Jeff Hornacek

Knicks Notes: Beasley, Hardaway, Hornacek, Playoff Odds

Michael Beasley got a chance to show he can still contribute Friday night as he produced 10 points and six rebounds in the fourth quarter, but performances like that have been rare since he joined the Knicks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Beasley has appeared in 11 of the team’s 15 games and is seeing just 13 minutes per night. His averages of 5.4 points and 2.7 rebounds are the lowest of his career.

“I think everybody wishes they played more — except the guys playing 45 minutes a night,’’ Beasley said. “But I’m not here to say what I need or want personally. Whatever the team needs. If they need me to play 40 minutes, I’ll play it. If they want me to clap on the bench, I’ll do it.”

Beasley, who signed for the veterans’ minimum in August, had his name floated as a waiver possibility when Joakim Noah returned from his suspension this week. The Knicks decided to part with Mindaugas Kuzminskas instead. Playing time may be an issue for Beasley all season, as New York is emphasizing defense and Lance Thomas is excelling on that end of the court.

There’s more tonight out of New York:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. has been dealing with pain in his left foot since Wednesday, Berman relays in a separate story. The Knicks’ top free agent addition of the summer played through the problem Friday before being forced to leave with three minutes left. He isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for the team’s next game Monday. “It’s been lingering the last 36 hours,’’ Hardaway said. “When I woke up Thursday, it’s just nagging pain. Normally I like to play through it [with] no excuses. I try to grind it out. I wasn’t feeling good so I came out and make sure it’s OK. It’s all good.’’
  • The Knicks early-season success stems from the freedom coach Jeff Hornacek has with Phil Jackson no longer around, notes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. After the former team president was fired over the summer, there was no longer an emphasis on the triangle, allowing Hornacek to implement a faster, more free-wheeling offense. Iannazzone adds that Hornacek was allowed to mix his offense with the triangle at the start of last season, but around the All-Star break he was ordered to use the triangle exclusively. “He’s running his own stuff without anybody coming in and telling him what to do or how to do it,” Kristaps Porzingis said. “I think from the top down you can feel that there’s more confidence in what we’re doing.”
  • Hornacek is getting credit throughout the league for the Knicks’ improvement, relays Ian Begley of ESPN. Despite an 8-7 start, New York remains a long shot to end its playoff drought. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Knicks just a 12.7% chance of making the postseason.

Atlantic Notes: Morris, Porzingis, Holmes

The Celtics will get Marcus Morris back tonight, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston tweets. The 28-year-old forward will make his debut with the franchise after coming over from the Pistons in a trade last summer.

Expect Morris to come off the bench in his Celtics debut with a minute restriction of around 20, Blakely adds in a second tweet.

Last season Morris averaged 14.0 points in 32.5 minutes per game for the Pistons. This year he’ll look to provide toughness and veteran leadership to a Celtics team eager to prove that they’re deep enough across the board to win the Eastern Conference.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Leave it to former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to understand what current coach Jeff Hornacek is going through as the man on the sidelines under the New York media spotlight. “He’s been around the game forever,” D’Antoni told Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “But you do have to get through the noise. Whether you listen to it or not, I don’t know. Hopefully he doesn’t. The way the team is playing right now, it looks good . . . Just don’t respond and don’t listen to it and if you don’t, you can live a very happy life.
  • The Sixers have plenty of big men but that doesn’t mean head coach Brett Brown isn’t still excited about the return of Richaun Holmes, who has missed the first two weeks of the season with a wrist injury. The center will return to action tonight, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes. “His breakaway-like rim-to-rim speed in early offense is A-plus,” Brown said. “There is sort of tenacity and toughness. He wears his heart on his sleeve that I think adds to what we are trying to do anyways. But there’s just a bounce to Richaun Holmes that makes him different.
  • The emergence of Kristaps Porzingis has brought a familiar but rare buzz back to Madison Square Garden. Barbara Barker of Newsday wrote about the excitement that surrounds the Knicks now, for the first time since Linsanity in 2012.

Mills: Knicks Won’t Trade Ntilikina Or Hernangomez

The Knicks consider Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez part of their future and don’t plan to include either in a trade for Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Team president Steve Mills conveyed those sentiments today in a meeting with reporters in Cleveland, effectively quashing speculation that the Knicks might be involved in the chase for Bledsoe.

Ntilikina has been limited by injuries and Hernangomez has seen his playing time cut because of a logjam at center, but Mills said both are considered valuable components going forward. He added that coach Jeff Hornacek approached this season the right way by making Hernangomez work for his playing time. “This is part of Willy’s development,’’ Mills said. “He’s a guy who’s going to be with us [at least] the next three years and we have a lot of time to work with him, and he’s going to be part of who we are.”

There’s more from Mills’ session with the media:

  • Even though the Knicks are off to a 1-3 start following a winless preseason, no thought has been given to a coaching change. Mills pledged that “Jeff, [GM] Scott [Perry] and I are in this together,” although he stopped short of guaranteeing that Hornacek will be safe for the entire season. “We told him to focus on getting the team better and finding ways to reduce the turnovers and make sure we’re improving defensively,” Mills said of a recent meeting with Hornacek. “That’s what our goal was. We didn’t focus on the record. Our focus is how we’re improving over the course of the season. If we do all the things from a defensive standpoint, wins will come out of that. I do believe it’s getting better.”
  • The organization is stressing stability in the wake of the chaotic reign of former team president Phil Jackson, who was fired over the offseason. Mills doesn’t believe it would be healthy to make another significant move so soon. “We need to make sure we’re doing as a team and doing the things we said we were going to do over the summer,” he said. “As long as we’re doing those things, we’ll continue to build this group. Stability is important for this group. We haven’t had a lot of it here.”
  • Despite the injuries, the organization has been impressed by Ntilikina, the eighth selection in this year’s draft. “He’s not a flashy player but does the right things, plays solid defensively, willing to challenge guys right from the start,” Mills said. “The way he played, with the style he played, was what we saw when we scouted him. … “We’re committed to him and his development. What we’re trying to do with this team, it centers around guys like Frank, KP, draft picks moving forward.”
  • The Knicks will have to make a roster move next month when Joakim Noah‘s suspension expires. They signed two veteran point guards over the offseason in Ramon Sessions and Jarrett Jack, and Mills said the team would like to keep both. “We always knew we needed veterans to help support Frank,’’ he explained. “Was that going to be Ramon as starter? Jarrett as starter? They both bring different things to the table. Jarrett did a great job of calming things down. Ramon brings different things to the table. They both mentor Frank in different ways. We feel we need guys like that to bring Frank along.’’

New York Notes: Hornacek, Ntilikina, Mozgov

A new management group is in place for the Knicks in the wake of Phil Jackson‘s departure in June, with Steve Mills having been promoted to the top job and Scott Perry brought in to have a significant voice in basketball decisions. Over the last few months, Mills and Perry have been making changes typical of a new front office, hiring or demoting executives and scouts, and retooling the roster by trading longtime star Carmelo Anthony.

However, the front office has yet to make any real changes on the sidelines, where head coach Jeff Hornacek continues to run the show. As Ian Begley of details, Knicks decision-makers want to see how Hornacek performed this season with Jackson no longer around to influence the team’s on-court decisions and systems. While Mills and Perry aren’t expecting the club to be a contender, they’d like to see improvement on defense and a strong effort from the current roster.

So far, the on-court results for Hornacek haven’t been good. After an 0-5 preseason, the Knicks are the NBA’s only winless team in the regular season, at 0-3. Additionally, as Begley details, it appears there are some players unfamiliar with some of the team’s plays. ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), meanwhile, hasn’t been impressed with the Knicks’ effort.

While Hornacek seems likely to get a longer leash in New York than Earl Watson – fired after three games – did in Phoenix, Perry “doesn’t want to waste time with the wrong people in place,” people familiar with his thinking tell Begley. If the Knicks’ lackadaisical showings continue, Hornacek’s seat figures to get very hot.

Here’s more from out of New York:

  • Knicks first-round pick Frank Ntilikina has been limited to just eight minutes played so far this season due to an ankle injury, but he’s set to return to the court on Friday against the Nets, per Barbara Barker of Newsday. “I’m excited,” Ntilikina said. “First game at the Garden in the regular season. So yeah, I can’t wait to go out there.”
  • Nets center Timofey Mozgov, in the second year of lucrative $64MM contract, is looking to expand his game and boost his value by developing a three-point shot. Scott Cacciola of The New York Times has the details.
  • Much has been made of the positive Nets culture under GM Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson. Now, as Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily writes, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate – the Long Island Nets – is attempting to emulate that culture.
  • Earlier today, we passed along details on a major change to Nets ownership and published our recap of the Knicks‘ offseason.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Hornacek, Holmes, Morris

The Sixers could still have $40MM in cap space next season despite agreeing to a five-year, $148MM extension with center Joel Embiid, ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out. Embiid’s starting salary of $25.3MM is $7MM more than his $18.3MM cap hold for the 2018/19 season, Marks continues. Philadelphia still has just $57MM in guaranteed contract commitments for next season, Marks adds.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • The current Knicks roster puts head coach Jeff Hornacek in a no-win situation, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News argues. The front office has stressed improvement in effort and stops but recent acquisitions Tim Hardaway Jr., Michael Beasley, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott won’t improve the defense, Bondy continues. Hornacek will have the unenviable task of trying to develop a system to mask those defensive shortcomings, Bondy adds.
  • Injured Sixers power forward Richaun Holmes doesn’t believe he’ll require surgery on his injured wrist, Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. Holmes suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist during a preseason game on Friday.
  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris needs to drops about seven pounds and work on his conditioning but he plans to play the regular-season opener, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports. Morris missed a portion of training camp while on trial in Phoenix for an assault charge. He was acquitted.
  • Forward K.J. McDaniels and Alfonzo McKinnie are likely fighting for the final spot on the Raptors’ opening-day roster, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. There’s room for both but GM Bobby Webster has expressed a desire to leave a spot open, Smith continues. Raptors coach Dwane Casey told Smith and other media members that the competition between the two is close. “There’s right now no clear-cut favorite going into this week,” he said.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Knicks, McKinnie

Healthy and, in his mind, ready to play in actual game situations, Sixers star Joel Embiid is itching to suit up for a preseason contest, Sarah Todd and Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer write. That may not necessarily happen soon, however.

I would like to play preseason because last year it helped me get in a groove,” Embiid said.

The 23-year-old big man has been held out of the Sixers’ first two preseason games despite the fact that he’s been cleared for full-court, 5-on-5 action. The team has expressed a desire to work slowly with the center who played just 31 games last season and isn’t ready to pinpoint an exact return date yet.

In scrimmages through training camp, the 2016/17 Rookie of the Year candidate has shown what he’s capable of as a fearsome interior defender and sharp-shooting big man.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • With the Carmelo Anthony trade now in the rearview mirror, the Knicks are embarking on their own version of The Process, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “You try to not sacrifice what you’re trying to do to build just to win some games. Obviously you want to win, but you have to find that balance,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “You can’t get frustrated. You got to keep the team going, and when teams are going through that process, it’s hard, but you got to stay positive.”
  • There are several big name additions to the Celtics but one of the team’s wildcards this year could be backup point guard Terry Rozier, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. The reserve will see an opportunity to shine in light of the trade that sent Avery Bradley to the Pistons.
  • A solid preseason has helped Alfonzo McKinnie make a case for staying with the Raptors through the regular season, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes. The forward has looked far more advanced than perennial project Bruno Caboclo and will be able to be locked up at an affordable rate.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Fultz, Caboclo, Hornacek, Ntilikina

Joel Embiid gave the Sixers a glimpse of the impact he could have on the court last season, averaging 20.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG. However, injuries once again limited Embiid as he appeared in just 31 games due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. During a media lunch. Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown discussed their oft-injured forward and gave contradicting statements, Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Brown said that Embiid has yet to play in a five-on-five scenario but also added the team will “soon” know if and when he will do so. Then, Brown and Colangelo refused to give a clearer update on Embiid’s future in terms of his involvement — or lack thereof — in training camp or the preseason. Then, Colangelo provided a statement that contradicted itself within seconds.

“It’s not about being ready for the first practice or the first game,” Colangelo said. “And he will be out there on the first practice and the first game. The question is how much, how little, if at all.”

Embiid is not the only injured Sixer as last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, is also looking to return to full health.

Below you can read more news from the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Embiid, Tatum

If you ask Carmelo Anthony, there hasn’t been a breakdown of communication between him and the Knicks. In fact, the forward says, the team’s front office knows exactly what he’s looking for and how he feels. Marc Berman of the New York Post breaks down the latest in the ongoing saga.

Put simply, Anthony would like to be traded to the Rockets and has a powerful no-trade clause that he can wave around until he gets there. The Knicks, however, don’t see a deal worth pulling the trigger on.

Despite the standstill, Anthony remains hopeful. “I’m very optimistic. I’ve had great conversations with new [Knicks] GM Scott Perry,” he says. “He understands my mindset, where I’m at. My career right now, what I’m looking for.

Whether or not that will translate into a trade to Houston, however, remains to be seen.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to Jayson Tatum himself, the Celtics intended to draft him all along, even prior to trading down from No. 1 to No. 3 ahead of the June 22 draft. Tatum explained as much on a recent podcast. The Sixers, he says, were under the assumption that Boston was looking at Markelle Fultz with the top pick.
  • While he hasn’t been cleared to play 5-on-5, Sixers big man Joel Embiid is doing non-contact drills and expects to be ready for training camp, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets.
  • Offseason signee Daniel Theis could bring energy on the glass and defensive versatility to the Celtics, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes in a profile piece on the German forward.
  • After a solid first campaign, Ron Baker is back with the Knicks on a far more lucrative contract. Barbara Barker of Newsday writes that head coach Jeff Hornacek continues to see parallels between himself and his undrafted role player. “I may not have been the fastest guy or the strongest guy or the highest jumper. But I did things that the coach wanted to see. I got the ball to the star guys. Ron came in doing the same thing and that’s what made him earn minutes with us,” the coach said.

Knicks Notes: Hardaway, Porzingis, Draft, Perry

Knicks president Steve Mills had an aggressive plan that ultimately snared Tim Hardaway Jr., writes Newsday’s Al Iannazzone. Mills claims he reached out to Hardaway just after midnight on July 1. While Hardaway says that he didn’t hear from the Knicks until a few days into free agency, it is clear that Mills aggressively pursued the former Knick.

“We felt like there are not that many opportunities in free agency that you have the opportunity to go after a 25-year-old. We made the decision that if you want to pry a restricted free agent away from the incumbent team, you have to be aggressive. So we made a decision to be aggressive,” Mills said.

Reportedly, the Knicks brass believed that the Hawks would be willing to offer $45MM for four years, so Mills and company needed to be “aggressive” and offered $71MM over four years. Although Hardaway has started just 62 of 281 games in his career, Mills believes that he is a starting shooting guard in the NBA.

“As we look at the numbers, we believe Tim is a starting two-guard in this league. Our trajectory for him is to be a starting two- guard, the capability of being a starting two-guard for the rest of his career. And those guys average 16, 16.5 million dollars today. So that’s how we came to the decision,” the Knicks president said.

Here’s what else you should know regarding the Knicks:

  • Also in Iannazzone’s Newsday piece, Mills speaks to his relationship with team cornerstone, Kristaps Porzingis. “Kristaps and I have a hectic texting relationship. I continue to text Kristaps over the summer and he and I have spoken two or three times over the summer,” Mills said. Phil Jackson confirmed he was fielding trade offers for Porzingis around the draft, but since Jackson left the team, the Knicks have stated that they will build around the Latvian center.
  • By going young this season, the Knicks could score big in the 2018 NBA Draft, writes Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports Network. If Carmelo Anthony is dealt, the Knicks could enter full-scale rebuilding mode, possibly setting them up for the first overall pick in the next draft. Zagoria mentions Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba, Luka Doncic, and Marvin Bagley as potential targets if the Knicks were to land the top selection.
  • In a press conference, Mills spoke about new GM Scott Perry‘s role with the team, relays Steve Popper of USA Today. “I’m going to give Scott the room to make basketball decisions and make recommendations to me,” Mills said. “He’s going to have a chance to manage the coaching staff, manage the scouting staff, and make recommendations as to where we should go as a basketball organization. I think we’ll be partners in that in the sense that he’ll come to me with his recommendation and we’ll debate it back and forth. But at the end of the day, I’m giving him the room to make those decisions.” Mills also emphasized that the goal is for the Knicks to be a younger, more athletic team, while head coach Jeff Hornacek stressed hustle and defense as the lynchpins of the new team.
  • Mills said that, if he were in charge, he “would’ve selected Frank [Ntilikina] at that point in the draft myself,” per Marc Berman of The New York Post. Mills continued, “He’s a guy that fits in everything that we’re talking about right now. He’s a smart basketball player. He focuses defensively and his approach to the game, his work ethic, fit exactly in the direction that we want to take this team.”

Atlantic Notes: Covington, Knicks, Raptors, Nets

Sixers swingman Robert Covington has new representation, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal, who reports (via Twitter) that Leon Rose and Drew Morrison of CAA Sports are Covington’s new agents. Covington, who was previously represented by Happy Walters, is finally nearing a significant payday after having been one of the NBA’s biggest bargains for the last couple seasons. If the Sixers don’t renegotiate and extend Covington’s deal this year, he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2018.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Knicks general manager Steve Mills has thrown Phil Jackson‘s triangle “in the trash” and is giving head coach Jeff Hornacek full autonomy to run the team’s offense, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post. While giving Hornacek more freedom to operate looks like a positive sign, Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post believes the Knicks took a step forward and then two steps back by turning basketball decisions over to Mills after Jackson’s departure.
  • Moving DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph will give the Raptors a little more flexibility to maneuver, but the club still has holes to fill on its roster, including at the power forward spot, writes Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.
  • Sixers head coach Brett Brown is a significant reason why J.J. Redick ultimately decided to sign with the team, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer details. “He is someone I have watched and I’ve wanted to play for,” Redick said of Brown. “I’m thrilled to be playing for him next year. For me personally, that was the biggest thing.”
  • Net Income of NetsDaily takes a look at how the Nets might use – or not use – their remaining cap room.
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