Kyle O'Quinn

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Knox, O’Quinn, Durant

David Fizdale enjoyed working as a television commentator and might have stayed in that role longer if not for the opportunity with the Knicks, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Fizdale called TV work a  “comfortable” job without “the stress of coaching,” but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to build a winner in New York. He had interviews with several teams and turned down a four-year offer from the Suns to take the Knicks’ job.

Fizdale led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in his first year as a head coach, but injuries slowed the team last season and he was fired after 17 games in the midst of a well-publicized clash with Marc Gasol. That led to his job as an ESPN analyst.

“I went in there just force-feeding culture down everyone’s throat,” Fizdale said of his time in Memphis. “I had a small window, I felt, with those guys. So I really tried to fast-track everything. And there’s just some things you can’t rush. You can’t rush relationships, you can’t rush trust, you can’t rush the culture.”

There’s more out of New York:

  • The Knicks are hoping to get injured rookie Kevin Knox back in the lineup soon, possibly by Friday, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox suffered a sprained ankle in the third game of the season, and his father says he could be ready to return sometime between Friday and November 10. A tweet from the Knicks yesterday relays that Knox is making “good progress” and has “advanced to participating in shooting drills and non-contact court activity.”
  • Former Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn tells Berman it wasn’t an easy decision to leave New York and sign with the Pacers over the summer (Twitter link). “It’s the biggest decision I’ve ever made as far as making a choice in my career,” O’Quinn said. “I slept on it, prayed on it. I made the decision and I’m sticking with it. It’s no secret I would’ve loved to play for Fizdale or be here. It’s tougher than telling a girl you’re moving on.’’
  • The close relationship between Knicks assistant coach Royal Ivey and Warriors star Kevin Durant may give New York an edge in free agency next summer, Berman suggests in another story. They both went to college at Texas and Durant is the godfather of Ivey’s daughter.

Central Notes: Love, Harrison, Kennard, O’Quinn

The Kevin Love trade watch is already under way in Cleveland, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. The Cavaliers were hoping to continue their streak of playoff appearances after losing LeBron James, but they haven’t looked like contenders in any way during an 0-3 start, especially in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Hawks.

Love has been among the few bright spots, averaging 20.7 PPG and 14.3 RPG, but at age 30 he seems out of place on a team that may have to get serious about rebuilding. The four-year, $120MM extension he signed this summer may make him more attractive on the trade market, Bontemps suggests, just as a similar deal did for Blake Griffin last summer. Love won’t become trade eligible until late January, and the Cavs could be well out of the postseason race by then

There’s more today from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls have an abundance of point guards after signing Shaquille Harrison over the weekend, notes Sam Smith of NBA.com. Kris Dunn is expected to take over the starting role when he returns from paternity leave tonight, with Harrison and former Suns teammate Tyler Ulis in reserve, along with Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono. Harrison hopes to use his defensive prowess to help him emerge from the pack. “It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “When I found out, I was extremely excited and ready to get down here and get to work. It was an unfortunate situation in Phoenix, but I’m going to take full advantage of it here in Chicago.”
  • Coach Dwane Casey’s lineup shuffling led to Luke Kennard not playing at all on Saturday after being in the starting lineup for the season opener, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. The new Pistons coach is working his way through a crowded rotation and has used point guards Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith at the same time, cutting down on the available wing minutes.
  • Free agent addition Kyle O’Quinn paid early dividends for the Pacers in Saturday’s win over the Nets, states Scott Agness of The Athletic. With Domantas Sabonis ruled out shortly before game time, O’Quinn stepped in with 16 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks. “This is what we brought him here for,” coach Nate McMillan said. “… There are going to be nights where we’re going to need him. Domas was out, (Kyle) stepped in and he was ready to go, and played a really, really good game for us.”

Contract Details: Redick, Bertans, Clippers, O’Quinn

J.J. Redick‘s new deal with the Sixers gives him plenty of protection in the unlikely event that Philadelphia wants to trade him. Because he re-signed on a one-year deal and will have Early Bird rights at the end of it, he receives the ability to block any trade involving him during the 2018/19 league year, since he’d lose those Early Bird rights in the event that he’s moved.

On top of that, Redick has a 7.5% trade kicker in his new deal, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), which would give him a bonus if the Sixers do trade him and he approves the deal. That bonus would be worth about $919K, since Redick’s new contract has a value of $12.25MM, per Pincus.

Here are a few more details on newly-signed contracts, courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Spurs‘ new two-year agreement with Davis Bertans has a base value of $7MM annually, but Bertans can also earn $250K in unlikely incentives per year (Twitter link). The deal can be worth up to $14.5MM in total.
  • The Clippers split their full mid-level exception right down the middle, with Luc Mbah a Moute and Mike Scott each receiving $4,320,500 (Twitter link). L.A. will be hard-capped this season as a result of using the full MLE.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt, the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft, got a three-year, minimum-salary contract from the Nuggets with two fully guaranteed seasons (Twitter link). The third year will be non-guaranteed until July 15, 2020.
  • Kyle O’Quinn received the Pacers‘ full room exception ($4.449MM) on his one-year contract (Twitter link).

Central Notes: LaVine, Pacers, Cavaliers, Calderon

Fresh off the Bulls officially matching the Kings’ fully guaranteed, four-year $78MM offer sheet to Zach LaVine, the 23-year-old combo guard says he is ready to prove all of the doubters wrong who wonder whether he is worth the nearly $80MM in guaranteed money that he will earn from the Bulls, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I’m my hardest critic,” LaVine said Sunday during the Bulls’ summer league game against the Lakers in Las Vegas. “There’s nothing that any of you guys can say to me that I [don’t] take harder upon myself. I go back and critique my game every year. I’m used to people sleeping on me, and I’m also used to waking them up as well. I’m happy that I have this contract, and I’m happy that I have a little extra motivation to go out there and prove it to some people that don’t believe in me.”

“At the end of the day, I believe in myself, I believe in my work, and I’m going to show the city of Chicago it’s a good choice and I’m here to stay. I’m going to be their guy, and I’m ready to do whatever to help this team get back to that spot.”

And despite saying publicly that he was disappointed the Bulls hadn’t done more to lock him in as a restricted free agent when the free-agency period opened, LaVine backtracked from those comments after the deal with the Bulls became official, saying that he simply meant he never wanted to sign an offer sheet because he wanted to stay in Chicago so badly.

“I think a lot of that got taken out of context,” LaVine said. “The main thing that I wanted to get my point across was I wanted to just deal with Chicago. I never wanted to get [to] a point of [having to sign] an offer sheet. Regardless of whatever happened, I’m going to put that behind us. I’m happy as hell that I’m going to be able to play for the team that I want to play for.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers found unexpected success this past season and the front office deserves credit for avoiding complacency, Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com opines. Indiana brought in Kyle O’Quinn, Tyreke Evans, and Doug McDermott on mid-sized deals, all moves designed to help them compete in a now-weakened Eastern Conference.
  • The Cavaliers, who are still searching for another assistant coach on head coach Tyronn Lue‘s bench, interviewed Warriors assistant coach Willie Green and Sixers assistant coach John Bryant recently, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Green has since re-upped with Golden State.
  • Because he signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, Jose Calderon likely could have chosen to play wherever he wanted to this upcoming season, opines Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. But he ended up picking the Pistons simply because he believes they can be a good team. And although he’ll likely slot in behind Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith on the depth chart, it’s possible new coach Dwane Casey could play two point guards at the same time, thereby opening up playing time for Calderon.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Pacers Sign Kyle O’Quinn

JULY 9: The Pacers have published a tweet welcoming O’Quinn to the team, signaling that the signing is now official.

JULY 6: The Pacers have reached a contract agreement with free agent center Kyle O’Quinn, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, who reports (via Twitter) that O’Quinn will sign a one-year, $4.5MM deal with Indiana.

O’Quinn, 28, enjoyed the most productive season of his career in 2017/18, establishing new career highs in PPG (7.1), RPG (6.1), FG% (.582), and several other categories in 77 games (18.0 MPG) for the Knicks. Coming off a successful year in New York, O’Quinn was one of the few veterans in the NBA who turned down a player option for 2018/19.

That player option was worth approximately $4.26MM, so O’Quinn appears poised to exceed that salary on his new deal with the Pacers. Based on the reported terms, it appears that Indiana will use its room exception, worth $4.449MM, to finalize its deal with the veteran center after using up the rest of its cap space.

The Pacers have been busy this week, striking a three-year, $22MM deal with sharpshooting forward Doug McDermott early in free agency, then agreeing to terms on a one-year, $12MM pact for Tyreke Evans. Those two deals are expected to eat up just about all of Indiana’s cap space, but even after using their room exception on O’Quinn, the club will able to add minimum-salary players.

Before reaching an agreement with the Pacers, O’Quinn reportedly met with the Clippers and drew interest from the Sixers and Pelicans.

In Indiana, O’Quinn will join a talented and versatile frontcourt that features Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young, and T.J. Leaf. With Al Jefferson and Trevor Booker no longer in the mix, there should be a regular rotation role available for O’Quinn.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Meet With Kyle O’Quinn

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank had dinner on Tuesday night in Los Angeles with free agent center Kyle O’Quinn, a source tells Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). While the two sides haven’t agreed to a deal at this point, they’ll continue to talk, Turner adds.

O’Quinn, 28, is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-best 7.1 PPG and 6.1 RPG in 77 games for the Knicks. The big man turned down a $4.26MM player option for 2018/19, preferring to test the open market rather than locking in another season in New York.

O’Quinn is an interesting target for the Clippers, who already have a pair of veteran centers – Marcin Gortat and Boban Marjanovic – on their roster, with youngster Montrezl Harrell still in the mix as a restricted free agent.

Gortat and Marjanovic are entering the final year of their respective contracts, so the Clips could view O’Quinn and/or Harrell as longer-term options at center, though the club will likely be reluctant to compromise its 2019 cap flexibility much for either player. Currently, L.A. doesn’t project to have more than about $40MM in guaranteed money on its books next summer, making the team a potential player for a max free agent or two.

Philadelphia and New Orleans have been mentioned as potential suitors for O’Quinn as well, though the Pelicans’ interest was reported before they reached a deal with Julius Randle, so it’s not clear if they’re still eyeing the former Knick. The Sixers have no cap room remaining for now, but could make a play for O’Quinn with their $4.45MM room exception.

Free Agent Rumors: Parker, Kings, O’Quinn, Howard

The Kings are no longer believed to be pursuing restricted free agent forward Jabari Parker, a league source tells Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Reports from last week indicated that Parker was one of several free agents on the radar for the Kings, who were also linked to Zach LaVine and others.

Sacramento was one of the few NBA teams with cap room available, so if the Kings are out of the running for Parker, it will be interesting to see if the former No. 2 overall pick can find a lucrative offer elsewhere. The Bucks’ reported agreement with Ersan Ilyasova appears likely to hard-cap them, so a team could put pressure on Milwaukee with an aggressive offer sheet for Parker, but it remains to be seen which club might put such an offer on the table.

Here are a few more rumors from around the league on day two of free agency:

  • The Sixers continue to express interest in free agent center Kyle O’Quinn, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, who reports (via Twitter) that the Clippers and Pelicans are also in the mix for O’Quinn.
  • Dwight Howard still has to be traded and then bought out before he officially becomes a free agent, but he could hit the market in about a week. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets that he keeps hearing the Wizards and Warriors as potential landing spots for Howard. Sam Amick of USA Today reported over the weekend that the former No. 1 pick has interest in the Pelicans, Warriors, and Wizards, though Amick and others have suggested Golden State may not be sold on Howard’s fit.
  • Former All-EuroLeague big man Nicolo Melli had a chance to pursue NBA opportunities this offseason, but has elected to return to Turkish team Fenerbahce, reports international basketball journalist David Pick (via Twitter). According to Pick, the Nets had “serious interest” in Melli, who figures to field NBA offers in 2019.

Free Agent Notes: Stephenson, Tolliver, McGee, O’Quinn

Plenty of teams will have interest in Lance Stephenson once the higher-profile free agents are signed, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. The Pacers remain open to bringing back the 27-year-old swingman after declining their team option on him this week. Wolfson lists the Timberwolves, Knicks, Sixers and Lakers as other interested teams, but says there are more.

Stephenson appeared in all 82 games for Indiana this season, averaging 9.2 points per night. He would have made $4.36MM in 2018/19 if the Pacers had picked up his option.

There’s more free agent news to pass along:

  • Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau has talked to Pistons free agent Anthony Tolliver, according to Wolfson (Twitter link). Tolliver shot 44% from 3-point range this season, and Minnesota sees him as a possible replacement for Jamal Crawford. The Wolves also like his locker room presence, which could be valuable if Cole Aldrich doesn’t come back.
  • JaVale McGee has said he wants to return to the Warriors, but he is also getting interest from the Lakers, Pelicans and Thunder, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge. Because of luxury tax concerns, Golden State is unlikely to offer more than a veteran’s minimum contract, while the other teams have more financial flexibility. McGee averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.6RPG this season, but his numbers rose after he became a starter after the All-Star break. This is the third straight summer of free agency for McGee, who has spent the past two seasons with the Warriors.
  • The new contract for Luke Kornet is a sign that Kyle O’Quinn won’t return to the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. He adds that the Sixers are showing “heavy interest” in O’Quinn, who spent the past three years in New York as a backup center.
  • The Knicks are hoping to re-sign Isaiah Hicks, who was on a two-way contract this season, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. New York gave him a qualifying offer last week, making him a free agent and giving the team the right to match any offer. Hicks appeared in 18 NBA games, averaging 4.4 points per night.
  • A scheduled meeting between Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Clippers has been moved from today to Monday, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Knicks Rumors: Hezonja, O’Quinn, Johnson, Tolliver

Free agent forward Mario Hezonja is very much on the Knicks‘ radar, according to reports. After Michael Scotto of The Athletic indicated earlier in the evening (via Twitter) that New York had interest in Hezonja, Ian Begley of ESPN.com tweeted that the interest is mutual. In the early hours of free agency, the Knicks and Hezonja had a meeting, Scotto adds (via Twitter).

Hezonja is just one of a number of free agents linked already to the Knicks, who plan to offer only one-year deals this offseason. Let’s round up a few more notes and rumors…

  • The Knicks were among the teams to reach out to Amir Johnson after free agency opened, tweets Begley. Johnson is also said to be drawing interest from Minnesota and both Los Angeles clubs.
  • Kyle O’Quinn seems much more likely to sign with another team than to reeturn to the Knicks, sources tell Begley (Twitter link). According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link), the division-rival Sixers have expressed serious interest in O’Quinn.
  • The Knicks were one of at least five or six clubs to express interest in Anthony Tolliver when free agency opened, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who reports (via Twitter) that GM Scott Perry had a brief phone conversation with the veteran forward.
  • A two-way player last season, Luke Kornet received a qualifying offer from the Knicks. While New York would like to bring him back on another two-way deal, two teams have expressed “preliminary interest” in giving Kornet a standard NBA contract, sources tell Berman. The Knicks would have the right to match any offer sheet the young seven-footer signs.

Knicks’ Kyle O’Quinn Declines Player Option

Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn has declined his player option for the 2018/19 season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. O’Quinn will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Quinn, 28, enjoyed a career year with the Knicks during the 2017/18 season, averaging a career-high 7.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 18.0 minutes per game with a .598/..235/.772 shooting line.

Unlike the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon, who was reported to have picked up his player option at nearly the same time that news broke on O’Quinn, the Knicks’ big man was only scheduled to make $4,256,250 next season, nearly $3MM less than what Dedmon will make.

As noted by Bobby Marks of ESPN, O’Quinn’s decision to decline his option likely won’t have any impact on the Knicks’ 2018/19 cap situation unless Enes Kanter also decides to decline his $18.62MM option, as the Knicks would likely only have the ability to operate under the cap if Kanter becomes a free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.