Mario Hezonja

Atlantic Notes: Perry, Ojeleye, Bolden

While Knicks general manager Scott Perry is still relatively new to the job, an impressive second summer at the helm has shown that’s he’s a competent choice to lead the franchise. Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes that the stellar play of second-round pick Mitchell Robinson is the latest example of his prowess.

Not only did Perry nab a useful young big man that could grow to be a part of the Knicks’ core, he did it on the cheap. Robinson signed a four-year deal worth $6.6MM that will keep him under affordable team control.

Hamilton also calls to light Perry’s selection of Kevin Knox in the first round, the hiring of David Fizdale and the 2017 trade of Carmelo Anthony as the general manager’s early portfolio of work with the Knicks.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Knicks will look to see Mario Hezonja break out in his fourth year as an NBA pro and, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes, one of the keys to that will be the swingman maintaining his confidence. A stable coaching staff should help in that regard.
  • The Celtics effectively guaranteed Semi Ojeleye‘s contract by not waiving him by today, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweets. The second-year forward has stood out for the C’s during summer league.
  • Sixers draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden, who hopes to play for the big league club this season, struggled in summer league play. The 2017 pick understands that he didn’t perform as well this year as he did in the previous summer league and, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, attributes it to a lack of organized basketball this spring.

Knicks Rumors: Porzingis, Hezonja, 2019, Noah

Devin Booker has already signed a maximum-salary extension with the Suns, and Karl-Anthony Towns is discussing a similar deal with the Timberwolves, but the Knicks appear to be in no rush to lock up Kristaps Porzingis to a long-term rookie scale extension of his own. As Ian Begley of notes, signing Porzingis now would mean giving up about $10MM in 2019 cap room, so the team may prefer to wait until next summer to get something done with the standout big man.

“We’ll continue to stay in touch with Kristaps,” Knicks GM Scott Perry said on Tuesday, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “He’s part of our long-term plan. But we’ll get all that figured out at the appropriate time in terms of when we get into that negotiation. We’re comfortable with were at with him and we’ll work together with he and his representation to figure something out.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • This year’s signing of Mario Hezonja may represent a hedge against striking out on top free agents in 2019, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. As Berman explains, the Knicks would probably have to renounce Hezonja next summer in order to clear cap room for a maximum-salary free agent, but if New York doesn’t need to maximize its space, Hezonja’s Non-Bird rights should give the team the ability to make a competitive offer to retain him for one more than one season.
  • Knicks president Steve Mills sounds like he doesn’t want to put all his eggs into one basket when it comes to landing a star free agent in 2019, Berman adds. “We didn’t say our ultimate goal was to have cap room in 2019 — that’s just a byproduct of the situation of how our salaries line up,” Mills said. “There’s no reason to think if Mario does really well, he shouldn’t be part of what we’re doing. Our goal is to put together a Knick team that could be competitive in the long-term.”
  • Speaking of Hezonja, he said he got offers from the Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Thunder before he accepted the Knicks’ proposal, Berman writes in a separate article.
  • According to GM Scott Perry, all options are still in play for Joakim Noah, whether that means trading, stretching, or keeping him, per Ian Begley and Nick Friedell. “He’s still a member of the Knicks franchise right now,” Perry said of Noah. “He’s part of this team. Like we said to you earlier, all options are on the table for us concerning him, whether it’s coming back or some sort of trade or whatever the case may be.”
  • During his introductory press conference as a Pacer, Kyle O’Quinn made a comment that could be interpreted as a dig at the Knicks. “I just felt like at this point, I owed it to myself to be a part of something bigger than next year’s draft,” O’Quinn said, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News relays.

Kings To Focus On Trade Market With Cap Room?

The Kings are one of three NBA teams with significant cap room still available and have been linked to big-name restricted free agents like Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine within the last week or two. However, rather than making a bid for an RFA, Sacramento may take another route with its cap space.

According to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, the Kings intend to focus on the trade market, hoping to use their cap room to absorb an unwanted contract or two and collect extra draft assets. The ideal scenario for the team, Jones suggests, would be to acquire a veteran small forward in a trade and pick up a 2019 first-rounder, since Sacramento’s own 2019 pick is headed to the Celtics or Sixers.

While Jones confirms that Sacramento has expressed interest in Parker and LaVine, the prospect of reshaping the roster around either player, plus the uncertainty surrounding an offer sheet – which could be matched by the Bucks and Bulls, respectively – may ultimately discourage the club from pursuing either RFA. The Kings also view Parker as a power forward and aren’t looking to add more players at that spot, Jones notes.

The Kings have been on the lookout for a small forward in free agency, offering slightly more money to Mario Hezonja than the $6.5MM he’ll reportedly receive from the Knicks. However, if the team can add a small forward in a trade that also includes another asset or two, it may be a win in both the short- and long-term for the franchise.

While Jones doesn’t identify any specific trade partners the Kings may talk to, Bobby Marks’ list of clubs with the highest projected 2018/19 team salaries gives us a pretty good idea of which teams might be looking to cut costs.

The Thunder are one possible trade partner, though Alex Abrines and Kyle Singler may not appeal much to the Kings, and Carmelo Anthony is unlikely to approve a trade to Sacramento. The Raptors could be an intriguing fit if they’re looking to get out of the tax, or at least to reduce their projected tax bill — Norman Powell is believed to be available, and C.J. Miles could be too.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Howard, Knicks, Bolden

The Nets could have an extra $8MM in cap space to work with if the Dwight Howard buyout falls in the 30-40% range that many such agreements typically come to, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes.

That, coupled with the $6.6MM in room cap room the Nets had prior to the buyout, would give them close to $15MM in overall space to absorb another bad deal in return for assets or even go out and target their own player.

Lewis writes that Howard wasn’t interested in giving back more than $3-5MM and wasn’t incentivized to agree to the Nets’ buyout proposal until he knew that the Wizards were interested. It remains to be seen what the final numbers on that buyout agreement will look like.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division today:

  • Incoming first-round pick Robert Williams hasn’t made a great impression on the Celtics but an Associated Press report suggests that the big man won’t face any discipline for missing several team commitments less than a week into his NBA career. Not formal discipline, at least. “They discipline you with words,” the 20-year-old said. “More than you may know.
  • While Knicks acquisitions Mario Hezonja and Kevin Knox are a far cry from the future Hall-of-Famers David Fizdale worked with as a member of the Heat‘s coaching staff, the head coach believes that those flexible wings can play similar roles to the ones Dwyane Wade and LeBron James filled in Miami. Marc Berman of The New York Post spoke with Fizdale about his desire to play more positionless basketball.
  • The Sixers expect 2017 draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden to participate in Summer League, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. International basketball reporter David Pick first tweeted that the Sixers had asked Maccabi Tel Aviv to clear Bolden to play in Las Vegas. The 22-year-old forward is a candidate to play in the NBA this season.

New York Notes: Harris, Davis, Nets, Hezonja

Before he agreed to a two-year, $16MM deal with the Nets, free agent sharpshooter Joe Harris fielded competitive offers from rival suitors. However, he tells Michael Scotto of The Athletic that his priority was remaining in Brooklyn.

“I had some offers for longer-term deals, but ultimately from the get-go, I had basically said that I wanted to stay in Brooklyn and however we could come to an agreement on that,” Harris said.

Meanwhile, the Nets’ other noteworthy July 1 move involved reaching a contract agreement with Ed Davis, who will ink a one-year, $4.4MM contract with the club. According to Scotto, Davis received interest from the Warriors, Sixers, Thunder, and Trail Blazers before striking a deal with the Nets.

Here are a few more notes on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • The Nets are not actively shopping anyone on their roster in trade talks, a league source tells Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). That includes Jeremy Lin, who has a $12.5MM expiring contract in 2018/19 and will be part of a point guard rotation that also includes Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell.
  • Within his report on Mario Hezonja‘s agreement with the Knicks, Marc Berman of The New York Post notes that the forward chose New York over seven other teams, including the runner-up Trail Blazers. “The main reason is David Fizdale. He sold him,” a source told Berman. “The goal is to be here long term and finish his career. He was a fan of the team growing up.” Hezonja’s deal significantly reduces the odds of Michael Beasley returning to the Knicks, Berman adds.
  • Nets restricted free agent Milton Doyle has drawn interest from the Timberwolves and an Eastern Conference team, among others, reports Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). A two-way player last year, Doyle could sign an offer sheet with another club, but Brooklyn would have the chance to match it.

Free Agent Rumors: Favors, Ellington, Tolliver

The Jazz have already met with free agent big man Derrick Favors, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Favors met with club general manager Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder for three hours today to discuss his future.

Marc Spears of The Undefeated, also reporting on the meeting, tweets that the forward is expected to make a decision on Monday. Favors – like the Jazz in general – enjoyed a pleasant surprise of a 2017/18 season and meshed with center Rudy Gobert in ways that he hadn’t previously.

That successful year has breathed new life into Favors’ future with the franchise that he’s played for since 2011. Favors averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season, a notable improvement from the 9.5 and 6.1 he posted in 2016/17.

Both the Timberwolves and Mavs were previously linked to the 26-year-old.

There’s more from around the league tonight:

Knicks Sign Mario Hezonja To One-Year Deal

JULY 6: The Knicks have officially signed Hezonja, according to the NBA’s transactions log.

JULY 1: The Knicks have agreed to a one-year, $6.5MM pact with small forward Mario Hezonja, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The 23-year-old comes off of a career-best season in which he averaged 9.6 points in 22.1 minutes per game for the Magic."<strong

Prior to the 2017/18 season, the Magic elected not to pick up the 2015 fifth-overall pick’s fourth-year option and the Croatian swingman responded with a notable increase in production. In 11 February contests, for example, Hezonja averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

As we relayed earlier today, Marc Berman of The New York Post had reported that the Knicks had put an offer on the table for Hezonja worth a portion of the club’s $8.641MM mid-level exception. These reported terms would fall in line with that, leaving enough of the MLE available for New York to ink second-round pick Mitchell Robinson, something the club had been set on doing.

While Hezonja had reportedly been seeking a multiyear deal, the Knicks want to retain as much cap flexibility as possible for the 2019 offseason, and only plan on offering one-year guarantees this summer.

The buy-low addition of Hezonja, a young, recent lottery pick, will add depth to New York’s rotation. Hezonja will compete with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee for minutes on the wing, assuming the latter remains on the roster.

[RELATED: Knicks looking to trade Courtney Lee?]

The move will give the Knicks three of the top seven draft picks from 2015. Kristaps Porzingis (No. 4) and Emmanuel Mudiay (No. 7) were also top selections in that draft.

According to a subsequent Wojnarowski tweet, the Blazers, Kings and Grizzlies were also in the mix for Hezonja’s services.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks Make Offer To Mario Hezonja

12:50pm: The Knicks have an offer on the table for Hezonja, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who reports that the one-year deal would be worth a portion of the team’s mid-level exception. While Hezonja is considering the offer, he had been seeking a multiyear contract.

If Hezonja ultimately accepts the Knicks’ proposal, it would signal the end of Michael Beasley‘s time in New York, Berman adds.

8:25am: The Knicks appear to the early favorites to sign free agent forward Mario Hezonja, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley.

Several league executives told Begley that Hezonja sees New York as his best option, However, the Knicks are only handing out one-year deals to preserve their 2019 cap space, so another organization could trump that with a longer offer. The Kings are among the teams with interest in Hezonja (Twitter link).

The Croation forward had a disappointing three years in Orlando after being the fifth player taken in the 2015 draft. However, he’s coming off his best season, averaging 9.6 points and 3.7 rebounds and starting 30 of the 75 games that he played.

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 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.

Free Agent Rumors: Favors, LaVine, Curry, Hezonja

Jazz forward Derrick Favors has set up a few free agent meetings, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News tweets. Favors is happy in Utah but wants to go through the free-agent process to determine his best course of action, Woodyard adds. Favors, 26, averaged 12.7 PPG and 7.2 RPG last season. Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey said recently he’d like to keep the team’s core intact. The Wizards, Bucks and Warriors have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Favors.

In other developments involving players heading to free agency:

  • At least one Western Conference team is preparing to make a run at Bulls restricted free agent guard Zach LaVine, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports. Johnson anticipates the Bulls would prefer to re-sign LaVine in the $14-16MM range annually but might balk if he receives an offer sheet worth $20MM or more per year.
  • Mavericks guard Seth Curry has been medically cleared after missing last season with a left tibia fracture, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Curry, an unrestricted free agent, has been engaged in full basketball-related activities for a month, Wojnarowski adds. Curry had a breakout season with Dallas the previous year, averaging 12.8 PPG and 2.7 APG while starting 42 of 70 games.
  • The Nets are interested in Magic forward Mario Hezonja, Brian Lewis of the New York Post hears. Hezonja has not lived up to his billing after being the No. 5 pick of the 2015 draft but the Nets think highly of him and aren’t afraid of reclamation projects, Lewis continues. Hezonja, who averaged 9.6 PPG last season, is an unrestricted free agent after Orlando declined to pick up his fourth-year option last year. Brooklyn has pursued top-level restricted free agents in recent years but is unlikely to do so this summer because the front office would like to create room for two max players next summer, Lewis adds.