Knicks Rumors

Knicks To Sign Henry Ellenson To 10-Day Deal

The Knicks will sign Henry Ellenson to a 10-day contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Detroit selected Ellenson with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2016 draft, but he never saw much action for the franchise, playing in a total of 59 games. He was waived by the team shortly after the trade deadline to make room for Wayne Ellington.

The decision to add Ellenson aligns with the Knicks recent strategy of adding former lottery picks who have fallen out of favor with their previous club. Dennis Smith Jr., Emmanuel Mudiay, Noah Vonleh, and Mario Hezonja are all other teams’ recent first-rounders that currently reside in New York.

Finishing Last Should Be A Goal

The Knicks need to keep on tanking to assure themselves a top five pick in the draft, Steve Popper of Newsday argues. The team with the worst record can’t fall any lower than the fifth pick under the new draft lottery rules, Popper notes, and the Suns currently hold that distinction after New York ended its 18-game losing streak. After the top five players, including Duke’s trio of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, there’s an apparent dropoff in talent. The team with the second-worst record has a 20% chance of falling to the No. 6 slot, Popper adds.

MSG Denies Report Dolan Is ‘Courting Offers’ For Knicks

1:02pm: As was the case in December, MSG Co. has issued a statement refuting the idea that there are plans to sell the Knicks (Twitter link via Stefan Bondy).

“The story is 100% false,” the statement reads. “There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions — nothing.”

12:13pm: After Knicks owner James Dolan indicated in December that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of selling the franchise, a new report suggests that he may actually be seriously considering that idea. As Tommy Beer of Forbes.com relays, Bill Simmons of The Ringer said in his latest podcast that Dolan is “courting offers” for the Knicks.

“Multiple people told me this, who know things,” Simmons said. “… It’s happening. It’s on. It’s go time. He’s courting offers for the Knicks. That’s what I heard at All-Star weekend from people I trust.”

Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News notes that there have been rumblings for months that Dolan has been considering the idea of a sale, but if he’s actively seeking out offers, that would be new territory.

Last year, Madison Square Garden Co. announced plans to separate the sports and entertainment aspects of its business, which means that the Knicks could be sold without Madison Square Garden being part of the deal. In that scenario, Dolan could theoretically retain control of the live entertainment business, including venues like MSG, the Hulu Theater, and Radio City Music Hall.

Simmons’ comments suggest that those aspects of the business may be of greater interest to Dolan than controlling the Knicks long-term.

“This is what I’ve pieced together,” Simmons said, according to Beer. “[Dolan] really cares about the buildings and the in-game/in-concert experience. And he wants to put even more money into that. The Knicks are just a pain in the a–, people s–t on him for it. He feels if he can just sell the Knicks for some crazy price, then he can put the money into that music/in-game experience stuff that he cares about. So, the Knicks are available.”

In the wake of his December comments stating that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of selling the Knicks, Dolan quickly released a statement clarifying that there were no plans to sell the team. Two months later, with rumors swirling again, it wouldn’t be shocking if he issues a similar denial. If he doesn’t, it would strongly signal that Simmons is onto something.

For what it’s worth, Forbes’ most recently NBA franchise valuations – published earlier this month – estimated the Knicks’ worth at $4 billion. The team ranked first on Forbes’ list of most valuable NBA franchises, and became the first basketball club to ever earn a $4 billion valuation.

Dell Demps’ Firing Bad News For Knicks?

The ouster of Pelicans GM Dell Demps could complicate the Knicks‘ hopes of landing Anthony Davis in a trade this summer, writes Frank Isola of The Athletic.

Knicks president Steve Mills had informal talks with Demps last month about a deal involving Davis and Kristaps Porzingis, according to Isola. Porzingis was since shipped to the Mavericks in a trade that enabled New York to open two max salary slots for free agency.

A source tells Isola that Demps wanted to wait until after the draft lottery before resuming talks so he would know where New York would be picking. Second in the league in our current Reverse Standings, the Knicks have a 14% chance of winning the lottery and getting a shot at Duke standout Zion Williamson, whom Demps was intrigued by. Demps also has a prior connection with New York, having served as a scout for the organization.

The team has a much different relationship with former Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who is considered one of the potential front-runners to replace Demps in New Orleans. Another source tells Isola that Griffin was considering an offer to become GM of the Knicks two years ago, but turned it down when he discovered he wouldn’t be solely in charge of personnel decisions. While Griffin was negotiating with New York, Mills signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a long-term contract.

Another top contender for the Pelicans post, Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren, presents an even worse scenario for the Knicks and Lakers, Isola adds. Zarren is considered “the right-hand man” to Boston GM Danny Ainge and has a strong familiarity with the young players who would be key to any deal with the Celtics.

Kevin Durant: Porzingis Trade “Has Nothing To Do With Me”

Speculation that Kevin Durant might join the Knicks this summer shifted into high gear once New York opened a second max salary spot with the trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas. However, in an All-Star Weekend interview, Durant said his decision in free agency won’t be affected by outside influences, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Durant has been trying to quell free agent talk, lashing out at the media recently over repeated rumors about his intentions. When asked about the Porzingis deal, Durant was careful not to say anything that might indicate he’s headed to New York.

“I play basketball for the Warriors,” Durant said. “My main concern is being the best basketball player I can be. I have no concerns about trades or transactions throughout the season with other teams. Has nothing to do with me. I’m glad Porzingis is in a better spot for him. I look forward to Luka [Doncic] and him playing together for years to come.”

Another player involved in that trade could give the Knicks some help in their pursuit of Durant, Berman adds. DeAndre Jordan is a close friend of Durant’s and might be a valuable part of the recruiting effort. Jordan has an expiring contract, but Knicks management has indicated a desire to re-sign him and may be willing to offer its entire $5MM room exception if the rest of free agency goes as planned.

“It’s my friend, he got traded and I think he’s in a good place,’’ Durant said of Jordan. “He understands what the business is like. We talk about life more so than the NBA. He’ll be fine [in New York].’’

Another advantage for the Knicks could be Durant’s agent/manager Rich Kleiman, a New York native who has a business relationship with team president Steve Mills. Berman cites rumors that Kleiman could get a front office position in New York if Durant decides to go there.

Durant is having his most productive season since coming to Golden State, posting a 27.6/7.0/5.9 line in 57 games. He figures to attract numerous max offers, but the Warriors will have his Bird Rights for the first time, meaning they can offer a five-year contract with larger raises, while everyone else will be limited to four years.

Durant may not enjoy the free agent speculation, but he hasn’t done anything to stop it, Berman notes. Unlike teammate Klay Thompson, who has said he hopes to spend the rest of his career with the Warriors, Durant hasn’t made any concrete statements about his plans beyond this season.

Anthony Davis Plans To Play Rest Of Season, Confirms Trade List

Anthony Davis confirmed today that he intends to play in Sunday’s All-Star game and the remainder of the season, and also confirmed the list of his preferred trade destinations during media availability with reporters Saturday in Charlotte.

The Pelicans’ All-Star suffered a left shoulder muscle contusion on Thursday in a collision with Thunder center Nerlens Noel. After he requested a trade from New Orleans but was not dealt ahead of the February 7 deadline, Davis’ future for the rest of the season became unclear.

Not only does Davis intend to play in the All-Star game, but the six-time All-Star confirmed he plans to suit up the remainder of the season. The Pelicans face potential fines from the league if they elect to sit a healthy Davis for the rest of the season.

In 45 games this season, Davis has averaged 28.1 PPG, 12.9 RPG and 4.2 APG for the Pelicans. Before Thursday’s injury, New Orleans reportedly planned to play Davis but reduce his workload and sit him in the back end of back-to-back games.

The 25-year-old also spoke candidly on his trade request and his possible destination. Davis confirmed his reported list of four preferred teams in a trade ahead of the deadline, which includes the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks and Knicks.

“Whatever list that came out that’s between the Pelicans and my agent,” Davis said, per Sean Deveney of Sporting News. “But it’s true.”

The Lakers were the most aggressive team pursuing the big man but failed to agree on a trade. Davis also called the Knicks a “great franchise” during his media session, before mentioning a possible fifth destination: the Celtics.

“They are on my list,” Davis said of the Celtics (via Sporting News’ Sean Deveney). “….I never said they weren’t on my list.”

Boston was unable to acquire Davis this season without including Kyrie Irving in a proposed deal due to Rose Rule restrictions. However, with Irving hitting unrestricted free agency this summer, Boston would no longer be hindered by that rule and could potentially pair him along with Davis.

As we relayed, the Celtics are reportedly prepared to offer an “explosive” package for Davis. A potential Boston trade could include any combination of Jayson TatumJaylen BrownMarcus Smart, and a slew of future first-round picks, including selections from the Kings, Clippers, and Grizzlies.

In a later interview with NBA TV, Davis claimed he never gave a preferred destination and is merely seeking an opportunity to win.

“All 29 other teams are on my list,” Davis said. “I don’t have a preferred destination, I just want to win. Big market, small market [teams] — I don’t care, I want to win. Obviously, whatever team I get traded to, play for it that year or whatever…Then, when free agency comes, we’ll see what happens.”

Emmanuel Mudiay Unsure Of Current Role

  • Every NBA team except the Knicks scouted Giannis Antetokounmpo as a prospect in Greece, according to Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “Scouts started flying to Greece,” Antetokounmpo’s agent Giorgos Panou said. “Every day at practice, at games, executives, GMs, assistant coaches — every team came. Twenty-nine teams, except the Knicks, New York Knicks.” The Knicks have since refuted this claim, as relayed by ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter link).
  • Speaking of the Knicks, Emmanuel Mudiay is unsure of his current role with the team’s new rotation, Marc Berman writes for The Post. New York traded for starting point guard Dennis Smith Jr. earlier in the month, likely taking minutes away from Mudiay. “That’s out of my control,’’ Mudiay said. “That’s something you have to ask [coach] Fiz. I’m going to support my teammates.”

Teams That Must Add Players Within Next Week

The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement requires teams to carry at least 14 players on their rosters during the regular season, not counting two-way players. However, clubs are allowed to dip below that line for up to two weeks at a time.

At the February 7 trade deadline, with so many players on the move, a handful of teams around the league fell below that 14-player threshold, meaning they have until February 21 – give or take a day – to get back up to 14.

Here’s a breakdown of which teams must make at least one roster move within the next week or so:

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks dipped to 13 players when they released Shelvin Mack and Jabari Bird last Friday, and went down to 12 when they cut Jeremy Lin on Monday. They’ve reached a deal to sign two-way player Jaylen Adams to a standard contract, but even after they finalize that agreement, they’ll still have to add one more player by next Friday.

Houston Rockets

A series of salary-dump deals on deadline day left the Rockets with just 12 players under contract. They’ll have to sign two more – either to standard deals or 10-day contracts – by next Thursday.

Miami Heat

The Heat had been carrying 14 players for a while, but dropped to 13 when they traded Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington for Ryan Anderson on Wednesday. They’ll have until next Wednesday to fill that 14th roster spot.

New York Knicks

The Knicks released Wesley Matthews and Enes Kanter on deadline day to drop to 12 players. They signed John Jenkins to a 10-day contract on Monday, but that still only leaves them with 13.

By next Thursday, Jenkins’ 10-day deal will have expired, so the Knicks will need to fill two roster spots at that point, either by re-signing Jenkins and adding someone else, or by signing two new players.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns‘ roster count has been at 13 since they waived Wayne Ellington on Thursday. They have until next Thursday to get back to 14 players.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors dropped all the way down to 10 players last week, which forced them to sign two players – Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller – to standard contracts. Toronto also inked Jeremy Lin to a rest-of-season deal and now has until next Thursday to add one more player.

Ben McLemore is a candidate, since the two sides were seemingly in agreement on a 10-day deal, but that deal no longer looks like a lock to get finalized.

More Kristaps Porzingis Leftovers

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported last week that after meeting with Knicks‘ management, Kristaps Porzingis‘ camp gave the team a four-team list of preferred destinations in the event of a trade, with the Nets and Clippers among those would-be landing spots. In his latest newsletter for The New York Times, Stein fills in the other half of that wish list, reporting that the Heat and Raptors were also on it.

Of course, the Mavericks weren’t on the reported four-team list, which – as Stein explained last week – is one reason why the Knicks elected to move quickly and send Porzingis to Dallas. While Porzingis will only be a restricted – rather than an unrestricted – free agent this summer, it still might have cost the Knicks some leverage in trade talks if that wish list had leaked.

  • Before sending Porzingis to Dallas, the Knicks made an effort to engage with the Kings on a potential swap involving Marvin Bagley III, but Sacramento “flatly rejected” those inquiries, according to Stein. Last week, Stein reported that the Kings had a similar response when New York asked about De’Aaron Fox.

New York Notes: Nets, Knicks, Robinson

The Nets had a quiet trade deadline last week, making just one small move when they acquired a second-round pick by taking on Greg Monroe‘s contract and sending a little cash to Toronto. While Brooklyn is having its best season in years and is in position to make the playoffs, general manager Sean Marks isn’t concerned about not making any moves to upgrade the roster, as Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com writes.

“As it pertains to our particular trade deadline, maybe one of the biggest things was getting guys back healthy,” Marks said. “That might have been the biggest addition to our group without trying to cause too much disruption to the culture and to the group. Let’s see what we’ve got first and foremost.”

As Dowd relays, Marks said that the Nets are definitely “headed in the right direction.” However, he’s not going to let the club’s success this season change the long-term plans, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

“We’ll continue to be systematic and strategic along the way. Does that mean we pivot along the way here and there? Sure. We’ve had to do that in the last couple years,” Marks said. “But I would hope that we don’t skip a step as you mentioned before, that’s never been the goal here. Again, it’s always been about putting something sustainable there with a strong foundation.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • After waiving Monroe, the Nets were left with an open spot on their 15-man roster. Michael Scotto of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at options the team figures to consider for that opening.
  • Knicks head coach David Fizdale has talked throughout the season about sticking to the franchise’s long-term plan, but presumably that plan didn’t involve trading Kristaps Porzingis, writes Newsday’s Steve Popper. Nonetheless, Fizdale defended the move: “Well, you don’t have a choice. What’s your option? You’re going to lose him. So you’re going to sit there and not have nothing sitting there? Or do you want to have two picks, cap space and a heck of a point guard in Dennis Smith Jr., who’s in his second year?”
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post, pointing out that Fizdale said 10 days before the trade that Porzingis was “really engaged” with the team, calls out the head coach for not being willing to admit that the Knicks‘ plans went awry.
  • Ognjen Jaramaz, the 58th overall pick in the 2017 draft, has moved from Spain to Serbia, joining KK Partizan, agent Misko Raznatovic confirms (via Twitter). As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports notes (via Twitter), Jaramaz’s NBA rights are held by the Knicks, though it’s not clear if he’s in the team’s long-term plans at all.
  • Rookie Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has changed agents again, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, who tweets that Robinson has signed with Dynasty Sports and will be repped by Mayar Zokaei.