Luca Vildoza

Knicks Notes: Vildoza, Thibodeau, Payton, Barrett

Although Argentinian guard Luca Vildoza will join the Knicks soon, he may not start playing until next season, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The team signed Vildoza to a four-year, $13.6MM contract this week, but coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t have much to say about him during a session with the media before Friday’s game.

“It’s going to take some time for him to get over here,” Thibodeau said. “Our scouts really liked him. We’ll have time to evaluate him over the summer.” He later added, “There’s a whole process that he’s going to have to go through, so it’s going to be more of a summer thing.’’

Thibodeau’s statements seem to indicate that he will stick with Elfrid Payton as his starting point guard, Berman adds, even though Payton hasn’t been effective lately. He was a minus-23 in Friday’s loss to Phoenix and has posted negative ratings in seven of the past 12 games. Still, Thibodeau likes the size and agility Payton brings on defense and doesn’t want to damage his confidence heading into the playoffs.

Sources told Berman that Thibodeau’s attitude toward Vildoza is a show of support for his current players, who will each miss out on a $200K bonus because the Knicks reached the salary cap floor by signing Vildoza. It will take time for Vildoza to get immigration clearance because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s not certain when he will join the team.

There’s more from New York:

  • In an interview with Gigantes del Basket, Vildoza said he has always dreamed of playing in the NBA, relays Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. “For me it’s like living a dream,” he said. “I don’t like leaving in the middle of the season. … (But) it’s a unique opportunity that may never happen again, I didn’t want to miss it.”
  • RJ Barrett‘s improved shooting in his second NBA season has contributed to the Knicks’ turnaround, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Barrett spent the offseason focusing on his shot after being disappointed with his performance as a rookie. “You just have to keep working,” Barrett said. “If you can just get the results you want that easily, everybody would be where they want to be.”
  • The strong defensive mentality that Thibodeau has installed is drawing comparisons to the best teams in Knicks’ history, states Steve Popper of Newsday.

Knicks Notes: Rivers, Vildoza, Future

After Austin Rivers matched his season high with 25 points for the Nuggets in Wednesday’s win over the Knicks, teammate Michael Porter Jr. told reporters that Rivers was “trying to get those dudes back” after a difficult stint in New York earlier this season (Twitter link via Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News).

However, while Rivers may have been motivated by playing his old team, he declined to air any grievances with the Knicks when asked about his exit from the franchise earlier in 2020/21.

“It doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t even want to get into that,” Rivers said (link via Bondy). “I don’t have any negativity towards the Knicks. Let’s just be clear. I’m actually very close with a lot of guys on the team. Obviously, things happened… (but) I don’t want to bring any of that to light. They’re doing so well right now. … I really am happy for them.

  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic takes a look at what sort of player the Knicks are getting in newly-signed guard Luca Vildoza, while Marc Berman of The New York Post spoke to Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo about the same subject. “He has something special in his game. Sooner or later, we knew he was going to play in the NBA,” Campazzo said of his teammate from the Argentinian national team. “I think he’s going to make an impact here. I believe he can make it and is going to improve a lot in his game here. He can be here many years.”
  • Vildoza’s buyout from Baskonia cost $2MM, writes Berman for The New York Post, citing a report out of Spain. NBA teams are prohibited from contributing more than $750K to a buyout this season, so Vildoza had to make up the $1.25MM difference himself. The terms of his deal with the Knicks made that more palatable, as he’ll earn $3.5MM in 2020/21 despite signing so late in the year, Berman notes.
  • The Knicks’ success this season is even more encouraging because the team is set up so well for the future, according to Tommy Beer of, who points out that New York has a clean long-term cap sheet and control several extra first-round picks in upcoming drafts.

Knicks Sign Luca Vildoza To Four-Year Deal

MAY 6: The Knicks have officially signed Vildoza, the team announced in a press release. While the deal has been finalized, it remains unclear exactly when the 25-year-old will be able to report to the team.

New York now has a full 17-man roster.

MAY 5: The Knicks and Argentinian guard Luca Vildoza have reached an agreement on a four-year deal worth $13.6MM, agent Alex Saratsis of Octagon Sports tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

According to Wojnarowski, Vildoza intends to fly to New York once he clears the immigration process, but it remains unclear exactly when he’ll complete his deal or whether he’ll be available for the Knicks at all this season. His exact timeline will depend on how long it takes him to go through the immigration process, to undergo a physical, and to clear the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Wojnarowski reports that only the first year of Vildoza’s contract will be guaranteed. New York will have a chance to evaluate him in the Olympics, Summer League, and training camp before having to commit to a second-year guarantee, Woj notes.

Vildoza, 25, has been playing basketball professionally since 2012, having started his career with Quilmes in Argentina. He joined Baskonia in 2017 and has spent the last four seasons in Spain, playing a key role in the club’s backcourt. In 31 EuroLeague games in 2020/21, he averaged 10.1 points and 3.4 assists in 25.2 minutes per contest, posting a shooting line of .410/.376/.761.

Reports last week indicated that the Knicks were eyeing a deal with Vildoza, who had reportedly agreed to a buyout with Baskonia. The club still has cap room available, which will be used to accommodate a long-term contract worth more than the veteran’s minimum. The signing will push the Knicks above the minimum salary floor for 2020/21, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Once Jared Harper‘s 10-day contract expired on Sunday night, the Knicks had one open spot on their 15-man roster and one open two-way contract slot. The team announced that Harper received a second 10-day deal, but the league’s official transactions log showed that he was actually re-signed to a two-way contract, which Hoops Rumors has confirmed. As such, there’s an open spot on the 15-man squad for Vildoza.

Knicks Eyeing Deal With Vildoza, No Longer Signing Shittu

The Knicks are expected to sign Argentinian guard Luca Vildoza to a contract before the end of the season, according to a report from HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Vildoza, who played for Baskonia in the EuroLeague this season, has reached an agreement with the Spanish club on a buyout from his contract, per HoopsHype. Chema de Lucas had said (via Twitter) that the Knicks were pushing to sign Vildoza, after Donatas Urbonas first reported earlier in the month that the 25-year-old was on New York’s radar.

Ian Begley of (Twitter link), who confirms that the Knicks are in talks with Vildoza, hears from sources that the club is also no longer completing its reported deal with Simisola Shittu. Shittu had been on track to sign a two-way contract with New York, but it seems that agreement has fallen apart.

It’s unclear if Vildoza would get that two-way deal instead or if he’d take Jared Harper‘s spot on the 15-man roster — Harper is currently on a 10-day contract that expires Sunday night, and it’s unclear if he’ll remain with the team for the rest of the season. A source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that the Knicks are eyeing a couple other players in addition to Vildoza, so they could theoretically complete multiple signings.

Vildoza, 25, has been playing basketball professionally since 2012, having started his career with Quilmes in Argentina. He joined Baskonia in 2017 and has spent the last four seasons in Spain, playing a key role in the club’s backcourt. In 31 EuroLeague games in 2020/21, he averaged 10.1 points and 3.4 assists in 25.2 minutes per contest, posting a shooting line of .410/.376/.761.

As HoopsHype notes (via Twitter), Vildoza was also part of the Argentinian national team that won a silver medal at the 2019 World Cup.

Eastern Notes: Vildoza, Hill, Tucker, Pistons Rookies

The Knicks will likely make a roster move at some point to replace John Henson, who didn’t receive another 10-day contract. A wild card could be Baskonia combo guard Luca Vildoza. According to Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link), Vildoza is on the Knicks’ radar. The 25-year-old, 6’3” Vildoza is averaging 10.1 PPG and 3.4 APG in the EuroLeague this season.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers is optimistic George Hill will make his team debut in the coming week, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Hill was acquired from Oklahoma City in a three-team deadline deal last month. The veteran guard had surgery on his right thumb on February 2, and hasn’t played since January 24. Hill’s $10MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed and Philadelphia is looking for him to be a postseason factor.
  • P.J. Tucker missed three weeks of action before returning this week and revealing that the calf injury that sidelined him cropped up before he was traded by Houston to the Bucks, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Tucker wanted to play through the injury but the Bucks’ medical staff chose to keep him inactive until he healed.
  • The Pistons started all of their first-round picks for the first time on Friday and Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey lifted the team to a win over Oklahoma City. Backup center Jahlil Okafor says it’s a pleasure to be around the hard-working trio, Keith Langlois of writes. “Seeing them every day, how serious they are in their approach, I’m really proud of them,” Okafor said. “It’s a breath of fresh air being around these types of rookies who love the game so much and are so eager to learn. It’s kind of uplifting.”