Maurice Harkless

Restart Notes: Assistant Coaches, McCollum, Health Risks

Assistant coaches around the NBA aren’t sure if they will all be headed to Orlando when the season resumes, writes Sean Deveney of Forbes. On the advice of medical professionals, the league is trying to limit the number of people being brought into the bubble environment, and some teams carry huge coaching staffs.

“Honestly, I don’t know if they’re gonna consider me essential,” said an unidentified assistant. “We’ve got teams who are seven, eight coaches deep, 10 if you count the scouts. They haven’t told us if they’re taking us all. I don’t know how many of us they think they need. I am not sure I want to be there.”

Deveney points out that head coaches are always in the spotlight, but assistants handle the majority of studying film and breaking down match-ups. Head coaches also make significantly higher salaries, which means assistants will be asked to face the same coronavirus hazards for smaller paychecks.

“Look, the head coaches, they’ve got plenty of reason to go back and coach and win,” the assistant said. “There are only 30 head jobs. I want our team to win, too. Coaches at all levels invest a lot personally. But you start talking about the health risks and then the health risks to families? It changes the conversation. We are not getting the same level of pay as everyone else on the floor but we’re taking as much risk.”

There’s more regarding the NBA’s restart:

  • Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum wants contact to resume in workouts before players travel to Orlando, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Only individual workouts are permitted at the moment, with contact and group activities banned under the rules regarding the reopening of team facilities. “We have players that need to get contact in for the last steps of clearance,” McCollum said. “I don’t want anyone to get injured because of having over 100 days of no games.”
  • Although there’s strong support among players for finishing the season, some are concerned about the health risks they will face, notes Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Ganguli talked to Lakers center JaVale McGee, who is at greater risk because he has asthma and suffered from pneumonia last year, and Maurice Harkless, who discussed his concerns before learning that the Knicks wouldn’t be part of the resumption. Harkless didn’t visit family members after the hiatus began because he had just played against the Pistons and Jazz — both teams had players who had tested positive.
  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic examines whether the NBA can recover from what is shaping up to be its worst season ever.

Knicks Notes: Harkless, Dolan, Gibson, Gallinari

The Knicks acquired Maurice Harkless because his contract was needed to complete the deal that sent Marcus Morris to the Clippers, but his performance since the trade has made him a strong candidate to return next season, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Harkless started eight of the 12 games he has played since coming to New York and has impressed the team with his strong defensive play and his desire to be a Knick. New team president Leon Rose had been hoping to closely evaluate Harkless over the final 16 games of the season, but the league’s hiatus may eliminate that opportunity.

“It was a chance for him to showcase to the Knicks and to see if he wanted to be here,’’ a source told Berman. “He always wanted to be a Knick.’’

Harkless is in the final season of a four-year, $40MM contract. Berman expects him to get more than the minimum in free agency.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Owner James Dolan was exhibiting some mild symptoms before being tested for coronavirus, Berman tweets. Dolan was courtside for a March 8 game against the Pistons, who had one of the first players to test positive for the virus in Christian Wood. No Knicks players were tested before returning to their homes because they were all asymptomatic.
  • The best chance for Taj Gibson to return to the Knicks is for Tom Thibodeau to become the next head coach, Berman notes in a separate story. Gibson is a favorite of Thibodeau, who has coached him with the Bulls and Timberwolves, but his $9.5MM salary may be more than the organization wants to spend on a backup big man. Gibson has a $1MM guarantee if he is released. “Taj was solid on the court, but he was even better in the locker room,’’ a source said. “He helped (Mitchell Robinson) understand the pro game and how to carry yourself if you want to play in the NBA and have an impact.’’
  • Jonathan Macri of Sports Illustrated lays out an ideal scenario for the Knicks’ offseason, which involves trading Julius Randle, moving on from Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr., drafting a point guard, trading veterans for draft picks and hiring Kenny Atkinson as head coach. As a bonus, Macri suggests signing former Knick Danilo Gallinari in free agency, speculating that a two-year guaranteed offer might be enough.

Charania’s Latest: Nuggets, Nowitzki, Harkless, Crawford

Before they reached an agreement to sign Troy Daniels this week, the Nuggets considered a handful of other veteran free agents, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who identifies Iman Shumpert and Joakim Noah as two players who were on Denver’s radar.

Although the Nuggets chose Daniels for now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t add another free agent, such as Shumpert or Noah, before the playoffs begin next month. Daniels filled the 14th spot on Denver’s roster, so the team still has one more opening on its 15-man squad.

Here are a few more items of interest from Charania:

  • The Mavericks have a standing job offer out to Dirk Nowitzki, but the longtime Dallas forward isn’t yet ready to take on a formal role with the franchise, says Charania. It’s not clear what sort of job the Mavs are offering Nowitzki — I imagine he’d have plenty of say in his role, depending on what interests him.
  • After not buying out Maurice Harkless by March 1, the Knicks are expected to show interest in re-signing him this summer, sources tell The Athletic. Some playoff teams are planning to pursue Harkless as well, Charania adds.
  • Despite not having played since last spring, Jamal Crawford remains committed to continuing his NBA career, according to Charania, who says the free agent guard – who turns 40 in two weeks – is in shape and ready to go if he gets an opportunity.
  • Earlier today, we passed along Charania’s reports on the Lakers monitoring the market for shooting help, Joel Embiid‘s target return date, and a few pre-deadline trades that ultimately failed to materialize.

Knicks Notes: Oakley, Lee, Rose, Harkless

Charles Oakley offered his opinion on the Knickscontroversy involving Spike Lee during a radio interview this morning, relays Steve Popper of Newsday. Appearing on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo,” Oakley said the dispute stems from an organizational philosophy set by owner James Dolan.

“When you see a business like this year after year … having problems off the court, trying to get people to come to games and they’re not coming because it’s a toxic situation, because it’s so much control going on … egos,” Oakley stated. “These people who run a team, sometimes owners sit back and watch; this guy wants to be the CEO, the head of operations, he wants to be in control. It shouldn’t be run like that. It should be run by a group of people, not a control freak.”

Oakley also suggested that these incidents alienate players who might think about joining the team. New York had an embarrassing experience last summer when it failed to land any top talent despite having enough cap room for two max offers.

“Even Dwyane Wade said, they treat you like that, how you think they’re going to treat us?” Oakley added. “… The thing that kills the team, kills their hope for the future, you get a new president [Leon Rose] and don’t get to introduce him to the press, to the people because of this. It just wiped the whole thing out. You did something positive and you’re right back at ground zero.”

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Rose took a low-key approach to his first day as president of basketball operations, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Rose didn’t hold a press conference or talk to any media. He met with players and staff and promised to build relationships. “We’ve been through a lot of up and down this year — coaching changes, president changes, a lot of family tragedies — but he really wants to stick with us,” Kevin Knox said. “He’s going to make sure we get better, the team gets better. As a player, that’s what you want to hear.”
  • Warriors general manager Bob Myers tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that Rose’s background as a successful agent will help him succeed as an executive. Myers was the pioneer for that transition, leaving Arn Tellem’s agency in 2012 to take over Golden State.
  • Maurice Harkless has made an impression on the coaching staff since being acquired from the Clippers at the trade deadline, observes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “People use the term versatility a lot but when I watch the games, and then I go back and I watch in on video again, I see more things that he did that maybe I didn’t even notice,” interim coach Mike Miller said.

Mo Harkless To Finish Season With Knicks

When Maurice Harkless was traded from the Clippers to the Knicks, many assumed that the forward would agree to a buyout with New York and move on to a more competitive team. However, will not be the case.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Harkless and the Knicks are not in buyout discussions and the veteran will remain with the team through the season.

There were reports earlier this month suggesting the Knicks had no plans to buy out Harkless or any of their veterans. However, it was a point worth confirming after the 26-year-old this week admitted this week that moving from a contender to a non-competitive team has been hard.

Harkless is in the final year of his contract and will hit the free-agent market this offseason. Not many teams are expected to have available cap space and we’ve seen players stick with bad clubs as opposed to agreeing to a buyout for presumed financial reasons. For example, Tristan Thompson declined to enter into a buyout agreement with the Cavs since the team owned his Bird Rights and could sign-and-trade him this summer.

Like Thompson, by taking this approach Harkless may be able to reap a bigger payday than signing outright in free agency since there are a lack of clubs with flexibility. The Knicks acquired Harkless’ Bird Rights when they acquired him, so they could go over the cap to sign the forward.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Carmelo, Knox, Harkless

Carmelo Anthony, a longtime client of Leon Rose, thinks the Knicks are in good hands with the veteran CAA agent set to take over their basketball operations department, telling Al Iannazzone of Newsday that it’s “an exciting time” for the team.

“I love it,” Anthony said of Rose’s transition from player agent to team executive. “I didn’t understand it at first because it happened so fast. When you’re somebody in that position, that’s the top of the mountain for you. That’s becoming the trend now in the NBA. I think it’s a great situation for him.”

Julius Randle, meanwhile, isn’t specifically a Rose client, but is also represented by CAA and is familiar with the Knicks’ incoming president of basketball operations. Like Anthony, he’s optimistic about what Rose can bring to the franchise, as he tells Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“Leon’s is a well-respected agent who’s done a lot of great things representing players in his career,” Randle said. “I haven’t heard one bad thing about him. My personal relationship with him has always been very respectful. … Great guy, great family guy and well-respected agent. Straight-up guy. He’s a good dude.”

Here’s more on the Knicks and Rose, who is reportedly on track to officially start his new job on Sunday:

  • Despite speculation that Rose’s presence in New York’s front office creates a path for Anthony to eventually finish his career with the Knicks, Carmelo tells Iannazzone that he hasn’t discussed that possibility at all with Rose and isn’t sure a reunion is in the cards. “It’s hard to say because I don’t know what that situation is going to be,” Anthony said. “The easiest thing to say is, ‘His agent is there, he’s coming back.’ Until I sit down and see the whole plan, I don’t know.”
  • Establishing an effective player development program in New York will be one of Rose’s primary goals in his new role, says George Willis of The New York Post.
  • Kevin Knox had one of his worst games of the season on Thursday, scoring a single point in eight minutes of action, going 0-of-3 from the floor and 1-of-4 from the line. Still, the second-year forward is trying to remain positive, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears that teams in touch with the Knicks before the trade deadline came away with the impression that New York would be “very hesitant” to trade Knox unless the return was significant. It’s not clear if Knox will continued to be valued so highly by the new management group.
  • Asked on Thursday whether it has been hard to go from a contender (the Clippers) to one of the NBA’s worst teams, Maurice Harkless simply replied, “Yeah” (video link via SNY.tv). While Harkless appears frustrated by the Knicks’ six-game losing streak, a report last week indicated that the veteran forward and the team have no plans for a buyout.

Knicks Not Planning To Buy Out Veterans

The Knicks have no plans at the moment to buy out any of their veteran players on expiring or pseudo-expiring contracts, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.

New York began its post-All-Star schedule hoping to make a push for a playoff spot in the East and not intending to prioritize playing youngsters over veterans if it compromised the team’s ability to win games. That philosophy has meant that players like Reggie Bullock, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson are still key contributors rather than buyout candidates.

While it’s possible the Knicks will adjust their approach to late-season player development as their postseason hopes continue to fade, their position on buyouts isn’t expected to change, says Popper. The team still views many of its veteran contracts – several of which include team options or small partial guarantees for 2020/21 – as potential trade assets for the offseason, Popper adds.

Besides Bullock, Portis, and Gibson, Wayne Ellington and Maurice Harkless are among the vets who fit the mold of a typical buyout candidate, at least to some extent. However, if those players aren’t interested in buyouts, the Knicks would have little to gain from pursuing them — the team already has one of the NBA’s lowest payrolls for 2019/20 and the savings would be minimal.

Additionally, none of those players have more than $1MM in guaranteed money on their contracts for next season, so they could be easily cut loose if no trade materializes in the offseason and the Knicks decide to move on. The only real benefit to moving on from them now would be to open up an immediate roster spot or two for developmental projects.

For what it’s worth, players like Portis and Harkless have publicly suggested they’re not looking to go the buyout route.

Knicks, Harkless Not Planning On Buyout

FEBRUARY 21, 6:05pm: Harkless plans to remain with the Knicks for the rest of the season, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

FEBRUARY 20, 9:15am: When the Clippers acquired Marcus Morris from the Knicks two weeks ago, they sent Maurice Harkless to New York as a salary-matching piece. With Harkless on an expiring contract and New York well out of the playoff race, there was speculation that his new team may be willing to buy out the veteran forward to allow him to join a contender.

As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports (via Twitter), Harkless said on Wednesday that he hasn’t initiated any buyout talks with the Knicks. However, the 26-year-old didn’t entirely rule out the possibility, suggesting he and his agent may discuss a potential buyout at some point and weigh whether he wants to finish the season with a playoff team.

Harkless appeared in 50 games (38 starts) with the Clippers before being dealt at the deadline. His counting stats (5.5 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 22.8 MPG) were modest, but he was a solid complementary piece alongside a handful of ball-dominant players in L.A., providing good perimeter defense and shooting well (.516 FG%, .370 3PT%) when he did end up with the ball.

A New York native, Harkless said upon being traded to the Knicks that it was a “dream come true” to join the club he grew up rooting for. So it’s possible his desire to finish the season with his hometown team may outweigh his interest in signing with a contender. Even if he seeks a buyout, the Knicks would have to be willing to negotiate the terms of his release.

If the two sides end up pursuing a buyout agreement, they’ll do so by March 1 to ensure Harkless retains his postseason eligibility. A player who is waived on March 2 or a later date can’t appear in the playoffs for a new team.

Harkless wouldn’t be able to re-sign with the Clippers if he’s bought out, but any other team would be fair game. There have been rumors suggesting that Los Angeles’ other team, the Lakers, would have interest.

Western Notes: Harkless, Lakers, Winslow

If New York buys out Maurice Harkless, the Lakers may be interested in signing the wing, Sam Amick of The Athletic said on The Sedano Show earlier today (h/t The Lakers Review). The Lakers, who missed out on Reggie Jackson to their L.A. rivals, are monitoring the Harkless’ situation.

Harkless came to the Knicks in the Marcus Morris deal at the trade deadline and it’s unclear whether he’ll reach a buyout agreement with the team. Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson may be angling for a sign-and-trade this summer and the Lakers would be a good fit for his services, as I wrote for Heavy.com. The team doesn’t have a long-term option at the center position and Thompson would be a nice partner to Anthony Davis in the frontcourt.
  • The Grizzlies traded for Justise Winslow to be in the team’s starting lineup eventually, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian writes. Winslow is still recovering from a back injury, so Memphis is expected to bring him along slowly.
  • Bill Oram of The Athletic chronicles Dwight Howard‘s redemption story with the Lakers. “He’s been a guy that’s always put up great numbers,” former teammate J.J. Redick said, “but I think he’s having an impact in a really meaningful way defensively on the boards, screening, rolling to the boards.”

Southeast Notes: Herro, Butler, Hawks, Jones Jr.

Heat guard Tyler Herro initially feared he might be done for the regular season when he injured his foot, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Herro, who suffered the injury on February 3, might be able to take off the protective boot sometime this week, Chiang adds. The 13th pick in last June’s draft, Herro is averaging 13.1 PPG and shooting 39.3% from deep.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s personality hasn’t changed but he has helped, rather than hurt, the Heat’s team chemistry, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. Guard Goran Dragic says the franchise’s culture made Butler fit seamlessly into the locker room. “They push you here. Jimmy is the same,” he said. “If you’re not used to it, it can [be] like, ‘I don’t like him.’ But this is the perfect situation for us and Jimmy. He just wants you and the team to get better.”
  • The Hawks will be looking to accelerate their rebuild during this offseason, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes in his latest mailbag. They will likely look to add younger veterans instead of acquiring bad contracts as they did last offseason, Kirschner continues. Davis Bertans, Joe Harris, Gordon Hayward, Evan Fournier and Maurice Harkless are potential targets, Kirschner adds.
  • Re-signing Derrick Jones Jr. and Dragic will likely be at the top of the Heat’s priority list this offseason, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. Negotiations will Jones could be tricky, since Miami wants to protect its cap space for the summer of 2021, when the free agent market could be robust. At his young age, Jones will probably be looking for a long-term contract, Winderman adds.