Knicks Rumors

In-Season Tournament Updates: Pacers Clinch Top-Two Seed, Six Teams Eliminated

The Nuggets, Bulls, Raptors, Thunder, Clippers and Mavericks were all eliminated from the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament in the group stage following Friday’s game results, marking 12 total teams out of contention.

The Pacers and Lakers remain the only two teams to clinch spots in the quarterfinals so far, with six more spots up for grabs. The final day of group stage play is Tuesday, Nov. 28 and the quarterfinals will take place on Dec. 4 and 5.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps took a look at all the action from Friday, which featured numerous upsets that set the stage for some interesting scenarios to play out. By beating Detroit on Friday, Indiana won East Group A and guaranteed a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference. The BucksHeat game on Tuesday dictates who earns the top overall seed in the East. If the Bucks win, Milwaukee is the conference’s top seed, but if Miami wins, it will be the Pacers. A Miami loss eliminates the Heat.

If the Heat and Knicks win, there will be a three-way tiebreaker between Miami, Milwaukee and New York that is determined by point differential. In that scenario, the Heat would have to beat the Bucks by eight more points than the Knicks beat the Hornets on Tuesday in order to have a chance.

Orlando defeated Boston on Friday, meaning the Magic‘s chances of winning East Group C are bolstered. With the Raptors and Bulls eliminated, the Celtics, Magic and Nets are competing for that group.

The Suns‘ win over Memphis in their final group stage game helped them take steps toward securing a wild-card spot, finishing their games at 3-1 with a plus-34 point differential. The Lakers play in West Group A alongside the Suns and, given the wild card team plays the top seed, it’s likely they’ll face off against each other in the quarterfinals. The only way the Lakers don’t earn the West’s top seed is if the Kings beat the Warriors on Tuesday by 46 or more points.

West Group B got shaken up with the Rockets upsetting and eliminating the Nuggets on Friday, and the Pelicans are now the runaway favorite to win the group, according to Bontemps. The Pelicans beat the Clippers, eliminating them, and improving to 3-1. The Pelicans are not in front of the Suns for the wild card spot and will need the Rockets to lose in order to clinch the group.

The Kings are looking like a top contender for the tournament title, sitting at 3-0 and plus-29. If the Kings beat the Warriors on Tuesday, they advance. If both Sacramento and Minnesota lose, the Warriors win the group. If both Golden State and Minnesota win, it sets up a three-way tie to be decided by point differential. The Warriors are plus-5 and the Timberwolves are minus-3.

Any team that makes the quarterfinals clinches per-player bonuses worth at least $50K. The value of those bonuses would increase to $100K if they advance to the semifinals, $200K if they make the final, and $500K if they win the entire tournament.

The full in-season tournament standings can be found here.

Knicks’ Dolan Resigned From NBA Board Committee Positions

Knicks owner James Dolan stepped down from his positions on the NBA Board of Governors’ advisory/finance committee and media committee several months ago, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Dolan also informed the league at that time that he no longer intends to attend Board of Governors meetings.

“Given all that has occurred lately, I have come to the conclusion that the NBA neither needs nor wants my opinion,” Dolan wrote in a July memo to commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s other 29 team owners, per Wojnarowski.

“My hope is that the Knicks will be treated equally and fairly as all other NBA teams,” Dolan stated. “… As you know, I am very busy with all my duties at MSG family of companies. I need to apply my time where I can be most productive.”

As Wojnarowski explains, Dolan has been “increasingly critical” of both Silver and the NBA on several issues. Notably, sources tell ESPN, he has expressed dissatisfaction with elements of the league’s revenue sharing system, which requires high-earning teams like the Knicks to share their revenues with smaller-market teams.

Since resigning from his Board of Governors committee positions, Dolan and the Knicks launched a lawsuit against the Raptors seeking more than $10MM in damages over an issue that would typically be arbitrated by the NBA. The suit, which alleges that a former team employee illegally took files with him to his new position in Toronto, accused Silver of bias due to his friendship with Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Tanenbaum’s position as chairman of the Board of Governors.

Although Knicks general counsel Jamaal Lesane is now representing the franchise at Board of Governors meetings in place of Dolan, the Knicks owner didn’t give up his voting power, according to Wojnarowski.

As Woj points out, the Knicks have been the lone dissenter in two recent votes that otherwise would have been unanimous — Dolan voted against approving the sale of the majority share of the Hornets to Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin; he also voted against WNBA expansion to San Francisco.

While ESPN’s report may not provide a full picture of everything going on behind the scenes here, Dolan’s recent actions – including those dissenting votes and his claim that the league “neither needs nor wants my opinion” – suggest he’s staging a passive-aggressive protest against the NBA due to his unhappiness about certain policies. That wouldn’t be out of character for a team owner who has a reputation for pettiness.

Knicks Respond To Raptors’ Motion, Don’t Want Silver To Rule On Dispute

The Knicks have responded to a motion filed by the Raptors that sought to dismiss New York’s lawsuit against them, Stefan Bondy of the New York Post reports. The Knicks are seeking more than $10MM in their lawsuit and have also dragged commissioner Adam Silver’s name into the dispute between the Atlantic Division clubs.

The Knicks argued that the court system should handle the matter, rather than the NBA, because of Silver’s allegedly tight relationship with Toronto minority owner Larry Tanenbaum.

Tanenbaum is currently the NBA’s Chairman of the Board of Governors.

The Knicks wrote in their 24-page response on Monday, “Silver himself described Tanenbaum as ‘not just my boss as the chairman of the Board of Governors, but he’s very much a role model in my life. If Silver were to preside over the instant dispute, he would be arbitrating a case for his boss and ally,” ESPN’s Baxter Holmes tweets.

The Knicks also inferred that Tanenbaum was handpicked by Silver as Chairman, Bondy adds.

The lawsuit stems from their allegations that Ikechukwu Azotam, a former Knicks video coordinator, stole scouting and analytics secrets – including files containing “over 3,000 videos” – and gave them to the Raptors after he was hired by their organization. Azotam and Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic were also named in the suit.

In the motion to dismiss, Toronto called the lawsuit “baseless” and “a public relations stunt” by the Knicks. The Raptors also wrote that the dispute should be handled by Silver instead of a federal judge, pursuant to a bylaw in the NBA’s constitution that reads, “The Commissioner shall have exclusive, full, complete, and final jurisdiction of any dispute involving two (2) or more Members of the Association.”

The Knicks also claim that since their damages exceed $10MM, which is more than NBA can penalize a team, the courts should handle the case rather than the league office, Mike Vornukov of The Athetic tweets.

Kings’ Fox, Knicks’ Brunson Named Players Of The Week

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Knicks guard Jalen Brunson have been named the NBA’s players of the week, the league announced on Monday (via Twitter). Fox won the weekly award for the Western Conference, while Brunson won for the East.

Fox had missed five straight games with a sprained ankle, but he returned last week to lead the Kings to a perfect 4-0 record, including three victories on the road. He put up stellar stats, averaging 32.2 points, 6.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals per night on .523/.444/.719 shooting for Sacramento, which is currently 8-4, the No. 4 seed in the West.

Brunson, meanwhile, guided the Knicks to a 3-1 week, with all of those games coming on the road. He averaged 28.5 points, 6.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds on .476/.543/.882 shooting in those four appearances. New York has won six of its past seven games and is currently 8-5, tied for the fourth-best record in the East.

According to the NBA (Twitter links), the other nominees in the West were Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LeBron James, Domantas Sabonis and Karl-Anthony Towns, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Tyrese Haliburton, Evan Mobley, Kristaps Porzingis, Jayson Tatum and Julius Randle were nominated in the East.

DiVincenzo Thrives Alongside Brunson

  • Donte DiVincenzo‘s connection to former Villanova teammates like Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart was one reason why he joined the Knicks as a free agent this past offseason, and he and Brunson showed on Saturday that the chemistry they established in college remains strong, per Steve Popper of Newsday. Starting alongside Brunson, who had 32 points of his own, DiVincenzo scored a career-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting. “I’m not really surprised by it. But it’s pretty cool to see it, one of your best friends playing that way,” Brunson said, adding that he’s “not taking it for granted” to get to play in the NBA with so many of his friends from Villanova.

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Fournier, Grimes, Draft, Randle

After scoring at least 24 points in three consecutive Knicks wins between November 6-12, forward RJ Barrett was forced to the sidelines for three games due to an ailment that doesn’t often show up on NBA injury reports. As Stefan Bondy of The New York Post writes, Barrett was dealing with a debilitating migraine, describing the experience as “not anything I’d wish on anybody.”

“A lot of stuff going on. It was my first [migraine] as well,” Barrett said. “So definitely wasn’t the best feeling at all. It was terrible, actually. I’m feeling better now, thank God.”

Barrett didn’t exactly pick up right where he left off on Saturday, according to Bondy, who notes that the 23-year-old looked “gassed” in the first half. However, he picked up his play in the second half — he finished with 15 points and was a plus-16 despite making just 5-of-15 shots from the floor.

“You can’t take that amount of time off and not feel it,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He was in a great rhythm, now we’ve got to get him back in that rhythm.”

  • After sitting out the Knicks’ first 11 games this season, Evan Fournier got an opportunity to play on Friday in Washington and logged nearly 16 minutes. However, after that game he was diagnosed with ankle inflammation, an ailment that sidelined him on Saturday and mystified him because he had “no clue” how it happened, per Bondy. “It was frustrating because it hurts,” Fournier said. “There’s not much to say, to be honest. It sucks. That’s it.”
  • Quentin Grimes has missed the Knicks’ past two games with a sprained wrist, but he’s already out of his brace and likely won’t miss more than one more game, a source tells Bondy. “It’s just a pain tolerance thing, so as soon as he’s comfortable enough, he’ll be out there,” Thibodeau said.
  • In a separate story for The Post, Bondy takes a look at the four 2024 first-round picks the Knicks control, observing that picks from the Wizards (top-12 protected) and Pistons (top-18 protected) look increasingly unlikely to convey, given that the two clubs sit at the very bottom of the NBA’s standings. New York will likely only end up having its own first-rounder and Dallas’ pick (top-10 protected) in next year’s draft, Bondy adds.
  • Julius Randle wasn’t able to do much of his usual work in the offseason while he recovered from ankle surgery, so it took him a little longer than usual to get going this fall. However, he has hit his stride lately, as Bondy writes for The Post. The veteran forward has averaged 24.3 points per game with a .455/.341/.708 shooting line in his last seven games after putting up 13.7 PPG on .271/.225/.618 shooting in his first six. “I feel better, more like myself,” Randle said. “I told you guys it would be a day-to-day process, me not being able to do much in the summer.”

And-Ones: Diallo, T. Cook, J. Green, Expansion, More

Former NBA big man Cheick Diallo, who opened this season playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate, intends to return to Kyoto Hannaryz, the Japanese team he played for in 2022/23, according to Donatas Urbonas of (Twitter link).

Diallo appeared in 180 NBA games from 2016-20, but has bounced around since then, playing in the G League and multiple international leagues, returning to the NBA for just three contests in 2021/22.

In other international basketball news, former NBA forward Tyler Cook has signed with Spanish club Joventut Badalona, per a press release from the team. Cook played in a total of 65 games for five different NBA teams between 2019-22, but wasn’t in the league at all last season. He played in the G League in 2022/23 and had a brief stint in Australia this fall.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Johnny Green, who made four All-Star appearances between 1959-71, including three for the Knicks, has passed away at age 89, according to Richard Goldstein of The New York Times. Known as Jumpin’ Johnny, Green was a college star at Michigan State before recording over 12,000 points and 9,000 rebounds in the NBA.
  • Asked during an appearance on Sportsnet’s The Raptors Show (Twitter video link) about comments he made recently referencing the idea of expansion to a Canadian city like Montreal or Vancouver, commissioner Adam Silver stressed that the NBA has received interest from those markets but isn’t prepared to seriously explore the possibility yet. “It’s not an active discussion right now,” Silver said.
  • The early returns for the NBA’s first ever in-season tournament “have been pretty positive,” Silver said during that same radio appearance (Twitter video link). In addition to seeing a significant jump in television ratings for tournament games, Silver is encouraged by the buy-in from people around the NBA. “The players are really into it, and the coaches and teams have been very engaged and excited about it,” Silver said. “That’s what’s most important and what will ultimately translate into the most interest from the fans.”
  • Sam Amick, Josh Robbins, and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic take stock of the best and worst of the NBA’s first few weeks, identifying the Mavericks, Rockets, and Timberwolves as the teams that have most outperformed expectations and the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks as a few that have underwhelmed.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Trent, Anunoby, Poeltl, Batum, Knicks

Down a pair of key players on Wednesday vs. Philadelphia, the Celtics got a boost from Derrick White – who scored 27 points – and Al Horford, who contributed 14 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks while playing strong defense against Joel Embiid, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

As Bontemps notes, White and Horford have taken a step back in the Celtics’ pecking order this season due to the offseason acquisitions of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. But with Porzingis and Jaylen Brown unavailable vs. the Sixers, White and Horford provided a reminder of their importance to the club.

“That’s the luxury that we have on our team,” Jayson Tatum said. “We have so many talented guys.”

It was a big night for Horford, in particular. While White has remained a permanent starter for the Celtics even after the offseason roster changes, Horford has been asked to come off the bench on a regular basis for the first time in his career. Coming into this season, he had been a reserve in just 10 of 1,013 regular season games. He has started only three of 10 this fall.

“We were we down a couple of guys so having to step up and create a spark plug was important for me to do,” Horford said, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I feel like that’s kind of been what I do for the most part, if I have to guard in the perimeter, if I have to guard in the post, create energy in different ways, shoot threes. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help our group.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • While Gary Trent Jr. (foot) is expected to suit up for the Raptors on Friday after missing the club’s last three games, forward OG Anunoby is listed as doubtful. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets, Anunoby – who has been out for the past two games – received stitches on his lacerated right index finger and can still only shoot and dribble with his left hand.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic doesn’t believe that the Raptors‘ decisions to give up a top-six protected first-round pick for Jakob Poeltl and then to sign him to a four-year, $78MM contract were bad ones in isolation, given that Poeltl is a quality NBA starting center. However, Koreen suggests that Poeltl’s fit with Toronto’s other frontcourt pieces hasn’t exactly been seamless so far. The team has a -9.9 net rating when Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, and Scottie Barnes have shared the court this season.
  • Sixers forward Nicolas Batum, who has been away from the team for personal reasons, is out for Friday’s game in Atlanta but will likely be back for Sunday’s contest in Brooklyn, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Mark Jackson had been expected to call some Knicks games for MSG Network this season, but it seems that won’t happen after all, according to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post. Knicks management objected to having Jackson travel on the team plane, Marchand explains, in part due to an old “quarrel” between the former Warriors head coach and current Knicks assistant Darren Erman, who worked under Jackson in Golden State and recorded meetings without Jackson’s knowledge.

Knicks Notes: LaVine, Rotation, Grimes, Perry

If Zach LaVine gets traded, his representatives would prefer somewhere other than the Knicks, a source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. LaVine’s camp doesn’t see New York as a good fit for the high-scoring guard, Bondy adds, because the team already has RJ Barrett, another ball-dominant wing who is five years younger and has a less expensive contract. Bondy also hears that the Knicks wouldn’t have much interest in sending Barrett to the Bulls in a potential LaVine deal.

LaVine’s contract will be daunting for any team, as he’s still owed about $178MM, including a 2026/27 player option that’s worth nearly $49MM. He’s represented by Klutch Sports, which is a longtime rival of CAA, the former agency of Knicks president Leon Rose.

With reportedly just one more year left on his contract, Rose will have to acquire a big-name talent at some point, Bondy suggests. The Knicks have young players and a wealth of draft picks to offer, including up to four first-rounders next year, although picks from Washington and Detroit appear unlikely to convey right away. Rose has plenty of ammunition to pursue disgruntled stars, but it doesn’t appear he will make a play for LaVine.

There’s more from New York:

  • Coach Tom Thibodeau has a reputation for leaning on his starters, but he doesn’t seem to trust anyone on his current squad beyond his nine-man rotation, Bondy adds. In four games in which Barrett wasn’t available, Thibodeau cut that to eight players, with Miles McBride seeing the most playing time beyond that group with 13 total minutes.
  • The Knicks are saying a “bruised hand” caused Quentin Grimes to leave Wednesday’s game, Bondy states in a separate story. Grimes went straight to the tunnel when he suffered the injury with about 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Bondy notes, and he wasn’t in the locker room after the game. Thibodeau wasn’t sure if X-rays had been taken when he talked to reporters.
  • Chasing unhappy stars is a risky way to run an organization, former Knicks general manager Scott Perry tells Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I don’t have the arrogance necessarily to believe that a guy’s gonna come to our place and he’s gonna be happy just because,” Perry said. “I like when players and people in general try to figure out the situation they’re gonna be in. And when you look at these disgruntled stars, how many of them have left a situation where everything was catered around them and gone to the new situation, and it’s the exact same thing for them?”

Zach LaVine Rumors: Lakers, Heat, Sixers, DeRozan, More

The Lakers, Heat, and Sixers are among the teams expected to have a “level of interest” in Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link). Charania reported on Tuesday that the Bulls and LaVine have become increasingly open to exploring the possibility of a trade after Chicago got off to another slow start this season.

The Lakers’ big three experiment with Russell Westbrook alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn’t work well, with the team eventually moving off Westbrook in favor of reliable depth around its two superstars. It’s unclear how eager Los Angeles would be to sacrifice some of that depth to bring in another ball-dominant, offensive-minded guard like LaVine.

The Heat, meanwhile, were linked to Damian Lillard for much of the offseason and would perhaps view LaVine as an intriguing alternative, though he’s not the play-maker that Dame is. As for the Sixers, the belief is that they want to turn some of the assets they received for James Harden into another impact player, but the emergence of Tyrese Maxey has lessened the need for another guard. A report on Tuesday downplayed Philadelphia’s interest in LaVine.

In addition to monitoring LaVine, teams around the NBA are keeping an eye on DeMar DeRozan in case the Bulls decide to make him available as well, according to Charania.

“The sense around the league is whether it’s LaVine or DeRozan or both, there could be movement in Chicago sooner than later,” Charania said.

Here’s more on LaVine:

  • The Lakers are among five destinations that Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype believes make sense for LaVine, but his other four suggestions are teams not mentioned by Charania: the Magic, Pistons, Hornets, and Mavericks. Dallas may not be an ideal fit for LaVine after adding Kyrie Irving earlier this year, but the Mavs have reportedly had interest in the Bulls guard in the past, Gozlan notes.
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Kelly Iko makes the case that the Grizzlies would be an ideal fit for LaVine, contending that pairing him with Desmond Bane on the wing would help the team in the short term and open up space for Ja Morant to operate when he returns from his suspension.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday doesn’t view the Knicks as a likely suitor for LaVine, suggesting that it wouldn’t make sense to give up RJ Barrett as part of a larger package for the Bulls guard, since LaVine is five years older, significantly more expensive, and has been more injury-prone.
  • As good as LaVine has been as a scorer in recent years, his best hasn’t been good enough for the Bulls, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who suggests that it might be in both sides’ best interest to go in a new direction.