Luca Vildoza

Knicks Notes: Sexton, Vildoza, Noel

There has been talk that the Knicks are aggressively pursuing a trade with the Cavaliers for high-scoring young guard Collin Sexton. With that in mind, The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo and Mike Vornukov examine what New York might give up for Sexton. The Knicks don’t have available veteran players that the Cavaliers would be interested in, so it’s more likely to be a combination of last year’s lottery selection, Obi Toppin, and a first-round pick.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Luca Vildoza scored nine points in Argentina’s loss to Team USA on Tuesday while guarding some high-level players such as Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine and Damian Lillard. He’s looking forward to doing that on a regular basis, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “Today was a test for me against the best players in the world,” he said. “I felt really good against them, but we lost by 30, and I got to get better. I got work to do.’’ Vildoza signed a four-year pact with the Knicks in May.
  • The team is interested in re-signing free agent Nerlens Noel but they’ll have plenty of competition, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The Kings and Raptors are expected to make a run at the big man. The Mavericks, Nets and Hornets are also potential suitors for Noel, Ian Begley of SNY.tv tweets. Sacramento’s pursuit of Noel hinges on what happens with one of its own free agents, Richaun Holmes, Scotto adds.
  • What are the Knicks’ offseason plans and just how much cap room will it have? Check out our Offseason Preview.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Harrison, Vildoza, Knicks

Speaking to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum discussed the hiring of new Boston head coach Ime Udoka, logging time with Team USA in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, and more.

“Extremely happy about Ime,” Tatum said of Udoka. “I’ve known him for a little while. He’s extremely motivated and I think everybody has a good feeling about this. I think this is going to be great.” Tatum noted that he and fellow Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown were both consulted as the team interviewed a variety of head coach candidates.

“It was tough, just everything that we had to endure, everything that kind of happened,” Tatum said of the Celtics’ disappointing 2020/21 season, which saw the club finish as the No. 7 seed in the East and lose in the first round to the Nets. “It put in perspective and made me appreciate those good years that we had and we made those deep playoff runs. It’s not always guaranteed and it made me appreciate that.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Shooting guard D’Angelo Harrison is scheduled to attend the Sixers‘ mini-camp later in July, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Since going undrafted out of St. John’s in 2015, the 6’4″ 27-year-old has played for a variety of international teams. During the 2020/21 season, Harrison played for Italian League club New Basket Brindisi.
  • Newly-added Knicks point guard Luca Vildoza showed off his sharpshooting bona fides during an Olympics exhibition match for Team Argentina last Saturday, as Marc Berman of the New York Post details. Vildoza connected on three of his eight three-point looks in the 87-84 loss to Team Australia.
  • The Knicks have a clear need to upgrade their starting point guard position. With that in mind, Ian Begley of SNY.tv examines several restricted free agent options for New York, noting that lead guards who are not ball-dominant (including Lonzo BallKendrick Nunn, and Devonte’ Graham) could be ideal fits alongside All-Star forward Julius Randle, who thrives with the ball in his hands.

Knicks Notes: Lillard, Rose, Free Agents, Vildoza

The Knicks should be at the front of the line if the Trail Blazers decide to trade Damian Lillard, contends Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. Lillard is one of the most popular Portland players ever and has been a fixture in the city since he was drafted in 2012. But he will turn 31 in July and could bring a huge collection of assets in return if the Blazers opt to rebuild.

Lillard is owed more than $127MM over the next three seasons and has a $48.8MM player option for 2024/25. He would provide an instant solution to New York’s long-running point guard problem and would bring some star power to the franchise. He’s still as explosive as ever as a scorer, averaging 28.8 points per game this season and shooting 39.1% from three-point range.

The Knicks have the assets to make a deal work, including five first-round picks over the next three years, Vaccaro adds. They also have young talent to offer, such as rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, second-year guard RJ Barrett and third-year center Mitchell Robinson.

There’s more from New York:

  • If Lillard isn’t available, the Knicks will pursue other options to upgrade their backcourt this summer, and Ian Begley of SNY.TV hears that Derrick Rose‘s performance after being acquired from the Pistons will affect their strategy. If they can re-sign Rose, the Knicks will be less likely to spend big on another veteran point guard and may turn to restricted free agents such as Devonte’ Graham, Lonzo Ball or Kendrick Nunn. New York talked to the Pelicans about a possible Ball trade before the March deadline, but there’s not a consensus on him among the front office, according to Begley.
  • With their playoff run over, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau met with newly signed guard Luca Vildoza on Thursday and watched him in a workout, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Former Knicks guard and current Timberwolves assistant coach Pablo Prigioni believes his fellow Argentinian has a bright NBA future. “(Vildoza is) really, really good,’’ Prigioni said. “I really like him. Very talented, got a great shot and knows how to pass. I’m really excited to see Luca next season with the Knicks. Tom’s going to like him.’
  • Thibodeau held a long meeting with his players on Thursday and decided to delay the traditional player evaluation conferences for about two weeks, Berman adds in a separate story. A source said Berman wants his players to unwind from the stress that COVID-19 brought to the season.

Knicks Notes: Trade Deadline, Randle, Bullock, Vildoza

The Knicks didn’t make any significant upgrades at the trade deadline and it may be coming back to haunt them in their opening-round series against Atlanta, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. New York trails 3-1 in the series and there’s no hint of a comeback. Coach Tom Thibodeau was hoping for an upgrade, with Norman Powell high on his wish list, but management viewed this season as a stepping stone while protecting their ample cap space for a potential summer bonanza.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Julius Randle has yet to return to his regular-season form and now it may be too late, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News notes. Randle is shooting 27% from the field in the series after winning the league’s Most Improved Player award. “This is all a learning experience,” he said. “I need to get better individually, we need to get better as a team.”
  • Reggie Bullock went scoreless in 34 minutes during Game 4 and Thibodeau attributes that to Bullock guarding Trae Young, Steve Popper of Newsday relays. “We’re asking him to do a lot,” he said. “He’s in a lot of actions offensively, but he’s guarding Trae. You’re using a lot of energy there.” Bullock will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • Luca Vildoza is out of quarantine but didn’t join the team in Atlanta, Mark Berman of the New York Post tweets. The Knicks signed the Argentinian guard to a four-year deal in early May but, according to Thibodeau, he’ll be added to the mix next season. “For later in the summer,” he said.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Vildoza, Randle, Playoff Experience

Frank Ntilikina was an afterthought for most of the season, but he could be part of the Knicks‘ rotation for their first-round series against the Hawks, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Wednesday that he’s considering using Ntilikina for defensive purposes in certain situations.

Ntilkina got into 33 games this season and averaged 2.7 points in just 9.8 minutes per night. He will be a restricted free agent this summer, but only if the Knicks make a qualifying offer, meaning his time in New York could be about to end.

“Frank has sort of been in that role as a defensive stopper. He adds great value to our team,” Thibodeau said. “What you guys don’t see is he and Kevin Knox and a bunch of other guys who aren’t in the rotation, how hard they work in practice. And we value the practice greatly. So they’re providing a lot to our team and whatever their strengths are, we’re going to try to take advantage of that.”

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Luca Vildoza may not see any playing time in the postseason, but he will be on hand to cheer on his new teammates, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The newly-signed combo guard will arrive in New York on Friday. He agreed to a four-year contract, but the final three years are non-guaranteed. The guarantee for next season will kick in the day after the season opener.
  • After a breakthrough season, Julius Randle is enjoying a week of rest before the playoffs begin, Berman adds in a separate story. This will be Randle’s first postseason experience in his seven-year NBA career. “For me, this week is important,’’ he said. “I’m doing everything — recovery-wise, taking care of my body — to make sure that I’m as fresh as possible heading into this series. It’s obviously great to have a week to prepare. I’m trying to do my best to make sure I’m ready for the grind of the series.’’
  • Lack of experience could be an issue for the Knicks in the series, suggests Peter Botte of The New York Post. Along with Randle and Ntilikina, RJ Barrett, Elfrid Payton and rookies Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin will be in the playoffs for the first time.

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 BasketballNews.com, 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 SNY.tv (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 Pistons.com 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.”