Knicks Rumors

Vonleh May Help Solve Knicks' Need For Rebounding

Badly in need of rebounding help, the Knicks may have found it at a bargain price with the signing of Noah Vonleh, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. While other parts of his game have been questioned, Vonleh is considered very good at getting boards. He collected a career best 5.8 in about 16 minutes per game with the Trail Blazers and Bulls last season.

Chicago acquired Vonleh from Portland at the trade deadline, but didn’t make him an offer in free agency. The Knicks were able to sign him to a partially guaranteed one-year deal that will pay $100K if he’s still on the roster September 25.

Central Notes: Pacers, Oladipo, Cavaliers, Vonleh

The Pacers took the conference champion Cavaliers to seven games in their playoff series and feel good about their chances to contend in the upcoming season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Coach Nate McMillan is especially encouraged by Indiana’s offseason moves, which included the free agent additions of Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn, along with drafting Aaron Holiday.

“We feel good about our draft picks and our free agents that we were able to pick up,” McMillan said. “We felt like we added a need to our roster. We felt like we were able to strengthen our bench. All of those were guys we felt like if we could improve that position, we wanted to. Aaron is going to be a real solid guard in this league.”

“Is it open? With LeBron [out]? Yes. We’re happy that he’s gone west,” McMillan said. “But we know that it’s still going to be a challenge and we have to make sure we work on us and not assume anything. It’s going to be a challenge for us to do the things we did last season and do it better.”

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • Victor Oladipo‘s summer is a mixture of workouts and marketing opportunities, relays J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. The league’s reigning Most Improved Player adopted a new diet and upgraded his offseason routine last year before posting the best season of his NBA career. The Pacers star is also taking advantage of his new-found fame to help build his brand. “I decided to take control on and off the court and really make decisions that are best for me instead of relying on other people,” Oladipo says. “It’s about growth, getting a little wiser, a gray hair here or there. I’m trying to grow up.”
  • The Cavaliers have 12 players on their roster with guaranteed contracts and are keeping two spots open for David Nwaba and Rodney Hood, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Cleveland was reportedly finalizing a deal with Nwaba at the start of the month, but nothing has been made official. Hood remains the top restricted free agent on the market, but has little bargaining power with so few teams having cap space remaining. Point guard Isaiah Taylor, who signed a non-guaranteed $1.5MM deal yesterday, will also compete for a roster spot, Marks adds.
  • The Cavaliers were the second choice for former Bulls forward Noah Vonleh, who signed with the Knicks this summer, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Bucks and Spurs were also in the running.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Hardaway, Noah, Raptors

The Nets guaranteed Spencer Dinwiddie‘s contract for the 2018/19 season earlier this week as the guard looks to build off a career season in 2017/18. Dinwiddie recently returned to Brooklyn after spending the summer in California and China and he’s ready to get started, Tom Dowd of writes.

“Scoring efficiency is the main area of improvement,” Dinwiddie said. “Overall development. I’m 25 years old, still got a lot of juice in the tank. I want to continue to push the limits of who I can be as a player and see how far we as a group, a collective, can take this thing. A lot of that comes from every individual being one percent better. Trying to do a lot of that.”

 In 80 games last season, Dinwiddie enjoyed his best year to date, averaging 12.6 PPG and 6.6 APG for Brooklyn. Entering this season, with the roster shaken up and without Jeremy Lin, Dinwiddie figures to have a shot to retain his spot. As Dinwiddie and his teammates prepare for the preseason, he acknowledged that workouts have ramped up.
“It’s all ramping up and we’re getting to a place where the season is coming up,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s about to be around the corner. We’re putting in some of those final touches, some of that final preparation to get ready.”
Check out more Atlantic Division notes:
  • After the Knicks parted ways with Jeff Hornacek, guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was unsure of the front office’s thought process. With David Fizdale on board, Hardaway loves what the new coach brings to the team, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “He’s respected around the league,’’ Hardaway said. “He does bring that type of vibe and character around the team that makes you want to go out there and compete each and every day for him. That’s what we love about him.”
  • A lot has been made of Joakim Noah and his role — or lack thereof — on this upcoming year’s Knicks team. While his contract is an albatross, utilizing the stretch provision is one way New York can rid itself of the injured center. Danny Leroux of The Athletic (subscription required) explains why the Knicks should hold onto Noah for now.
  • The Raptors announced the coaching staff for their G League affiliate, Raptors 905.

Kemba Walker Discusses His Future, Knicks’ Possibilities

Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has said in the past that he doubts he’ll end up with the Knicks once he’s eligible for free agency. He touched on the subject yet again during a visit to the Player’s Association’s kids camp in New York City.

“I’ve been hearing it for years now — the Knicks,” Walker said (via Marc Berman of The New York Post). “Every time I come home, it’s, ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”

As for what the future holds, Walker said he doesn’t “have a clue,” while hinting that a Knicks offer next summer might be tempting.

“Got to see. We got to see. I’ve never been free, never been a free agent. We’ll see.” Walker added. “I have no idea. I’ve never been a free agent. I don’t know how the process works. I will have options unless Charlotte gets something done.”

Walker has one year and $12MM remaining on his contract.

Knicks Likely To Acquire Irving And Butler?

As we explored earlier this summer, both Irving and Butler have reportedly expressed interested in playing together, and the panel obviously took that into consideration, predicting both players to suit up for the Knicks next season. However, the Celtics were a close second for Irving.

D’Antoni Unsure Of Rotation With Carmelo In Mix

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t sure how his rotation will look with the addition of Carmelo Anthony, he acknowledged to Sam Amick of USA Today. Anthony officially signed with Houston on Monday but D’Antoni said it’s too simplistic to think he’ll just plug Anthony into Trevor Ariza‘s former spot in the starting lineup.

“I don’t know, and that’s something that we’ll have to work out. All I know is that we’ll try different combos — preseason, early season, and the good thing is that with analytics and with gut feelings and coaches and players, we’ll figure out what is the best way to play.”

There’s more from Amick’s Q&A with D’Antoni:

  • Anthony and D’Antoni had some differences in New York when D’Antoni coached the Knicks. D’Antoni isn’t worried about a repeat in Houston. “In New York, when they gave away half the team [to Denver in the February 2011 trade] and everybody expected us to win a championship, it really wasn’t realistic. It put a lot of pressure on everybody, and it kind of burst the pipes. I think this is totally different.”
  • D’Antoni feels confident that Anthony will fit in with the team’s other two stars, reigning Most Valuable Player James Harden and Chris Paul. D’Antoni noted that many people thought Harden and Paul couldn’t mesh when Paul was acquired last summer. “It’s like having Chris and James together. It was relatively non-eventful …and I think it’ll be the same thing. … We’ve just got to make sure we don’t get too far away from taking threes and layups and foul shots.”
  • Continuing with that theme, D’Antoni said Houston is fighting fire with fire, trying to keep up with the star-laded Warriors. “Look at Golden State, how they had all those guys and you fit in [Kevin] Durant, I mean if you are committed to a certain style, and everybody is committed to the team, it works itself out.”

Knox Isn't Focused On Rookie Award

  • The Knicks have a strong interest in former Magic scouting coordinator John Halas, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets. Halas worked with current GM Scott Perry in Orlando and would likely be added to the Knicks’ scouting department, Begley adds.
  • Kevin Knox doesn’t have his attention set on being Rookie of the Year, as he told Marc Berman of the New York Post. Knox was one of the most impressive rookies in Las Vegas but the Knicks’ first-round forward more concerned with team wins. “I’m pretty confident I can be one of the top rookies. But one of my goals this year is just to win in New York,” he said. “I’m not really worried about winning the rookie award. I just want to win as a team, take road games, play some of the top teams and beat them to make the playoffs.”

Remaining Offseason Questions: Atlantic Division

NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps more than a month away, most clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.

Over the next week, we’ll be looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on the key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2018/19 regular season begins.

We’re starting today with the Atlantic division, so let’s dive right in…

Boston Celtics
Will Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving be fully recovered and ready for the season?

Outside of continuing to work with both Hayward and Irving during their rehab processes, the Celtics don’t have a ton of agency when it comes to answering this question — they can only hope for the best for their two injured stars.

While Hayward and Irving are both expected to be ready to go for the 2018/19 season, that’s not an absolute lock, as neither player has participated in 5-on-5 action to date.

Given the constant speculation about the health of other key Eastern players returning from injuries (think Kawhi Leonard), it only seems fair to take a similar view on the Celtics — they’ll be title contenders if Hayward and Irving get healthy and stay healthy. With just over two months until opening night arrives, that’s the key issue facing a Celtics team that otherwise seems all set for the season.

Brooklyn Nets
Will D’Angelo Russell or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson receive rookie scale extensions from the Nets?

Much has been made about the Nets‘ projected 2019 cap space, particularly after the team was able to ditch Timofey Mozgov‘s pricey multiyear contract earlier this summer. While we expect the Nets to pursue multiple top free agents from other clubs, it’s also worth noting that they could be faced with decisions on a couple key restricted free agents of their own.

Russell and Hollis-Jefferson are eligible for rookie scale extensions right up until October 15, but if they don’t sign new deals by that point, they’ll be on track for restricted free agency next summer. While the Nets would still have the right of first refusal on both players at that point, they’d have less control over each player’s future — if another team comes in with an aggressive offer sheet for either RFA, it could complicate Brooklyn’s own free agency plans.

Even if the Nets view Russell and Hollis-Jefferson as key parts of their core, I wouldn’t be surprised if neither player is extended this year. Letting those contracts expire will allow Brooklyn to maximize its flexibility in the free agent market in 2019.

New York Knicks
Will the Knicks sign Kristaps Porzingis to a rookie scale extension?

Like their crosstown rivals, the Knicks have a rookie scale extension of their own to worry about. Porzingis is a lock to be extended by New York at some point, likely on a maximum-salary deal. But the timing of his next contract remains up in the air.

The Knicks don’t project to have as much cap room next offseason as the Nets and other clubs, but they can still create enough space to potentially make a splash on the free agent market. That would become much more difficult with a new extension for Porzingis already on their cap.

If the Knicks sign KP to a max extension now, he’d count for approximately $27.25MM in 2019/20 when the new league year begins. If they wait until next year to give him a new deal, his cap hold would be about $17.1MM until he officially signs, creating about $10MM in extra space for the Knicks to use before going over the cap to lock up Porzingis.

Between the extra cap flexibility and Porzingis’ ongoing ACL recovery, I expect New York to pass on a rookie scale extension this year. If they take that route though, the Knicks will have to be ready to put a huge, player-friendly offer on the table next year to avoid having Porzingis accept an offer sheet from another team that would allow him to reach free agency sooner.

Philadelphia 76ers
Who will the Sixers hire as their new head of basketball operations?

Since Bryan Colangelo‘s dismissal in early June, the Sixers have operated without a permanent general manager. Head coach Brett Brown has technically served as the interim GM over the last couple months, though several members of Philadelphia’s front office have been involved in roster decisions.

With the Sixers’ roster for 2018/19 all but set, there’s no longer a rush to get a permanent replacement for Colangelo installed right away, but it’s still an issue the organization should look to address before the regular season begins.

The 76ers reportedly made a run at Rockets GM Daryl Morey, and have been rumored to be targeting other big names too. However, outside of the Morey report, we haven’t heard a whole lot of specifics on the team’s search as of late.

Although the top candidates for the job and the timeline for a hire remain uncertain, it’s important that the Sixers get this right — next summer will be the last time that the club projects to have significant cap room before extensions for Ben Simmons and Dario Saric are due, so it’ll be a big year for Philadelphia’s front office.

Toronto Raptors
Will the Raptors look to shed salary before the season begins?

The Raptors‘ offseason player movement has been fairly clear-cut — Kawhi Leonard replaces DeMar DeRozan as the team’s on-court leader, and Greg Monroe and Danny Green figure to step in for Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira in the rotation. However, those roster moves didn’t cut costs at all for a Raptors squad whose team salary is now well beyond the tax line.

With approximately $140MM in guaranteed money on Toronto’s books after the signing of Monroe, it will be interesting to see whether the club still hopes to shed salary in a salary-dump deal, or if team ownership is prepared to pay a sizable tax bill for a roster with the potential to contend for a title.

While Green or C.J. Miles would probably be easier to trade, the Raptors may prefer to move someone like Norman Powell, assuming they’re still looking to make a deal. Powell no longer has a clear role in a crowded wing rotation and his four-year, $42MM extension represents one of the only commitments on Toronto’s books beyond 2019/20.

I’d be surprised if the Raptors haven’t talked to the Kings, who could use some help at small forward and still have the cap room necessary to take on Powell. But there’s not necessarily a huge rush for the Raps to move a contract or two immediately — they could always wait until the trade deadline to try again to trim salary.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Schedule Gets More Challenging After Christmas

  • Even if the Knicks get off to another strong start, they face a schedule that gets much tougher after Christmas, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. ESPN will be hoping Kristaps Porzingis returns from his ACL injury in time for a holiday matchup with the Bucks, but that kicks off a stretch of 10 out of 12 games against playoff teams.

Atlantic Notes: Noah, Porzingis, Atkinson, Crawford

As we relayed earlier this week, the Knicks are expected to part ways with oft-injured center Joakim Noah before the start of training camp. If the Knicks fail to find a trading partner, the team is expected to use the stretch provision after September 1. Noah, 33, still has two years and $37.8MM left on his deal.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News examined both the good and bad sides of the Knicks parting ways with Noah this offseason. It would likely avoid a major headache and possible players’ union issue if the Knicks refuse to play Noah. Bondy reiterates that the deadline to solve the Noah issue is not September 1 but rather next summer when New York intends to pursue top free agents.

The Nets dealing Timofey Mozgov‘s lucrative multiyear contract for an expiring deal is one example of a team leveraging an albatross deal into future cap space. The Knicks’ best choice would be to hold onto Noah and look for trades instead of stretching his contract, Bondy writes.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • In the same story, Bondy looked at the pros and cons of the Knicks extending Kristaps Porzingis this offseason. On one hand, New York should lock up its best player since Patrick Ewing amid an unstable environment, with Porzingis set to play for the fourth coach of his career in 2018/19. Conversely, the Knicks plan to make use of their cap room in 2019, and extending the Latvian now would eat into that space — the team could simply let him hit restricted free agency and then negotiate or match any offer.
  • Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson denied the franchise has contemplated tanking in order to secure more favorable draft positioning, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Instead, Atkinson says the goal is to play as well as possible so Brooklyn becomes a desirable free agency destination. “We talk about internal improvement, we talk about player development, we talk about culture,” Atkinson said. “Tanking is not a word we use. It’s just not in our [vocabulary]. I don’t think the fans in New York want to see that.”
  • Following an injury to rookie Zhaire Smith, the Sixers may be in the market for wing depth, and veteran sharpshooter Jamal Crawford could fit the bill. In a recent appearance on Brandon Robinson’s Scoop B Podcast, Crawford spoke glowingly of Philadelphia and what playing there would mean to him (via Amico Hoops). “I like their city. I like how into it they are about basketball. I like their knowledge of basketball, how passionate they are. I’ve always loved coach Brett Brown,” Crawford said.