Knicks Rumors

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Rosas, Jokubaitis, Ainge

Nets team president Sean Marks has defended embattled Brooklyn guard Ben Simmons during an interview with Michael Grady of Yes Network (video link). Simmons missed the entire 2021/22 season due to mental health issues and a herniated disc in his lower back.

“It’s a little bit of a testament that one, he tried to get back out there and tried to help his teammates and secondly, we have to be careful not judge people,” Marks said. “And if you’re outside that medical profession, when you’re chiming in from afar, you just have to be a bit careful of what you’re saying because you really don’t know.”

Simmons opted to treat the back injury with surgery after the Nets were officially eliminated in a 4-0 first-round sweep by the Celtics. “Nobody wants to have surgery,” Marks said. “It’s the last resort but it’s bygone now and we’ve got to move forward on this, we’ve got to support him and so forth.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Timberwolves team president Gersson Rosas has now been named a senior basketball advisor for the Knicks, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Rosas was let go from Minnesota under murky circumstances. Begley notes that determining where Rosas slots in among the Knicks pecking order will be important during a critical 2022 offseason for New York.
  • The Knicks are considering leaving 2021 draft-and-stash second-round pick Rokas Jokubaitis, currently playing for Barcelona in the EuroLeague Final Four, overseas to develop for another year, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman opines that New York could have more money to sign the point guard prospect in 2023, after several short-term Knicks contracts come off the books. Jokubaitis averaged 7.2 PPG and 2.8 APG across 17 MPG in 35 EuroLeague contests this season.
  • Former Celtics team president Danny Ainge, now in the Jazz front office, has enjoyed seeing the progress of the team, writes Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. The Celtics are now trailing the Heat 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. “I’ve been proud of this team all year,” Ainge said. “I really liked watching guys develop when I was there, and it’s been great watching guys like Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown] and Marcus [Smart] and Rob [Williams] and all of them take another step this year. They just beat a great team, the defending champs.” Ainge drafted Tatum, Brown, Smart and Williams during his Celtics front office run.

Magic Win 2022 NBA Draft Lottery; Thunder, Rockets, Kings In Top Four

With Tuesday night’s lottery results now official, the top 14 slots for the 2022 NBA draft have been set. The lottery order is as follows:

  1. Orlando Magic
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. Sacramento Kings
  5. Detroit Pistons
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Portland Trail Blazers
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers)
  9. San Antonio Spurs
  10. Washington Wizards
  11. New York Knicks
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Clippers)
  13. Charlotte Hornets
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s great news for the rebuilding Magic, who finished dead last in the Eastern Conference this season and had the NBA’s second-worst record (22-60). They entered the night tied for the best odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick at 14.0%, and will be picking first in the draft for the first time since 2004, when they selected Dwight Howard.

This time around, the Magic appear likely to draft a big man once again. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, all power forwards or centers, are widely considered to be the top prospects in the 2022 class. Orlando could add one of them to a core that includes 2021 lottery picks Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs.

The Thunder are one of the night’s other big winners, moving up from fourth in the pre-lottery order to No. 2 overall. The rebuilding squad is loaded with first-round picks over the next five years, and will have the opportunity to draft a potential franchise player next month to complement guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. Oklahoma City is the only team with two picks in this year’s lottery, having acquired the No. 12 overall selection from the Clippers.

The Rockets will have a top-three pick for a second straight year after nabbing Jalen Green second overall in 2021. They’ll be followed by the Kings, who moved up from seventh in the pre-lottery order to No. 4 in the draft, making good on their 31.9% chance to jump into the top four.

It’s the fourth consecutive time that the seventh team in the lottery standings has moved into the top four. The Pelicans (Zion Williamson), Hornets (LaMelo Ball), and Raptors (Scottie Barnes) did it in 2019, 2020, and 2021 after the NBA revamped its lottery format ahead of the 2019 event.

The Pistons, Pacers, and Trail Blazers were among the biggest losers on lottery night. Detroit moved down two spots, from No. 3 to No. 5, while Indiana and Portland both dropped one spot from their place in the pre-lottery order, landing at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.

Since the Lakers’ first-round pick stayed at No. 8, it will head to the Pelicans rather than the Grizzlies — Memphis would have received it if it had fallen out of the top 10.

The rest of the lottery played out as expected, with the Spurs, Wizards, Knicks, Thunder, Hornets, and Cavaliers rounding out the top 14.

2022 NBA Draft Lottery Primer

The 2022 NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday night prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Celtics. The half-hour event will be broadcast on ESPN beginning at 7:00 pm central time.

This year’s draft pool features a group of four prospects generally considered by experts to be a level above the rest of the class: Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr., Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey. Teams that move into the top four on Tuesday night will have the opportunity to snag one of those potential future stars.

Here’s what you need to know heading into tonight’s lottery:


Pre-Lottery Draft Order:

The top 14 picks in the 2022 NBA draft would look like this if tonight’s lottery results don’t change the order:

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. Orlando Magic
  3. Detroit Pistons
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Sacramento Kings
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers)
    • Note: The Grizzlies will receive this pick if it falls to No. 11 or No. 12.
  9. San Antonio Spurs
  10. Washington Wizards
  11. New York Knicks
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Clippers)
  13. Charlotte Hornets
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers

For the full pre-lottery draft order, click here.


Draft Lottery Odds:

The Rockets, Magic, Pistons, and Thunder have the best odds to land the No. 1 pick. Each of those four teams has a 14.0% chance to pick first overall.

Typically, only the top three teams in the lottery standings would have a 14.0% shot at the No. 1 overall pick, but the Thunder join that group by virtue of holding two lottery picks — there’s a 12.5% chance that their own pick will move up to No. 1 and a 1.5% chance the Clippers’ pick, which they also control, will be No. 1.

From there, the Pacers (10.5%), Trail Blazers (9.0%), Kings (7.5%), and Pelicans (6.0%) have the best odds to receive the first overall pick.

For the full draft lottery odds for all 14 spots, click here.


Trades Affecting The Draft Lottery:

The Clippers and Lakers are the only non-playoff teams that have traded away their lottery picks this year, and neither team put protections on its traded first-rounder.

The Thunder will receive the Clippers’ pick, as detailed above.

The Lakers’ pick technically still remains up for grabs, depending on the lottery results, due to a trade between New Orleans and Memphis. Here are the details on that deal:

Pelicans/Grizzlies

The Pelicans will acquire the Lakers’ pick if it lands in the top 10, while the Grizzlies will receive it if it ends up at No. 11 or 12.

Since the Lakers finished eighth in the lottery standings, there’s approximately a 99.5% chance that New Orleans will hang onto the pick. At least three teams in the 9-14 range would have to jump into the top four in order for Memphis to receive it.


Draft Lottery Representatives:

The representatives for each of this year’s lottery teams are as follows, according to a pair of announcements from the NBA:

  1. Houston Rockets
    • On stage: Rafael Stone (general manager)
    • Lottery room: Clay Allen (general counsel)
  2. Orlando Magic

    • On stage: Jeff Weltman (president of basketball operations)
    • Lottery room: Joel Glass (chief communications officer)
  3. Detroit Pistons

    • On stage: Richard Hamilton (former Pistons player)
    • Lottery room: George David (assistant GM)
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder

    • On stage: Nick Collison (former Thunder player / special assistant to GM)
    • Lottery room: Sam Presti (executive VP / general manager)
  5. Indiana Pacers

    • On stage: Kelly Krauskopf (assistant GM)
    • Lottery room: Chad Buchanan (general manager)
  6. Portland Trail Blazers

    • On stage: Damian Lillard
    • Lottery room: Dewayne Hankins (president of business operations)
  7. Sacramento Kings

  8. New Orleans Pelicans

    • On stage: Swin Cash-Canal (VP of basketball operations)
    • Lottery room: David Griffin (executive VP of basketball operations)
  9. San Antonio Spurs

    • On stage: David Robinson (former Spurs player / strategic partner)
    • Lottery room: Niraj Mulji (director of basketball strategy)
  10. Washington Wizards

    • On stage: Wes Unseld Jr. (head coach)
    • Lottery room: Tommy Sheppard (president of basketball operations / general manager)
  11. New York Knicks
    • On stage: William Wesley (executive VP / senior basketball advisor)
    • Lottery room: Brock Aller (VP of basketball and strategic planning)
  12. Charlotte Hornets
  13. Cleveland Cavaliers

    • On stage: Anderson Varejao (former Cavaliers player / team ambassador)
    • Lottery room: Jon Nichols (VP of basketball strategy and personnel)

Lottery Format:

This will be the fourth year that the NBA uses its revamped lottery system, which reduces the odds that the league’s very worst teams will land a top pick and makes the top four selections available via the lottery, instead of the top three.

Before the NBA changed its lottery format, there was a 60.5% chance that one of the league’s bottom three teams would secure the No. 1 pick, and only a 27.6% chance that a team in the 5-14 range of the lottery standings would do so. Now, those odds are 42.0% and 45.5%, respectively.

The results since the new format was implemented have shown that the smoothed-out odds have the potential to create a little more mayhem on lottery night.

In 2019, the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Lakers claimed three of the top four picks despite ranking seventh, eighth, and 11th, respectively, in the lottery standings. In 2020, the Hornets and Bulls each moved up four spots, from Nos. 7 and 8 to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.

A year ago, the results were more by-the-numbers. However, the seventh spot in the lottery standings was lucky again, this time for the Raptors, who moved up to No. 4 and grabbed eventual Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.

For full details on the revamped lottery format, click here.

Draft Notes: Christie, Rhoden, Brooks, Lee, Johnson, Bieniemy, Combine

Michigan State freshman guard Max Christie will stay in the draft and hire an agent, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Christie is ranked No. 44 in ESPN’s Best Available list after averaging 9.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 1.5 APG in 35 games with the Spartans in 2021/22. He’s participating at the Chicago pre-draft combine this week.

We have more draft-related news:

  • Seton Hall wing Jared Rhoden, who impressed at the recent G League Elite Camp, has worked out for the Knicks, Nets and Celtics, Adam Zagoria tweets. The 6’6” Rhoden averaged 15.5 PPG and 6.7 RPG for the Pirates.
  • Kentucky’s Keion Brooks said he’s staying in the draft, Zagoria writes in a ZagsBlog.com post. The 6’7” Brooks averaged 10.8 PPG and 4.4 RPG this past season. “I’m all in on the draft,” he said.
  • Like Brooks, Davidson’s Hyunjung Lee says he’s not going back to college, Zagoria tweets. “I’m 100 percent in for the draft… This is my long-term dream.” Lee said. “If I play whether in the League or the G League, I feel I can improve faster.”
  • Cleveland State forward Deante Johnson is withdrawing from the draft and returning to college, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets.
  • UTEP swingman Jamal Bieniemy, who averaged 14.7 PPG last season, is staying in the draft, Rothstein tweets.
  • Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams, Toledo’s Ryan Rollins, North Carolina State’s Terquavion Smith and Colorado State’s David Roddy are among the players who stand the most to gain from the combine, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz and Jonathan Givony write.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Rivers, Knicks, Flynn

Sixers guard James Harden was still an elite player in 2021/22, but his numbers began trending in the wrong direction and he appeared to have lost the explosive first step that defined his MVP-caliber seasons, writes Tommy Beer of BasketballNews.com.

With Harden set to turn 33 this summer, giving him a long-term, maximum-salary contract could cripple the Sixers and would be borderline “organizational malpractice,” Beer argues. Still, Philadelphia can’t afford to let him walk, since doing so wouldn’t actually open up any meaningful cap room and the team is under pressure to maximize Joel Embiid‘s prime.

As Beer outlines, it will be fascinating to see how those contract discussions play out this offseason, since both sides have some leverage concerns. The Sixers can’t afford to lose Harden, but it will be difficult for the former MVP to play hardball in negotiations, considering none of the teams projected to have cap room are expected to seriously pursue him.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has made it clear that the plan is for Doc Rivers to remain the head coach going forward, prompting Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com to consider whether that decision is the right one for the franchise.
  • Former Knicks center Eddy Curry has confidence in the abilities of executives Leon Rose and William Wesley to turn things around in New York, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Curry said Knicks fans shouldn’t focus on Rose’s lack of public statements and press conferences, since it’s “not his personality” to be in the public eye. “Regardless of how often you see him, you better believe he’s making things happen behind closed doors,” said Curry, who worked with Rose and Wesley during his playing career.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic wonders if Raptors point guard Malachi Flynn could benefit from a change of scenery and identifies some other players in a similar boat whom Toronto could target in a potential Flynn trade, including Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, and Udoka Azubuike.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a series of Celtics notes earlier today.

Knicks Hold Free Agent Mini-Camp

The Knicks held a free agent mini-camp this week, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog (Twitter link), who says a number of players with NBA experience were in attendance.

Guards Devon Dotson and Chris Clemons, swingman DaQuan Jeffries, forwards Louis King and George King, and big men Alize Johnson and Reggie Perry were among the players who participated in the Knicks’ mini-camp, per Zagoria. John Petty, Craig Randall, Carlik Jones, Aaron Henry, and A.J. Lawson also took part.

The Knicks won’t necessarily sign any of the free agents who attended the mini-camp, but it gave them a chance to see some of the talent that’s out there as they mull possible Summer League and training camp invites.

Reddish Has Resumed Basketball Activities

Forward Cam Reddish has been at the Knicks’ training center over the past week and has started basketball activities, including light shooting, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports.

Reddish, who was acquired by the Knicks from Atlanta in January, saw his season end prematurely in early March when he suffered a separated right shoulder. As a former first-round pick entering his fourth season, Reddish is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

In 15 games (14.3 MPG) with the Knicks, Reddish put up modest totals of 6.1 PPG and 1.4 RPG on .415/.258/.906 shooting.

  • The realistic goal for the Knicks to upgrade their roster is to put the pieces in place to trade for a top-level player, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. In terms of the draft, if the Knicks don’t move up in the lottery, Hollinger believes they ought to target Australian guard Dyson Daniels. Daniels who played in the G League has a pass-first mentality and the ability to guard multiple positions.

Atlantic Notes: Jokubaitis, Knicks, Butler/Sixers, Raptors

Knicks draft-and-stash prospect Rokas Jokubaitis has been named the EuroLeague’s Rising Star, per Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com (Twitter link). Jokubaitis, 21, was the No. 34 pick in the 2021 draft and was acquired from the Thunder (along with No. 36 pick Miles McBride) in exchange for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (No. 32).

Jokubaitis has appeared in 35 games with Spanish club FC Barcelona this season, averaging 7.2 points and 2.8 assists along with an eye-popping .565/.595/.757 shooting line in 17.1 minutes per contest. Barcelona will face long-time rival Real Madrid in the EuroLeague Final Four, which takes place from May 19-21 in Belgrade, Serbia.

As Urbonas notes, the young Lithuanian guard joins an impressive list of Rising Star recipients, including Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Mirotic, Ricky Rubio, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Luka Doncic, and Usman Garuba, among others.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • In the second part of a discussion with colleague Fred Katz about New York’s offseason, John Hollinger of The Athletic says the Knicks are “unquestionably” looking to trade for a star player, because the roster is too good to tank, but not good enough to contend. Hollinger expects coach Tom Thibodeau to be back at the helm next season, as he’s done a solid job developing young players. Australian guard Dyson Daniels, who played for G League Ignite this past season, would be a good fit alongside Immanuel Quickley if New York’s pick lands at No. 11 or 12, says Hollinger.
  • The stellar play of Jimmy Butler in the Heat/Sixers matchup is a reminder of what could have been for Philadelphia, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Philly famously chose to placate Ben Simmons instead of retaining Butler, even though Butler was (and still is) close with Joel Embiid. Both Simmons and Butler needed the ball and didn’t complement each other well offensively, and the team felt forced to pick between the two, sources tell Shelburne. “When you get into a competition, he understands the full deal — that you have to do it on both ends,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler. “And he’s able to compete with a ferocity and an incredibly stable mind. That is really unique — when it gets the craziest is when he’s really locked in on making sure that it’s solid winning basketball for our team.” The Heat lead the second-round series 3-2, with Butler averaging 26.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals on .534/.318/.842 shooting.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic ranks the Raptors‘ trade assets, from untouchable (Scottie Barnes) to salary matching/low-stakes moves (Malachi Flynn, Khem Birch, others). Koreen notes that Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa have both drastically improved their trade values with strong seasons in 2021/22.

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Conley, Snyder, Popovich, Graham

Speculation about the potential breakup of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appears to be fueled more by people outside of the Jazz organization than those within it, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says sources from the team and around the NBA believe that CAA has been responsible for many of the whispers involving Mitchell’s future.

According to Fischer, team owner Ryan Smith is willing to spend big on a contender, and Utah has no plans to rebuild. Smith also likes the idea of having multiple players in the 2023 All-Star Game, which the Jazz will host.

Although some rival executives believe a Gobert trade is a possibility and view the Mavericks, Hawks, and Raptors as potential destinations, Fischer says the Jazz are focused on upgrading their defense, so moving a three-time Defensive Player of the Year seems counterintuitive. On the other hand, complementary players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and perhaps even Mike Conley are considered more realistic trade candidates.

Fischer wonders if the Clippers or the Knicks might have interest in Conley, another CAA client. With the Jazz seeking help on the wing, Evan Fournier could theoretically headline a Knicks offer for Conley if they miss out on Jalen Brunson, says Fischer, though he notes that some staffers in New York would prefer to stay in-house and give Immanuel Quickley an expanded role.

As for the Clippers, Fischer is skeptical that a Conley trade offer centered around sharpshooter Luke Kennard would appeal to a Utah team looking to improve its defense and suggests that a more realistic point guard target for L.A. would be John Wall, assuming he and the Rockets work out a buyout. Wall has also been linked to the Heat, but Fischer’s sources believe Miami’s interest predated last year’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • There’s “little expectation” among people close to the situation that Quin Snyder will leave the Jazz before his contract expires in 2023, says Fischer. Snyder also holds an option for the 2023/24 season.
  • Jazz CEO Danny Ainge doesn’t appear inclined to shake up the team’s basketball operations department. According to Fischer, major changes would likely only occur if former head of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey gets a top front office job elsewhere and wants to bring some Utah executives with him.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who is traveling and considering his coaching future, plans to visit Belgrade for the EuroLeague Final Four later this month, a source tells Fischer. The general sense is that Popovich seems interested in coaching San Antonio for at least one more season, Fischer adds.
  • The Pelicans are among the teams believed to be considering a possible point guard upgrade this offseason, reports Fischer. Devonte’ Graham saw his role reduced significantly in the playoffs and some people around the league think he could end up on the trade block this offseason, but sources tell Fischer the Pels aren’t motivated to move on from Graham like they were with Eric Bledsoe a year ago.