James Dolan

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Rivers, Harris, Oakley, Dotson

Doc Rivers has talked to Ben Simmons about the trade rumors surrounding the point guard but the Sixers coach wouldn’t reveal any details, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic tweets. Simmons has been mentioned prominently as the centerpiece of any package for the Rockets’ disgruntled star, James Harden, if Philadelphia pursues that avenue. “I can tell you that none of this started from us,” Rivers said. “I gave Ben a call (Thursday) night but I’m not going to share what we said. It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the business.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Joe Harris signed a four-year, $72MM contract in free agency but the Nets swingman isn’t guaranteed of having a bigger role, Mollie Walker of The New York Post writes. Harris averaged a career-best 14.5 PPG last season but that’s likely to drop with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving being the main options. “Obviously, right now, those guys are our focal point offensively,” Harris said. “That’s how we’re going to play our best basketball. That’s how we’re going to be most productive. I think, kind of across the board, a lot of other guys are going to have to adapt.”
  • Charles Oakley wants to add Knicks owner James Dolan as a defendant to his assault and battery lawsuit against Madison Square Garden, Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reports. The former Knicks player was forcibly removed, arrested and banned from MSG in 2017. Previously, Oakley contended Dolan had ordered his removal. He is now alleging Dolan ordered the so-called assault. The federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the assault and battery claims in November after a lower court had thrown out the lawsuit’s 10 original claims, Kaplan adds.
  • Damyean Dotson wasn’t surprised the Knicks failed to make him an offer in free agency, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Dotson wound up signing a two-year deal with the Cavaliers, though only the first year is guaranteed. “It’s a whole new staff, management, coaches,” Dotson said. “The guys that drafted me, Phil Jackson, has been gone three years now. It’s a new wave. It wasn’t surprising.’’

Eastern Notes: Beal, Heat, Raptors, Dolan

Wizards star Bradley Beal is in the midst of a career-best season with the team, one that he’s confident can be sustained when the NBA returns in Orlando later this summer, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes.

Beal, who turns 27 later this month, averaged 30.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game this season. He shot 46% from the floor and 35% from downtown in 57 games, leading a depleted Wizards team throughout the campaign.

“I feel like something else clicked for me,” Beal said of this season, as relayed by Katz. “I honestly changed my way of thinking in the game. Playing the game, I was honestly just more aggressive. I just had the mindset that I’m the best player on the floor, and I’m gonna go showcase that.”

Washington dealt with various injuries this season and played without All-Star point guard John Wall, with Beal emerging as a much-needed leader throughout the year. The team is currently 5.5 games behind the No. 8 seed Magic and six games behind the No. 7 seed Nets for a potential playoff spot.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra could be facing a difficult roster decision as the team prepares for the league’s restart in Orlando, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest mailbag. Barring an unforeseen change, Miami must choose 13 active players from its notably deep roster, a decision that could leave veterans such as Udonis Haslem inactive entering the postseason.
  • The championship feeling is still lingering for the Raptors, who won their first NBA title one year ago, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. The team still has several key players from its title run, including Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Toronto hopes to use that championship experience to their advantage during the resumed season this summer.
  • Knicks owner James Dolan‘s image has yet to change under brand consultant Steve Stoute, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Dolan was most recently criticized for a delayed statement on racial injustice problems in America, with the Knicks being the last team in the league to release a statement on the topic.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Nets, Dolan

The reigning NBA champion Raptors are riding high during 2019/20, boasting the second-strongest record (46-18) in the East. Team president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri will have a bevy of roster personnel choices to make during the 2020 offseason — one big one is whom to draft.

There are several intriguing switchable wing options that Toronto should consider with their first-round pick (currently projected to be No. 28) in the 2020 draft, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Arizona’s Josh Green, TCU’s Desmond Bane of TCU, Washington’s Jaden McDaniels, Colorado’s Tyler Bey, UCLA’s Chris Smith, and Barcelona forward Leandro Bolmaro are all viable candidates who may still be available when the Raptors are on the board.

There’s more from out of the Atlantic Division:

  • With All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant officially declaring themselves done for the rest of the 2019/20 season, the Nets look to have at least one roster spot left to fill when play resumes in Orlando, per Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Guards Justin Anderson, Henry Ellenson, Devin Cannady and veteran Iman Shumpert are among the leading prospects worth a look.
  • The muted response of Knicks owner James Dolan‘s internal memo addressing the George Floyd protests sweeping the nation did little to help the franchise’s reputation amongst NBA players, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst noted on First Take on Wednesday (video link). 
  • As the Raptors prepare to defend their title in Orlando, Blake Murphy of The Athletic addresses questions related to the team’s rest-of-season roster and rotation depth, plus possible offseason additions.

Knicks Notes: Offseason Activities, Calipari, More

As one of the eight teams not invited to Orlando to complete the 2019/20 season, the Knicks are anxious to have some form of offseason activities for their players this summer and/or fall, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

With the NBA prioritizing the restart of the season for now, the Knicks are waiting on the league to review a handful of the options on the table for its bottom eight teams. If the league moves forward with a specific plan, it will need to be approved by the NBPA.

According to Berman, the Knicks are hoping to at least get approval to hold a mandatory two-week camp between the October 15 draft and the proposed November 10 start of training camp. That would give the team a head-start on the 2020 preseason after seven-plus months of inaction.

As Berman details, the Knicks are also in favor of the proposed target date of December 1 for opening night of the 2020/21 campaign. There’s an expectation that the players’ union will want to push back that date a little, but New York and the other seven teams whose seasons are over will be eager to get next season started as soon as possible.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Within the New York Post article linked above, Berman suggests that John Calipari would challenge Tom Thibodeau‘s frontrunner status if he were to “throw his hat into the ring” for the Knicks’ head coaching job. However, Ian Begley of SNY.tv says interviews are expected to begin this week and notes that Calipari continues to reiterate he has no interest in leaving Kentucky. In other words, it seems pretty safe to cross Calipari off New York’s list of potential candidates.
  • The Knicks’ decision-makers were still finishing up their exit interviews with players as of Monday, a source tells Berman (Twitter link). Those conversations took place via video conference calls.
  • After some internal back-and-forth last week about the Knicks’ silence following the death of George Floyd, the team put out a statement today saying it stands with “all who act for a positive change.” Team owner James Dolan had initially told MSG employees in a pair of memos that he didn’t believe a public statement was necessary, even as the rest of the NBA’s teams issued statements of their own. ESPN’s Malika Andrews has more details.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Knicks, Dolan, Nets

Armed with the third-best record in the East and the fifth-best mark in the NBA, the Celtics and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge don’t have a strong preference about what format the league should take if and when it resumes its season, as Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald writes.

“It doesn’t really matter,” Ainge said. “There’s so many different opinions on what should be done. I think (commissioner) Adam (Silver) has a tough job keeping everybody happy — well, that’s an impossible job. But I think that I trust Adam will do the right thing, and whatever he decides, we’ll follow along.

“There’s not one thing that I’m adamantly dying for from the different plans,” Ainge continued. “I mean, there’s some I like a little bit more, but, listen, we all have to play under the same rules.”

Based on teams’ current records, the Celtics would face Philadelphia in the first round of the postseason, whether the NBA sticks to its usual East/West format or reseeds teams one through 16, regardless of conference. As the third-best team in the East, the C’s won’t be affected by any form of play-in tournament unless the league opts for a group stage format similar to soccer’s World Cup.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • A number of Knicks players and employees were “furious” that the team didn’t make a public statement about the death of George Floyd, according to Pablo S. Torre of ESPN (Twitter link), who passed along an internal memo sent to MSG employees by owner James Dolan explaining the team’s silence. Several Knicks players marched in protests or expressed their opinions on social media, tweets Adam Zagoria of Forbes. Meanwhile, Torre tweets that “dozens of disgruntled” MSG employees met today without Dolan to discuss his memo, prompting the Knicks’ owner to issue another message to his employees. Ian Begley of SNY.tv has the details on that.
  • Nets owner Joseph Tsai is continuing to pay hourly arena workers at Barclays Center, as Net Income of NetsDaily details. While Brooklyn’s season would almost certainly have been over by now, the arena also hosts the WNBA’s New York Liberty and dozens of other concerts and events that have been canceled due to COVID-19.
  • Jared Weiss and John Hollinger of The Athletic discuss how the Celtics should go about building around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown over the long term.

Coronavirus Notes: Paul, Dolan, Arenas, China

Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association, admitted to reporters in a teleconference today that nobody can be certain what’s going to happen with the current season, writes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman (link via USA Today).

“This is a situation where no one knows,” Paul said. “The virus is actually in complete control. I seriously tried to answer things the best I could, but there are things where, it’s not like I’ve got the answers and I’m just not telling you.”

Today marks six weeks since the last NBA game was played, and the league was supposed to be conducting the first round of its playoffs. If the season does resume, Paul estimates players will have to train for two to four weeks to get ready. He expressed confidence that the league will give them the time they need.

“Whatever the amount of time is, just know that players will have the input because we’re the ones playing,” Paul said. “We don’t ever want to put guys in a  situation where their injury risk is higher.”

There’s more coronavirus-related news to pass along:

  • Knicks owner James Dolan has fully recovered from the virus and has registered to donate plasma antibodies to help with research, according to Larry Brooks of The New York Post. Dolan recently tested negative and is reportedly in good health. He had only mild symptoms and continued to work while quarantined.
  • A professor at MIT tells Michele Steele of ESPN that arenas can eventually be made as safe as public parks. Alex Pentland, head of the human dynamic lab, recommends having fans wear masks and filling only half the available seats, although family members could sit together. He also advises making all aisles one way and having fans in each section enter from a specified gate.
  • Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times talked to several American players about their experiences with the Chinese Basketball Association. Kyle Fogg said when he returned to China, he had his temperature taken several times by workers in hazmat suits. He and Ray McCallum Jr. were both quarantined to hotel rooms with armed guards posted outside to ensure they didn’t leave. “Everybody back home, they’re like, ‘Oh, we’re quarantined,’” McCallum said. “But I see on the news they’re outside. No.” The CBA remains on hold with hopes of starting play again in July.

Atlantic Notes: Dolan, Oakley, Knox, Sixers, Celtics

Although they were ordered earlier this month to personally participate in a March 31 conference call to media their long-running dispute, Knicks owner James Dolan and former NBA big man Charles Oakley will no longer be required to do so, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details. Instead, their lawyers will take part in the call. According to Bondy, there was a sense that a conference call might not be conducive to mediation between Dolan and Oakley themselves.

Oakley sued Dolan after the Knicks owner had him arrested and banned from Madison Square Garden in 2017. While Tuesday’s call could offer some form of resolution, a face-to-face meeting may be necessary for Dolan and Oakley to truly bury the hatchet. And, as Bondy notes, it’s not clear when that sort of meeting might be viable, given the social-distancing measures enacted in New York, not to mention Dolan’s positive coronavirus test.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Former Knicks head coach David Fizdale and interim replacement Mike Miller both felt that second-year forward Kevin Knox had a tendency to play “soft,” a league source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks have been impressed by Knox’s effort level and the strides he made on the defensive end, but Berman hears from a source that Miller, who was still tasked with winning games following the trade deadline, didn’t feel as if giving Knox heavy minutes was the best way to achieve that goal.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Derek Bodner takes a look at how things might have been different for the Sixers if they hadn’t traded up to select Markelle Fultz in the 2017 draft. Bodner refers to the decision as “the turning point of when the Sixers’ team-building became complicated.”
  • Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald takes a look at what the Celtics got out of each player on their roster in 2019/20 and what the team might have expected from those players if the season hadn’t been postponed.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a few Nets-related rumors and notes earlier this afternoon.

Knicks Notes: Harkless, Dolan, Gibson, Gallinari

The Knicks acquired Maurice Harkless because his contract was needed to complete the deal that sent Marcus Morris to the Clippers, but his performance since the trade has made him a strong candidate to return next season, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Harkless started eight of the 12 games he has played since coming to New York and has impressed the team with his strong defensive play and his desire to be a Knick. New team president Leon Rose had been hoping to closely evaluate Harkless over the final 16 games of the season, but the league’s hiatus may eliminate that opportunity.

“It was a chance for him to showcase to the Knicks and to see if he wanted to be here,’’ a source told Berman. “He always wanted to be a Knick.’’

Harkless is in the final season of a four-year, $40MM contract. Berman expects him to get more than the minimum in free agency.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Owner James Dolan was exhibiting some mild symptoms before being tested for coronavirus, Berman tweets. Dolan was courtside for a March 8 game against the Pistons, who had one of the first players to test positive for the virus in Christian Wood. No Knicks players were tested before returning to their homes because they were all asymptomatic.
  • The best chance for Taj Gibson to return to the Knicks is for Tom Thibodeau to become the next head coach, Berman notes in a separate story. Gibson is a favorite of Thibodeau, who has coached him with the Bulls and Timberwolves, but his $9.5MM salary may be more than the organization wants to spend on a backup big man. Gibson has a $1MM guarantee if he is released. “Taj was solid on the court, but he was even better in the locker room,’’ a source said. “He helped (Mitchell Robinson) understand the pro game and how to carry yourself if you want to play in the NBA and have an impact.’’
  • Jonathan Macri of Sports Illustrated lays out an ideal scenario for the Knicks’ offseason, which involves trading Julius Randle, moving on from Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr., drafting a point guard, trading veterans for draft picks and hiring Kenny Atkinson as head coach. As a bonus, Macri suggests signing former Knick Danilo Gallinari in free agency, speculating that a two-year guaranteed offer might be enough.

James Dolan Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Knicks owner James Dolan has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a tweet from the team. Dolan is “experiencing little to no symptoms” of the virus, the statement adds. He is in self-isolation and continues to oversee business operations of the Madison Square Garden Company.

A source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post that Dolan is with his family in the Hamptons and learned of his test results earlier this week.

Ten NBA players have tested positive for the coronavirus over the past 17 days, but Dolan is the first high-level executive known to have contracted it. The Knicks have avoided public comment on the virus since it began affecting the league, but their players have likely not been tested and have been permitted to return to their homes, according to Steve Popper of Newsday (Twitter link).

Dolan, 64, has been a controversial figure in New York as the Knicks have fallen on hard times under his ownership. His image has also been damaged by public disputes with beloved figures in the Garden such as Charles Oakley and Spike Lee.

The news about Dolan comes a day after Madison Square Garden set up a relief fund that will offer financial assistance to employees and will provide them with a salary through at least May 3. The MSG Relief Fund was announced in a letter sent to employees Friday night, writes Larry Brooks of The New York Post.

The fund was created with a $1MM donation from the Madison Square Garden Company and a matching donation from the Dolan Family Foundation. The MSG management team put in another $300K and contributions are expected from the Knicks and the NHL’s Rangers.

“I knew they’d do the right thing and they did,” said union president James Claffey. “It’s a very generous offer. It wasn’t negotiated. They just gave it, here’s what they wanted to do for our stage crews and other entertainment workers. We didn’t request it. And they’re taking care equally well of the other unions.”

Knicks Notes: Ellington, Rose, Miller

Following the trade deadline in February, there were multiple teams that would have had interest in Wayne Ellington if he and the Knicks had reached a buyout agreement, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. A source tells Berman that general manager Scott Perry and Ellington’s agent Mark Bartelstein had several conversations about the possibility, but ultimately elected not to move forward.

As Berman explains, Perry wanted Ellington around the Knicks’ young players because he felt as if the veteran guard was a positive influence, and the 32-year-old was happy to take on that mentor role.

Although Ellington is now on track to finish the season with the Knicks – whenever the season may end – he may end up moving on to a new NBA home for 2020/21. New York is unlikely to guarantee his $8MM salary, Berman notes.

“He might be back to a minimum-salary player next season,” an NBA personnel person told Berman. “I think maybe he’s a lost a step and he was never too athletic to begin with. He’ll hang around a couple more years because of his shooting profile.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Although new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose was on the job for less than two weeks before the NBA suspended its season, he came away with “a positive feeling” about interim head coach Mike Miller, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Sources tell Begley that Rose was impressed by the way Miller handled the team and respected the job he’d done since taking over for David Fizdale.
  • Rose is still expected to conduct his own head coaching search after the season, but some “prominent people at Madison Square Garden” would like to see Miller remain with the organization in some capacity, sources tell Begley.
  • Appearing this week on ESPN Radio, former Knicks great Patrick Ewing addressed the feud between his former teammate Charles Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan, as Scott Thompson of SNY.tv details. “Whatever is going on with (Oakley) and Mr. Dolan, like I’ve said before, it’s something that needs to stop,” Ewing said. “He’s one of the best players that I’ve played with. He’s a part of the Knicks’ history. He and Mr. Dolan need to get in a room somewhere and figure that out.” The two sides have been ordered by a federal appeals court to mediate their dispute.
  • In case you missed them, we’ve published stories this week on Damyean Dotson, Reggie Bullock, and more Knicks-related subjects. Check out their team page right here.