Julius Randle

New York Notes: Randle, Quickley, Simmons, Curry

After a 2021/22 regression from his lone All-NBA Second Team appearance the year before, Knicks power forward Julius Randle is amenable to an increased offensive pace and fewer touches, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Bondy notes that the club’s pace ranked 30th during head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s first season in New York and 29th in 2021/22.

“It’s just the way the game is going,” Randle said of the speed adjustment. “There are so many more possessions, high-scoring games. So, it’s just the way the league is going and an adjustment that everybody has to make.”

Bondy adds that the 27-year-old shed some pounds during the offseason in service of an anticipated uptick in pace this year.

“Because of the strength of the club, we can use him in different ways,” Thibodeau said. “He doesn’t always have to have the ball. He can play off the ball [as a secondary playmaker in transition].”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Third-year Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley is hoping to raise his field goal shooting percentage in 2022/23, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. To do that, Quickley has been fleshing his mid-range game over the summer. “I think it will help my field-goal percentage a lot,” the 6’3″ guard out of Kentucky said. “Just being able to do everything when I’m on the floor is a versatility thing I like for myself.” For his career, the 23-year-old is a 39.3% shooter.
  • Nets forward Ben Simmons underwent cryotherapy sessions as he rehabilitated his surgically-repaired back during the 2022 offseason, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscriber-only link). “I’ve put myself in position,” Simmons said of his development this summer. “I’ve been working on myself this past year to get back on the floor and play at a high level… I deserve to take this opportunity to get back on the court, so I’m excited to team up with these guys, these coaches.”
  • Nets shooting guard Seth Curry has yet to engage in 5-on-5 play with Brooklyn as he continues to work his way back from a May left ankle surgery, reports Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter link). Curry indicates that he is continuing to feel comfortable during individual workouts. Friedell adds that head coach Steve Nash remains hopeful that Curry can round into form in time to play in the team’s final preseason game next week.

Knicks Notes: Reddish, Toppin, Barrett, SG, Barrett

Knicks wing Cam Reddish says he didn’t request a trade this offseason, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter links), who points out that Marc Berman of The New York Post didn’t actually report that Reddish requested a trade, only that the 23-year-old preferred a change of scenery and a chance for a “bigger opportunity.”

That might seem like semantics, but there’s definitely a distinction between formally requesting a trade and what a player’s preference might be. Reddish only appeared in 15 games for the Knicks after they traded for him last season, averaging just 14.3 minutes per contest. When asked if the Knicks have made it clear what he needs to do to receive regular playing time, Reddish admits he isn’t sure.

I’m still figuring that out. That’s actually a really good question,” Reddish said, per Ethan Sears of The New York Post. “I’m still figuring that out, trying to find my role where I fit in. I’m really willing to do whatever it takes to win. Whatever that role is, whatever it may be, that’s fine with me. We’re winning, we all look good.”

Considering his lack of a clear rotation role, Reddish was then asked if he wanted to stay with the Knicks, but gave a non-answer.

I control what I can control,” he said. “So minutes and all that stuff have nothing to do with me. I just come in and do my job. Work as hard as I can every single day. I’m available, I’m healthy. So whatever happens, happens.”

For his part, head coach Tom Thibodeau was noncommittal about Reddish’s role, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv relays.

The players are going to earn what they get. We have good depth (at wing). I can’t tell you right now who’s in the rotation, who’s not in the rotation,” Thibodeau said on Wednesday when asked if he thinks Reddish will be in the rotation this season. “That’ll be earned. And then if someone’s not in the rotation initially, doesn’t mean that they stay there.”

If he doesn’t receive a rookie scale extension before next month’s deadline, Reddish will be a restricted free agent in 2023 if the Knicks issue a qualifying offer.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Third-year forward Obi Toppin spent the offseason working on his jump shot and defense, Sears writes in another article for The New York Post. Toppin says he feels better about his perimeter defense heading into 2022/23. “Guarding guards like Jalen [Brunson], for instance, in pickup games here or guarding guards like Coby White in L.A. … helped me a lot,” Toppin said. “I feel like even if I can’t get down low, I have to find a way to stay in front of them, still contest their shots and make it hard for them to do things. I feel like I worked on that this summer and I’m a lot better now.”
  • Thibodeau didn’t sound enthusiastic about having Toppin and Julius Randle share the frontcourt at times, Begley notes. The Knicks will “take a look” at the pairing during preseason, according to Thibodeau, who says the duo hasn’t been effective in practices over the past two years. As Begley observes, if Toppin and Randle don’t play much together, an increase in Toppin’s minutes will likely have to come at Randle’s expense — Randle has averaged 36.4 minutes per night over the past two seasons.
  • Zach Braziller of The New York Post (members-only link) explores the pros and cons of who should start at shooting guard between Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes. Braziller ultimately concludes that Grimes is the better fit due to his defense and upside, though he understands why Thibodeau values Fournier’s outside shooting and experience. Thibodeau considers Fournier the frontrunner for the job. Both players sat out today’s practice, per Begley (Twitter links). Grimes is considered day-to-day with left foot soreness, while Fournier has soreness after competing at EuroBasket. Neither issue is considered major.
  • RJ Barrett showcased his ability get into the paint last season, but he needs to improve his finishing to take his game to the next level, Katz writes for The Athletic. Out of 44 qualifying players who took five-plus shots at the rim in ’21/22, Barrett ranked last in field goal percentage, Katz notes. According to DunksAndThrees.com, Barrett shot just 52% at the rim last season, which ranked in the ninth percentile of all players.

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Randle, D. Rose, Fournier

Jalen Brunson landed a four-year, $104MM contract with the Knicks this summer, but he didn’t enjoy the free agency experience, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Brunson was among the top free agents in this year’s market and the rumors that he was headed to New York started before last season was over, but all the attention made him uncomfortable.

“Free agency was kind of awful, how public it got,” Brunson said at Media Day. “Not going to lie to you. For me, I’m a very simple person. I loved the opportunity to come back east, in a familiar area where I grew up, somewhat close. I’m just really excited for this opportunity with these guys. I think we can do something special.”

Reports that Brunson was joining the Knicks emerged before free agency officially opened on June 30, resulting in an NBA investigation of the team for possible tampering. Brunson said he hasn’t been contacted by the league, but he contends that “a lot of things” about his situation were misreported.

“My reaction to the league investigating? I didn’t really have one,” he said. “Nothing really to investigate.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Coming off a difficult season, Julius Randle spent some time away from the game this summer to recalibrate, Bondy adds in the same piece. He lost weight during the offseason and reported to camp with a fresh outlook. “When it’s good, it’s easy to be a leader,” Randle said. “When things aren’t as good and you’re going through adversity, I think it’s even more important. So, I learned a lot.”
  • Also noticeably lighter was Derrick Rose, who dropped about 20 pounds in response to a challenge from head coach Tom Thibodeau, Bondy states in a separate story. Rose also explained the complications that prevented him from returning after undergoing ankle surgery in mid-December and responded to a statement from team president Leon Rose, who called him the “heart and soul” of the group that reached the playoffs in 2020/21. “I wouldn’t say I was the heart and soul, but I wanted to win. I can say that,” Derrick Rose said. “I think what this year’s all about is accountability. Like being able to not get in your feelings or taking it personal when somebody comes over and gives you constructive criticism. As a man and as a professional, you’re supposed to understand that.”
  • Thibodeau named Evan Fournier as the frontrunner to start at shooting guard heading into camp, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “With Jalen, with RJ (Barrett), with Julius we need shooting (at the two),” Thibodeau explained.

Atlantic Notes: Thybulle, Sixers, Randle, J. Hernangomez

Matisse Thybulle‘s rookie season ended amid the COVID-19 pandemic and last offseason was dedicated to the Olympics, so this is the first summer he’s been able to fully focus on improving his skills, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers guard took advantage of the opportunity, spending time training with Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan, and he’s eager to show off the improvements he has made.

“It’s just a different feeling you feel when you can see how much more of yourself when you are giving to your craft,” he said, “and to the team and surrendering to the work and living to whatever the outcome can be.”

Thybulle was a lightning rod for criticism last year because of his limitations on offense and his refusal to get vaccinated, which left him unable to participate in playoff games in Toronto during the team’s first-round series. He was reportedly included in trade offers this summer as the Sixers tried to acquire Eric Gordon from the Rockets, but he’s come to accept that as part of life in the NBA.

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice. But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Knicks Notes: Randle, Payne, Mitchell, Anthony

The Knicks may want to find a taker for Julius Randle, but they haven’t been willing to part with any first-round picks in a potential trade, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes in his latest mailbag column.

Randle is about to enter the first season of the four-year, $117MM extension that he signed after receiving second-team All-NBA honors in 2020/21. That price tag makes it difficult to move him without some other assets attached. Randle is also coming off a disappointing season that featured not only a decline in production, but frequent battles with fans and the media. Katz notes that Randle finished last in effective field goal percentage last season among 112 players rated by Basketball-Reference, and the Knicks were worse by nearly 10 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court.

However, Katz believes Randle’s production was affected by the rest of the roster. Katz says New York had the worst point guard play late in the season of any team that wasn’t trying to tank, and the addition of Jalen Brunson, and possibly Donovan Mitchell, should have a positive effect on Randle.

There’s more from New York:

  • Former Knicks assistant Kenny Payne, now the head coach at Louisville, is credited with helping Randle become a star, but he may have been sending counterproductive messages last season, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. While head coach Tom Thibodeau wanted Randle to share the ball more often, Payne was allegedly pumping up Randle’s ego and telling him he was still “the man.” Berman speculates that Randle would benefit from a deal for Mitchell, especially if the price includes Obi Toppin, whom Knicks fans often chanted for when Randle was on the court, and Evan Fournier, whom Randle clashed with in their first season as teammates.
  • The Knicks need to be careful that they don’t overpay Utah for Mitchell, argues Steve Popper of Newsday. He notes that although several other teams have expressed interest in Mitchell, nobody has been willing to meet Danny Ainge‘s asking price. Popper points out that the Knicks’ backcourt is already better than it was last season through the addition of Brunson and the return of Derrick Rose.
  • Carmelo Anthony has interest in returning to New York, where he played from 2011 to 2017, Jake Fischer said on his “Please Don’t Aggregate This” podcast. However, Fischer adds that the Knicks may not share Anthony’s desire for a reunion.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Westbrook, Randle, Suns, Curry

Now that Kyrie Irving is reportedly off the table for the Lakers, Jovan Buha of The Athletic breaks down the team’s other potential options for dealing Russell Westbrook.

As Buha writes, a trade with the Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield makes sense for the Lakers, but they’d likely have to include both their 2027 and 2029 first-rounders to make that happen, which hasn’t transpired to this point. Buha wonders if Indiana would be interested in the move if the Lakers put protections on the ’29 pick or perhaps include a pick swap instead.

Turner and Hield would instantly become the Lakers’ “third- and fourth-best players on the roster, upgrading the starting lineup, depth and collective shooting,” Buha states, adding that Turner would complement Anthony Davis in the frontcourt due to his defensive versatility and ability to space the floor (.349 career 3PT%).

The Lakers could also get involved as a third team in a potential Donovan Mitchell trade, or target Jazz veterans like Bojan Bogdanovic, Patrick Beverley, Jordan Clarkson and Jarred Vanderbilt, Buha notes.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Within the same piece, Buha says the Lakers aren’t interested in a potential reunion with Knicks forward Julius Randle, whom L.A. drafted No. 7 overall in 2014, due to his long-term contract and “less-than-ideal fit” with Davis and LeBron James. According to Buha, New York, Charlotte and San Antonio are all unlikely trade partners for Westbrook for various reasons, even though the three teams theoretically make some sense.
  • With Kevin Durant said to be sticking with the Nets, at least for now, a trio of Suns players whose names were floated in trade talks for the star have a big opportunity entering 2022/23, per Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic. Moore thinks Mikal Bridges likely won’t be affected by the rumors, but wonders if Cameron Johnson and Deandre Ayton should have bigger offensive roles next season to improve the team’s versatility as Phoenix looks to win its first championship.
  • Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area details why Warriors star Stephen Curry, the reigning Finals MVP, is underpaid despite having the largest salary in the league in ’22/23 ($48.1MM). Golden State’s franchise valuation has increased a little more than 12-fold over the past 12 years ($450MM to $5.6 billion), the team is immensely popular both locally and nationally, and the Warriors have won the championship four times in the past eight years largely due to Curry’s impact, making him worth more than double his current contract, according to Poole.

Jazz, Knicks Still Far Apart On Donovan Mitchell Trade

Rumors continue to emerge regarding Donovan Mitchell trade talks involving the Jazz and Knicks, but little progress has been made, according to Tony Jones of the Athletic. Appearing Friday on the HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto, Jones was pessimistic that a deal will get done soon.

“I don’t think the two sides are close. I don’t think they have been close,” Jones said. “We’ll see what happens as the urgency of training camp looms. The Jazz want what they want, which is picks out of this deal, and they want young guys on short or rookie contracts.”

Knicks players who fit that definition include Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley, but New York has been unwilling to part with significant young talent in addition to substantial draft assets. Jones said keeping Grimes is a priority for the Knicks, along with veteran guard Derrick Rose, who is a longtime favorite of coach Tom Thibodeau.

“The sense I get right now is it’s probably not going to happen on an imminent level,” Jones added. “The two sides aren’t close. To me, I think if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen closer to training camp or the start of the season. If it doesn’t happen then, we’ll see what happens closer to the February trade deadline.”

There are more Jazz-related notes from the podcast:

  • Matching Mitchell’s salary of $30.35MM for next season becomes trickier if Rose’s $14.52MM contract isn’t involved. Scotto notes that Utah doesn’t want to take on long-term money, which eliminates Julius Randle ($23.76MM) and Evan Fournier ($18MM). Jones said the Jazz don’t have any interest in adding Randle and “I’m not sure there’s much of an appetite for (Cam) Reddish ($5.95MM).” He adds that the Jazz would rather keep Mitchell and hold onto a possible $36-$40MM in cap room for next summer than accept unwanted salary.
  • Looking at the rest of the roster, Jones believes Utah can easily find deals for Bojan Bogdanovic, Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley if the team decides to move them before the start of the season. He thinks there’s less of a market for Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley.
  • Udoka Azubuike may have the inside track to be the starting center if Utah trades Mitchell and commits to a youth movement, Jones adds. Sources tell Jones that Azubuike has been working with coaches in Salt Lake City all summer and has been showing improvement. First-round pick Walker Kessler would also be in the mix for the starting job. If the Jazz keep Mitchell and try to make the playoffs, Jones expects them to find a more experienced center in free agency.

Lakers Notes: James, Westbrook, Trade Options, Randle, Horton-Tucker, Walker

LeBron James became eligible on Thursday to sign a one- or two-year contract extension. While the Lakers and James have next June 30 — the day before James would become an unrestricted free agent — to reach an agreement, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin indicated on NBA Today that there’s mutual interest in getting an extension done (video link).

“All signs point toward both sides looking to extend their partnership together,” McMenamin said, adding “Overall, both sides recognize they can help one another get to their mutual goal, which is to compete at a high level and stay relevant.”

James and his representative, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, met with Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham at the team’s practice facility on Thursday. Paul told McMenamin that they were “productive talks” and he “expects them to continue.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The start of training camp could be a soft deadline to trade Russell Westbrook, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha says both sides would like to avoid the massive off-court distraction of a media circus constantly speculating about Westbrook’s future.
  • In the same mailbag piece, Buha indicates that, for now at least, the Pacers seem more willing to get a Westbrook deal done than the Nets or another other possible suitor.
  • Despite issues of spacing and long-term contract concerns, Julius Randle would still be a better fit with James and Anthony Davis than Westbrook as a third star, Buha argues. However, Westbrook is mainly a fallback option for the Knicks if they’re unable to acquire Donovan Mitchell.
  • Talen Horton-Tucker isn’t likely to be a regular member of the team’s rotation due to his skill set, in Buha’s view. His primary strengths are ballhandling and shot creation and the team already has plenty of players who can provide that.
  • Free agent acquisition Lonnie Walker will fill Malik Monk‘s former role of instant offense off the bench, Buha adds. Walker is a streaky shooter but shot selection and defense are concerns.

Lakers Rumors: Irving, Trade Targets, Westbrook

It remains to be seen whether or not the Lakers will be able to work out a trade with the Nets for Kyrie Irving, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN believes L.A. has at least one more major roster move up its sleeve this offseason, as he stated on Monday during the network’s latest episode of Get Up (video link).

“I think the Lakers will make a deal. Maybe more than one deal,” Wojnarowski said. “It may not be for Kyrie Irving, it may not be for an All-NBA player, an All-Star. But players like Eric Gordon in Houston, Buddy Hield in Indiana, players like Patrick Beverley, who came to the Jazz in a trade from Minnesota, who are role players are winning teams. What is the price for those kind of moves? I think they’re going to continue to be active on all those things.”

As Wojnarowski explains, the Lakers aren’t eager to part with all of their most valuable trade assets for modest short-term upgrades, but they still feel the need to add more talent to the roster to take advantage of LeBron James‘ remaining prime years.

“When LeBron’s putting pressure on the front office, on the organization, teams are asking for a lot to do a deal with the Lakers,” Wojnarowski said. Rob Pelinka‘s trying to keep from trading the 2027, 2029 unprotected first-round picks that obviously LeBron James doesn’t value greatly because he may not be around. He wants to win now. That’s the balance of being in the front office vs. having to serve the fact that you’ve got LeBron James still playing at an incredibly high level at an age we’ve never seen a player play at that level.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • A potential trade sending Irving to the Lakers is “not completely dead,” per Wojnarowski, but such a deal still hinges in large part on what the Nets do with Kevin Durant. “The Nets are more focused on trying to find a deal for KD before they would even move Kyrie Irving,” Woj said. “I think there’s a good chance that Kyrie Irving is back in Brooklyn to start the season if Kevin Durant is back in Brooklyn.”
  • Russell Westbrook‘s public split with his longtime agent doesn’t bode well for the former MVP’s relationship with the Lakers, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who says that dynamic between Westbrook and the team is becoming “more untenable with each passing week.” League sources tell Buha that the divorce between Westbrook and agent Thad Foucher caught several people around the Lakers by surprise.
  • Foucher’s statement, which hinted that Westbrook is seeking another change of scenery, may further hurt the Lakers’ leverage in trade talks, Buha writes. Multiple league sources tell The Athletic that potential trade partners are already asking for at least L.A.’s 2027 or 2029 first-round pick in order to take on Westbrook’s pricey expiring contract.
  • Marc Stein says in his latest Substack article that the Knicks and Jazz are viewed by some people around the league as possible landing spots for Westbrook if the two teams complete a Donovan Mitchell trade. Stein explains that the Knicks may be more inclined to trade away Julius Randle and his long-term contract for a big expiring deal like Westbrook’s in that scenario, though it strikes me as a long shot that New York and L.A. would be able to find a mutually beneficial swap involving those two players.

Jazz Reportedly Asking Knicks For Three Players, Six First-Rounders In Mitchell Talks

The Knicks are pursuing a trade for Donovan Mitchell, but they’re balking at Utah’s current asking price, Tony Jones of The Athletic said in an interview with ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City (hat tip to Real GM).

According to Jones, the Jazz want Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin in the deal, along with six future first-round picks. Jones said New York “backed away” from that proposal.

The Knicks have been stockpiling assets in hopes of landing a major star and currently own 11 first-round selections over the next seven years. They can part with up to eight of those first-rounders in a trade, notes Steve Popper of Newsday, but he wonders how many the organization would be willing to surrender, especially if it’s also giving up young talent.

Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune confirms that the Jazz are seeking a large return of draft assets from New York, along with players on rookie contracts, and he identifies Grimes as “perhaps the lead target” among players who could be included in the deal. Larsen adds that the Knicks don’t want to give away that much of their future, but they made a “significant” counter to Utah’s offer.

Multiple sources tell Larsen that RJ Barrett, the third pick in the 2019 draft, wasn’t part of the trade talks. Barrett is eligible for an extension to his rookie contract this offseason, and Utah isn’t eager to take on that expense.

The Jazz would have to take back at least one sizeable contract from New York to match Mitchell’s $30.35MM salary for next season. That probably won’t be Julius Randle ($23.76MM in 2022/23), according to one of Larsen’s sources, who says that Evan Fournier ($18MM) or Derrick Rose ($14.52MM) is more likely to be included.