Mitchell Robinson

Knicks Notes: Lee, Trier, Robinson, Ntilikina

An injury is hampering Courtney Lee’s efforts to earn a spot in the Knicks’ rotation, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Lee sat out his second straight preseason game Wednesday while recovering from a neck strain he suffered while being fouled on a layup last week in training camp.

“I’m losing my conditioning — I was in top shape,’’ Lee said. “With the conditioning drill and how we are playing fast, I was in elite shape. That’s the main thing I’m missing now is my wind. All the things they are putting in with plays and sets I’m picking up. It’s about building the chemistry that I’m missing right now.’’

Lee, who calls it “a little whiplash,” is receiving treatment and hopes to return soon. However, he’s falling behind in the competition for playing time as new coach David Fizdale has declared an open competition at all positions. The Knicks explored trade offers for the 33-year-old Lee this summer, and he doesn’t seem to be in their long-range plans.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Rookie Allonzo Trier put on a show with 20 points in the first half of Wednesday’s game, Berman adds in a separate story. Trier finished with 25 points in 26 minutes, causing Fizdale to say afterward that he’s “got a chance” to make the 15-man roster. Trier signed a two-way contract with the Knicks in July after being passed over in the draft. New York probably would have taken him with the 36th pick if Mitchell Robinson hadn’t been available, according to Berman.
  • Fizdale is defending Robinson after a clash with Markieff Morris that resulted in the Wizards’ forward being ejected, Berman writes in another piece. Morris made derogatory remarks about Robinson after the game, but Fizdale liked the way his rookie center handled the situation. “I’m always going to protect my guy,” he said. “… I like the fact he didn’t back down. But I felt like he was the one who kept his composure — the one who showed the maturity.”
  • The Knicks are still searching for the best role for second-year guard Frank Ntilikina, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. He has been used off the bench in three-guard lineups in each of the first two preseason games and has been assigned to guard small forwards. Trey Burke, who was picked up from the G League last year and has an expiring contract, has been getting the starting nod at point guard.

Atlantic Notes: Knox, Noah, Irving, Green

First-round pick Kevin Knox put on a show for Knicks fans at today’s scrimmage, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox has gotten past the tentativeness he had when camp opened, with Berman estimating he hit seven of 14 shots this afternoon and went three for six from 3-point range.

Coach David Fizdale has emphasized to Knox that he needs to be aggressive on offense.

“He did exactly what I want,’’ Fizdale said. “He’s a natural scorer. He’s unselfish to a fault at times, but today was indication what I’ve been prodding him to do every day. That ball hits your hands, you’re live.’’

The day wasn’t as promising for center Mitchell Robinson, a second-round pick whom the Knicks are hoping can provide bench help in the middle. Robinson looked overmatched against Enes Kanter, and Berman suggested he might start the season in the G League to get used to the pro game.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Joakim Noah remains on the Knicks‘ roster as he continues to negotiate a buyout, Berman adds in the same story. Fizdale wouldn’t comment on the proceedings, but the amount of money Noah is willing to give back remains an issue. Berman adds that Noah expressed his frustration today when he posted, then quickly deleted, an Instagram message that read, “Let me go!!! What r u waiting for!!!! U don’t want me there so let me go!!!”
  • Kyrie Irving made headlines this week with comments indicating that he plans to stay in Boston beyond this season, but they were nothing new to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Irving, who is expected to opt out of his current deal next summer, has expressed similar sentiments to his boss before. “I’ve talked to Kyrie a lot,” Ainge said. “Maybe he’s changed his tune with you [media], but he has been very positive from the day he got here. I talk to Kyrie all the time, his representation. I think Kyrie is very happy here in Boston, always has been. That will hopefully make this a place he wants to stay much longer once the season ends.”
  • Danny Green may be an overlooked part of the Kawhi Leonard trade, but he brings valuable championship experience to a Raptors team that needs it, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Green, who won a title with the Spurs in 2014, has played in more than 100 playoff games and has shot better than 41% on 3-pointers in the postseason.

Atlantic Rumors: Dinwiddie, Robinson, Irving, Kanter

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has mixed feelings about hearing his name in trade rumors, according to an Associated Press report. Dinwiddie is considered a potential target for the Suns, who are in the market for a point guard. Dinwiddie is playing for the bargain rate of $1.656MM before he enters the free agent market next season, and the Nets have other point guard options, which only fuels the trade talk. “Being in trade rumors all summer I guess is two pieces: I want to be here. I love being here. I’m happy that they didn’t (trade me). On the flip side, the spectrum of teams calling me (meant) obviously I played well,” Dinwiddie said.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Trey Burke doles out high praise when asked about second-round pick Mitchell Robinson, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. The 7’1” center has dazzled teammates during fall workouts and Burke compares him to a Hall of Famer. “I got a chance to play with him in open gym, and I was shocked a little bit,” Burke said. “His ability to just get a rebound off of the rim, just go right back up and just dunk it, it reminded me of like a young — and this is high praise — it reminded me of like a young Shaquille O’Neal, just skinnier.”
  • Kyrie Irving is trying to downplay the notion that he wants to leave Boston when he becomes a free agent next summer, as he told Celtics.com in comments that were relayed by USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. The Celtics point guard even tossed out the possibility of getting his jersey in the rafters with other franchise greats when he retires. “Obviously it’s everybody else’s job to look forward to my future before I can, so I just really thought it was important to make sure it’s known that this franchise is really built for the next few years of being at the top-tier of teams in the league,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? What more could you ask for from an organization to really elevate your game? When you want to be on the same lineage of greatness as the guys that have come before you, there are times where I have thought about having No. 11 in the rafters, hopefully, one day. That’s a dream.”
  • Another player heading into free agency next summer, center Enes Kanter, reiterated his desire to re-sign with the Knicks, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets“I want to retire here. Nothing has changed,” Kanter said.

Eastern Notes: Marks, Thomas, Graham, Portis

Nets GM Sean Marks promised to season-ticket holders that the team is no longer interested in tanking, according to a Net Income story. “This is not a year we’re just going to sit there because we control our own pick and say let’s just hope that pick is as good as it possibly can be,” he said during the conference call. “It’s important for the fans to see the trajectory we’re on.” Brooklyn’s goal for the upcoming season is the postseason and Marks believes there are enough pieces to make it happen. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t make a push for the playoffs,” he said. “Isn’t that the objective here? We’re not sitting here trying to win 20 games, so let’s put our best foot forward and push each other and see where it goes.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Knicks forward Lance Thomas is very impressed with draft picks Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, Jordan Pandy of Newsday relays. Thomas expects both of them to make an impact in their rookie years. “You can just tell from the Summer League they were really going after it,” Thomas said. “Those guys were playing like they were playing for contracts even though they already have guarantees. I like to see that. I love the toughness, I love the grit, and that’s what it takes to survive in New York.”
  • The Nets’ signing of forward Treveon Graham could prove to be a huge bargain, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The undrafted Graham was a rotation player for the Hornets last season and is as a career 43.8% 3-point shooter, Lewis notes. If he develops into a 3-and-D wing and can also contribute as a stretch four, he will be a steal, Lewis adds. Graham signed a two-year, $3.15MM contract.
  • Bulls forward Bobby Portis said contract extension talks with the front office are ongoing, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports. Portis can sign a rookie scale extension before the start of the season, otherwise he’ll be restricted free agent next summer if he receives a qualifying offer. “We’ve been talking about it,” he told Johnson. “We’re going to talk more in the next week or so. Hopefully, we get things done. I’m not stressing about it.”

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 Notes: Robinson, Fizdale, Porzingis, Knox

A disagreement over pre-draft strategy has resulted in an agent change for Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Robinson has signed with John Spencer, a former Knicks scout, after leaving Raymond Brothers.

Robinson was drafted at No. 36, but believed he had a chance to be taken late in the first round, which would have provided more guaranteed money. Robinson’s representatives pulled him out of the draft combine the day before it started, and he blames that decision for his slide on draft night. The Lakers were looking at him with their 25th pick and may have taken him at No. 39 had he still been available, a source tells Berman.

Robinson signed with the Knicks last week, getting a $6.4MM deal over four seasons that includes team options after the second and third year. Robinson, who dropped out of Western Kentucky and hasn’t played in 14 months, may have changed the Knicks’ plans for him with an impressive summer league performance, Berman adds. The organization originally had him ticketed for the G League, but will now consider keeping him on the NBA squad.

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • David Fizdale will travel to Latvia next week to meet with Kristaps Porzingis, Berman writes in a separate story. The first meeting between the new coach and his injured star will include a lot of film study. “It’s going to be a big part of the next step to show him the big picture,’’ Fizdale said. “How I want to utilize him, coach him, start building a relationship with him, a bond with him, a connection with him.”
  • First-round pick Kevin Knox is already dreaming about being on the court with Porzingis, Berman adds in the same piece. Both players can shoot from outside, and the Knicks view them as an effective combination to spread the floor in Fizdale’s offense. “I see they will complement each other very well,’’ Fizdale said. “That’s not a bad pick-and-roll to run — a KK-Porzingis pick-and-roll.’’
  • The Knicks weren’t major players in this year’s free agency, but things are shaping up great for next summer, notes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving, two potential 2019 targets, both turned down extension offers, and Kevin Durant has an option after one year.

Atlantic Rumors: Gaines, Nurse, Celtics, Knox

Clarence Gaines Jr. is no longer with the Knicks’ organization, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports. Gaines was the team’s VP of player personnel under former team president Phil Jackson, who credited Gaines for lobbying to select Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 lottery. Gaines did scouting for the current regime last season. Several newcomers have been hired by the front office and Gaines did not have strong ties to GM Scott Perry, Ian Begley of ESPN notes. Gaines’ contract expired after last season.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Challenging DeMar DeRozan to become a better defender is just one of the things new Raptors coach Nick Nurse has in mind for next season, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes. Nurse is trying to devise ways to play two smaller guards, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, together and still minimize the issues that it presents defending pick-and-rolls, Wolstat continues. Playing Serge Ibaka more often at center is another wrinkle Nurse plans to employ, Wolstat adds.
  • The Celtics are planning to hold onto their $8.641MM mid-level exception for the balance of the offseason, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets. Their priority is to re-sign restricted free agents Marcus Smart and Jabari Bird and see what develops during the season, Smith adds.
  • Strong summer-league showings by first-round pick Kevin Knox and second-rounder Mitchell Robinson have made the Knicks look wise in their selections, ESPN’s Andre Snellings writes. Knox should jump right into the Knicks’ starting lineup at small forward, while Robinson could eventually work his way into the rotation. While neither player shows superstar potential, they both have skill sets that should translate to the league, Snellings adds.
  • The Nets have positioned themselves to make a big splash next summer, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype notes. They can create enough salary-cap room to sign two first-tier free agents to go along with two first-round picks, provided that the protections on the pick the Nuggets sent them don’t kick in.
  • Knicks coach David Fizdale will head off to Latvia on July 22nd to visit with Porzingis and check on his progress from knee surgery, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports.

Contract Details: Jokic, Payton, Craig, Bradley

While Nikola Jokic‘s new five-year deal with the Nuggets was reported as a maximum-salary contract, that’s not technically accurate. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (via Twitter), the base value of Jokic’s new deal falls just short of the max, since it includes about $1MM per year in bonuses linked to team success.

As Lowe explains, about half of those annual bonuses can be earned if the Nuggets make the playoffs, while the other half can be earned if the club advances to the second round. Because Denver didn’t achieve either of those benchmarks in 2017/18, those bonuses are currently considered “unlikely” incentives and don’t count against the Nuggets’ cap.

In 2018/19, for instance, Jokic’s cap hit will be about $24.6MM rather than the maximum $25.5MM, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. However, if the Nuggets were to win a playoff series in 2019, Jokic would earn his first-year bonus and his second-year bonuses would subsequently be considered “likely,” causing his future cap hit to increase.

Here are several more specific details on newly-signed contracts from around the NBA, all via Pincus unless otherwise indicated:

  • Elfrid Payton, who was signed using most of the Pelicans‘ bi-annual exception, got a flat $3MM salary for 2018/19 (Twitter link).
  • As expected, the Nuggets used a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Torrey Craig to his new two-year deal. Craig will earn a flat $2MM salary in each season, for a $4MM total (Twitter link).
  • Avery Bradley has a fully guaranteed $12MM salary in the first season of his two-year contract with the Clippers, but only $2MM of his $12.96MM salary for 2019/20 is guaranteed (Twitter link). The Clips will have to make a decision on Bradley’s second-year guarantee by July 3, 2019.
  • The Knicks gave second-round pick Mitchell Robinson guaranteed salaries of $1.5MM and $1.6MM in his first two years, with non-guaranteed minimum salaries in years three and four (Twitter link). The four-year deal, which has a team option in year four, should be worth just shy of $6.6MM in total.
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk‘s three-year contract with the Lakers has a guaranteed first-year salary of $1,487,694, followed by non-guaranteed minimum salaries for years two and three (Twitter link). The third year is a team option.

New York Notes: Robinson, Lin, Nets, Noah

Despite some speculation that he may be a first-rounder, the Knicks were able to nab Mitchell Robinson with the 36th overall pick in last month’s draft. That was never a lock though, and a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that the Knicks mulled the possibility of trading up a few spots in the draft to make sure they’d be able to grab the young center.

Robinson, who signed his first NBA contract on Sunday, looked good in Summer League play later in the day, putting up 12 points and 11 rebounds with a pair of blocks against Utah. As Berman writes in a separate article for The Post, the rookie big man still wants to get in better shape, but is optimistic that he’ll be able to make an impact for the Knicks.

“I feel I really can play in the NBA,” Robinson said. “Nowadays you got the 7-footer who can jump out of the gym. I’m one of them. It will work out great for me.”

Here’s more from out of New York on the Knicks and Nets:

  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post checks in on Jeremy Lin‘s recovery from a torn patellar tendon. While the Nets point guard hasn’t played five-on-five ball yet, he anticipates being ready to go for training camp.
  • In another story for The Post, Lewis explores what’s next for the Nets now that Dwight Howard‘s buyout has been finalized. That agreement opened up more cap room, but GM Sean Marks doesn’t sound like he’s in a hurry to spend it. “I wouldn’t rule anything out. I’d just say we’re constantly weighing our options,” Marks said. “We’re going to be strategic and see how [free agency] comes. The longer the process is drawn out and going into July, there will probably be better deals out there.”
  • Joakim Noah‘s future with the Knicks remains a question mark, but the big man sounds enthusiastic about the idea of staying in New York and playing for new head coach David Fizdale, as he told TMZ this weekend.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a closer look at Juwan Howard Jr., who is playing for the Knicks in Summer League and hopes to get an invite to join the Westchester Knicks, New York’s G League affiliate. Fizdale, of course, has a good relationship with Howard’s father from their days in Miami.

Knicks Sign Second-Rounder Mitchell Robinson

6:17pm: Robinson signed a four-year deal with two fully guaranteed seasons and a team option for year four, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, the pact includes about $4.8MM in the first three years, so at least one year is worth more than the minimum. Three years at the minimum would have been worth about $3.9MM. The third year isn’t fully guaranteed (Twitter link).

5:10pm: The signing is official, per a team press release.

3:48pm: The Knicks have reached a multi-year agreement with second-round pick Mitchell Robinson, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

The contract is expected to be at least thee years, meaning the Knicks will use their mid-level exception to complete. the move. The team has about $2.1MM left on its MLE after signing Mario Hezonja, but it’s certain how much of that amount Robinson will receive.

The 7’1” center, who was the 36th overall pick, didn’t play college ball after committing to Western Kentucky. However, the Knicks have been impressed with his confidence and aggressiveness thus far on their summer-league team, Begley adds.

New York has three other centers on the roster — Enes Kanter, Luke Kornet and Joakim Noah, though it’s unlikely the disgruntled Noah will play again for the franchise.