Nerlens Noel

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.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics Lineup, Clark, Noel, Sixers

With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams and Marcus Smart seemingly locked into starting spots for the Celtics, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston explores the possibilities for the fifth starter. The most likely candidates are Aaron Nesmith, Josh Richardson, Al Horford and Dennis Schröder — Forsberg takes a closer look at what each player could bring to the starting unit.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Free agent Gary Clark worked out for the Celtics, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Clark, a 6’6” forward, played 39 games in the league last season, including 35 with the Magic. He also played two games apiece for Denver and Philadelphia.
  • Knicks center Nerlens Noel has filed an amended complaint against super-agent Rich Paul, which includes an October 2017 letter from the legal counsel for Noel’s prior agent, Happy Walters, stating that the decision to reject the Mavericks’ $70MM offer “placed Noel at serious professional and financial risk,” Darren Heitner of SportsAgentBlog tweets. Noel sued Paul and Klutch Sports last month, claiming that he fired Walters in favor of Paul because Paul told him he could get a max contract. Paul also allegedly told Noel to turn down Dallas’ extension offer.
  • The Sixers have signed a deal with Crypto.com to be their new jersey patch partner, according to a team press release. According to Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the multiyear deal is worth eight figures annually and is among the top five most lucrative jersey ad deals in the league.

Scotto’s Latest: Cavs, Bulls, J. Smith, D. Jordan, Dudley, More

There were some “intense” talks in the Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade negotiations between the Cavaliers and Bulls for several days leading up to their agreement last week, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said in his latest podcast with Yossi Gozlan.

According to Scotto, Cleveland originally wanted to include three second-round picks in their offer for Markkanen, but Chicago insisted on receiving a first-rounder, and the Cavs were able to get one from Portland for Larry Nance Jr. and reroute it to the Bulls.

Even after securing that first-round pick, the Bulls held out for a second-rounder on top of that, according to Scotto, who says some of the parties involved in those negotiations were frustrated by what they perceived to be a moving of the goal posts. Eventually though, the Cavs sent a protected second-round selection to Chicago to get the deal done.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • Second-year big man Jalen Smith has been made available by the Suns, multiple sources tell Scotto. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report stated last month that Phoenix was gauging interest in Smith, and I speculated earlier this week that the former lottery pick could be in play if the Suns make a trade offer for Spurs forward Thaddeus Young.
  • Scotto reports that the Nets have offered a first-round pick swap in trade talks involving center DeAndre Jordan, but haven’t found any takers. The two sides are reportedly exploring a buyout.
  • Jared Dudley told Scotto that he planned to retire if the Lakers didn’t re-sign him, since he didn’t want to play anywhere else. When L.A. chose to move on, Dudley accepted an assistant coaching job with the Mavericks.
  • The Bulls are among the teams that have shown some interest in free agent wing James Ennis, according to Scotto.
  • When he re-signed with the Knicks, Nerlens Noel wasn’t assured the starting center job, but he’ll get a chance to compete for that role and will “definitely” play meaningful minutes, says Scotto.

And-Ones: Lingering Questions, Ref Vaccinations, Noel, Jenkins, Mathias

The NBA’s summer of player movement may be winding down, but there are still some questions looming over teams. An ESPN panel of insiders looked at some of them on Thursday (before the Lauri MarkkanenLarry NanceDerrick Jones Jr. three team deal broke).

Among the predictions that were made: Nick Friedell believes Damian Lillard will eventually end up with the Knicks, just not in the immediate future; Kirk Goldsberry thinks that J.J. Redick will end up with the Nets; Andrew Lopez predicts Paul Millsap will start the season not on a roster, but will be picked up mid-season.

The crew also looks at which new coaches have the hardest road ahead: Chauncey Billups with the Blazers and Willie Green with the Pelicans each received two votes, while Jason Kidd with the Mavericks received one.

And, of course, the much-discussed Ben SimmonsSixers impasse was the first topic of debate.

We have more news from around the world of hoops:

  • The NBA will require its referees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, barring medical or religious exemptions, the league announced today. A report from ESPN laid out the scope of the policy, including that referees will receive booster shots once those become recommended, and that refs without an approved exemption who aren’t vaccinated will not be eligible to work games.
  • Knicks center Nerlens Noel‘s lawsuit has the potential to change the NBA-agent landscape, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Fischer writes that as opposed to the league’s tampering rules between teams and players, there are no such prohibitions on agents trying to poach clients, and that this unprecedented peek behind the curtain could give the league incentive to put some protections in place.
  • John Jenkins has signed with BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque in France, reports Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (via Twitter). Jenkins played eight seasons in the NBA, averaging 5.0 PPG while shooting 36.7% from three on 319 career attempts. Jenkins recently participated with the Team USA select team as Team USA prepared for their eventual gold medal run.
  • Dakota Mathias has signed with the G League Ignite, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The 26-year-old played eight games for the Sixers as one of their two-way contracts last season, and Scotto reports that several teams have interest in him as a two-way player again this year. Mathias averaged six PPG and 1.6 APG in 15.4 minutes a night for Philadelphia.

Hornets Notes: Rozier, Noel, Bridges, Graham

Terry Rozier sees big things ahead for the Hornets after signing his $96MM contract extension, writes Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlotte Observer.

Last year we were right there, had our foot in the door, but things got taken away from us due to injury,” Rozier said on Wednesday. “But I think we’re heading in the right direction and I’m just glad to be a part of this.”

Rozier, a career point guard, was moved to shooting guard after coming to Charlotte and responded with the best season of his career. He’s excited for the team’s future, especially going into year two playing alongside LaMelo Ball.

I think it’s going to be real scary,” Rozier said. “I think it’s great that we’re friends off the court. That’s a plus for us. Real cool friends, like my brother. He just had to get his feet wet last year, and I think he’s ready to show people what that name is about.

Rozier and team president Mitch Kupchak are also in agreement that the goal for this season is a playoff berth, and even potentially a series win.

We have more news from the Hornets:

  • Rozier has reasons to be pushing for the team to start experiencing playoff success beyond just on-court ambitions. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter), if the Hornets reach the second round of the playoffs in any of the 2022/23, 2023/24 or 2024/25 seasons, and Rozier plays at least 70 games that year, the fourth year of his extension becomes fully guaranteed.
  • According to Michael A. Scotto of HoopsHype, center Nerlens Noel had interest in the Hornets before ultimately re-signing with the Knicks, Scotto said on Wednesday’s episode of the HoopsHype podcast. Scotto says that playing alongside Ball as a pick and roll partner was a primary point of interest for the athletic big man.
  • In the same episode, Scotto adds that given the potentially dry 2022 free agent market, it could behoove Miles Bridges to try to lock down an extension with the Hornets this offseason. He’ll have until October 18 to get something done with Charlotte.
  • The Pelicans sent $2MM to the Hornets as part of the Devonte’ Graham sign-and-trade, reports Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. The Hornets also received a lottery-protected 2022 pick from the Pelicans in the deal.

Eastern Notes: Craig, Bulls, Jones Jr., Noel, Randle

New Pacers forward Torrey Craig is aiming to bring defensive intensity to the team this season, David Woods of The Indianapolis Star writes.

Craig, who signed with the Pacers in free agency, spent the 2020/21 season with the Bucks and Suns. He averaged 5.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 16.1 minutes in 50 total games, shooting 48% from the floor and 37% from three-point range while playing strong perimeter defense.

“I don’t even like guys to score one basket. It doesn’t matter,” Craig said. “It’s just a pride thing. I think the more guys that have that mentality and catch on, that’s what makes you a hard team to beat.

“Offense, it’s the NBA. Guys are talented. Definitely some talented scorers on this roster. Offense is going to come. When you get teams that lock in offensively, and defensively, that’s when you become a championship team.”

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference today:

  • The Bulls, who agreed to acquire Derrick Jones Jr. in a three-team deal with the Blazers and Cavaliers on Friday, were was also considering acquiring Jones last April, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times tweets. Chicago added Jones to help address the team’s lack of wing depth. The 24-year-old averaged 6.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 22.7 minutes per game with Portland last season.
  • Nerlens Noel‘s lawsuit against Klutch Sports agent Rich Paul may have stemmed from a grievance filed by Paul, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Paul claimed that Noel still owes him $200K as commission from the one-year, $5MM contract he signed with the Knicks last year. As we previously relayed, Noel is suing Paul for the loss of approximately $58MM regarding a past extension offer from the Mavericks.
  • Knicks All-Star Julius Randle preferred stability over more money, he said in explaining why he signed a four-year, $117MM extension with the team, Andrew Lopez of ESPN.com examines. Randle would’ve been eligible for a new contract worth up to roughly $200MM if he waited until next summer. “The money was one thing, but for me, it was more about the situation as far as my happiness, the basketball situation, my family, just being stable and being in New York and really just continuing to build this thing up,” Randle said. “When I signed here two years ago, this was my vision, to be able to lock in something long term and build something from the ground up. That’s what we’re doing. All hands on deck.”

Nerlens Noel Sues Rich Paul, Klutch Sports

Knicks center Nerlens Noel has filed a lawsuit against agent Rich Paul and the Klutch Sports agency, reports Darren Heitner of SportsAgentBlog.com.

The suit, which was filed in Dallas, Texas, claims that in a birthday party for the Klutch-represented Ben Simmons in 2017, Paul convinced Noel that he was a “$100MM man,” and that if Noel fired then-agent Happy Walters and signed with him, Paul would get him a max contract. Noel subsequently left Walters and signed with Paul.

As part of the same pitch, Paul allegedly told Noel to cut off negotiations with the Mavericks, who had offered Noel a four-year, $70MM extension, and instead sign his one-year, $4.1MM qualifying offer. After a season plagued by injury, however, his free agency proved unsuccessful, as he claims that no one from Klutch presented any ideas for how to pursue long-term contracts, and none were forthcoming on the market, leading him to sign a two-year, $3.75MM contract with the Thunder, which Noel claims was largely orchestrated by Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George, rather than by Rich Paul.

Finally, the lawsuit states that Noel learned that multiple teams, including the Sixers, Clippers, and Rockets informed him that they attempted to get in touch with Paul about offering Noel a contract, but were unable to make contact.

Noel left Klutch Sports in December of 2020, and is suing Paul and the agency for the loss of approximately $58MM stemming from the initial declined extension with Dallas.

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.”

Atlantic Notes: Green, Young, Marks, Noel

Danny Green, who re-signed with the Sixers on a two-year deal, said most of his other suitors in free agency offered less money or would have needed to work out a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Ex-teammates Dwight Howard (Lakers) and George Hill (Bucks) tried to recruit Green to the teams they signed with this summer, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. However, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid were also in frequent contact with the veteran guard, urging him to stick with the Sixers, Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice tweets.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Celtics assistant Jamie Young is joining Doc Rivers’ staff with the Sixers, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweetsYoung spent 21 years with Boston.
  • While Nets general manager Sean Marks says he’s mostly done tweaking the team’s roster this offseason, he reserved the right to make more moves, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. “We’ve got to continue to tinker with the roster, and just see what happens,” he said. “We’ve seen in the past where other teams make cuts, and so forth, and we’re able to adjust because of that. So I don’t want to say that the roster’s complete: Maybe it’s 90 percent complete, 99 percent complete.”
  • Nerlens Noel‘s three-year contract with the Knicks includes $4MM in total incentives. Among those potential incentives is a $750K bonus each time he makes First or Second Team All-Defense, Ian Begley of SNY.TV reports.

Contract Details: Noel, Dekker, Robinson-Earl, Joseph

Nerlens Noel‘s three-year deal with the Knicks – reported last week to be worth $32MM – actually has a lower base value than expected, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who said in an Instagram video that the deal starts at $8.8MM.

Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets the year-by-year breakdown of Noel’s contract, which has a third-year team option and is worth $27.72MM in total. The agreement includes $4MM in total unlikely incentives, says Smith. If the Knicks center doesn’t earn any of those incentives and doesn’t have his third-year option picked up, he’d end up earning a little over $18MM for two seasons.

Here are a few more new contract details from around the NBA:

  • Sam Dekker‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Raptors features a partial guarantee worth $350K, according to Smith (Twitter link). Dekker’s salary will become fully guaranteed if he makes Toronto’s regular season roster.
  • Jeremiah Robinson-Earl‘s four-year contract with the Thunder includes fully guaranteed salaries of $2MM apiece in the first two seasons, followed by a non-guaranteed third year and a fourth-year team option, per Marks (Instagram video). It’s the same structure Oklahoma City used a year ago to sign another early second-round pick, Theo Maledon.
  • The Pistons completed the signing of Cory Joseph – which became official on Tuesday – using the room exception after using up their cap space, according to Marks (Instagram video). Joseph got $10MM over two years, with a second-year player option.