Jericho Sims

Mitchell Robinson Nearing Return For Knicks

Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson has been sidelined since January 18 after undergoing surgery to repair a right thumb fracture, but he’s getting close to a return. He’s officially listed as questionable for Friday’s game against the Wizards, the team announced (via Twitter).

As Peter Botte of The New York Post writes, Robinson was a full practice participant on Wednesday, including taking contact, which was one of the final hurdles in his recovery process.

It’s great to have him back. He’s an important part of the team. We want everyone healthy. We need everyone right now,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said.

It does [help] a lot,” Jalen Brunson said of Robinson’s pending return. “It’s good to see him healthy, first and foremost. He brings a lot to the table. He’s been great for us down inside the paint, on both sides of the floor. So when we can get a guy like that back, it definitely helps and I’m very excited to get him back.”

The injury did not affect a lower extremity, so the team’s starting center was able to keep his conditioning up while sidelined. Thibodeau was non-committal when asked if Robinson would be on a minutes restriction, according to Botte.

We’ll talk to the medical people. Whenever a player comes back you see where they are,” Thibodeau said. “If he can handle minutes, he’ll play. If he needs a break, he’ll get a break. So we’ll talk to him, talk to the medical people, see what everyone thinks. We like the depth that we have at that position.”

Through 38 games, Robinson is averaging 7.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 26.9 minutes per contest. The 24-year-old leads the team in net rating among rotation regulars at plus-8.2, Botte notes.

Jericho Sims, who had started the previous 14 games in place of Robinson, could be out of the rotation upon Robinson’s return, Botte adds. Isaiah Hartenstein is likely to remain the primary backup five.

Knicks Notes: Hartenstein, Grimes, Brunson, Randle

Isaiah Hartenstein has been more productive since shaking off the effects of an Achilles injury, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. The Knicks’ backup center is averaging 6.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during his past 12 games and is helping the team survive while Mitchell Robinson is sidelined with a broken thumb.

“I feel like I can do the role that I need to do here a lot better with how good my Achilles is now feeling,” Hartenstein said. “… My main thing was helping the team win. Now it’s coming back where I’m doing the little stuff to help the team win.”

Hartenstein and Jericho Sims have been handling center duties since Robinson was injured on January 18. New York has gone 8-6 without its starting center, who is expected to return after the All-Star break, according to Braziller.

“Anytime someone goes out, and you hate to see anybody be injured, it’s an opportunity for someone else to step in and grow,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think Jericho getting into that role has really been helpful for him and for us. I said this earlier, I love the depth we have at that position. … I don’t want to overlook the contributions Isaiah’s made. Isaiah has found a really good rhythm. He’s playing really well on both sides of the ball. So we’re getting really good production out of that position.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Quentin Grimes has remained in the starting lineup since the addition of Josh Hart, but his playing time has been reduced, Braziller notes in a separate story. Instead of being upset, Grimes is determined to learn from his new teammate. “He’s definitely a guy you watch out there, see how hard he plays,” Grimes said. “Just go out there and try to match it, because he’s definitely going to make winning plays on and off the ball.”
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News examines how Jalen Brunson‘s father, Knicks assistant Rick Brunson, taught him from a young age to shoot with his left hand. Jalen is naturally right-handed, so he’s comfortable attacking defenses from either direction. “There’s not a lot of lefties,” he said. “So I guess everything is the opposite for defenders. I just think it’s a little unorthodox.”
  • Julius Randle has been selected to replace Anfernee Simons in this weekend’s three-point contest, the NBA announced (via Twitter). The Trail Blazers guard suffered a sprained right ankle Tuesday night.

NBA Announces All-Star Saturday Night Participants

It was quite a Valentine’s Day for Mac McClung. He was signed to a two-way contract by the Sixers and, hours later, was named as one of the four participants in this year’s Slam Dunk competition during All-Star weekend, according to an NBA press release.

He’ll be joined by the Rockets’ Kenyon Martin Jr., the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III and the Knicks’ Jericho Sims.

The Skills Challenge will feature a brother act. Team Antetokounmpo, predictably, will include Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks and Alex Antetokounmpo of the G League’s Wisconsin Herd.

Team Jazz will include Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler and Collin Sexton, while Team Rookies will feature top pick Paolo Banchero of the Magic, as well as the Pistons’ Jaden Ivey and the Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr. 

The participants in this year’s 3-point contest can be found here.

And-Ones: Taxpayers, Cap Room, Traded Cash, Sims, Lue, More

Prior to the trade deadline, 10 NBA teams projected to be taxpayers this season and the 20 non-taxpayers were each projected to receive $17.2MM as a result of those tax penalties, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

However, one of those 10 taxpayers – the Sixers – ducked below the tax line with a deadline deal, and the NetsKevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades reduced Brooklyn’s projected end-of-season tax bill by approximately $100MM, Marks notes. As a result of those changes, among others, the luxury tax distribution at the end of the season will now be split among 21 teams and will be worth a projected $14.5MM, based on current team salaries, says Marks.

Danny Leroux of The Athletic also considers the financial impact of a busy trade deadline week, though he’s looking ahead to the offseason, breaking down which teams project to have the most cap room in the summer of 2023.

Leroux anticipates there will be eight teams with the ability to generate significant cap space, ranging from the Rockets at $61MM to the Pacers at $28MM. The Spurs ($40-48MM), Jazz ($31-45MM), Magic ($22-58MM), Hornets ($27-37MM), Thunder ($31MM), and Pistons ($30MM) are also in position to operate under the cap, Leroux writes. The range in projections for some of those teams is related to decisions on options and non-guaranteed salaries.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report has the details on the cash that changed hands at the trade deadline. In a series of tweets, Pincus reports that the Lakers sent $2MM to Magic in the Mohamed Bamba trade, the Suns sent $1MM to the Thunder in the Darius Bazley trade, the Clippers sent $1MM to the Hornets in the Mason Plumlee trade, and the Nets sent $1.36MM to the Pacers in the four-team Durant blockbuster.
  • Who will be available on the buyout market in the coming weeks? John Hollinger of The Athletic lists and ranks 32 buyout candidates (or players who have already been cut), starting with veteran guards Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson.
  • Circling back to a pair of pre-deadline stories: Knicks center Jericho Sims has committed to take part in this year’s dunk contest after Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe dropped out, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). And Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue will replace Suns head coach Monty Williams as an assistant on Steve Kerr‘s Team USA coaching staff, per a press release.
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger said this week that his company doesn’t plan to sell ESPN, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic, who adds that Iger expressed a desire for ESPN to retain NBA rights when the league negotiates its next media deal.

Atlantic Notes: Sims, Hartenstein, Nets, Raptors, Niang

Knicks reserve big men Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein have seen their roles expand following starting center Mitchell Robinson‘s recent thumb surgery, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post.

Sims had been out of the Knicks’ rotation in the five games leading up to Robinson’s thumb injury last week, while Hartenstein was playing backup center minutes. After Robinson went down, Sims was elevated to starter, while Thibodeau kept Hartenstein in his reserve role.

“I feel good about both guys,” New York head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “What gives us the best chance to win? It may change based on matchups… Jericho and Isaiah have been in the rotation, and that was one of the things that stood out when we were acquiring those guys was the rim protection. We felt both were capable.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Though the Kevin Durant drama may have been taking the lion’s share of headlines as far as the Nets were concerned this summer, the team made some excellent under-the-radar roster moves that are now paying off in a big way, per James Herbert of CBS Sports. Herbert singles out Brooklyn’s re-signing of Nic Claxton, its free agent additions of Yuta Watanabe and T.J. Warren, and its trade for Royce O’Neale.
  • As the Raptors continue to slide in the Eastern Conference standings, team president Masai Ujiri should look to move on from some of its best assets and begin a full-on rebuild around second-year forward Scottie Barnes, opines Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star. Arthur believes that Toronto players OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam could each net at least three first-round draft picks in trades, writing that at least one team previously offered three first-rounders for Anunoby.
  • Sixers reserve power forward Georges Niang is striving to play better defensively, and seems to have truly improved on that end this season, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “People try to knock me, and not give me credit because I don’t look like someone that can defend,” Niang said. “I believe if I’m out there on the court, I’m going to make it tough on anybody that I have to guard.. That’s kind of the narrative that I’m trying to spin the other way.”

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Celtics, Sims, Sixers

The Celtics have ruled out Jayson Tatum for Saturday’s game in Toronto due to left wrist soreness, the team announced (via Twitter). As Jared Weiss of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), Tatum played through a non-displaced fracture in that same wrist last season and said recently that he’s been dealing with some pain in that area.

There’s no indication that it’s a serious issue though — the Celtics likely viewed it as a good time to get Tatum a day off after he played 48 minutes in an overtime win over Golden State on Thursday.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The $6.9MM traded player exception the Celtics generated when they sent Juancho Hernangomez to San Antonio last January expired when it wasn’t used by the end of the day on Thursday. As our list of outstanding trade exceptions shows, Boston still has several TPEs available — the largest of those exceptions, worth $5.9MM, will expire if it’s not used by this season’s trade deadline.
  • Although the Knicks will miss Mitchell Robinson in the middle as he recovers from thumb surgery, head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t upset about the opportunity to have Jericho Sims play a bigger role, discussing on Friday how the big man has improved since arriving in the NBA, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “Obviously the easy part to see is the athleticism, but also his touch with the ball, right and left hand in the paint, his passing ability, the way he can run the floor, and all the things that he’s doing defensively,” Thibodeau said of Sims. “But I think the big thing is the way he works. I think with that type of work ethic, his competitiveness, he’ll continue to get better and better.”
  • In a mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Keith Pompey explains why he believes the Sixers could use another center and outlines why he doesn’t love the idea of moving Tyrese Maxey back into the starting lineup and making Tobias Harris a sixth man.

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Reddish, Quickley, Hartenstein

Knicks forward Obi Toppin, who has averaged just 10.7 minutes per night in six games since returning from a leg injury, is a good candidate to play an increased role with Mitchell Robinson on the shelf due to a broken thumb, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post.

In order to earn those extra minutes though, Toppin recognizes that he has to play better, Botte writes in a separate New York Post story. The former lottery pick has made just 4-of-18 shots since his return and has gone scoreless in three of his last four games.

“I don’t know,” Toppin responded when asked why he thinks he’s struggling. “Just confidence? Shoot the ball when I have open shots, drive the ball when I have to drive the ball. Just play great basketball. It’s just more repetitions in the game. Just having an opportunity to shoot some shots in the game, get that touch again. And I feel like once I get that touch – I’m shooting well in practice, I’m shooting well here, it’s just in the game, having those game looks, finding that rhythm again.”

Of course, while Toppin could play alongside Julius Randle in smaller lineups, the Knicks will also need one or both of Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims to step up in Robinson’s absence. Fred Katz of The Athletic explores what to expect from the team’s two backup centers, noting that – while he’s not the rim protector Robinson is – Sims is a more versatile defender than Hartenstein, with the ability to get out to the perimeter to guard non-bigs.

Here’s more from out of New York:

  • A recent report from Michael Scotto indicated the Knicks would like to get two second-round picks back in exchange for Cam Reddish, but Ian Begley of hears from teams in touch with the Knicks that one second-rounder may be enough to get something done. New York’s ability to get draft compensation for Reddish could come down to what sort of player the team is willing to take back for salary-matching purposes.
  • Elsewhere on the trade front, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic cites an NBA executive who said earlier this week that he doesn’t believe Immanuel Quickley is “gettable” in a trade anymore, like he was earlier in the season.
  • As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes, Isaiah Hartenstein still doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with his role as a center in Tom Thibodeau‘s system, but he did say the Achilles injury that was bothering him earlier in the season has improved. “I feel like I can jump a little bit, dunk the ball a little bit more,” Hartenstein said. “So I think when that keeps getting better and better defensively I’ll feel more confident.”

New York Notes: Warren, Nets, A. Williams, Robinson, Knicks

With Kevin Durant sidelined due to a knee injury, Nets forward T.J. Warren feels as if he’s capable of stepping up and taking on a bigger role. However, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, Warren is still on a minutes limit after missing nearly two years of action, and while he recognizes it’s in his best interest, he can’t help but be frustrated by it.

“Yeah, it’s super-frustrating, trust me,” Warren said. “It’s trying to find a balance (between) being out two years but also knowing that I feel like I can carry the load a little bit during those long stretches.

“But just got to put my trust and training staff’s hands. … They’ve been doing a great job with me, got me back to this point, and just got to see the bigger picture, end of the season, playoffs, playing at my best, hopefully off the minute restriction.”

Warren has averaged 20.7 minutes per game in 19 appearances since making his season debut. In the Nets’ last three games with Durant unavailable, he has averaged 16.0 points in 24.9 minutes per night.

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

  • Despite losing all three of their games since Durant’s injury, the Nets remain upbeat and confident that they’ll be able to right the ship and avoid a repeat of last season’s 5-16 slide without KD, Lewis writes in another New York Post story. “Last year it was… it was kind of a toxic environment,” Nic Claxton said. “We didn’t know if everybody wanted to be here at the time. This year there’s no divide between everybody that’s out there. We’re going to figure it out.” As Lewis notes, Claxton’s comments appear to be referencing James Harden, who asked to be traded during Durant’s absence.
  • After being waived by the Nets last week, rookie guard Alondes Williams has rejoined the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate, according to Chris Milholen of NetsDaily. Williams had spent plenty of time with Long Island on his two-way contract, but is now an NBA free agent and would be free to sign with any team if he gets an offer.
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson left Wednesday’s game due to a sprained right thumb and will undergo further evaluation on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. If Robinson misses time, big man Jericho Sims will likely reclaim a rotation role for New York.
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t concerned about how much court time his top players are seeing, referring to critics of his rotation as the “minutes police,” Braziller says in another story for The New York Post. “I know you guys like to create the narrative for your stories and you don’t look at it in totality,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t think we have anyone in the top 20 in minutes played.” As Braziller details, in the 15 most recent games entering Wednesday night, Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson were in the NBA’s top five in minutes played, while Quentin Grimes was 14th. However, all three players rank much lower among the full-season minutes leaders.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Toppin, Sims, Durant, Harris, Harden

The Raptors aren’t shopping any of their core players but they’re willing to listen to any offers, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports writes.

Scottie Barnes remains the Raptors’ only untouchable, though a source told Lewenberg it would take a “king’s ransom” to trade either Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby. The rotation player most likely to be moved is Gary Trent Jr., since he could become a free agent this summer and his next multi-year contract could top $100MM.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks forward Obi Toppin returned to action on Monday night after missing a month due to a leg injury. Jericho Sims was the odd man out of the rotation, as he never left the bench, Greg Joyce of the New York Post notes. Sims has appeared in 32 of the team’s 41 games this season. Toppin only played eight minutes.
  • Even before knowing that Kevin Durant would be out for approximately a month, Nets forward Joe Harris said it would be a “massive blow” to the team if he missed significant time, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “Obviously [it changes] a lot. He’s a focal point for us, offensively, defensively he’s been an elite rim protector this year. He guards the best players. [It would] be obviously a massive blow for us,” he said. “But at the same time, it presents opportunities for everybody else, and we have a lot of depth for reasons like this for everybody just to step up and collectively try and fill that void.”
  • Sixers guard James Harden admitted to Yahoo Sports’ Vince Goodwill that he misses the days when he was counted on to be the primary scorer and posted huge stats, but indicated that winning a championship is his top priority. “I would love that, but not as much — if that makes sense,” Harden said. “In Houston, I was doing that every single night. It was expected. It’s a lot of times I feel like I can have that same impact on games. But you see the bigger picture. I’m just focused on one thing, man. That’s all that matters.”

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Barrett, Robinson, Hartenstein, Sims, Brunson, Thibodeau

Knicks forward Obi Toppin could make his long-awaited return to action on Monday night. He went through a full practice on Sunday and should be available to play against the Bucks, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets.

Toppin, who has not played since Dec. 7 due to a right leg injury, was medically cleared to return earlier this week, but needed more practice reps before the Knicks were comfortable reinserting him into the rotation.

RJ Barrett is listed as doubtful due to a lacerated right index finger, the team tweets.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Mitchell Robinson grabbed 18 rebounds in 35 minutes, including eight on the offensive end, against Toronto on Friday. Robinson has noticed teams are trying to block him out with multiple players on the offensive glass and takes pride in that fact, Bondy writes. “I’m a dangerous man,” Robinson said. “You got to put three guys on me to keep me off the glass. That says a lot. I’m really becoming something.”
  • With Toppin ready to reclaim his spot as the backup power forward, Isaiah Hartenstein or Jericho Sims will be dropped from the rotation, Bondy adds in the same story. “Whatever we decide to do, that’s part of sacrificing for the team and putting the team first,”  coach Tom Thibodeau said.
  • The Knicks have won four straight and Jalen Brunson has emerged as the team’s closer, according to Bondy. Brunson had 10 points in the final six minutes against Toronto. “What I try and do is try and relax and stay poised in those moments,” Brunson said. “Everyone talks about pressure and all that stuff, but just got to trust your mechanics, trust everything you do.”
  • Thibodeau has notched 100 coaching victories since being hired by the Knicks, Steve Popper of Newsday notes. “I’m glad to be a part of all 100. Thibs has come in here and created a great culture for all of us,” Julius Randle said. “He’s been amazing. The support, holding us accountable, the belief for us to win every night. I’m happy for him. We’ve got to get him another hundred.”