Joakim Noah

Knicks Notes: Coaching Search, O’Quinn, Noah

The Knicks aren’t afraid to take their time as they look for their next coach, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Today was Mark Jackson‘s turn to interview with team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry in Los Angeles, one day after Jerry Stackhouse. News broke tonight that TNT analyst Kenny Smith will be interviewed Friday. Sessions are also scheduled for David Fizdale, Mike Woodson and David Blatt, and Isola states that more candidates could emerge.

Fizdale had an interview today with the Suns and seems to have emerged as the most popular coach on the market. He has a connection with James Jones, a former Heat player who now works in the Phoenix front office and is reportedly a strong advocate for Fizdale. The Knicks are attracted to Fizdale because he has experience with a winning organization in Miami and he has a strong connection to LeBron James, whom the Knicks haven’t given up hope of someday acquiring, Isola adds.

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Jackson’s aversion to analytics may doom his chances with the Knicks, writes Gary Peterson of The San Jose Mercury News. Jackson had a reputation as an old-school coach with the Warriors and was often dismissive of modern techniques. “The [Golden State] analytics staff encountered more resistance than they anticipated,” said Erik Malinowski, author of a book on the building of the Warriors.
  • Backup center Kyle O’Quinn isn’t ready to make a decision on his player option, relays Jordan Lauterbach of Newsday. O’Quinn, who recently changed agents, will earn $4.26MM if he decides to opt in for next season. “I came into the season, I don’t want to say without a role, but knowing that anything can happen,” he said. “Whether it be trade talks or things like that, I think I handled it well by putting myself in a solid position where I could display what I could do.”
  • The Knicks should resist the temptation to stretch Joakim Noah‘s contract over the next five seasons, advises Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks points to Deron Williams in Brooklyn and Josh Smith in Detroit as instances where teams have regretted compromising their long-term flexibility. Marks also recommends delaying an extension for Kristaps Porzingis to create more cap room for next summer.

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Noah, Raptors, Celtics

Kristaps Porzingis won’t have an active role in the Knicks‘ search for a new coach, relays Ian Begley of ESPN. The injured Latvian star made that clear before meeting today with team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry, telling reporters, “That’s [management’s] job.” The next coach will be the fourth for Porzingis in his four years with the franchise.

“The situation is what it is. I’m sure the front office, they will make the right decisions and build something that can go a long way,” Porzingis said. “I think they will make the right decisions, so we have to trust them.”

Despite the dysfunction, Porzingis added that he wants his long-term future to be in New York. He is eligible for five-year extension worth about $157MM, although the Knicks may wait until next summer to maximize cap room and see how he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered in February. Porzingis said he is focused on rehabbing the injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined until at least December, and his contract situation won’t affect when he plans to return.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Whether Joakim Noah returns to the Knicks next season remains uncertain, but Perry might have dropped a clue this week, according to Chris Iseman of NorthJersey.com. The GM didn’t include the veteran center when he broke the news to players about Jeff Hornacek‘s firing. Noah, who finished the season on an extended leave of absence, still has two years and $37.8MM remaining on the huge contract he signed in 2016. If the team decides to use the stretch provision on September 1 or later, it could open up an additional $12MM in cap space for next summer. Perry said the issue will be examined this offseason.
  • The Raptors are reaping the benefits of remaining patient three seasons ago, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. After being swept by the Wizards in a 2015 playoff series, team president Masai Ujiri elected to keep the core of the team — Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas — and to retain coach Dwane Casey. The Raptors have remained among the best teams in the East and enter this year’s playoffs as a No. 1 seed. “Everybody is trying to flip the switch on everything,” Casey said. “But Masai had patience, saw what’s coming and stuck with it.”
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens is planning a tighter rotation for the playoffs, relays Tom Westerholm of MassLive. That means reduced playing time for Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele, but Westerholm expects Semi Ojeleye to get minutes because he can match up defensively with Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Knicks Notes: Coaching Change, Noah, O’Quinn, Beasley

The Knicks made the decision to fire head coach Jeff Hornacek and now the team enters the offseason with a huge vacancy and droves of roster questions. Hours after dismissing Hornacek — and assistant coach Kurt Rambis —  president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry explained their decision and outlined their offseason plans, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays.

Mills and Perry were honest in their assessment of Hornacek, noting the team wants to see an improvement in communication between the coaches and players.

“The evaluation of Jeff went over the 82 games. We evaluated everything — from practices to games to ability to connect with guys,” Mills said.” I think we need to be better in that area. I think there can be some improvement. It all doesn’t lay at Jeff’s feet, either. But I think that’s something that we could be better at as an organization, and that’s one of the expectations that we have obviously with our next coach, and we have for ourselves as well.”

Below are some more notes from the Mills and Perry end-of-season presser:

  • There is no timetable to name a new head coach, but Perry said the team would do the work necessary to find the right replacement. “It’s a very competitive market out there,” he said. “We’re going to do our due diligence and take the time necessary to find the right guy that we feel to take us on a long journey, hopefully.”
  • While Joakim Noah remains on a leave from the team, Perry said the team will revisit the situation to see if a return makes sense. “We’ll go and visit the Joakim situation again as we go through the offseason. We won’t take any options off the table for that matter,” Perry said.
  • Both Kyle O’Quinn and Michael Beasley, two of the Knicks’ standout players this past season, are set to hit free agency. Perry confirmed the organization’s intention to discuss a reunion with both. “We’re going to visit all that. Obviously, Kyle O’Quinn had a tremendous, tremendous year for us this year. Played very hard,” Perry said. “He’s a New Yorker. Represents a lot about what we want to stand for. So we’d like to bring him back. Obviously we’ll be in contact and visitation with Michael Beasley’s camp to see where that takes us.”

New York Notes: Kanter, Lee, Russell, Allen

Despite starting the season with four centers, that could become a position of need for the Knicks this summer, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Enes Kanter has signed with Mark Bartelstein, one of the NBA’s most powerful agents, as he ponders whether to opt out of an $18.6MM salary for next season, adds Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Backup center Kyle O’Quinn has a $4.3MM opt out that he is expected to exercise, as he recently expressed a desire to join a playoff contender. Joakim Noah is on an extended leave of absence from the team, and Willy Hernangomez has already been traded to the Hornets. Berman expects the Knicks to use the stretch provision on Noah once September 1 arrives to open up future cap space.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Trade rumors have surrounded veteran Courtney Lee, but he hopes to remain with the Knicks, relays Chris Iseman of NorthJersey.com. Lee doesn’t fit in with the youth movement in New York and may not have a future spot in a crowded backcourt. “All I can control is what I can control,” Lee said. “And that’s showing up here and being a professional and continuing to do the things I’ve been doing, encouraging and helping the young guys. And then when Coach calls my name, going out there and playing hard.”
  • Lee also came to the defense of embattled coach Jeff Hornacek, Iseman adds, blaming injuries for a disappointing season. The Knicks were 11-10 when Tim Hardaway Jr. suffered a stress injury to his left leg in late November, and Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL shortly after Hardaway returned. “For what, injuries?” Lee responded when asked about Hornacek. “For Tim having a stress fracture? For KP going down? How do you blame coach for that?”
  • D’Angelo Russell understands the need to improve after mixed results in his first season with the Nets, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Russell averaged 15.4 points and 5.1 assists, but missed 32 games after knee surgery and did little to calm fears about his defense. “Yeah, it could be better. I think it’s just learning. I’m feeling it out,” said Russell, who will be eligible for an extension this summer. “Everything I’m doing is new, playing with new coaches, new teammates. Everything is new. So I think it’s a feeling-it-out type deal with me, so it could always be better.”
  • Rookie center Jarrett Allen has been a pleasant surprise for the Nets, but coach Kenny Atkinson wants him to improve as a rebounder, Lewis notes in a separate story. Allen averages 5.3 boards per night, which ranks 46th among centers.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Carroll, Russell, Horford, Noah

In an opinion piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer, David Murphy writes that the Sixers should play Markelle Fultz this season if and when he is healthy enough to return, even though there is an argument to be made for shutting Fultz down for the remainder of the 2017/18 campaign.

Murphy opines that the Sixers often struggle to find an offensive dimension that allows opportunities for guys to create their own shots, the need for which increases during playoff time as defenses more readily prepare for the opposition. As veteran Ersan Ilyasova put it, “In the playoffs, when you play a seven-game series, you have to execute and kind of always bring something unique, because everybody’s studied each other.”

The Sixers had scored just 251 points on isolation plays this season, the fewest in the NBA, and they also rate poorly in pick-and-roll efficiency, scoring on drives, and getting fouled on drives.

Enter Fultz, who could be the type of player to possibly add this needed dimension to the Sixers’ rotation. “He can make us better,” head coach Brett Brown said. “… Just what he does in open court, what he does with a live ball. I think he can be different from any player that we already have. What I see in practice sometimes, you understand completely why he was the first player chosen in the NBA draft.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In his first season with the Nets, veteran forward DeMarre Carroll has done everything asked of him and more, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Carroll has started at power forward and even played center, all while keeping an upbeat attitude through the team’s rebuilding. “I’m feeling good,” said Carroll. “This is the best I’ve felt in my career. I feel like playing with these young guys is rejuvenating me and making me feel even younger. I’ve just got to keep trying to show these guys by example, rather than doing the talking.”
  • In another article for the New York Post, Lewis reports that Nets guard D’Angelo Russell is finally learning to work on his defense. Always a gifted scorer, Russell will continue to improve defensively as he gets older, bigger, and stronger, per head coach Kenny Atkinson.
  • Current Thunder head coach Billy Donovan still speaks highly of his former player at Florida – Celtics big man Al Horford, reports Taylor Snow of Celtics.com. “What I’ve always respected about (Al) is that it’s always about winning; he’ll do whatever he has to do to win and sacrifice whatever he has to to win.”
  • Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek doesn’t have much news to report on the Joakim Noah front, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. Asked how the whole situation would resolve, Hornacek punted to general manager Scott Perry and team president Steve Mills.

Knicks Notes: Jack, Noah, Ntilikina, O’Quinn

With his role in New York essentially eliminated and an informal buyout deadline looming, Knicks point guard Jarrett Jack admitted earlier this week that he may have to consider his options. However, we’re just a few hours away from turning the calendar to March 2 – at which point waived players no longer retain their playoff eligibility – and it doesn’t sound like Jack is packing his bags to leave the Knicks, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.

“[Sam Goldfeder, Jack’s agent] called me and did his job,” Jack said. “‘Hey, what do you think about possible destinations on playoff teams?’ If something unbelievable comes up that makes sense, we’ll take a look at it. But I’m not pressing the envelope. If nothing shakes out of it, I’m cool here.”

While Jack would prefer to see the sort of role he did in the first half, when he was the Knicks’ starting point guard, he also doesn’t mind sticking in New York and mentoring the club’s young point guards, says Berman. Even with Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, and Trey Burke sharing his minutes, Jack doesn’t want to bail on the team.

“It feels weird leaving guys to go to another situation,” Jack said. “I understand selfishly how it makes sense, but I’d like to finish with who I started. The responsible thing to do is listen to it or look at it, but I’m cool here.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Within the same article, Berman cites sources who say that Joakim Noah also isn’t likely to be bought out by the Knicks today. The next big date to watch, according to Berman, may be September 1. At that point, if New York were to waive and stretch Noah, the size and structure of his cap hits would look a little different. We’ve previously identified September 1 as a date of interest for Noah’s situation; back in December, we took a closer look at how stretching him before or after that date would impact the Knicks’ cap charges.
  • Frank Ntilikina has shown some unexpected versatility in the Knicks’ backcourt, according to Fred Kerber of The New York Post, who suggests that the team has confidence in the rookie’s ability to play the two. While we shouldn’t pencil in Ntilikina as the Knicks’ shooting guard of the future quite yet, his versatility could create some interesting lineup possibilities going forward.
  • Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn isn’t sure yet whether or not he’ll opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, but he made it clear today that he loves playing in New York, as Al Iannazzone of Newsday relays. “I would love to be here for the rest of my career if I can,” O’Quinn said. Whether that translates into a hometown discount for the Knicks remains to be seen.
  • Be sure to check out our Knicks team page for more Knicks-related news and notes.

Knicks Notes: Rivers, Porzingis, Noah

If Jeff Hornacek does not return as Knicks head coach, it’s possible that current Clippers head coach Doc Rivers would consider that vacancy if he also departs from his current team, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.

Rivers spent parts of three seasons with the Knicks as a player during his 14-year NBA career. A former associate of Rivers tells Berman that Rivers — who has coached the Clippers since 2013 — still holds the team in high regard.

“Doc enjoyed his time there,’’ the former associate said. “He respects the city, he respects the organization.’’

The season-ending injury to Kristaps Porzingis has complicated the long-term future for the Knicks. Porzingis is expected to miss the next 10 months, which would sideline him for at least the start of the 2018/19 season. While that could alter the pursuit of head coaches, Rivers’ background with the team from his playing days could help the Knicks if he’s on their wish list.

Check out other Knicks notes below:

  • Speaking of Porzingis, he was spotted in Manhattan on Tuesday leaving a rehab appointment, per The New York Post. Porzingis was walking without the assistance of crutches but his trainer was still carrying them. The big man went down with a torn ACL on February 8.
  • March 1 is the last day for the Knicks to make a determination on Joakim Noah so he can sign with another club and be eligible for the postseason. The Knicks do not have to waive him or agree to a buyout by then, though it would be in Noah’s best interest if a resolution is reached by then. Both Marc Berman of the New York Post and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (subscription required and recommended) identify $5MM as the salary Noah could potentially leave on the table to help facilitate a move — that would slightly reduce the Knicks’ cap hits without significantly compromising Noah’s earnings, since he could earn most of that money back on minimum-salary contracts.
  • Earlier today, we passed along more Knicks-related notes, including more details on the Noah situation, which is reportedly being monitored by the NBPA.

New York Notes: Noah, Ntilikina, Okafor, Nets

Although March 1 isn’t an official deadline for the Knicks to make a decision on Joakim Noah, the team will have to waive him on or before that day if he wants to retain his postseason eligibility. That makes it a date worth watching, and according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the National Basketball Players Association will have an eye on the situation.

Berman hears from sources that the NBPA will “intensify its interest” in the Noah situation if he remains on the Knicks’ roster – but not with the team – beyond March 1. If the veteran center wants to return to the Knicks at that point and the club wants him to remain in exile, things “could get ugly,” per Berman.

Sources tell Berman that the Knicks were within their right to suspend Noah for insubordination after he cursed out head coach Jeff Hornacek last month, but chose not to do so — Noah continues to receive his full salary during his absence. If the big man isn’t released this week, one potential scenario, Berman suggests, would see the Knicks brass telling him to sit tight and prepare for the 2018/19 season, when Hornacek may no longer be the club’s head coach.

While we wait to see what happens with Noah, let’s round up a few more items from out of New York City…

  • In a separate article for The New York Post, Berman examines the upcoming summer for Frank Ntilikina. The rookie point guard has suggested he’ll spend much of his offseason in his home country of France, but the Knicks will likely want him to play for their Summer League team in July.
  • Jahlil Okafor hasn’t seen any action for the Nets since February 12, but still believes he’s capable of fitting in with Brooklyn’s fast-paced style of play, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. “I wish we’d had him since training camp,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of Okafor. “It makes it easier. We’re scrambling here trying to find a lineup so he’s a little bit of a victim of that.”
  • Speaking of the Nets‘ lineup, it got a boost on Monday, as both Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned from injuries. Tom Dowd has the details at the club’s official site.

Knicks Notes: Burke, Williams, Noah, Kanter

Knicks guard Trey Burke is crediting renewed religious faith not only for his improved play, but for the path that led him to New York, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Burke, who scored 26 points for the second straight game Saturday, said he had an offer from the Thunder this summer, but opted for a G League contract with the Knicks’ Westchester affiliate.

“I bumped heads with my agent this summer because he didn’t understand [the decision to sign a G-League deal with the Knicks],” Burke recalled. “He pretty much called me and said, ‘OKC tomorrow for training camp. I’m going to call them back right now and say yeah, right?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘I want to go to New York. And I wanted to do that for the Lord. … I wanted to come to New York because I feel like this is a city where I can help a lot of people.”

His spiritual commitment also led Burke to make lifestyle changes that he says have helped him on the court. He got married over the summer, cut out frequent partying and has become more focused on basketball than ever before. He has a minimum-salary contract for next year with a $100K guarantee effective July 10 and a $400K guarantee on the first day of the season.

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • Troy Williams is doing his best to make the Knicks want to keep him on their roster, notes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Signed Wednesday to a 10-day contract, Williams had 14 points in 12 minutes Saturday. Williams said seven teams contacted his agent after he was waived by the Rockets last week, and the final choice came down to the Knicks or Trail Blazers.
  • As Joakim Noah‘s leave of absence drags on, a former college teammate is coming to his defense, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Celtics big man Al Horford hasn’t lost faith in Noah, who has played just seven games this season and hasn’t been with the team since an altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek at a January 24 practice. “I think Joakim can help any team,” Horford said. “I know he’s had a rough patch with injuries and things like that, but when he’s healthy, he’s as good as they come. And just his presence on a team, and what he brings defensively, he’s just about the right things.”
  • Enes Kanter hasn’t decided whether to exercise his option on an $18.6MM salary for next season, but he repeated his desire to stay in New York after Saturday’s game, relays Al Iannazzone of Newsday. The seventh-year center is averaging 14.2 points and 10.7 rebounds in his first season with the Knicks. “I’m not saying I’m opting in or opting out,” Kanter said. “I’m going to focus on this season, finish this season. I don’t even have an agent yet. I’ll get an agent first and talk to him about [it]. My thing right now it would be selfish for me to just say I’ll do this, I’ll do that. I’m going to finish this season right, have fun with my teammates and start thinking about the contract stuff.”

Warriors, Wolves, Thunder Eyeing Joakim Noah?

Several playoff-bound teams are keeping an eye on Joakim Noah‘s situation in New York and would consider signing him if he reaches free agency, sources tell Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. According to Isola, the Warriors, Timberwolves, and Thunder are among the teams monitoring the Knicks center.

As Isola notes, the Wolves represent an obvious fit for Noah since the team already features several familiar faces for the veteran center, including Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau. Golden State and Oklahoma City also believe that Noah’s experience and defensive ability would help shore up their respective benches, Isola adds.

If the Knicks do decide to release Noah, he’d want it to happen by March 1 so that he’d be eligible to play in the postseason for a new team. However, the two sides appear to be engaged in a stalemate, so there’s certainly no guarantee he’ll be available in the coming days.

As Ian Begley of ESPN details (via Twitter), both Noah and the Knicks would likely welcome a fresh start, but the team is reluctant to eat his entire contract by waiving him, and Noah has thus far been unwilling to give back much – if any – of the money left on his lucrative deal. Counting his remaining prorated salary this season, the big man is still owed approximately $42.5MM through 2019/20.

If they do get a chance to sign Noah, the Warriors would have to waive a player, since they currently have a full 15-man squad. The Timberwolves and Thunder each have an open roster spot.