Julius Randle

New York Notes: T. Johnson, M. Jackson, Thibodeau, Randle

It took four years, but Tyler Johnson is finally a member of the Nets and he’s thrilled about the opportunity, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks presented Johnson with a four-year, $50MM offer sheet in 2016, hoping to snare the young guard as part of a rebuilding project.

Johnson’s stock has fallen considerably since Miami chose to match that offer. He has been out of the league since the Suns waived him in February after a disappointing season following knee surgery. The Nets signed him last month to fill one of their many roster openings.

“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right,” Johnson said, adding that his knee is now fully healed. “But I didn’t have that pop, that bounce I used to have where I’d try to go up over the top of people. Who knows if that played a role in anything. I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself. … Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But fortunately, I’m here. I find myself in a position where I can have a little bit of redemption.”

There’s more on the New York teams:

  • There may be hints that Kevin Durant is throwing his support behind Mark Jackson to be the Nets‘ next head coach, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his latest podcast. Windhorst notes that Rich Kleiman, Durant’s friend and business partner, has started tweeting frequently about Jackson, the former Warriors coach and current ABC/ESPN broadcaster.
  • Former player and current agent B.J. Armstrong believes Tom Thibodeau would be an excellent choice as the Knicks‘ head coach, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Armstrong represents Derrick Rose, who played for Thibodeau in Chicago in Minnesota and maintains a tight relationship with the coach. “I always admired how (Thibodeau) coached,’’ Armstrong said. “He brings the fire and the heat. And most importantly, he’s always prepared for the game. He loves the game. He had an excellent career in this league. He made a life commitment to the game. I’ll be really happy for him (if he gets the job).’’
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic looks at how the Knicks might be able to find a better role for Julius Randle if he remains with the team next season. New York is reportedly willing to trade Randle, but his salary may make that difficult in the current financial climate.

Knicks Open To Trading Julius Randle

With the NBA’s plan to return for the 2019/20 in place, the Knicks are officially in the offseason stage, as the organization was not one of the 22 teams summoned to Orlando.

In addition to searching for a new head coach, newly-minted team president Leon Rose will also have to focus on building the roster for next season. Last summer’s big free-agent signing, Julius Randle, is someone the team would be open to trading, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

The Knicks have already explored moving Randle, as the team had talks with the Hornets ahead of this year’s trade deadline. Randle signed a three-year, $63MM deal last summer after New York failed to land Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving in free agency.

Randle had flashes of brilliance this season, but his defensive shortcomings and ball-dominant style of play failed to mesh with the Knicks’ core of youngsters. Although Randle averaged 19.7 PPG and 9.7 RPG in 64 games, his strong three-point shooting from a year prior fell to 27.7%.

As Berman notes, there are some financial implications that could hinder dealing Randle, but his $18.9MM salary for next season is manageable. Also, still just 25 years old, Randle can be a helpful piece to an NBA team.

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Durant, Prince, Walker

New Knicks president Leon Rose is open to dealing Julius Randle despite Randle being a former client when Rose was a player agent, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Rose would also be willing to shed Randle’s contract after next season, even though Randle has a partial guarantee of $4MM on his $19.8MM salary for the 2021/22 season. Prior to Rose taking over, the Knicks had discussions with Charlotte before February’s trade deadline involving Randle, who reportedly upset some teammates this season with his ball-dominant style.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Members of the Knicks organization last summer expressed confidence that Kevin Durant would have signed with them if he hadn’t suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals, Ian Begley of SNY.TV reports. If that were true, Durant would have convinced Kyrie Irving to sign with New York instead of the Nets or recruited a different star to join him, Begley continues. The Knicks were not prepared last summer to offer Durant a max deal due to concerns from owner James Dolan regarding the injury. However, Durant has said publicly that he didn’t give the Knicks much consideration anyway, Begley notes.
  • Forward Taurean Prince took a step back this season and that could lead to a dilemma for the Nets, Zach Lowe of ESPN opines. Brooklyn gave Prince a two-year, $25.25MM rookie scale extension prior to the season that kicks in next season. He could have been a trade chip this summer in a package to bring in another star but it’s unclear what kind of value he has now, Lowe adds.
  • Kemba Walker would have remained with Charlotte for less than a super-max deal last summer but he knew that wouldn’t happen after meeting with Hornets owner Michael Jordan, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Walker may have stayed put if the Hornets had offered him five years and approximately $180MM. The Celtics emerged as the most likely destination because they were already a playoff team and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge had been enamored with Walker ever since the point guard’s days at the University of Connecticut, Himmelsbach adds.

Some Knicks Were Frustrated By Randle’s Playing Style

Some Knicks players, including prized rookie RJ Barrett, were frustrated during the 2019/20 season by Julius Randle‘s approach on offense, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

As Berman explains, Barrett – who is accustomed to having the ball in his hands – was among the players put off by Randle’s tendency to hang onto the ball too long and overdribble. While Berman suggests that the chemistry between Barrett and Randle will be worth keeping an eye on going forward, he notes that 2019’s No. 3 overall pick wasn’t the only player who was irked by Randle’s playing style.

“A lot of players felt like that with the exception of Elfrid Payton,” one source told The Post.

Unlike every other free agent signed by the Knicks during the 2019 offseason, Randle received a guaranteed multiyear commitment. He’ll earn $18.9MM in 2020/21, so it’s safe to say he’ll be back with the team unless there’s an offseason trade.

Reports before February’s trade deadline indicated that the Knicks were willing to discuss Randle, with Ian Begley of SNY.tv writing this week that the club engaged with the Hornets on a potential swap that would have included Randle, Dennis Smith, Terry Rozier, and Malik Monk, among other assets.

Assuming Randle returns, one Eastern Conference personnel person who spoke to Berman thinks the Knicks would be wise to avoid tasking him with the lead scoring role, despite the fact that the big man put up a team-high 19.5 PPG in 2019/20 (Marcus Morris scored 19.6 PPG as a Knick, but was traded in February). Randle struggled when he found himself receiving the brunt of opposing defenses’ attention, turning the ball over frequently.

“He absolutely should not be your No. 1 or even No. 2 option, maybe not even No. 3 on a serious contender,” that personnel man told Berman. “He doesn’t have a good enough feel (and is) much too ball-dominant. I don’t trust his decisions with the ball. As sixth man, he would fit perfectly because I don’t think he gives you much defensively either. That’s more in line with a sixth-man role.”

First World Problems: Knicks’ Point Guard Situation

The Knicks‘ point guard situation appears to be an evergreen problem. New team president Leon Rose inherits a stable of underwhelming options just as Steve Mills and Phil Jackson did entering their respective regimes. Like his predecessors, Rose is expected to look for upgrades at the position this offseason.

What are some potential options? Prior to the Rose hire, the team had interest in trading for Terry Rozier, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv details. According to Begley, there was some support internally to send a package of Julius Randle, Dennis Smith Jr., and a future first-rounder to the Hornets in exchange for a return that included Rozier and Malik Monk.

While Rozier isn’t the All-Star point guard that New York’s fan base hopes for, he’s an upgrade on the current options. Elfrid Payton and Smith have had up-and-down results in the Big Apple. Frank Ntilikina, who has one more year left on his rookie deal, finally showed some progress but his long-term future with the club is uncertain.

Fred VanVleet will likely be the top point guard available on the free-agent market, though it’s hard to envision Toronto not doing all it can to retain the 2019 Finals hero. Chris Paul could be an option, but his contract gave teams pause last summer and that was before factoring in any sort of coronavirus-related basketball income woes that could suppress the league’s salary cap.

The franchise selecting a point guard atop the 2020 NBA draft might the best option for a brighter future at the position. The Knicks entered the NBA’s hiatus with the sixth-worst record in the league, which would give the team a 9% chance at the No. 1 overall selection, as we detailed earlier this month.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Carmelo, Knox, Harkless

Carmelo Anthony, a longtime client of Leon Rose, thinks the Knicks are in good hands with the veteran CAA agent set to take over their basketball operations department, telling Al Iannazzone of Newsday that it’s “an exciting time” for the team.

“I love it,” Anthony said of Rose’s transition from player agent to team executive. “I didn’t understand it at first because it happened so fast. When you’re somebody in that position, that’s the top of the mountain for you. That’s becoming the trend now in the NBA. I think it’s a great situation for him.”

Julius Randle, meanwhile, isn’t specifically a Rose client, but is also represented by CAA and is familiar with the Knicks’ incoming president of basketball operations. Like Anthony, he’s optimistic about what Rose can bring to the franchise, as he tells Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“Leon’s is a well-respected agent who’s done a lot of great things representing players in his career,” Randle said. “I haven’t heard one bad thing about him. My personal relationship with him has always been very respectful. … Great guy, great family guy and well-respected agent. Straight-up guy. He’s a good dude.”

Here’s more on the Knicks and Rose, who is reportedly on track to officially start his new job on Sunday:

  • Despite speculation that Rose’s presence in New York’s front office creates a path for Anthony to eventually finish his career with the Knicks, Carmelo tells Iannazzone that he hasn’t discussed that possibility at all with Rose and isn’t sure a reunion is in the cards. “It’s hard to say because I don’t know what that situation is going to be,” Anthony said. “The easiest thing to say is, ‘His agent is there, he’s coming back.’ Until I sit down and see the whole plan, I don’t know.”
  • Establishing an effective player development program in New York will be one of Rose’s primary goals in his new role, says George Willis of The New York Post.
  • Kevin Knox had one of his worst games of the season on Thursday, scoring a single point in eight minutes of action, going 0-of-3 from the floor and 1-of-4 from the line. Still, the second-year forward is trying to remain positive, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears that teams in touch with the Knicks before the trade deadline came away with the impression that New York would be “very hesitant” to trade Knox unless the return was significant. It’s not clear if Knox will continued to be valued so highly by the new management group.
  • Asked on Thursday whether it has been hard to go from a contender (the Clippers) to one of the NBA’s worst teams, Maurice Harkless simply replied, “Yeah” (video link via SNY.tv). While Harkless appears frustrated by the Knicks’ six-game losing streak, a report last week indicated that the veteran forward and the team have no plans for a buyout.

Knicks Make Marcus Morris Available

In the wake of Steve Millsouster, the Knicks may reconsider potential paths at this week’s trade deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who notes that Mills was just on the phone on Monday exploring deals, including a possible pursuit of D’Angelo Russell.

Most notably, Wojnarowski suggests that ownership pushed the front office to change course on its plans for Marcus Morris. The Knicks, who were said to be “hell-bent” on retaining and trying to re-sign Morris, have now made him available in trade talks, says Woj.

Marc Berman of The New York Post reported earlier this afternoon that the debate over whether to retain or shop Morris was one issue Mills and GM Scott Perry were divided on. Based on Wojnarowski’s report, it sounds as if Perry was in favor of exploring the trade market for the veteran forward.

Morris, who is on an expiring $15MM contract, is enjoying a career year, with 19.6 PPG and 5.4 RPG with a .442/.439/.823 shooting line in 43 games (32.3 MPG). He has reportedly drawn some league-wide interest, including from the Clippers, and could potentially net the Knicks a first-round pick.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Although it appears Perry is making the decisions in the Knicks’ front office for now, the franchise has begun its search for a new president. According to Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne (via Twitter), New York has given some thought to hiring a player agent for that role, like the Warriors (Bob Myers) and Lakers (Rob Pelinka) have done.
  • Sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link) that CAA’s Austin Brown is among the candidates being internally considered by the Knicks. One of CAA’s top agents, Brown represents players like Zion Williamson, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Russell, per Begley (Twitter link).
  • Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports classifies the Knicks’ trade discussions with the Hornets involving Julius Randle and Terry Rozier on Monday as serious. However, he hears that Charlotte balked at taking Dennis Smith Jr. in a deal.
  • League sources tell Goodwill that Knicks owner James Dolan has had intermediaries get in touch with top executives around the NBA to ask, “What would it take to get you to take over this franchise?”

Knicks Rumors: Ujiri, Rozier, Monk, DSJ, Morris

After becoming the first team to fire a head coach during the 2019/20 season, the Knicks are now the first team to part ways with a head of basketball operations this year as well, having announced this afternoon that Steve Mills has been removed from his position as club president.

As general manager Scott Perry takes over the front office on an interim basis, the Knicks will have just over 48 hours to consider how significantly they want to shake up their roster at this winter’s trade deadline.

Here’s the latest on the franchise, including an update on the front office situation:

  • While Masai Ujiri has long been considered New York’s “dream candidate,” the Knicks’ reluctance to give up draft compensation for the Raptors‘ president of basketball operations may complicate the their pursuit of him, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Ujiri’s contract in Toronto runs through 2020/21, so if he wants to leave before it expires, the Raptors would have leverage to request a sizable return.
  • Knicks owner James Dolan has already had conversations with one possible candidate to replace Mills, according to Wojnarowski, who suggests (via Twitter) that New York’s search for a new president may move too quickly to wait on a drawn-out courtship of Ujiri.
  • Following up on a report that the Hornets and Knicks have discussed Julius Randle, Ian Begley of SNY.tv suggests that Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, and Dennis Smith Jr. are among the names that have come up in talks between the two teams. New York pursued Rozier during 2019’s free agent period, but doesn’t have strong interest in him now, according to Begley (via Twitter). It’s worth noting that Begley’s report surfaced before the team parted ways with Mills.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post, who previously noted that Mills and Perry disagreed on some deadline-related issues, suggests that one debate in the front office was over whether to trade Marcus Morris or keep him and try to re-sign him in the summer. It’s not clear which side of the debate the two executives were on.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic makes a case for why the Knicks should seriously consider pushing for a D’Angelo Russell trade, assuming the price isn’t exorbitant.

Trade Rumors: Covington, Randle, Henson, Celtics

The Clippers are among the teams pursuing Timberwolves forward Robert Covington, Sean Deveney of Heavy.com reports. A package of their first-round pick this year, forward Maurice Harkless, and a young player such as Jerome Robinson or Terance Mann could be enough to secure Covington, Deveney continues. Grizzlies forward Andre Iguodala, Suns center Aron Baynes and Magic guard D.J. Augustin are among the other potential targets for the Clippers, Deveney adds.

We have more trade chatter:

  • The Knicks have engaged in trade talks with the Hornets involving forward Julius Randle, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets. Charlotte would be a surprising landing spot for Randle, who has a guaranteed $18.9MM salary for next season. However, the Hornets have three frontcourt players with large expiring contracts and will need reinforcements.
  • The Knicks had talks with the Cavaliers which included center John Henson but those discussions have died down, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Henson has an expiring $9.7MM contract.
  • Celtics GM Danny Ainge would like to strengthen the team’s bench but doesn’t see the center position as a major weakness, Jacob Camenker of NBC Sports Boston relays. The Celtics are reportedly one of the teams interested in acquiring Rockets center Clint Capela. Ainge indicated the roster “probably too many really young guys” but claimed he’s content with Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, and Robert Williams manning the middle. “We’re not getting beat at the center position,” Ainge said. “We’re getting 17, 18 points per night. We’re getting double-figure rebounds. We’re just doing it as a team.”

Trade Rumors: Clippers, Pelicans, Randle, Rose

Appearing today on The Lowe Post with Zach Lowe, Brian Windhorst of ESPN said the Clippers are in the market for a center, which is something Marc Stein of The New York Times and others have reported as well.

While Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell have been very effective so far this season in Los Angeles, Windhorst suggested the Clippers may be a little nervous about entering a playoff series against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz or Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets with that frontcourt duo.

Windhorst mentioned Pistons big man Andre Drummond as a possible Clippers target, though he cautions that such a deal would be difficult, noting that Drummond is simply a best-case example of the type of player L.A. may be targeting. A lower-cost option like Suns center Aron Baynes would also be a good fit for the Clips, in Windhorst’s view.

The Clippers have been linked to a wide variety of potential trade targets at a few positions this winter, and appear willing to move their 2020 first-round pick to upgrade their roster. During his discussion with Windhorst, Lowe said the Clips look like “the biggest lock in the league to do something,” adding later in the podcast that he’d be shocked if they weren’t willing to give up that first-rounder for Marcus Morris.

Here are a few more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Rather than selling, the Pelicans may actually be interested in acquiring another veteran player at the deadline, according to Windhorst, who said on The Lowe Post that New Orleans believes its early-season struggles could be attributed in part to how young the team’s roster was.
  • The Knicks have had some internal discussions about gauging Julius Randle‘s trade value, sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post. Randle is the only one of New York’s 2019 free agent signees who has a fully guaranteed salary for 2020/21, and Berman suggests that moving him would create more flexibility to re-sign Marcus Morris. The Knicks will have the ability to open up plenty of room even with Randle still on their books.
  • Derrick Rose, who left Sunday’s game with an injury initially believed to be a groin issue, has been ruled out for Monday’s contest with an adductor strain. Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a look at whether Rose’s injury could throw a wrench into the Pistons‘ trade deadline plans.