Leon Rose

Atlantic Notes: Tolliver, Knicks, Birch, Randle

Veteran power forward Anthony Tolliver will join the Sixers on Wednesday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Tolliver officially signed a 10-day contract on Monday and will provide some frontcourt depth, at least in short run. Philadelphia has home games against two of the league’s top teams this week, the Nets on Wednesday and the Clippers on Friday.

We have more Atlantic Division news:

  • The Knicks’ image is improving around the league and that could help them land high-level free agents going forward, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Knicks have become a more attractive destination now due to their improved play this season, as well as the front office additions of former player agent Leon Rose and well-connected William Wesley.
  • Khem Birch has fulfilled a childhood dream by signing with the Raptors, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports writes. Birch grew up in Montreal and was a fan of Canada’s NBA team. “We always supported them just because they’re the home team,” he said. “My dad used to always complain about the team, yell at the TV and stuff. And now I’m on the team, so this is just a surreal moment.” Birch signed with Toronto for the rest of this season after being let go by Orlando and clearing waivers.
  • The Knicks faced the Lakers on Monday and Julius Randle admits he always looks forward to playing his former team, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. Head coach Tom Thibodeau feels that the team’s leading scorer is a much different player now than he was in his days in L.A. “Every year he’s gotten better and better. I think he’s learned a lot from each season,” Thibodeau said. “That’s what I like about him and his game.”

Knicks Notes: Front Office, Thibodeau, Quickley, More

In an entertaining, in-depth story for The New York Post, Yaron Weitzman takes a deep dive into the inner workings of the Knicks‘ front office, exploring how president of basketball operations Leon Rose has skillfully managed a handful of competing viewpoints and voices in the basketball operations department.

As Weitzman details, Rose has had to consider input from head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has little patience for a rebuild and wondered if RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson could be traded for “seasoned veterans”; from executive VP William Wesley – aka “World Wide Wes’ – who frequently zeroed in on players who attended the University of Kentucky or signed with CAA; and from cap expert Brock Aller, who advocated for a patient, flexible approach to using the team’s cap room.

Rose has managed to make everybody happy so far — he acquired Derrick Rose, like Thibodeau wanted, drafted Immanuel Quickley, which Wesley “pushed for like crazy,” and used the Knicks’ cap room primarily on affordable one-year signings, which was Aller’s preference.

“His job is to sort through different opinions from different people and make the best decision,” a rival executive said of Rose. “It certainly seems like he’s doing that well.”

Here are a few more highlights from Weitzman’s story, which is worth checking out in full:

  • Wesley, who had been hyping up Quickley for months, badly wanted the Knicks to select him at No. 23 and was “furious” when the team made a last-second decision to trade back to No. 25, loudly declaring, “Coach says we need shooting, Quickley’s the best shooter.” The Knicks ultimately landed the Kentucky point guard with the 25th pick.
  • According to Weitzman, when conversations in the front office focused on players who had no connections to Kentucky or to CAA, Wesley would often close his eyes. “When Wes said ‘we,’ people weren’t sure if he was referring to the Knicks or Kentucky,” one source said of World Wide Wes, who has a long-standing friendship with Wildcats coach John Calipari.
  • Meetings between Thibodeau and Aller sometimes became heated, given their diametric points of view on winning now vs. rebuilding. Weitzman says Thibodeau would sometime mockingly refer to Aller as “Hinkie,” a reference to Sam Hinkie, who infamously took an extreme long-term view when he rebuilt the Sixers.
  • Thibodeau pushed for the Knicks to use their cap room to pursue veteran free agents such as Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, per Weitzman. While the Knicks were said to be in the mix for Hayward, they ultimately used their space to sign veterans like Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, and Elfrid Payton to one-year deals.

New York Notes: Green, Rose, Nash, Knicks Fans

Veteran Nets forward Jeff Green hopes to play “until the wheels fall off,” he told the New York Post’s Steve Serby in an extended interview. “Hopefully I’ll play another 10 years, but who knows?” the 34-year-old said. Green touched on a wide variety of subjects, from his college tenure with Georgetown to his life-saving heart surgery while with the Celtics to his three dream dinner guests.

There’s more out of the City That Never Sleeps:

  • Luck has been with new Knicks team president Leon Rose thus far this season, says Marc Berman of the New York Post. The 17-17 Knicks have also benefited from several savvy decisions by Rose, including the hirings of new head coach Tom Thibodeau and ex-Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne, the drafting of exciting point guard Immanuel Quickley and athletic dunker Obi Toppin, and the retention of forward Julius Randle, who has blossomed into an All-Star this year.
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash anticipates that rookie power forward Reggie Perry will improve as a three-point shooter, according to Chris Milholen of Nets Daily. “We like Reggie’s skill set,” Nash said. “He’s a guy that can develop into a very good three-point shooter and he’s got a good feel for the game.” Perry is currently connecting on 16.7% of his 0.9 three-point attempts per game with Brooklyn, but has taken major strides while with the Nets’ G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, on the NBAGL Orlando “bubble” campus. There, Perry has made 44% of his 2.3 triple attempts a night, across 11 games.
  • Knicks fans are spending hundreds of dollars on rapid PCR pre-game COVID-19 tests, according to Sara Dorn and Khristina Narizhnaya of the New York Post. Up to 2,000 fans can attend games in Madison Square Garden, provided they test negative within three days of a game’s start time.

Knicks Notes: D. Rose, Gibson, Thibodeau, L. Rose

Wherever Tom Thibodeau goes, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose eventually show up, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Thibodeau coached both of them when they were young players in Chicago, then brought them in to be veteran leaders in Minnesota. Now they’re together again after the Knicks signed Gibson last month and completed a trade for Rose today.

“I’ve known (Rose) my whole career — we came in together,’’ Gibson said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a great guy. … He’s one of those guys who’ve been around the system — same as myself. We know what Thibs basically wants. As long as you give 100 percent effort every day, 110% on defense. At same time just coming in and being vocal and understanding what you need to do.’’

Gibson has only gotten into four games since signing with New York, but his role could expand if the team sees more need to rest Nerlens Noel, who has been dealing with knee issues. Noel sat out a second straight game Sunday, allowing Gibson to play 16 minutes.

“I thought he played really well and when Nerlens is back, he’ll be ready in any role we ask him to play,’’ Thibodeau said. “That’s always been with him. Even early on in his career, start him, bring him off the bench. Whatever the team needed he provided. He’s a great teammate, great leader.’’

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • The trade shows how much influence Thibodeau has with team president Leon Rose, Berman adds in a separate story. In addition to his fondness for Derrick Rose, who he still believes can play at an MVP level on some nights, Thibodeau doesn’t place much value on second-round picks, preferring to use them as trade fodder. Berman also examines how the trade will affect the rest of the roster and views Austin Rivers as most likely to lose playing time.
  • The Knicks may be most effective using Rose as a shooting guard, rather than breaking up their point guard combination of Elfrid Payton and Immanuel Quickley, suggests John Hollinger of The Athletic. He notes that Detroit frequently played Rose at the two-guard spot, where he would be taking minutes away from Rivers and Reggie Bullock.
  • The deal offers some insight into how Leon Rose plans to run the organization, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who points out that the Knicks’ president was patient in free agency and aggressive on the trade market. Rose and Thibodeau appear to be focused on securing a playoff spot this season, rather than developing young talent.

Atlantic Notes: Rose, Hayward, Brown, Spellman

New Knicks president Leon Rose has exuded patience during free agency with an eye toward next offseason’s potentially star-studded free agent class, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. Though the Knicks had some interest in Fred VanVleet and Gordon Hayward, they were not going to shell out the money and multi-year contracts that those top-level free agents received. New York could still trade for Russell Westbrook if the Rockets’ asking price drops but Rose isn’t inclined to make any panic moves, Popper adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Hayward posted a message on Twitter, thanking Celtics fans for their support during his three seasons there.I know there were some ups and downs, but I will always cherish my experience in Boston. I am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to wear a Celtics uniform and play in front of the Garden faithful,” said Hayward, who also posted a tweet about his excitement to play for the Hornets.
  • The Nets are looking at Bruce Brown as a defensive stopper, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Brown was acquired from the Pistons in a three-team deal and slots in as a combo guard. “Bruce, we’ve talked about adding some defensive players,” Nets GM Sean Marks said. “A toughness, a mindset, that’s what we’ll certainly be looking for in Bruce.”
  • The Knicks will retain big man Omari Spellman and he’s got a pretty good shot to make the opening-night roster, Marc Berman of the New York Post tweets. New York has an agreement to acquire Spellman, shooting guard Jacob Evans and the rights to a future second-round pick from the Timberwolves in exchange for Ed Davis. Berman’s note indicates Spellman’s salary wasn’t simply thrown in to make a trade work.

Knicks Rumors: Cap Room, Oladipo, Barrett, Robinson

Ian Begley of SNY.tv reported last week that the Knicks are open to accommodating salary-dump deals with their cap room this fall, and in his preview of the NBA offseason, ESPN’s Zach Lowe confirms that the team has conveyed that it’s willing to be patient and gather assets using its cap space.

However, Lowe suggests it’s not clear what exactly the Knicks’ definition of “unwanted salaries” is, adding that they may want to take on players who can help the 2020/21 club without compromising future cap room. In other words, a deal that resembles the Clippers’ acquisition of Maurice Harkless last summer might be of interest to the Knicks — that was ostensibly a salary dump, with Los Angeles receiving a first-round pick for taking on Harkless, but the veteran forward also became a regular rotation player in L.A.

As for whether the Knicks are looking to spend big on any free agents, Lowe speculates that the Knicks may be willing to go that route only for a handful of players who are “under some age threshold and available at the right price.” It’s possible that young free agents like Fred VanVleet and Christian Wood – both of whom have been linked to New York – could fit that bill if bidding doesn’t go too high.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks have had interest in Victor Oladipo in the past, but may have shifted into “wait and watch” mode on the Pacers guard, according to Lowe. In other words, New York probably isn’t willing to give up significant assets for Oladipo without some on-court proof that he’s fully recovered from the quad tendon injury that sidelined him for a year.
  • New York has been reluctant to discuss RJ Barrett or Mitchell Robinson in any trade talks, sources tell Lowe. If the Knicks look to move up in the draft, I imagine teams would ask about one or both of those two players. However, they’re New York’s most obvious long-term cornerstones, so it’s no surprise that the team isn’t eager to make them available.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic profiles new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose in an in-depth story. A report earlier this week indicated that Rose is earning $8MM on his new deal with the Knicks.

Stein’s Latest: Thunder, Morey, Rose

Spurs assistant coach Will Hardy, Bucks assistant Charles Lee, and Oklahoma City assistant Mark Daigneault are among the candidates who have received strong consideration for the Thunder‘s open head coaching position, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.

The only one of nine teams making a head coaching change this year that has yet to finalize a new hire, the Thunder are conducting a lengthy, deliberate search for Billy Donovan‘s replacement. While one of the candidates mentioned above could ultimately land the job, Stein admits that he wouldn’t be shocked if Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti hires someone who has yet to be connected to the vacancy. That would be the “Prestian move,” Stein writes.

With the draft just two weeks away and training camps expected to open next month, it likely won’t be long before we get some clarity on OKC’s search.

Here are a few more items of interest from Stein’s latest newsletter for The New York Times:

  • Industry sources estimate that Daryl Morey‘s salary on his new five-year contract with the Sixers is worth over $10MM per year, according to Stein, who adds that some people insist Morey’s new annual salary may even exceed $12MM. Morey had been planning to take a year off after leaving the Rockets this fall, but such an aggressive offer from Philadelphia would certainly have been a factor in his decision to change course.
  • Another new head of basketball operations in the Atlantic, Knicks president Leon Rose, is said to have received an annual salary in the $8MM range, writes Stein.
  • Stein’s newsletter also included a couple Rockets-related notes, which we passed along in an earlier roundup.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Kidd, Hardy, Labeyrie

As the Knicks‘ head coaching search continues, presumed frontrunner Tom Thibodeau has received an endorsement from a former Knicks All-Star, as Adam Zagoria of Forbes writes. Patrick Ewing praised Thibodeau during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio with hosts Frank Isola and Sarah Kustok.

“I think Tom’s a great coach,” Ewing said. “I had the opportunity to (play for him), him being on the (Knicks’) staff when I played, and also work with him. He’s been around for a lot of years, he knows the game in and out. He’s gonna do everything that he needs to do in terms of having his team prepared to play every night. I think he’d be a great candidate for that job.”

Although Thibodeau is just one of 11 candidates being considered by the Knicks, reports last month indicated that he was viewed as a favorite for the job. Zagoria also hears from multiple sources that New York is expected to hire someone with previous head coaching experience.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks’ coaching candidates had an initial round of conversations with a group that included president of basketball operations Leon Rose, general manager Scott Perry, and VP of basketball and strategic planning Brock Aller, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Each candidate will have a more in-depth conversation with the team during its second round of meetings, Begley adds.
  • According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, two of the Knicks’ head coaching interviews took place on Thursday, with the team talking to Jason Kidd and Spurs assistant Will Hardy. Those interviews were why the Knicks didn’t take part in the NBA’s Thursday conference call with its bottom eight teams about a possible Chicago campus for offseason mini-camps and exhibition games.
  • Speaking of that proposed Chicago campus, the Knicks aren’t fully on board with that plan, according to Berman, who notes that the club doesn’t have much interest in playing formal games this offseason, especially since many veterans on the roster will be free agents and likely wouldn’t participate. New York is one of a handful of those bottom eight teams that would prefer to hold OTAs in its own home market to evaluate young players.
  • French forward Louis Labeyrie, a second-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft, has agreed to extend his contract with Valencia in Spain for at least two more seasons, as Dario Skerletic of Sportando relays. The Knicks have held Labeyrie’s NBA rights since ’14, but it seems increasingly unlikely that the 28-year-old will come stateside.

Knicks Notes: Mosley, Jones, Rose, Trier

Mavericks assistant coach Jamahl Mosley, a head coaching candidate for New York, has a keen ability to connect with players, longtime coach George Karl told The New York Post’s Marc Berman. “He was big in player development, then toward the end of his time, we gave him scouting reports, game-plan responsibilities,” Karl said. “He was really good with basketball intellect and really good with players. That’s the combo you need in today’s world and changing attitudes of the young players.”

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Arkansas guard Mason Jones could be a wise choice for the Knicks with their second-round pick in the draft, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic opines. Jones’ ability to get to the foul line could make him a valuable asset, Vorkunov notes. Arkansas wing Isaiah Joe and Alabama wing John Petty are among the other underrated prospects the team should consider, Vorkunov adds.
  • Leon Rose has been the team’s president for nearly four months and the early returns have been promising, according to Berman. Rose has made wide-ranging, diverse front office hires while keeping Scott Perry as GM, Berman notes. He’s also conducting a patient, thorough search for a head coach, even though Tom Thibodeau is widely considered the favorite to get the job, Berman adds.
  • Waiving Allonzo Trier in order to add Theo Pinson was a telling move by Rose, Steve Popper of Newsday opines. Trier, who was signed by the previous regime, showed talent but also drew criticism for his lackadaisical defensive effort and refusal to play his role offensively, Popper continues. That shows that Rose will value character and work ethic in future roster moves, Popper adds.

Atlantic Notes: Harris, Rose, Celtics, T. Johnson

Sixers forward Tobias Harris admits chemistry issues have held the team back, relays Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Harris made the comments in an interview Friday with ESPN’s “First Take,” suggesting that injuries have played a role in a disappointing 39-26 record.

“I’ll just say, and I’ll keep it real, we haven’t had the best chemistry throughout the whole year,” Harris said. “It took us a while to kind of get everyone together, we battled injuries from the start to the end. And right now, if we’re the sleeper, then we’re the sleeper. Truth be told, how we’re viewed, that’s someone else’s opinion, but I know when I look my guys in the eye and we have conversations, we have one goal in mind, and that’s to go out there and play and win a championship. That’s the only view that matters to me. What people have to say about our team, I get it, because we haven’t met our expectations so far this year. But we have a new opportunity in Orlando to go out and just play ball, and really scratch a new surface of what we can accomplish.”

Harris also addressed the decision to restart the season in Orlando, saying he’s concerned about the rising coronavirus rate but is ready to join his teammates if the NBA can provide a safe environment.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose tells Mike Breen of MSG Network (video link) that he understands the long-suffering nature of his fan base. “No one deserves a winner more than Knicks fans,” Rose said. “I know it’s been tough but my pledge is — we’re going to work tirelessly, we’re going to do business, we’re going to be prudent and we’re going to be in play in every aspect — the draft, trades, free agency. And we’re going to build this the right way to bring you a winner.” Rose also commented on the team’s head coaching search, saying he wants to find someone who can develop young talent and will work closely with the front office.
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston looks at whether the Celtics‘ schedule for the eight games in Orlando will help them move up to the second spot in the East and questions how much it matters with all games being played at a neutral site.
  • With their signing of Tyler Johnson this week, the Nets finally got their hands on a player that they offered $50MM over four years in 2016. Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily examines what has gone wrong for Johnson since the Heat elected to match that offer sheet.