Joakim Noah

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Raptors’ Tax, Trier, Scariolo

Guard Marcus Smart seriously considered signing his $6.1MM qualifying offer from the Celtics and becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets“I went back and forth internally, but it’s a problem a lot of people would like to have.” Smart said. “I definitely thought about taking the qualifying offer, but all my options were open.”

Smart wound up staying in Boston on a four-year, $52MM deal. “To be honest, I didn’t know where I was gonna end up. I was just enjoying this whole process,” he told The Associated Press. “It is a business, so things aren’t perfect. That’s why it’s called negotiations. You guys come together and you finally agree on something. We both agreed. Boston loves me and I love Boston.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors continue to explore moves to shed salary and get under the luxury-tax line, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets. The Raptors still have over $137MM in salary commitments following the Kawhi Leonard deal and are nearly $14MM over the tax threshold.
  • Allonzo Trier has an outside chance to gain a spot on the 15-man Knicks roster after a solid showing in summer-league action, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Trier, an undrafted guard out of Arizona, has a two-way contract but if he makes a strong impression in training camp, it could be converted to a standard contract. The Knicks waived forward Troy Williams this week, trimming their 15-man roster to the league limit, and could open up another spot if they waive Joakim Noah and utilize the stretch provision for the remaining money on his bloated deal.
  • Italian head coach Sergio Scariolo is close to joining Nick Nurse‘s Raptors staff, according to a Sportando report. Scariolo, who is also the Spanish national team coach, has been offered a position but needs to work out a settlement with the Spanish federation, since he has a contract with it until 2020. The situation is expected to be resolved, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun relays. The Hornets were also interested in hiring Scariolo, Wolstat adds.

Knicks Rumors: Porzingis, Hezonja, 2019, Noah

Devin Booker has already signed a maximum-salary extension with the Suns, and Karl-Anthony Towns is discussing a similar deal with the Timberwolves, but the Knicks appear to be in no rush to lock up Kristaps Porzingis to a long-term rookie scale extension of his own. As Ian Begley of ESPN.com notes, signing Porzingis now would mean giving up about $10MM in 2019 cap room, so the team may prefer to wait until next summer to get something done with the standout big man.

“We’ll continue to stay in touch with Kristaps,” Knicks GM Scott Perry said on Tuesday, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “He’s part of our long-term plan. But we’ll get all that figured out at the appropriate time in terms of when we get into that negotiation. We’re comfortable with were at with him and we’ll work together with he and his representation to figure something out.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • This year’s signing of Mario Hezonja may represent a hedge against striking out on top free agents in 2019, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. As Berman explains, the Knicks would probably have to renounce Hezonja next summer in order to clear cap room for a maximum-salary free agent, but if New York doesn’t need to maximize its space, Hezonja’s Non-Bird rights should give the team the ability to make a competitive offer to retain him for one more than one season.
  • Knicks president Steve Mills sounds like he doesn’t want to put all his eggs into one basket when it comes to landing a star free agent in 2019, Berman adds. “We didn’t say our ultimate goal was to have cap room in 2019 — that’s just a byproduct of the situation of how our salaries line up,” Mills said. “There’s no reason to think if Mario does really well, he shouldn’t be part of what we’re doing. Our goal is to put together a Knick team that could be competitive in the long-term.”
  • Speaking of Hezonja, he said he got offers from the Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Thunder before he accepted the Knicks’ proposal, Berman writes in a separate article.
  • According to GM Scott Perry, all options are still in play for Joakim Noah, whether that means trading, stretching, or keeping him, per Ian Begley and Nick Friedell. “He’s still a member of the Knicks franchise right now,” Perry said of Noah. “He’s part of this team. Like we said to you earlier, all options are on the table for us concerning him, whether it’s coming back or some sort of trade or whatever the case may be.”
  • During his introductory press conference as a Pacer, Kyle O’Quinn made a comment that could be interpreted as a dig at the Knicks. “I just felt like at this point, I owed it to myself to be a part of something bigger than next year’s draft,” O’Quinn said, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News relays.

New York Notes: Robinson, Lin, Nets, Noah

Despite some speculation that he may be a first-rounder, the Knicks were able to nab Mitchell Robinson with the 36th overall pick in last month’s draft. That was never a lock though, and a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that the Knicks mulled the possibility of trading up a few spots in the draft to make sure they’d be able to grab the young center.

Robinson, who signed his first NBA contract on Sunday, looked good in Summer League play later in the day, putting up 12 points and 11 rebounds with a pair of blocks against Utah. As Berman writes in a separate article for The Post, the rookie big man still wants to get in better shape, but is optimistic that he’ll be able to make an impact for the Knicks.

“I feel I really can play in the NBA,” Robinson said. “Nowadays you got the 7-footer who can jump out of the gym. I’m one of them. It will work out great for me.”

Here’s more from out of New York on the Knicks and Nets:

  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post checks in on Jeremy Lin‘s recovery from a torn patellar tendon. While the Nets point guard hasn’t played five-on-five ball yet, he anticipates being ready to go for training camp.
  • In another story for The Post, Lewis explores what’s next for the Nets now that Dwight Howard‘s buyout has been finalized. That agreement opened up more cap room, but GM Sean Marks doesn’t sound like he’s in a hurry to spend it. “I wouldn’t rule anything out. I’d just say we’re constantly weighing our options,” Marks said. “We’re going to be strategic and see how [free agency] comes. The longer the process is drawn out and going into July, there will probably be better deals out there.”
  • Joakim Noah‘s future with the Knicks remains a question mark, but the big man sounds enthusiastic about the idea of staying in New York and playing for new head coach David Fizdale, as he told TMZ this weekend.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a closer look at Juwan Howard Jr., who is playing for the Knicks in Summer League and hopes to get an invite to join the Westchester Knicks, New York’s G League affiliate. Fizdale, of course, has a good relationship with Howard’s father from their days in Miami.

Knicks Notes: Kanter, O’Quinn, Defense, Noah

Enes Kanter‘s future with the Knicks is up in the air as the center wields an $18.6MM player option for the 2018/19 season. Kanter has said throughout the year that he loves playing in the Big Apple and hopes to remain with the Knicks beyond the current season. Knicks general manager Steve Mills shares the same sentiment, as he said to MSG Network (via ESPN’s Ian Begley).

“Enes wants to be here in New York,” Mills said.

Kanter enjoyed a productive first season in New York, averaging a double-double of 14.1 PPG and 11.0 RPG in 71 games. New York acquired Kanter in the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder. In an otherwise forgettable season, Kanter’s performance was a bright spot and Mills indicates that it’s ultimately his option on whether or not he will call New York home in 2018/19.

“Really, it’s his [decision],” Mills said. “He has to choose to opt in.”

Check out more Knicks news and notes below:

  • Kyle O’Quinn may have played his last game with the Knicks, as he has his own player option decision to make. As Marc Berman of the New York Post reports, O’Quinn recently switched agents, going from ASM Sports to Mark Bartelstein — who also represents Kanter. O’Quinn praised the hiring of David Fizdale, stating he’s made a solid impression as a coach around the league.
  • The Knicks have been a poor defensive team in recent years, which was on full display this season. Fizdale said in his introductory press conference that defense will be emphasized under his leadership. That mindset will be necessary if the Knicks wants to compete again, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes.
  • As we relayed earlier, despite his congratulatory remarks to Fizdale, embattled Knicks center Joakim Noah remains unlikely to regain a role with the club.

Stretch Provision Remains Most Likely Option For Noah

Joakim Noah sent a congratulatory message to David Fizdale this week, but it’s doubtful he will ever play for the new Knicks coach, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

The most likely resolution to Noah’s time in New York is a stretch-provision waiver after September 1, Berman adds. Waiting until then would lock in his $18.53MM salary for next season and would allow the team to stretch the $19.295MM he is owed in 2019/20 over three years. That would open up about $12MM in cap room for next summer when the Knicks hope to be aggressive on the free agent market.

Before that happens, the organization will spend the offseason trying to find a team willing to trade for Noah, who played just seven games this season and ended the year on an extended leave of absence after clashing in practice with former coach Jeff Hornacek.

It’s possible that the team brings Noah into training camp before making a final determination, Berman states. Enes Kanter [$18.6MM] and Kyle O’Quinn [$4.3MM] both have opt-out clauses and could be lost in free agency, leaving Noah and rookie Luke Kornet as the only centers on the roster. The Knicks can wait until the cut-down date in mid-October without losing any of the benefits of stretching Noah’s contract.

“I’m not putting a ceiling on anybody,” Fizdale said during his press conference on Tuesday. “Whoever is on our team in front of me is going to get my full attention to investment. He’s obviously given me fits from back in the days. I’ve got some Noah nightmares from when he was in Chicago, some of those wars.”

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.