Knicks Rumors

Rokas Jokubaitis In “Advanced Talks” With Maccabi Tel Aviv

Rokas Jokubaitis, who played for the Knicks during Summer League, is in “advanced talks” with Maccabi Tel Aviv, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando.

The Lithuanian point guard has spent the past three years with Barcelona, where he averaged 5.3 points and 2.8 assists per game last season. Barcelona recently declined to exercise an option on his contract, making him a free agent.

Jokubaitis appeared in five games for New York in Las Vegas, averaging 9.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 19.1 minutes per night. He shot 57.1% from the field, 50% from three-point range and 71.4% from the foul line as the Knicks posted a 3-2 Summer League record.

The 23-year-old was selected by Oklahoma City with the 34th pick in 2021 and was traded to New York on draft night. The Knicks will retain his NBA draft rights no matter where he plays this season.

Jokubaitis is also a member of the Lithuanian national team, which lost to Puerto Rico in the finals of a pre-Olympic qualifier earlier this month.

If he signs with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Jokubaitis will join former NBA guard Jordan Loyd, who played 12 games for Toronto during the 2018/19 season. According to Maggi, the team is also hoping to sign Daryl Macon, who had brief NBA stops with Dallas and Miami.

Stein’s Latest: Kuminga, Podziemski, Markkanen, Jones, Thibodeau, Dinwiddie, Morris

There’s a growing belief in league circles that the Warriors are more willing to trade Jonathan Kuminga than Brandin Podziemski in a blockbuster deal for Lauri Markkanen or another impact player, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack notebook.

Rumors of Golden State’s interest in Markkanen have been floated for weeks. According to Stein’s sources, the Jazz have enough interest in a package of Podziemski and future draft compensation that they could move Markkanen before Aug. 6, when Markkanen becomes eligible to renegotiate and extend his contract. He has an expiring $18MM deal.

The Warriors are reluctant to part with Podziemski not only because of how highly they value his on-court contributions but also for financial reasons. He has three years left on his rookie contract while Kuminga is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. Any raise for Podziemski wouldn’t come onto the books until the contracts of Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins expire in the summer of 2027.

Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes and Franz Wagner — members of the same rookie class as Kuminga — have all signed max extensions. It’s unlikely Golden State will make that type of offer to him, but he’s due for a large raise.

It remains to be seen if adding Kuminga to a trade package would move the needle for Utah’s front office. Thus far, Golden State’s offers for Markkanen have centered around a combination of Moses Moody and other contracts, plus draft compensation, without including Podziemski or Kuminga, Stein adds.

The Warriors wouldn’t be able to immediately extend Markkanen since renegotiation-and-extension scenarios are only available to teams with cap space. But their continued interest in him suggests they’re confident they can lock him up long-term next offseason if they acquire him.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Carlik Jonestriple-double for South Sudan against Team USA could lead to renewed interest from NBA teams. Jones recently signed a two-year deal with Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade but the contract includes an NBA escape clause, valid through Thursday. Jones was the NBA G League MVP for the 2022/23 season, when he had a two-way deal with the Bulls. Last season, Jones played in China for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls.
  • Expect a contract extension for Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau in the near future. Thibodeau would be entering the final season of his original five-year contract without an extension but he’s expected to sign a new deal with a value of at least $10MM annually.
  • The Mavericks have a roster opening and they’re interested in re-signing Spencer Dinwiddie. Two other guards, Dennis Smith Jr. and Talen Horton-Tucker, are also under consideration but Dinwiddie is believed to be the team’s top choice. They’re also interested in retaining forward Markieff Morris, who is considered a lock to return, says Stein.

Nets Notes: Bridges Trade, Wilson, Whitehead, Z. Williams

Nets general manager Sean Marks said the trade that sent Mikal Bridges to the Knicks came together quickly, but an unidentified source tells Brian Lewis of The New York Post that the framework was actually set at the trade deadline. Although Bojan Bogdanovic and Shake Milton may not have been mentioned in the original discussions, it appears the idea of five first-round picks and a swap was discussed in February.

“We were always prepared for a rebuild. It wasn’t like, oh, let’s wait to be lucky to find the star that’s coming into free agency. We were always prepared to pivot in the other direction if we could see the right opportunity to do that,” the source said. “And who would’ve thought we could trade Mikal Bridges for five first-round draft picks? And who would’ve thought we were able to find that window of opportunity to get Houston to agree to get our picks back?

“It was eye-opening to see the Knicks offer these kinds of assets for Mikal. If you look at our ability to reload our assets, particularly in the draft year of 2025, we have one pick that’s our own that could be very. very good. … We’ve got three more first-round picks that probably will be in the 20s but it’s a very deep draft. Plus, we have our own second-round pick. That’s a class we can get very excited about.”

Lewis adds that the Nets began to strongly consider a Bridges trade after he openly criticized the team’s direction following a lopsided loss to Boston on February 14. Up to that point, the focus had been on finding an All-Star to pair with him.

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Jalen Wilson is a leading contender for Summer League MVP honors, Lewis states in a subscriber-only story. Through four games, Wilson is averaging 24.3 PPG with 46.3/55.6/88.2 shooting figures. His three-point shooting is especially significant because he only connected at 31.6% from beyond the arc in college, 27.5% last season in the G League and 32.4% in 43 NBA games. Concerns about Wilson’s shooting caused him to fall to the 51st pick in the 2023 draft, but he becomes much more valuable if he can maintain anything close to his Summer League pace. “Shooting helps everything at any level of basketball because it provides space on the floor for his teammates,” said Nets Summer League coach Steve Hetzel.
  • It’s been a difficult Summer League for Dariq Whitehead, who’s trying to return to the court after three surgeries severely limited his playing time in college and during his rookie season, Lewis adds. Whitehead shot 4-of-34 from the field and 2-of-21 from three-point range in his first three games before being held out of Thursday’s contest against Orlando for “rest.” “I’d just like for him to step on the court and play as hard as he can and don’t worry about the makes or misses,” Hetzel said. “That’s been our message from Day 1. … He’s had a tough journey being out as long as he has, and I don’t think any of us can know what he’s going through. It’s our job to just keep encouraging him, put him back out there and have him play as hard as he can the next year.”
  • Lewis suggests more trades could be in the works after Friday’s deal to acquire Ziaire Williams from Memphis. The Nets are determined to stay under the luxury tax, and their cushion dropped from $8.2MM to $4.3MM by adding Williams. League sources told Lewis “there are still moving pieces,” possibly involving Dorian Finney-Smith and Cameron Johnson.

New York Notes: Knicks, Capela, Hart, Nets, Gilyard, Wilson

Responding to a reader’s question in a video mailbag, Ian Begley of identified Hawks big man Clint Capela as one of the centers the Knicks have checked in on this offseason as they scour the trade market.

“I don’t know how far talks went,” Begley said (Twitter video clip). “I don’t know if they’re active at this very moment. But they did check in on Capela.”

According to Begley, it’s unclear whether the Knicks envisioned Capela replacing Mitchell Robinson on the roster as their starting center or if they viewed the duo as a potential platoon at the five. Either scenario is a long shot, given that Capela will earn $22.3MM in 2024/25. Sending out enough salary to exceed Capela’s cap figure (avoiding a first-apron hard cap) would be tricky, unless the Knicks were to move either Julius Randle ($28.9MM) or multiple rotation players in a deal.

Although the Knicks have kicked the tires on higher-salary center options like Capela, Begley says the most likely scenario is that they add a lower-cost backup for Robinson and enter training camp with a roster that looks very similar to the current group.

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

  • The influx of money that the NBA’s new media rights deals will bring into the league has Knicks forward Josh Hart rethinking how long he wants to play, he said during an appearance on the Front Office Sports Today podcast. “I wanted to retire at like 34, maybe 35, so I’d still got a bit of juice left,” Hart said (story via Dennis Young of Front Office Sports). “But then I saw (reports of the new $76 billion media deal), and I was like, you know what? I’m gonna play until my knees fall off.”
  • Jacob Gilyard is no longer with the Nets‘ Summer League team, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link). While there are no details yet on Gilyard’s absence, Lewis speculates that the free agent guard’s strong play in Las Vegas – including a .375 3PT% and 3.3 steals per game – may have earned him a contract offer from another NBA club.
  • Nets swingman Jalen Wilson, who had already been excelling in Vegas, had 33 points and 10 rebounds in Thursday’s victory over Orlando and looks like a legitimate candidate for this year’s Summer League MVP award, writes Collin Helwig of NetsDaily. Wilson has averaged 24.3 points per game on .463/.556/.882 shooting in four outings. The 23-year-old, who has a $1.89MM minimum-salary contract for 2024/25 that is currently just partially guaranteed for $75K, looks like a safe bet to make Brooklyn’s regular season roster, which would increase that partial guarantee to $325K.

New York Notes: Thomas, K. Johnson, Kolek, Thibodeau, Knicks

In an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Nets guard Cam Thomas said he’s been impressed with new head coach Jordi Fernandez so far. Fernandez is currently with the Canadian national team as it prepares for the Olympics in Paris later this month.

It’s been good,” Thomas said of adjusting to Fernandez. “He’s very smart. He’s very detailed. I think he’ll be good for our young team. I think we’re going the young route, so that’ll be good for us because he’s all about the details and pushes us to be great. I can’t wait to actually get to work with him.”

Thomas also discussed a number of other topics, including his contract situation. The 22-year-old, who led the team in scoring in 2023/24, is eligible for a rookie scale extension until the day before the 2024/25 regular season begins. He would be eligible for restricted free agency in 2025 if a deal isn’t reached.

You definitely think about it, but it’s not something I’m pushing for,” Thomas told Scotto. “Whatever happens with the organization happens. I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is going out there and playing the best basketball I can play. Whatever happens will happen. I’m not really pressed on it. … I want to keep improving my game to get ready for next season.”

On a related note, Thomas recently switched agents and is now represented by Alex Saratsis, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Saratsis’ agency, Octagon, announced the addition of Thomas to its client list earlier this month.

Here’s more from the NBA’s two New York-based teams:

  • Lewis’ story is primarily focused on former first-round pick Keon Johnson, who finished last season on a two-way deal with the Nets. An unrestricted free agent who is still just 22 years old, Johnson has impressed with his defense, improved shot and decision-making in Summer League action, per Lewis. The Nets have one standard roster spot and a pair of two-way openings available, and Johnson thinks his play can translate to real NBA minutes. “I mean, I feel like everything that I’m doing out there is completely translated to what I would be doing on the main court, as far as playing defense, spacing the court and making open shots,” Johnson said. “And then whenever I do have the ball in my hands, just making simple reads. I feel like every day in Summer League I’ve kind of been showing that, and hopefully after Summer League, I’ll be able to do the same thing.”
  • Knicks rookie guard Tyler Kolek isn’t lacking for confidence, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post (subscription required). The former Marquette star, who was a second-round pick last month (34th overall), has impressed during Summer League action. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised [how well I’m playing],” Kolek said. “All the work that I’ve put in has gotten me to this point. I’ve been in a lot of games in college. I’m not some first-year rookie that’s just come in playing 10, 12, 15 games in college, maybe only averaged 20 minutes a game. I’ve played a lot of games and I’m really comfortable on the basketball court.”
  • In the same story, Bondy says there’s still an expectation that Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau will sign a contract extension. Bondy is surprised a deal has yet to be reached, though he acknowledges New York has had a very busy offseason so far.
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic takes a look at the Knicks‘ roster following the signing of Cameron Payne, writing that the team now has one of the deepest pool of guards in the league. According to Katz, the Knicks view Miles McBride as more of a two than a one, which is why they added Kolek and Payne. Like Bondy, Katz has also heard from sources that Thibodeau is “more likely to extend than not.” Katz also examines Precious Achiuwa‘s free agency, suggesting that a reunion is still possible, but it may behoove both sides to wait and see if any sign-and-trade opportunities arise.

New York Notes: Jokubaitis, Randle, Wilson, DSJ, Walker, Howard

Rokas Jokubaitis has been a Summer League standout, but the Knicks don’t seem to have a roster spot for another guard, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Jokubaitis turned in an impressive performance on Wednesday, making all seven of his shots from the field while finishing with 16 points, five assists, two steals and a block in a narrow win over Sacramento.

A second-round pick in the 2021 draft, Jokubaitis is under contract with Barcelona, but Popper notes that it might be tough for him to get playing time there in a backcourt that features Ricky Rubio and Juan Nunez. He may have the option to join Zalgiris in his native Lithuania, according to Popper, or the Knicks could send his draft rights to another NBA team as part of a trade.

There’s more on the New York City teams:

  • Julius Randle‘s recovery from shoulder surgery is going “incredibly well” and he’s looking forward to being part of the Knicks‘ revamped roster following the trade for Mikal Bridges, Ian Begley of SNY states in a mailbag column. On August 3, Randle will become eligible for an extension of up to four years and $181.5MM, but Begley hears that negotiations on a new deal “aren’t at the forefront” for either Randle or the team.
  • Jalen Wilson looks like a veteran in his second Summer League experience, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The 2023 second-round pick has been a team leader for the Nets, scoring 27 points and finishing plus-19 in Tuesday’s comeback victory over the Knicks. “It’s fresh as a rookie; you don’t know really what to expect. But now this is my second year coming back,” Wilson said. “It’s just fun. You get to see things, get to experience having a chance to win it. That’s the thing that drives a guy, especially when it’s our second time doing it.”
  • Dennis Smith Jr. has been cheering for the Nets in Las Vegas, but sources tell Collin Helwig of NetsDaily that the free agent guard is considered “very unlikely” to be back in Brooklyn. Lonnie Walker is also expected to move onto another team, Hellwig adds.
  • Juwan Howard talks to Adam Zagoria of about why he decided to join the Nets‘ coaching staff.

WBD Reportedly Plans To Match Amazon’s Media Rights Package

The NBA’s Board of Governors ratified the league’s new media rights deal Tuesday night, according to Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal, but the process is still far from over.

Sources tell Friend that Warner Bros. Discovery — the owner of TNT Sports, a longtime NBA media partner — is expected to match the “C” package given to Amazon, which could set off a contentious legal battle. Commissioner Adam Silver hinted at that possibility in a press conference Tuesday night when he said work remains to be done “with existing partners.”

The next step will be for the league to give WBD written copies of the three contracts. Their annual value was originally reported as $2.6 billion for ESPN, $2.5 billion for NBC Universal and $1.8 billion for Amazon, although Friend hears the current numbers are slightly higher. That begins a five-day timeframe in which WBD CEO David Zaslav has the option to match the deal with either NBC or Amazon.

Friend’s sources say that Zaslav views Amazon’s streaming deal — which includes alternating conference finals, a Thursday package, Friday or Saturday games, the NBA Cup (in-season tournament), early-round playoffs and international rights — as the most fiscally responsible. Friend adds that WBD plans to match Amazon with its own streaming service, Max, while running simulcasts on TNT.

According to Friend’s sources, the NBA will likely argue that Max doesn’t possess nearly the same reach as Amazon, which has 200 million worldwide customers compared to about 100 million for Max. Friend notes that the league’s stance could lead to a lawsuit, a financial settlement for WBD, or possibly a fourth broadcast package.

Friend reports that the Board of Governors approved the media rights package in a 29-1 vote, with the only opposition coming from the Knicks, which isn’t surprising given owner James Dolan’s public criticism of the deal and the NBA’s revenue sharing policies.

Sources told Friend that the three-hour meeting in which the rights deal was approved was “a breeze,” and owners received a memo Tuesday informing them that its total value has increased to $77 billion over 11 years. The price tag had many owners questioning whether WBD can really afford to match to match the Amazon bid, Friend adds, noting that the company laid off 1,000 employees this week after similar cutbacks in 2022 and 2023.

Friend points out that streaming has become an increasingly popular option in sports television, and the NBA appears to want to get involved. His sources say that cable TV wasn’t mentioned at all during the BOG meeting or by Silver at his session with reporters.

Friend also cites speculation that NBA TV, which is produced in Atlanta by Turner Sports, could eventually be moved to a studio in New York or New Jersey. His sources indicate that Silver wants the league to continue owning the network regardless of where it’s based.

Hartenstein: Leaving Knicks ‘Was Definitely Hard’

Isaiah Hartenstein struggled with the idea of leaving the Knicks but he couldn’t pass up the money and chance to play for another contender. That’s why he chose the Thunder in free agency, he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Post.

“I was going to make sure I was set for the rest of my life,” Hartenstein said. “But then at the same time, if it wasn’t a team like OKC, I would’ve taken a pay cut because I loved it (in New York). But I now have an opportunity to make that money, make that pay raise, and still compete. I think that was the main factor.”

The Thunder targeted Hartenstein to pair up with Chet Holmgren in their frontcourt. They signed him to a three-year, $87MM contract, which includes a team option in the third year.

Although the Knicks wanted to retain Hartenstein, they were limited to a maximum offer of approximately $72.5MM over four years, since they only held his Early Bird rights, which allowed for a raise of up to 75% on his $9.25MM cap hit from 2023/24.  The Knicks offered him the max they were allowed.

Additionally, Jalen Brunson tried to persuade Hartenstein to stay put.

“They said whatever we can give you, we’re going to give you,” Hartenstein said. “I talked to Jalen a couple times, Jalen and the guys. They really wanted me back and I really appreciate that. But it was definitely a hard decision. I couldn’t say no to an opportunity like this.”

Brunson signed a team-friendly extension this month but Hartenstein wasn’t making big money most of his NBA career. He totalled $22.65MM in career earnings in his first six seasons. He also recently became a father.

“He’s kind of in a different situation than I’m in. Already made $100 million (in his career). He’s the star player, knows he probably won’t ever get traded. So it’s a different situation,” Hartenstein said. “But that also shows what kind of a leader he is to make those sacrifices. I don’t think a lot of people are making those sacrifices. I think our situations are a little bit different but I have a lot of respect for him as a player and a human being for doing that.”

The Knicks still haven’t replaced Hartenstein. Oft-injured Mitchell Robinson is penciled in as the starting center with Jericho Sims as his backup. All things being equal from a monetary standpoint, Hartenstein would have re-signed.

“It was hard. For me if it wasn’t a situation like Oklahoma City with a chance to win, I don’t think I would’ve left. But that money is — you have to think about it, I just had a child so. …But it was really hard,” he said. “I love New York. I love the front office, I loved my team. So It was definitely hard. If it wasn’t a situation where I felt like I really had a chance to win, I probably wouldn’t have left.”

Knicks’ Dolan Rips NBA’s Media Deal, Revenue Sharing Policies

Knicks owner James Dolan sent a letter to the NBA’s Board of Governors blasting the league’s new $74.6 billion media rights deal and renewing his criticisms of the league’s revenue sharing policies, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The new media rights deal has expanded to include three national partners instead of two and is expected to significantly increase the number of nationally televised games, reducing the number of available games for regional sports networks and cutting into the revenue generated by those local broadcasts.

“The increased number of exclusive and non-exclusive games means that national partners would have the ability to air nearly half of the regular season and all postseason games,” Dolan wrote in his letter, per Wojnarowski. “This reduction in available games for RSNs risks rendering the entire RSN model unviable. The inclusion of streaming partners in the proposal (e.g., Amazon Prime Video, Peacock) allows fans in all NBA markets to bypass their RSN to watch certain games in their local market. The proposal offers no local protections for RSNs.”

As Wojnarowski details, the NBA has also reportedly proposed that the league office receive an 8% cut of the revenue from that media deal, as opposed to 0.5% under the previous agreement. That would work out to about $6 billion over 11 seasons, beginning in 2025/26. Dolan said there has been no “sufficient justification” for that exponential increase.

“(There is no) transparency into how (the NBA) arrived at the sum, how these fees will be allocated or to what extent the league will utilize this purported revenue growth to incur new and incremental costs and further expand the league’s ever growing expense level,” Dolan wrote.

Dolan has long had an adversarial relationship with the league office and commissioner Adam Silver. He stepped down from his positions on the NBA’s influential advisory/finance and media committees last year, with reporting at the time indicating that the Knicks owner had been “increasingly critical” of Silver and the NBA on a number of issues.

The Knicks questioned Silver’s impartiality when they filed suit against the Raptors last year, arguing that the court system ought to rule on a dispute between the two teams due to Silver’s allegedly tight relationship with Raptors governor Larry Tanenbaum.

Dolan, who has also been a critic of the NBA’s revenue sharing system over the years, argued in his letter to the Board of Governors that the new TV deal will hurt local team sponsors and partners, since the visibility those sponsors receive in locally televised games won’t be afforded to them in national broadcasts. He added that “pride of ownership” is being sacrificed and that the league is becoming a “one size fits all, characterless organization” by taking away agency from its individual teams.

“The NBA has made the move to an NFL model — de-emphasizing and de-powering the local market,” Dolan wrote. “Soon, your only revenue concern will be the sale of tickets and what color next year’s jersey will be. Don’t worry, because due to revenue pooling, you are guaranteed to be neither a success nor a failure. Of course, to get there, the league must take down the successful franchises and redistribute to the less successful. This new media deal goes a long way to accomplishing that goal.”

The NBA’s Board of Governors is reportedly set to meet on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Dolan, who has declined to attend those meetings since stepping down from the league’s committees last year, wrote in his letter that he believes the Knicks’ concerns are “shared by many of our counterparts across the league.”

Knicks Sign Cameron Payne To One-Year Contract

8:06pm: The Knicks have officially signed Payne, the team’s PR department tweets.

6:20pm: The Knicks are signing reserve point guard Cameron Payne to a one-year contract, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT tweets.

The Knicks are using the veteran’s minimum exception to sign Payne, Ian Begley of SNY TV tweets. The deal will be worth approximately just over $3MM.

Payne will immediately jump into the mix for backup minutes behind star floor leader Jalen Brunson.

Payne, 29, will be joining his seventh team since entering the league in 2015. He split his time between the Bucks and Sixers last season.

Milwaukee traded Payne and a 2027 second-round pick to Philadelphia for Patrick Beverley at the trade deadline. With Milwaukee, Payne appeared in 47 games and averaged 6.2 points and 2.3 assists in 14.9 minutes. With the Sixers, Payne saw action in 31 regular-season contests, averaging 9.3 points and 3.1 assists in 19.4 minutes. He also appeared in a handful of Philadelphia’s playoff games.

The addition of Payne makes it less likely that second-round pick Tyler Kolek will play a rotation role in his rookie year. Miles McBride is another candidate for regular minutes among the backcourt reserves.

The Knicks had also expressed interest in free agent point man Tyus Jones, according to Begley, who says that Payne’s playoff experience added to his appeal. The addition of Payne gives the Knicks 13 players on the roster, Begley notes (Twitter link), so at least one more move is coming.

Payne was arrested in Arizona this offseason after he made a false report and would not identify himself.