Mitchell Robinson

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Irving, Mills, Carter, Williams, Robinson

Ben Simmons is expected to address the media Tuesday before the Sixers leave for New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Wednesday, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. It’s uncertain whether Simmons will suit up for the opener.

“We’ve been together for three weeks, so we’ve established a good rhythm,” coach Doc Rivers said. “So the more he’s been in, the more he does, especially when we’re working on our offensive stuff earlier, because we’ve built from last year but we tweaked a lot of stuff. But it’s easy to pick up — especially for him.”

A source recently told The Athletic’s Sam Amick that Simmons plans to play in games, rather than sitting out while awaiting a trade.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Commissioner Adam Silver said the Nets’ decision to sit Kyrie Irving and the city ordinance that led to that decision is not a league issue, Bontemps writes in a separate story. The Players Association never agreed to a vaccine mandate and Irving is prohibited from playing in Brooklyn unless he’s vaccinated. “This is between Irving and New York City right now,” Silver said. “This is not a league issue … but I think it would have been best for everyone if every player were vaccinated.”
  • With Irving out indefinitely, the Nets will need more out of Patty Mills and Jevon Carter, Zach Brazilier of the New York Post writes. Mills signed with Brooklyn on a two-year contract in free agency, while Carter was acquired in the Landry Shamet deal.
  • The Celtics have an open roster spot after waiving Jabari Parker but they’re not planning to fill it immediately, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. Head coach Ime Udoka said they plan to see who else becomes available around the league but with Boston projected as a taxpaying team, the roster could remain at 14 for the time being.
  • The Celtics rewarded Robert Williams with a four-year extension in August. The goal now is to keep the young center healthy, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald writes. “He’s a young guy we do want to build his role and minutes overall, and a big part of that is staying healthy, so we’re on him about lifting the weights, getting his treatment, take care of himself off the court as well as what we ask him to do on the court,” Udoka said.
  • Mitchell Robinson is still working his way back from a foot injury, though the young Knicks center plans to play in the team’s opener, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Robinson played in the Knicks’ preseason finale on Friday. “Once I get my conditioning back — that’s the main thing — so I can play all day, I’ll be all right,” he said.

Knicks Notes: Grimes, McBride, Robinson, Noel

Rookie guard Quentin Grimes played less than two minutes in the Knicks‘ last preseason game, but he gave the team a taste of what he can contribute, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The 25th pick in this year’s draft hit a pair of three-pointers in that short span, showing he may be a good fit with coach Tom Thibodeau’s new approach on offense.

“You have to be ready to come in and knock down shots,’’ Grimes said. “It’s definitely an adjustment — my first time ever coming off the bench or even sitting the first 46 minutes. You got to be locked in and watching the whole game. You can’t worry about if your number’s not called.’’

Grimes and fellow rookie guard Miles McBride have both been relegated to the end of the bench during preseason after making strong impressions in Summer League. However, Thibodeau indicated that he has plans for both guards.

“They are going to be good players,” he said. “It started in the Summer League, fall workout and then training camp. When it comes to get in there, get the job done. That’s what I love about both guys. Quentin went in, Miles went in right at the end of the game. Both of them played really well.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Mitchell Robinson continues to make progress in his return from a broken foot and may be ready for Friday’s preseason finale, Berman adds. Thibodeau considers Robinson to be a practice away from being cleared for full contact, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Nerlens Noel will miss his third straight preseason game tonight, and he tells Berman that he’s more concerned about a hamstring injury than his knee (Twitter link).
  • After years of being known for turmoil, the Knicks are enjoying a calm preseason, especially compared to their Atlantic Division rivals in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, notes Peter Botte of The New York Post. The new front office has worked to create a drama-free environment, and Thibodeau is happy with the results. “You never come in not looking forward to seeing them, being with them and working together,” he said of his players. “And when you get a group that makes that type of commitment to not only themselves but to each other, it’s special. And we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s not going to be easy. But I look forward to doing it with these guys. They’re special.”

Injury Notes: Gay, Bogdanovic, Giannis, Robinson, Bryant

Jazz forward Rudy Gay won’t be ready to make his debut for his new team during the preseason or even by the start of the regular season, head coach Quin Snyder told reporters on Friday.

As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune details, Gay underwent surgery on his left heel shortly after the 2020/21 season ended and is still recovering. He has been going through portions of practice with the Jazz, but hasn’t yet been cleared for contact, Walden writes. Gay is expected to remain sidelined through at least opening night.

Meanwhile, another Jazz forward – Bojan Bogdanovic – has also been held out of the full-contact portions of the team’s practices, according to Walden. However, it sounds like Bogdanovic is closer to returning to action than Gay. A team spokesperson said that Bogdanovic is experiencing some shoulder soreness and is being rested out of caution. If the regular season had begun, he’d likely be able to play, says Walden.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo acknowledged on Media Day that the knee he injured during last season’s playoffs still isn’t 100%, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic, and he hasn’t been a full participant in the team’s practices so far this week. Asked if there’s a chance Antetokounmpo won’t be ready to play by opening night, head coach Mike Budenholzer replied, “No, I wouldn’t go there. … I would say he’s in a good place and there’s a lot of confidence he’ll be good — and when exactly that is, we hope it’s sooner rather than later” (Twitter links via Nehm)
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, who is coming back from a fractured foot, said on Thursday that he’s running but isn’t yet sprinting, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that Robinson – who hasn’t been cleared to practice – still has a few checkpoints to hit, including some related to conditioning, before he’ll be ready to return to action. There’s currently no timetable for his return. Begley adds that the Knicks are unlikely to seriously consider negotiating a new contract for Robinson, who is extension-eligible, until they see him back on the court.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant admitted this week that the long recovery from an ACL tear has been a life-changing process for him, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. It’s very hard because that’s like the one love that you have in your life right there. It’s the one thing that’s always been there, always intact that you know that you can always go to. When that’s taken away from you, it’s very hard,” Bryant said. “It’s almost depressing in a sort of way. But when you’re mentally strong and you keep talking to yourself and working with yourself mentally, the days don’t get so much harder, they get a little bit easier.” Bryant is expected to return sometime in December.

Knicks Notes: Trades, Vaccinations, Robinson, Walker

Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose indicated the club is well-positioned to make a big trade and he’s ready to pounce when the opportunity arrives, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

“We’re going to be aggressive as far as knowing what’s going on and as far as being on top of things and looking at opportunities,’’ Rose said. “But at the same time, we’re going to be prudent and disciplined in decisions that we make that are going to take into account positives and negatives, short term, long term, all those factors in a decision-making process.’’

The Knicks own 15 picks in the next four drafts, which could come in handy in trade talks.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Players must be fully vaccinated to practice or play in New York City unless they are granted a religious or health-related exemption. That won’t be an issue for the Knicks, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. GM Scott Perry said everyone on the team and staff has received the shots. “They took this thing very seriously and took the responsibility to get that done,” Perry said.
  • The club is taking a wait-and-see approach regarding Mitchell Robinson and contract extension talks, according to Berman. Robinson’s return from a broken foot is still “a work in progress,” according to Rose. That gives the front office pause in terms of an extension until Robinson returns to the court. “As far as a contract goes, we love Mitchell Robinson and we look forward to seeing him play,’’ Rose said.
  • Kemba Walker was slowed by knee injuries over the last two seasons with the Celtics and coach Tom Thibodeau said Walker will have input regarding load management, Bondy writes. “This guy has managed his career a long time. So what’s the best for him? … Was it better for him (to sit in back-to-backs) in the end or was it not?” Thibodeau said. “So I think you have to take the information in, you have to talk to him, you have to see how it feels. You have to talk to the medical people and go from there. I don’t want him to limit himself in terms of what he can do.”

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Walker, Bacon, Offseason

The Knicks are open to signing Mitchell Robinson to a contract extension before the 2021/22 season begins, “as long as it’s not crazy,” a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. Robinson, who is one of the Knicks’ longest-tenured players, is entering a contract year and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 if he doesn’t sign a new deal before then.

As Berman notes, there are reasons both sides may want to wait on an extension. Robinson is coming off a season in which he suffered a broken hand and broken foot, so the Knicks might want to see him at full health again before making a major investment. The team’s multiyear commitment to Nerlens Noel in free agency also reduces the urgency to lock up Robinson.

Robinson, meanwhile, could significantly boost his stock in the coming months if he shows he’s back to 100% health and continues to improve on both ends of the court. For now, Berman says, league insiders consider the big man’s value to be around the mid-level or slightly higher. Berman suggests $44MM over four years could be a fair price for both sides.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • During his introductory press conference last week, Kemba Walker said he came “pretty close” to signing with the Knicks as a free agent in 2019 before heading to Boston instead. A source tells Berman that Walker had been interested in teaming up with Kevin Durant for the Knicks, but Durant – of course – chose to go to Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving instead. Berman says the Knicks and Walker decided at that point that a union wouldn’t make sense without another star on board.
  • According to Berman, multiple sources believe the Knicks decided to add Dwayne Bacon to their roster due to a recommendation from his former coach Steve Clifford, who is close with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau. However, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv noted last week (via Twitter), Bacon is on an Exhibit 10 contract, so he’s no lock to make the regular season roster.
  • In his ranking of all 30 teams’ offseason moves, David Aldridge of The Athletic places the Knicks at No. 13, praising the team’s signing of Walker but arguing that losing Reggie Bullock will hurt.

And-Ones: Offseason Roundup, 2022 Free Agency, Evans, Nogueira

Despite the recent surge in COVID-19 breakthrough cases, the expectation around the NBA is that things will return roughly to normal for the 2021/22 season, writes ESPN’s Tim Bontemps in his offseason roundup.

Bontemps polled 10 executives and scouts on some of the most pressing questions of the offseason, such as who the best player will be this season (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant tied for first), the best moves of the offseason (the Heat signing Kyle Lowry won out over the Magic drafting Jalen Suggs and the Wizards getting off Russell Westbrook‘s contract), the worst moves (DeMar DeRozan‘s signing with the Bulls), and others.

The executives also gave their thoughts on why fewer teams seem to be tanking this season and who should be considered the favorites to win the title.

We have more news from around the world of hoops:

  • 2022 was at one point considered a loaded free agency class, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link), but after the most recent round of extensions, the big names have been whittled down to Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine. Marks predicts some, if not all of Josh Richardson, Aaron Gordon, Jalen Brunson, Tyus Jones and Mitchell Robinson will sign extensions before the season starts and quotes a Western Conference executive who says that due to scarcity of stars on the market, he expects the regular season trade scene to be extremely active. Marks also breaks down the teams who have or could have cap space next summer.
  • 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion Jeremy Evans, who spent five seasons with the Jazz and two more with the Mavs and Hawks, has signed with the Greek team Panathinaikos, according to Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (Twitter link).
  • JD Shaw also tweets that former Raptor Lucas “Bebé” Nogueira, who was picked just one spot after Antetokounmpo in the 2013 draft, has come out of retirement to play for Sao Paolo in his home country of Brazil. As Shaw notes, Nogueira had announced his retirement in February.

Atlantic Notes: Noel, Robinson, Bonga, Begarin

Nerlens Noel had several suitors in free agency, but wanted to return to the Knicks to continue building on the progress from last year, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

There were other opportunities but I want to build on that and get this team to the next level,” Noel said. “Guys like Julius (Randle), RJ (Barrett), Derrick (Rose), we had pieces that can really come together. And I’m really confident we can be better.”

Berman also writes that Noel’s three-year, $27.2MM deal presents the Knicks with questions regarding young center Mitchell Robinson, who was one of the more productive young defensive centers in the league before injuries derailed his 2020/21 season. Robinson is eligible for a contract extension, but there has yet to be any indication whether the two sides will be able to get a deal done.

We have more news from around the Atlantic Division:

  • In the same piece, Berman writes that Robinson has been in Las Vegas, working out with Knicks staffers as he continues to progress from his broken foot. In a tweet, Robinson writes: “I look big asf them weights doing me some good and form looking great thanks Knicks staff.”
  • Isaac Bonga‘s deal with the Raptors includes a $200K guarantee, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. The deal is presumed to be a training camp try-out, but the guarantee offers hope that Bonga may be able to stick. If so, the versatile wing could find himself in an ideal developmental situation with a team known for helping young players grow.
  • The Celtics’ 45th pick, Juhann Begarin, is ready to come over from France, writes Jay King of The Athletic, but team president Brad Stevens has other ideas. “Brad told me I would play in France for one more year,” Begarin said. “I think I’m ready to play with (the Celtics), and I knew summer league was an opportunity to show them I’m ready. I just asked him to play and show I can play with them.”

Hollinger’s Latest: CP3, Knicks, Fournier, Bulls, Rose, Pacers, More

There was talk last week that the Pelicans would be a serious suitor for Chris Paul in free agency, but that chatter seems to have faded, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says the veteran point guard is now widely expected to re-sign with the Suns.

As Hollinger explains, he heard the Suns’ initial offer to Paul when the two sides were discussing a possible extension was somewhat “underwhelming,” but the club now appears prepared to offer a more serious package. No one around the league will be surprised if the total value of Paul’s new deal gets up to $100MM or more, Hollinger adds.

Here are several more free agent rumors from Hollinger:

  • Amidst rumors that Evan Fournier‘s price tag may be too high for the Celtics‘ liking, Hollinger suggests that the Knicks may be the team preparing to make an aggressive offer to the free agent wing. Hollinger adds that it’s worth keeping an eye on Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks, since a renegotiate-and-extend deal is a possibility for the two sides. That sort of agreement would give Robinson a raise for 2021/22 and lock him up for multiple seasons.
  • If the Bulls don’t land Lonzo Ball, one of their backup plans may be offering Derrick Rose a deal in the neighborhood of $12MM per year, says Hollinger.
  • Hollinger’s sources expect T.J. McConnell to stick with the Pacers for a deal worth around – or slightly above – the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.9MM), but the competition for Doug McDermott will be fiercer and Indiana will face tax issues if the team wants to re-sign both players without trimming salary elsewhere.
  • If Richaun Holmes‘ presumed suitors – such as Charlotte and Toronto – end up using their cap room in other ways, he might be squeezed in free agency, allowing the Kings to re-sign him despite only holding his Early Bird rights. If that scenario plays out, Hollinger expects Holmes to sign a two-year deal with a player option so that he can hit the open market again in 2022 with full Bird rights.
  • There hasn’t been much free agent chatter surrounding Nuggets guard Will Barton or Trail Blazers Norman Powell, according to Hollinger, who writes that teams seems to be assuming those two players will remain with their respective clubs.
  • It has been tricky to figure out what the Spurs plan to do with their projected cap room, says Hollinger. Daniel Theis is the most prominent free agent target Hollinger has heard linked to San Antonio.

Mitchell Robinson, Terance Mann, Kenyon Martin Jr. Receive Salary Guarantees

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson ($1.8MM), Clippers guard Terance Mann ($1.8MM) and Rockets guard Kenyon Martin Jr. ($1.5MM) all saw their 2021/22 salaries become fully guaranteed on Sunday, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Robinson had his team option picked up by the club on Saturday, but his salary for next season didn’t guarantee until today. The 23-year-old center played only 31 games for New York this season, averaging 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per contest.

Mann, 24, showed flashes of potential with the Clippers this past season. He was the team’s No. 48 pick in 2019 and averaged seven points per game in 2020/21, shooting 51% from the floor and 42% from three-point range.

Martin, a 20-year-old swingman, was selected by the Kings on behalf of the Rockets with the No. 52 overall pick in last year’s November draft, then signed a four-year contract with Houston. His $1.78MM salary in 2022/23 remains non-guaranteed, while he also has a team option worth $1.93MM for 2023/24.

Both Robinson and Mann are also extension-eligible with their respected clubs, Marks notes.

Knicks Exercise Team Option On Mitchell Robinson, Waive Norvel Pelle

The Knicks have picked up their option for next season on center Mitchell Robinson and have waived center Norvel Pelle, the team announced (via Twitter).

Robinson will make $1.8MM in the final season of the four-year deal he signed after being drafted in the second round in 2018. He was the team’s starting center before getting injured, so it was an easy decision for New York to exercise the option.

The 23-year-old averaged 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in 31 games before undergoing season-ending foot surgery in late March. He also suffered a broken hand during the season that caused him to miss 15 games.

Robinson is eligible for a four-year, $51MM extension during the offseason, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Knicks also have the option of using cap space to renegotiate his salary for next season and having that be the beginning of an extension. If no extension is reached, Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Pelle, 28, had a $1.7MM option for 2021/22 that New York chose not to exercise. He signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Knicks in April, shortly after Robinson broke his foot, and earned a contract through the end of the season. Pelle appeared in nine games, averaging 1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per night.