if you move and you’re open on a cut, he’s gonna hit you. He wants to get the ball up the floor fast and when we do that, I think it presents a lot of easy scoring opportunities for everybody.” 

There’s more from New York City:

  • Derrick Rose participated in most of today’s practice after missing the past two games with an injured toe, Botte adds. Thibodeau said Rose looked “better,” but he’s still questionable for Sunday. Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride figure to see additional playing time if Brunson and Rose are out.
  • RJ Barrett‘s extended shooting slump continued Friday, but he told reporters, “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine,” writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Barrett made 6-of-22 shots against the Trail Blazers and is now 36-of-114 in his last seven games. Thibodeau thought Barrett was too focused on trying to draw fouls rather than attacking the basket, and Barrett seemed to agree. “They were getting everything, I thought I would get some. Sheesh,” he said, referencing Portland’s 51 free throw attempts. “Second half I started going in more aggressively, trying to finish. I played a little better.”
  • Mitchell Robinson, who had to leave Monday’s game due to pain in his right knee, admitted that the knee still isn’t 100% but he’s trying to be available for the team, Braziller adds. Robinson played 23 minutes Friday with 12 points and eight rebounds.

New York Notes: Simmons, Claxton, Randle, Knicks Centers

Health and confidence are the primary reasons Ben Simmons has performed well lately for the Nets, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

After missing all of last season due to mental health issues and later a herniated disc in his back, which required surgery in May, Simmons had a slow start to the 2022/23 campaign, averaging just 5.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 44.4% from the floor and 46.7% from the line through nine games (27.3 MPG). He also missed five games while dealing with knee soreness and swelling.

However, over the past six games (31.1 minutes), Simmons has started to look more like his old self, averaging 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks while shooting 82.0% from the field and 61.1% from the charity stripe. The 26-year-old swingman still isn’t 100 percent yet, according to Lewis, but he’s clearly making progress.

Healthy. Finally got his legs under him. He was off for two years. Y’all won’t even give him a chance. Y’all want to criticize him after every f–king game,” Markieff Morris said. “But the guy didn’t play two years. Obviously, y’all wouldn’t know, because none of y’all played in the NBA. He’s got to get his body right. There’s contact every night. Playing 30-plus minutes, it takes time.”

Simmons says he’s still working on finding consistency with his health and play.

Yeah, I feel [the confidence]. I know who I am, I know what I’m capable of. I know what this team needs me to do, so I’m going to keep working and being consistent with my body and on the court,” he said.

Here’s more on the two New York-based teams:

  • Can Simmons and center Nic Claxton overcome spacing concerns and coexist in the Nets‘ starting lineup? Lewis tackles that subject in a member-only article for The New York Post. Head coach Jacque Vaughn acknowledged it will be a challenge at times. “Something we’ve got to figure out,” Vaughn said. “Because both guys do present some positives for us. Hopefully we can lean into the defensive piece with their length with Kevin (Durant) out there on the floor at the same time. But we do have to work through some spacing. We’ll try to play fast. Nic has that ability to run the floor and play fast, so hopefully we won’t have a bunch of sets in the halfcourt that we’ve got to make our way through.”
  • Power forward Julius Randle says he’s still adjusting to “playing off the ball more” after the Knicks signed point guard Jalen Brunson in the offseason, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post. As Botte notes, New York ran a lot of its offense through Randle from 2020-22, when he averaged 5.6 assists per game. That figure is down to 3.0 per night in ’22/23, but he’s scoring more efficiently. “Just making the game easy, try and make efficient shots and keep the flow of the offense going,” Randle said. “I think it’s the flow of our offense. Break it down, see more, especially in my position where shots are coming from [and being] responsible for getting good shots … figuring out what spots for most efficient shots.”
  • The Knicks have played all three of their centers — Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims — three games in a row. Head coach Tom Thibodeau says that won’t always be the case, but he’s a fan of having so many options at the five spot. “It’s game-to-game. It’ll sort itself out,” Thibodeau said, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “I don’t think it’ll be like that every game. But I love the depth at that position. So all three guys are more than capable, all three can start, all three can come off the bench. It’s a good luxury to have.”

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Brunson, Grimes, Robinson, Fournier

As the Knicks were being torched for 145 points by the Thunder Sunday afternoon, two players they heavily invested in this summer were kept on the bench for most of the second half, writes Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post.

RJ Barrett, who signed a four-year extension in September, picked up his fourth foul about two minutes into the half and never returned. Jalen Brunson, the team’s top target in free agency, checked out with 4:46 left in the third quarter and spent the rest of the game on the bench. Both players said they accepted the decision by coach Tom Thibodeau.

“I think it’s time (to sit) when you’re fouling enough,” Barrett said. “It falls on me for sure because I was guarding Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), and he got me into some foul trouble. And that’s not good. I got to do a better job of not fouling.”

“I wouldn’t have played myself either, the way I was playing defensively,” Brunson added.

Immanuel Quickley and Cam Reddish sparked a late rally that ultimately fell short, and they played most of the fourth quarter alongside Julius Randle, Evan Fournier and Jericho Sims.

“We just got behind by so much,” Thibodeau explained when asked about Barrett’s benching. “We were looking for life, and that group that was in there gave us a little bit of a spark, and so that’s what we went with.” 

There’s more from New York:

  • Quentin Grimes logged just eight minutes Sunday in his third game since returning from soreness in his left foot, Sanchez notes in the same story. Thibodeau has called Grimes a “situational” player for now because the injury forced him to miss so much time since the start of training camp.
  • Mitchell Robinson has begun on-court workouts as he recovers from a sprained knee, but hasn’t resumed contact drills, Sanchez adds.
  • Being removed from the starting lineup hasn’t helped Fournier with his shooting slump, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Fournier misfired on all five of his shots from the field Sunday and has made just 6-of-31 over his last seven games. “I’m not gonna lie; I’m getting stiff on the bench now because I’m a little bit older. My knees can’t take it anymore,” Fournier joked. “But yeah, it’s not an excuse at all. I just have to figure it out myself so I can help the team. That’s all I can say, really.”

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Knicks, House, Embiid, Curry, Boucher

The Sixers were docked two second-round draft picks for holding early free agent discussions with forwards P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. The Knicks could be the next team to be penalized.

The league’s investigation into early contact regarding the Knicks’ pursuit of free agent Jalen Brunson remains ongoing, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. New York signed the former Dallas guard to a four-year, $104MM deal in July.

We have from the Atlantic Division:

  • House has played 15 or fewer minutes over the past three games. He was signed to a two-year, $8.4MM contract this summer. The Sixers forward taking the minutes reduction in stride, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “It’s a team game, so I can’t really get too overwhelmed and too locked into myself,” House said. “There’s too much going on for me to be thinking of myself. You’ve just got to sit back and play the game.”
  • Sixers star Joel Embiid isn’t playing in Monday’s game against Washington due to a non-COVID illness, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post tweets.
  • Guard Seth Curry isn’t playing in the Nets’ game against Indiana on Monday due to left ankle injury management, the team tweets. Ben Simmons is also sidelined due to left knee soreness, ESPN’s Marc Spears tweets.
  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher has endeared himself to coach Nick Nurse and his teammates with his energetic performances, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “He’s been very professional,” Nurse said. “That’s one thing about Chris: First of all, he’s a guy that practices hard. He kind of just has a gear that he plays in and that is good. Even if it’s 5-on-0 he’s flying around in his mode. That, I think, is leading by example.” Boucher is in the first season of a three-year, $35.25MM contract.

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Randle, Robinson, Grimes

The emergence of new Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson as the team’s primary ball-handler has helped free up power forward Julius Randle from the pressures of the team’s lottery-bound 2021/22 season, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Popper notes that Randle has appeared to be more engaged with his teammates and a more active leader overall.

“I’m just trying to lose myself in the team,” Randle said. “Adding Jalen, our team another year starting playing together helps. But the big shot he hit in crunch time [Monday], typically they’re looking for me to go get a basket. For him to take that pressure off me is huge.”

There’s more out of Madison Square Garden:

  • Brunson has already helped New York in late-game situations, winning the kinds of the games the team would lose last year, writes Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. “We’re supposed to win game even when we’re not playing our best,” Brunson said. “That’s the sign of a good team.” Brunson’s arrival in New York reminds Vaccaro of the impact Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd had when he joined the then-New Jersey Nets in 2001. Though pundits were not particularly high on the Nets’ chances of title contention, Kidd promptly led the team to consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.
  • Knicks starting center Mitchell Robinson has big goals now that he has signed his first big-money NBA contract, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The seven-foot big man inked a four-year, $60MM deal to remain in New York this summer. “Most people yell out, ‘When you get paid, you don’t want to work no more,'” Robinson said. “That’s the opposite of me… Even though I got a little bag, I’m still gonna work even harder now because I want another one. I want more. I’m hungry.” Robinson also indicated that he was hoping to eventually earn a Defensive Player of the Year award.
  • Knicks reserve guard Quentin Grimes has been sidelined so far this season as he grapples with a sore foot. Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports that New York is holding Grimes out until he is pain-free. “They said it was kind of [an] overuse thing. Just being in the gym a lot [in the summer],” Grimes said. “Coming back at night, going back to Houston, working on it and working on it. Then [head coach Tom Thibodeau] had us in there for sure, working out.” 

New York Notes: Knox, Harris, Brunson, Nash

Kevin Knox takes responsibility for his failure to establish himself with the Knicks, according to Zach Braziller of the New York Post.

“I had my fair opportunity; didn’t make the best of it, unfortunately,” Knox said.

The ninth pick of the 2018 draft was traded to Atlanta last season, then signed a two-year contract in free agency with the Pistons.

“Got to move on, got to play harder, learn from it,” he said. “Learned a lot playing under (Tom Thibodeau), playing here in New York. I have to take it to my next chapter.”

We have more from the New York teams:

  • Joe Harris made his season debut on Friday for the Nets, posting modest stats: three points, two rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes. He hadn’t appeared in a game since November 14 of last season due to an ankle injury. Harris was thrilled to be back, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. “Oh, yeah, it was amazing. The fun atmosphere, great team win. So I think it was a perfect, perfect game to come back,” he said. “Yeah, everything felt great. I was definitely a little winded, the lungs were burning. But you know, that’s to be expected.”
  • Jalen Brunson hasn’t made a turnover in his first two Knicks games, Braziller notes. “He has a great understanding of the game, and I think that’s probably the most important thing,” Thibodeau said of his new point guard. “And I think how you manage and control the game is another strength. But usually, when you analyze turnovers, they fall into one of two categories. They’re either risky passes that you’re trying to thread the needle, or you’re going too much one-on-one. And he has a great feel for when to go and when to pass.”
  • Nets coach Steve Nash said it wasn’t all that difficult for him to move on from this summer’s drama, which included a Kevin Durant request to the team owner that he be fired, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets. “It was just that we needed to sit down at some point,” Nash said. “That was it. That’s kind of what happened. I would say our environment has been outstanding.”

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Raptors, Brunson, Begarin

After converting Michael Foster Jr. to a two-way deal, the Sixers have an opening on their 15-man roster, and it sounds like the team doesn’t plan to fill that opening right away.

“We believe there’s a lot of guys out there that may become available,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said (Twitter link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “We wanted to make sure we had a spot.”

Even if Philadelphia doesn’t end up finding a free agent or trade target to fill that 15th spot anytime soon, keeping it open will allow the team to maximize its financial flexibility. The Sixers are a few million dollars below their hard cap and have a chance to duck out of luxury tax territory altogether if they trim a little salary during the season.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The chances of Fred VanVleet or Pascal Siakam signing a contract extension with the Raptors before the regular season begins appear slim, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star (Twitter link). VanVleet could still negotiate an in-season extension if he turns down his 2023/24 player option, whereas Siakam would be ineligible to sign an extension until next summer if he doesn’t receive one by opening night.
  • In a full story for The Toronto Star, Smith writes that Justin Champagnie earned the Raptors‘ 15th roster spot almost by default. Champagnie was sidelined for most of the preseason due to a hip injury, but the other challengers – D.J. Wilson, Josh Jackson, and Gabe Brown – didn’t do much in training camp or the preseason to stand out and seize the final regular season roster spot.
  • Newly added free agent point guard Jalen Brunson has been everything the Knicks could’ve hoped for so far, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post, who writes that Brunson’s selfless play seemed to be rubbing off on the other starters during the preseason. “It’s clear as day the impact he’s had on the team,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
  • Former NBA assistant Will Weaver, who is now coaching Paris Basketball in France, loves what he has seen from Celtics draft-and-stash prospect Juhann Begarin so far this fall, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. “We all witnessed it today,” Weaver said on Sunday after Begarin scored 28 points in a loss to AS Monaco. “Juhann Begarin is an NBA player. He can make an impact in Boston.” The Celtics drafted Begarin with the 45th overall pick in 2021 and continue to hold his NBA rights.

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Randle, Robinson, Reddish

Guard Jalen Brunson is already making an impact on the Knicks both on and off the court, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Brunson was New York’s primary free agency target, inking him to a four-year, $104MM deal.

I love the way he can control and manage a game,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Brunson scored 16 points (7-for-9 shooting) and handed out five assists on Tuesday. “To me, that’s the No. 1 function of a point guard. So he doesn’t get sped up, he doesn’t get rattled. I love the way, Julius (Randle) the third quarter, that was terrific. So I think it’s a calming influence.”

According to Begley, Brunson has begun connecting with the team’s younger players, giving advice and spending extra hours with them in the gym. He’s been shooting with Immanuel Quickley at night, and Quickley calls him an “encouraging presence,” per Begley.

He’s tremendous. From the moment he signed, just being in the gym everyday. He’s not a rah rah type guy (as a leader),” Thibodeau said. “He just does all the right things and when he gets out there, he’s ready to execute.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Thibodeau isn’t the only member of the Knicks praising Brunson. Power forward Julius Randle recently raved about his new teammate, as Peter Botte of The New York Post relays. “He just makes the game easy,” Randle said of Brunson after Thursday’s practice. “I’ve said it all the time, he’s such a smart player. He understands the rhythm and flow of the game, how to look for guys in certain situations, how to go get his own, so he’s a really good player. He’s a basketball player. I think you can put him anywhere and he will play really well, just because he understands the game so well.”
  • After re-signing with the Knicks on a four-year, $60MM deal, center Mitchell Robinson is poised for a big fifth season, Botte writes for The New York Post. “I think the athleticism is special, but I also think the strength component, when he added that piece to it, he can take a hit and get through that. He’s shown that,” Thibodeau said of Robinson. “But I think a lot of other areas of his game have improved also — the rim protection, that part is obvious. But I think he’s starting to grow now offensively.”
  • Cam Reddish should receive minutes in the preseason as the Knicks evaluate the fourth-year wing, Begley notes in another article for SNY.tvQuentin Grimes is dealing with foot soreness and the team is being cautious with Evan Fournier after a silver medal run with France at EuroBasket, creating an opening for Reddish. The 23-year-old suffered a sprained ankle in Tuesday’s preseason opener and didn’t return (Twitter link), but he’s starting on Friday night, Begley tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Kornet, Griffin, Reed, Brunson, Nets

When word broke on Friday that the Celtics have agreed to sign Blake Griffin, we noted that injuries to Danilo Gallinari and Robert Williams helped necessitate the move. However, those aren’t the only Boston frontcourt players dealing with health problems.

According to Jared Weiss and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Celtics big man Luke Kornet sprained his ankle in practice this week and is expected to miss at least one or two weeks.

Kornet doesn’t have a fully guaranteed salary, but finished last season with the Celtics and has a partial guarantee on his new contract with the team, so he looks like a good bet to make the 15-man regular season roster, despite this setback.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Noting that the Celtics repeatedly targeted Blake Griffin on defense during their first-round victory over Brooklyn in the spring, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston weighs whether the former No. 1 overall pick still has enough left in the tank to be an asset to his new team.
  • While the Sixers still view Paul Reed primarily as a center, they’re taking a look at him as a power forward during training camp, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Reed, who played the four at DePaul, is enjoying the opportunity. “I am happy about being able to switch on and guard smaller defenders,” Reed said. “And playing on the wing, being able to attack from the outside, I like doing that.”
  • New Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson is downplaying the pressure that comes along with his big new contract and the expectation that he’ll become New York’s long-awaited answer at point guard. Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News has the story and the quotes.
  • Nick Friedell of ESPN takes a look at the five biggest questions facing the Nets this season. Beyond the obvious ones relating to Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons, Friedell examines how head coach Steve Nash might respond to a disappointing season and a tumultuous summer, and wonders if the team has enough depth at center.

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Randle, D. Rose, Fournier

Jalen Brunson landed a four-year, $104MM contract with the Knicks this summer, but he didn’t enjoy the free agency experience, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Brunson was among the top free agents in this year’s market and the rumors that he was headed to New York started before last season was over, but all the attention made him uncomfortable.

“Free agency was kind of awful, how public it got,” Brunson said at Media Day. “Not going to lie to you. For me, I’m a very simple person. I loved the opportunity to come back east, in a familiar area where I grew up, somewhat close. I’m just really excited for this opportunity with these guys. I think we can do something special.”

Reports that Brunson was joining the Knicks emerged before free agency officially opened on June 30, resulting in an NBA investigation of the team for possible tampering. Brunson said he hasn’t been contacted by the league, but he contends that “a lot of things” about his situation were misreported.

“My reaction to the league investigating? I didn’t really have one,” he said. “Nothing really to investigate.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Coming off a difficult season, Julius Randle spent some time away from the game this summer to recalibrate, Bondy adds in the same piece. He lost weight during the offseason and reported to camp with a fresh outlook. “When it’s good, it’s easy to be a leader,” Randle said. “When things aren’t as good and you’re going through adversity, I think it’s even more important. So, I learned a lot.”
  • Also noticeably lighter was Derrick Rose, who dropped about 20 pounds in response to a challenge from head coach Tom Thibodeau, Bondy states in a separate story. Rose also explained the complications that prevented him from returning after undergoing ankle surgery in mid-December and responded to a statement from team president Leon Rose, who called him the “heart and soul” of the group that reached the playoffs in 2020/21. “I wouldn’t say I was the heart and soul, but I wanted to win. I can say that,” Derrick Rose said. “I think what this year’s all about is accountability. Like being able to not get in your feelings or taking it personal when somebody comes over and gives you constructive criticism. As a man and as a professional, you’re supposed to understand that.”
  • Thibodeau named Evan Fournier as the frontrunner to start at shooting guard heading into camp, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “With Jalen, with RJ (Barrett), with Julius we need shooting (at the two),” Thibodeau explained.