Jared Harper

Knicks’ Jared Harper Looking To Build On All-NBAGL Season

Knicks two-way guard Jared Harper has shifted his focus to the rest of the 2020/21 NBA season after an impressive stint in the G League bubble, one that earned him an honor few players obtain: a spot on the All-NBA G League First Team.

Harper, a 5’10” point guard who went unselected in the 2019 draft, spent part of last season on a two-way contract with Phoenix before being claimed off waivers by New York in June. After signing a new two-way deal with the Knicks in the offseason, the 23-year-old has seen limited action at the NBA level, but he excelled in the G League with Westchester and is enjoying his time on an NBA roster.

“It’s definitely been a great experience,” Harper told Hoops Rumors in a phone interview. “For one, just being able to be in the NBA. Two, being with an organization as storied as the Knicks and all that goes along with it. Just the opportunity of making history. We’re trying to make a push to continue to stay in the playoff race and go from there. I think there are a lot of positives in this situation.”

In 12 G League contests this season, Harper increased his averages nearly across the board, recording 21.3 points (up from 20.2) and 7.0 assists (up from 5.5) per game. His shooting also improved, going from .413/.362/.787 as an NBAGL rookie to .473/.403/.854 in his second year.

“I just think that next year (helped),” Harper said. “Last year I was able to learn a lot just by playing professional basketball on the fly, even though I was able to play well. But coming into this year, I saw areas that I needed to improve to help me be more efficient — passing the ball, or even scoring.

“Better yet, just trying to win more games. So I think I just took what I did well last year and tried to perfect those things. Plus the things I didn’t do as well, I tried to make better, so everything overall would come together.”

Along with Harper, the G League First Team consisted of Kevin Porter Jr., Mamadi Diakite, Moses Brown, and MVP Paul Reed — all players who are on standard NBA contracts or two-way deals. Every member of the Second Team and Third Team is also under contract with an NBA team or has previous NBA experience. The overall talent level in the bubble made his spot on the First Team this season even more special, Harper said.

“It’s definitely great just knowing how much talent was down in the G League bubble this year,” he explained. “To be recognized as one of the top players down there is just helping me get closer to my goal of being able to play on an NBA court.”

The Knicks have exceeded expectations under head coach Tom Thibodeau this season and currently hold the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 25-27. The team is just two games behind the fourth-seeded Hornets and could make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Harper hasn’t received many chances on the court to contribute to the Knicks’ playoff push so far, having appeared in just four NBA games this season. However, he has gotten the opportunity to learn from veteran guards such as Derrick Rose and Alec Burks, and he has remained supportive of his teammates in practices and on the sidelines. The plan now, he says, is to stay ready in case his number gets called on a more regular basis.

“When I get my opportunity with this team, I just want to take full advantage of it,” Harper said. “My main priority is to continue to get better and do anything I can do to help us make it to the playoffs. Whatever that role will be, that’s my main goal.”

NBA G League Announces 2020/21 All-NBAGL Teams

After being named the G League’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year on Monday, Delaware Blue Coats forward Paul Reed – who is on a two-way contract with the Sixers – headlines the All-NBA G League First Team, as the league announced today in a press release.

Reed was joined on the All-NBAGL first team by MVP runner-up Kevin Porter Jr. of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, as well as Oklahoma City Blue big man Moses Brown, Lakeland Magic forward Mamadi Diakite, and Westchester Knicks guard Jared Harper. All of those players are currently on either standard NBA contracts or two-way deals.

That’s a common theme for this year’s All-NBAGL teams. The majority of the 15 players named to the three squads are either currently under contract with NBA teams or have past NBA experience.

The complete list of the 2020/21 All-NBA G League teams, along with the All-Rookie and All-Defensive squads, is below. Players currently on NBA contracts are noted with an asterisk (*), while those on two-way contracts are noted with a caret (^).

All-NBAGL First Team:

  • Paul Reed (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Kevin Porter Jr. (Rio Grande Valley Vipers) *
  • Moses Brown (Oklahoma City Blue) ^
  • Mamadi Diakite (Lakeland Magic) ^
  • Jared Harper (Westchester Knicks) ^

All-NBAGL Second Team:

All-NBAGL Third Team:

NBAGL All-Rookie Team:

  • Paul Reed (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Mamadi Diakite (Lakeland Magic) ^
  • Malachi Flynn (Raptors 905) *
  • Brodric Thomas (Canton Charge) ^
  • KJ Martin (Rio Grande Valley Vipers) *

NBAGL All-Defensive Team:

  • Paul Reed (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Moses Brown (Oklahoma City Blue) ^
  • Mamadi Diakite (Lakeland Magic) ^
  • Tahjere McCall (Lakeland Magic)
  • Gary Payton II (Raptors 905)

Of the 18 players who earned a spot on one of the G League’s All-NBAGL, All-Rookie, or All-Defensive teams this year, only four – Brissett, Uthoff, McCall, and Payton – haven’t been on some form of standard, two-way, or 10-day NBA contract since the ’20/21 season began. All four of them have previous NBA experience.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: DSJ, Brazdeikis, Harper, Harden, Shumpert

The Knicks have granted Dennis Smith Jr.‘s request to be sent to the G League bubble, announcing today (via Twitter) that the former lottery pick is among the players being assigned to the Westchester Knicks. Smith reportedly asked to be sent to Westchester in order to get some regular minutes, since he hasn’t been part of the rotation in New York this season.

In addition to Smith, the Knicks have assigned second-year forward Ignas Brazdeikis to the G League and transferred two-way player Jared Harper there as well. Those three members of New York’s 17-man NBA roster will join a Westchester squad that also features former NBA first-round picks like Skal Labissiere and James Young.

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

  • Unlike Harper, Theo Pinson – the Knicks‘ other two-way player – will remain with the NBA team rather than heading to the G League. As Marc Berman of The New York Post explains (via Twitter), Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose, who formerly represented Pinson at CAA, loves the 25-year-old as a locker-room presence.
  • James Harden missed Sunday’s game vs. Washington due to a left thigh contusion, but it’s not expected to be an injury that lingers or keeps the Nets star sidelined for much longer, according to head coach Steve Nash. “I think it’s pretty manageable, but just a precautionary measure not to get it banged again and make it severe,” Nash said on Sunday, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “… Hopefully, it’s just this game.”
  • In a separate story for The New York Post, Lewis examines how offseason acquisition Bruce Brown has established himself as a regular part of the Nets‘ rotation.
  • Barring a setback in the health and safety protocols, Iman Shumpert – who signed with the Nets over the weekend – should be available by Saturday’s game vs. Philadelphia, says Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. As Schiffer notes, besides playing for the Nets last season, Shumpert has also played alongside Harden and for Mike D’Antoni in the past, giving him a level of comfort in Brooklyn.

Knicks’ Jared Harper Signs Two-Way Qualifying Offer

Jared Harper is officially back with the Knicks on a two-way contract, according to the NBA’s transactions log. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports confirms (via Twitter) that Harper signed his two-way qualifying offer from the team.

Harper, 23, signed a two-way contract with Phoenix last July after going undrafted out of Auburn. The 5’11” point guard logged just eight total minutes in three NBA games for the Suns, but had a strong season for the Northern Arizona Suns, Phoenix’s G League affiliate.

In 34 NBAGL games (28.9 MPG), Harper averaged 20.2 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.1 SPG with a shooting line of .413/.362/.787.

The Suns released Harper before the NBA restarted its season in July and the Knicks claimed him off waivers, retaining the right to make him a restricted free agent with a two-way qualifying offer. Now Harper appears set to fill one of the team’s two-way contract slots, alongside Theo Pinson.

All-Star Brandon Ingram, Others Receive Qualifying Offers

Pelicans All-Star forward Brandon Ingram has become a restricted free agent after New Orleans extended him his $9.48MM qualifying offer, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The No. 2 pick by the Lakers in 2016, Ingram was one of the key players moved in the mega-blockbuster summer 2019 trade that sent Anthony Davis from the Pelicans to Los Angeles. He was voted the Most Improved Player and received his first All-Star berth during his inaugural season with the Pelicans in 2019/20. He is widely considered one of the best free agents among the 2020 class.

The Pelicans also issued a qualifying offer to two-way player Zylan Cheatham, Smith noted in a separate tweet. The 6’5″ forward out of San Diego State and Arizona State saw his first NBA action in three games for New Orleans during this past season.

Listed below are a few more updates on two-way players being issued qualifying offers across the NBA. These offers are one-year, two-way deals with a $50K guarantee. While these players are free to accept their QOs, most will probably seek a standard contract with their current team or an offer sheet with a new club, if possible.

  • Two-way Raptors small forward Oshae Brissett was tendered a qualifying offer, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. The 6’7″ 21-year-old out of Syracuse appeared in 19 games for Toronto, and is now a two-way restricted free agent.
  • Timberwolves two-way players Kelan Martin and Jordan McLaughlin were both extended qualifying offers by Minnesota, making them two-way restricted free agents, per Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Martin, a 6’5″ small forward out of Butler, appeared in 31 games with the Timberwolves, averaging 6.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG. McLaughlin, a 5’11” point guard out of USC, averaged 7.6 PPG and 4.2 APG across 30 games for Minnesota. He also exhibited a solid three-point stroke, knocking down 38.2% of his 2.5 three-point attempts.
  • The Knicks have made two-way point guard Jared Harper a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent, per Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
  • 6’5″ Jazz two-way forward Jarrell Brantley has been given a qualifying offer by the Jazz, effectively making him a restricted free agent, per Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Brantley appeared in nine games for Utah.

Knicks Notes: Atkinson, Harper, Robinson

The Knicks interviewed head coaching candidate Kenny Atkinson again on Monday, according to Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School (Twitter link). Confirming that report, Marc Berman of The New York Post tweets that it’s unclear whether it was Atkinson’s second interview or third.

A report a week ago indicated that the Knicks had completed their second round of interviews with coaching candidates, but perhaps Atkinson’s second interview was delayed. It’s also possible that the club is conducting a third round of meetings with potential finalists.

While the Knicks are playing things fairly close to the vest as they seek a permanent head coach, Berman hears from multiple sources that the organization is doing a “very thorough” job. President of basketball operations Leon Rose indicated last month that a decision is expected before the end of July.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks were the only one of the NBA’s 30 teams not to issue a public statement in support of the social justice movement following the death of George Floyd this spring, a decision that didn’t sit well with everyone in the organization. Howard Beck of Bleacher Report takes a deep dive into the situation, reporting that one “key rotation player” told team officials that he “definitely wasn’t happy with the Knicks” following their silence. “I know there are others upset about it,” a source that does business with the team told Beck.
  • Having been claimed off waivers by the Knicks last month, two-way player Jared Harper is excited about the opportunity to show his new team what he can do, as he tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It’s definitely a great spot for me,” Harper said. “I’ll be able to grow as a basketball player. That it happened so quick (after being waived by the Suns) was just assurance to me I belong at this level.”
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, who made 74.2% of his field goal attempts this season, is in position to set a new NBA single-season record in that category, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv details.

Knicks Notes: Coaching Search, Rose, Wesley, Harper

A recent report indicated that the Knicks would look to hire a permanent head coach by the time the season resumes in Orlando on July 30, and president of basketball operations Leon Rose essentially confirmed as much in a conversation with Mike Breen on MSG Network this week. As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic relays, Rose said he expects the search to last until mid-to-late July.

“We want to find the right leader that can develop our young players, as well as hold everyone accountable and take us from development to becoming a perennial winner,” Rose told Breen. “We also want somebody that we think will be collaborative with the front office. Someone that when you’re in that huddle, you’re looking in that coach’s eyes, every player that’s looking at him knows that person is driving the ship and going to get the job done.”

As Vorkunov and Ian Begley and Alex Smith of SNY.tv pass along, Rose also addressed several more topics, including the possibility of the Knicks becoming a free agent destination, his thoughts on some of the team’s young players, and the club’s draft plans. On the subject of appealing to top free agents, Rose said he wants to make sure the organization is “player-friendly and first-class,” per SNY.tv.

We’re going to work as hard as we can that this is the place you want to be at,” Rose said. “We have the greatest city in the world, we have an iconic arena and we just need to create culture that people are going to want to be part of.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Greg Joyce of The New York Post takes a closer look at the 11 known candidates for the Knicks’ head coaching position.
  • Former Knicks Rasheed Wallace and Stephon Marbury are unimpressed with the team’s decision to hire Rose and William Wesley (“World Wide Wes”), as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. Wallace called the decision a “brain fart,” while Marbury referred to Wesley as a “world wide sucker.”
  • Following the Knicks’ waiver claim of Jared Harper on Thursday, Harper’s former college coach Bruce Pearl praised the Auburn alum, calling him a “flat-out winner” and suggesting New York should retain him for 2020/21. “The Knicks are getting a true scoring point guard,” Pearl told Adam Zagoria of Forbes. “He’s under-sized, but pound-for-pound is as strong and athletic as any player out there on the floor. He has tremendous range and the ability to pull from deep. He’s special in ball-screen and plays at a real good tempo.”
  • In case you missed it, the Knicks made another waiver claim today, nabbing Theo Pinson from the Nets and releasing Allonzo Trier to make room on the roster.

Knicks Claim Jared Harper, Waive Kadeem Allen

4:56pm: The Knicks have issued a press release confirming that they’ve claimed Harper and waived Allen.

4:24pm: The Knicks have claimed two-way player Jared Harper off waivers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the team waived guard Kadeem Allen to open up a spot. Harper and Kenny Wooten now occupy New York’s two-way contract slots.

Harper, 22, signed a two-way contract with Phoenix last July after going undrafted out of Auburn. The 5’11” guard logged just eight total minutes in three NBA games for the Suns, but had a strong season for the Northern Arizona Suns, Phoenix’s G League affiliate. In 34 NBAGL games (28.9 MPG), Harper averaged 20.2 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.1 SPG with a shooting line of .413/.362/.787.

The Suns opted to release Harper in March just as the NBA puts its transaction moratorium in place, so the move didn’t technically become official until Tuesday of this week. Harper would have cleared waivers and become a free agent today if not for the Knicks’ claim.

Now, it will be Allen who is on track to become a free agent if he clears waivers this weekend. The 6’1″ guard spent the last two seasons under contract with New York, appearing in 29 games for the NBA squad and 63 more for the Westchester Knicks in the G League. Allen struggled to score efficiency this season, averaging 13.7 PPG on .394/.261/.828 shooting in 24 NBAGL games (28.8 MPG).

Harper’s two-way contract is believed to be for only one season, which means the Knicks would have to re-sign him this fall in order to keep him under control beyond 2019/20. Claiming him off waivers gives the club greater control of that process, since he can be made a restricted free agent.

NBA Transaction Window To Open On June 23

The NBA will lift its moratorium on transactions on Tuesday, allowing a number of moves to be completed between June 23 (starting at noon eastern time) and June 30 (until 11:59pm ET), sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As Charania details (via Twitter), the following types of transactions will be permitted during that week-long window:

  • Players can be signed to rest-of-season contracts.
  • Substitute players can be signed for players opting not to report to Orlando.
  • Two-way contracts can be signed or converted to standard deals.
  • Players can be waived.

Trades won’t permitted during the transaction window, since the season’s deadline has passed and the offseason hasn’t yet begun. And while Charania’s report doesn’t mention it, it’s believed that all 30 teams will be eligible to participate in the transaction window, though the eight teams not included in the summer restart may be restricted from certain transactions, such as signing substitute players and two-way players.

The minimum salary for players with at least two years of experience who are signing rest-of-season deals will be $183,115, according to Charania. That’s the equivalent to 20 days’ worth of the $1,620,564 minimum salary for 2019/20.

Transactions have been frozen since shortly after the NBA suspended its season in March. The NBA and NBPA agreed in April to extend that moratorium indefinitely, so next week will represent the first time in more than three months that teams will be able to complete roster moves.

While it remains to be seen what moves will be made next week, we’ve heard that the Thunder have interest in converting Luguentz Dort‘s two-way contract into a standard deal and that the Rockets are eyeing free agent guard Tyler Johnson. With 22 teams set to participate in the summer restart, a number of two-way contract situations will also be worth keeping an eye on. You can check out our two-way contract tracker here.

Additionally, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press notes (via Twitter) that Suns guard Jared Harper, who was waived just before the moratorium was imposed in March, will be placed on waivers once the transaction window opens on Tuesday — he’ll need to clear waivers on Thursday before officially becoming a free agent.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Clippers, Hiatus, Harper

A potential championship run for the Lakers has officially been put on hold with the NBA suspending its season over coronavirus concerns, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes.

The Lakers were one of the most formidable teams of the season, dominating through 63 games and holding the best record in the Western Conference at 49-14. They only trailed the Bucks (53-12) for bragging rights of the NBA’s best record.

“Even if we’re out for a month, even if we’re out for six weeks, we can still restart the season,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week, clarifying that the season isn’t necessarily lost. “It might mean that then the Finals take place in July or late July. Just my feeling was that it was way premature to suggest that we had lost the season.”

The Lakers made several moves in order to build its current group. The franchise made a blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis, signed two-time champion Danny Green and made a pivotal decision to bring in Dwight Howard after DeMarcus Cousins ACL tear, signifying its willingness to go all-in for a championship.

The organization knows its clock is ticking, with Davis expected to enter free agency this summer and LeBron James set to turn 36 in December. Given everything that has happened to this point, it’s safe to assume the Lakers hope Silver’s reminder turns into reality.

There’s more out of Los Angeles this evening:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examines the biggest questions facing the Lakers if the NBA season doesn’t restart. Pincus examines the likelihood of several Lakers players opting in (including Davis), along with what value they could acquire for players such as Quinn Cook.
  • Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times details how potential championship runs for both the Clippers and Lakers remain in limbo, with the NBA naturally undecided on when (or if) the season will be resumed. The league is expected to be postponed for at least one more month as the country copes with the widespread outbreak of the coronavirus.
  • The Suns have officially waived point guard Jared Harper, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic confirms. “The G League season is over,” general manager James Jones said. “Jared’s on a one-year deal. For him to explore opportunities was something that we considered and at the end of the day, we just thought we could help him.”