Troy Williams To Sign 10-Day Deal With Knicks

Forward Troy Williams will sign a 10-day contract with the Knicks, a source tells Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). Williams chose New York among several suitors for his services, per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

ESPN’s Ian Begley reported earlier in the evening that the Knicks were interested in Williams, who was cut loose by the Rockets last week.

New York has an open roster spot, so it can add Williams without cutting another player loose. Houston placed Williams on waivers when it decided to add veteran swingman Joe Johnson. Williams officially became a free agent on Friday.

Williams, 23, began his NBA career with the Grizzlies last season before being waived a little over a year ago. The 6’7” forward finished the 2016/17 campaign with the Rockets, then signed a new three-year contract with Houston but only the first year was fully guaranteed.

In 34 total NBA games, Williams has averaged 5.6 PPG and 2.1 RPG.

Noah, Hornacek Altercation Turned Physical?

FEBRUARY 19: There are conflicting reports on the exact details of the altercation, with sources telling Marc Berman of The New York Post that Hornacek never pushed Noah. Berman reports that the two men did engage in a shouting match, adding that Noah had to be restrained.

FEBRUARY 17: Knicks center Joakim Noah got into a physical altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek that led to his leave of absence, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Their long-running disagreement over playing time became heated at a practice following a January 23 game against the Warriors in which Noah logged just five minutes. They had to be separated after Hornacek shoved Noah, Bondy reports.

Noah is currently on a leave of absence, which Knicks officials describe as mutual. The team tried to trade him before the February 8 deadline, but there were no takers because of his hefty contract, which still has two more seasons and nearly $38MM remaining.

Trying to reach a buyout agreement is another option, but it’s one the Knicks have been opposed to. If Noah does become a free agent, the Timberwolves are an obvious potential destination with Noah’s former coach Tom Thibodeau running the team.

Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, a teammate of Noah for five seasons in Chicago, spoke to the veteran center recently and said he just wants an opportunity to play.

“He wants to help win. He’s a great dude,” Butler said. “I talked to him a little bit, not a lot. All in all, I want him to be happy. Because you can’t go to work every day, being with the same people every day, if you’re not happy. That’s not good for anybody.”

Tiago Splitter Announces Retirement

Veteran NBA big man Tiago Splitter has decided to retire, he announced in an interview with SporTV (hat tip to HoopsHype).

Splitter, 33, has been slowed by injuries over the last two years, having been particularly bothered by hip issues. He underwent surgery on his right hip approximately two years ago, but says he was recently told by doctors that in order to continue playing, he’d need to undergo a procedure on his other hip as well.

“I am going to stop playing. It’s a decision I’ve made these past few months,” Splitter said (English translation via SporTV). “It’s not something I want, but the hip injury I’ve been having is more troublesome than we thought. It’s a difficult time because you stop doing something you’ve done a lifetime. I remember being on a basketball court as long as I remember my person. I talked to my family, my wife, everyone, and really, it’s time to hang up the sneakers.”

As recently as October, we heard that Splitter was holding out hope of an NBA return, though even at that point he admitted he was still being bothered by his health problems. The Brazilian center last suited up for the Sixers in 2016/17, appearing in eight games for the team.

Having spent seven years in the NBA, Splitter appeared in 355 regular season contests, averaging 7.9 PPG and 5.0 RPG. Although he played in Atlanta and Philadelphia, the bulk of Splitter’s NBA career came in San Antonio, where he appeared in 65 postseason games for the Spurs and won a championship in 2014.

While Splitter told SporTV that he’s not sure exactly what his next step will be, he has previously expressed an interest in coaching, and reportedly received an invitation from Gregg Popovich to work with the Spurs. Splitter, who hopes to remain involved in basketball, has also done some television work, appearing on TV Globo during the 2016 Olympics.

Silver Addresses Playoff Format, Other Topics

Commissioner Adam Silver says travel concerns are the biggest obstacle to overhauling the NBA’s playoff format, relays Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Silver addressed the topic in his annual All-Star Weekend news conference, saying the league office has studied the possibility of eliminating East and West designations and throwing all the playoff teams into one 16-team field.

“I think, as I’ve said in the past, the obstacle is travel, and it’s not tradition in my mind, at least,” Silver explained. “Having said that, you also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in The Finals, and obviously, if it’s the top team in the East and top team in the West, I’m not saying this is the case this year, but you could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the conference finals or somewhere else.”

It’s not a change Silver could make on his own, as any significant alterations to the playoff format have to be approved by at least 20 franchises. But it’s a topic the commissioner has addressed before, and his decision to devote so much time to it today could be a sign that it’s still being strongly considered.

Silver covered a lot of ground in today’s press conference. Here are a few other topics he addressed:

  • The NBA is waiting to hear from an NCAA-appointed commission headed by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice regarding possible changes to the “one-and-done” rule that requires players to be at least one year past their high school graduation date before they can enter the draft. The commission’s report is expected this spring.
  • Silver called today’s meeting between representatives of the players’ and referees’ unions “a successful first step.” He addressed the participants at the meeting and said it should help to open lines of communication. “I think it’s fantastic and a great statement about this league that these important stakeholders in this case, our players and the officials, think it’s important enough and they have an obligation to the game where they should be sitting down and talking to each other,” Silver added.
  • The G League will expand to 27 teams next season, and Silver’s goal is a full 30-team league where each NBA club has a direct affiliate, adds Tim Cato of SB Nation. Silver noted that about 40 percent of players currently in the NBA have spent time in the G League.
  • If the Supreme Court legalizes sports betting later this year, the NBA will be ready. The league has taken proactive steps to prepare and is hoping to take in 1 percent of all profits off the wagering. “It’s what our view of a model bill was, but we’re happy to sit with legislators and talk about what the best system would be,” Silver said.

Meeting Between Players, Referees Called ‘Productive’

Four points of agreement emerged from today’s meeting between representatives of players and referees, according to a joint statement released by both groups.

Gathering at All-Star Weekend in the wake of increased on-court tensions, the representatives of the NBPA and the referees’ union agreed to a course of action that calls for:

  • Enhanced education and clarification around the Respect for the Game rules.
  • The opening of an additional channel of communication for future conflicts.
  • Plans for future meetings and discussions.
  • A broad review of existing rules and regulations and developing joint recommendations to enhance them.

The statement calls today’s meeting “incredibly productive in terms of opening up the lines of communication between both groups and beginning the process of improving relations.” It also refers to the get-together as “a successful first step,” with more meetings planned for the spring and summer.

“In this meeting, we took some important steps in identifying existing frustrations for both sides,” said NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts. “Now with that information, we plan to move forward and continue to work together to find solutions that will enhance the on-court experience for both parties.”

“Our two unions met out of the necessity to examine issues that have previously been left unaddressed,” said NBRA spokesperson Mark Denesuk. “We look forward to continued collaboration between our two organizations to explore common interests.”

Channing Frye Undergoes Appendectomy

Veteran center Channing Frye, who was recently traded to the Lakers, underwent an appendectomy Friday night, tweets Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet. Frye is in Cleveland and will have his condition re-evaluated in a week.

Frye’s absence shouldn’t be an issue for the Lakers, who acquired him for his expiring contract and because he helped match salary in the deal that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavaliers. Frye has appeared in just one game since coming to L.A., playing 11 minutes.

He missed the entire 2012/13 season after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart, but has been healthy since returning and played a full 82-game schedule for the Suns the following year. He appeared in 44 games in Cleveland this season before being dealt, averaging 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in about 12 minutes per night.

Frye, who turns 35 in May, will hope to return for at least a few games with the Lakers to remind teams of his value before entering free agency this summer.

Nash, Kidd, Allen Headline 13 Hall Of Fame Finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced 13 finalists to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame in 2018. The list includes six first-time finalists, including likely first-ballot hall-of-famers Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, and Steve Nash, as well as Grant Hill, three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith and four-time WNBA Champion Tina Thompson.

Among the seven other finalists are four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks, two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, and five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber. Rounding out the list are long-time Maryland coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, 28-year NBA referee Hugh Evans, two-time NCAA National Championship Coach of Baylor Kim Mulkey, and 10-time AAU National Champions Wayland Baptist University.

The Class of 2018 will be announced on Saturday, March 31 at a press conference in San Antonio prior to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. Let’s now take a look at some more information on the six former NBA stars up for election as players.

  • Steve Nash – Played in the NBA for 19 seasons, earning MVP honors in both 2005 and 2006. An eight-time All-Star and an All-NBA First Team member in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Nash also holds the NBA record for highest career free throw percentage (.904) and had four seasons with a shooting line of .500/.400/.900, the most in NBA history.
  • Jason Kidd – During his 18-year NBA career, he earned All-NBA First Team honors five times and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times. He is a 10-time NBA All-Star while also ranking second on the NBA all-time steals list (2,684) and all-time assists list (12,091).
  • Ray Allen – A two-time NBA Champion, Allen was selected to the All-Star game 10 times during his 18-year career. He is still the all-time NBA leader in three-point field goals made (2,973) and is ranked sixth on the all-time free throw percentage list (.894).
  • Grant Hill – A 19-year NBA veteran, a seven-time NBA All-Star, and a member of the All-NBA First Team in 1997, Hill was also a member of two NCAA national championship teams (1991, 1992) at Duke and a gold medal recipient at the 1996 Olympic Games.
  • Chris Webber –Webber is a five-time NBA All-Star and the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year. He earned All-NBA First Team honors in 2001 and averaged more than 20 points per game for nine consecutive seasons from the mid-90’s to the early 00’s.
  • Maurice Cheeks – A four-time NBA All-Star (1983, 1986-1988) and four-time NBA All-Defensive team selection, Cheeks was also a member of the 1983 NBA Champion Philadelphia 76ers.

Timberwolves Open To Shabazz Muhammad Buyout

A report earlier in February indicated that Timberwolves swingman Shabazz Muhammad hoped to be traded or waived before last week’s trade deadline. While neither of those things happened, the Wolves remain open to accommodating Muhammad’s departure, majority owner Glen Taylor tells Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune details.

“Shabazz hasn’t gotten out on the floor to play very much, so he’s disappointed,” Taylor said. “He would like to get with a team that he could put in more minutes and show his skill-set. We have given the OK that if he finds such a team he can go to and wants to walk away, [he can] get out of our contract.

“My goal is I wish he could get out there; he just hasn’t had the year he anticipated or that we anticipated,” Taylor continued. “Because of that, and we’ve had so many close games, it’s hard for us to find the minutes for him. I still like him and think our fans like him. He has a different style of playing than anybody else. But on the other hand, if he can find another team that I think tells him he can get on the floor for sure, I think we’ll cooperate.”

Muhammad, 25, looked like a promising young prospect for Minnesota back in 2014/15, when he averaged 13.5 PPG on .489/.392/.717 shooting. However, his numbers – and his role – have declined since then. This season, he has played very sparingly for the new-look Wolves, averaging 3.7 PPG on .385/.211/.710 shooting in 31 games (9.6 MPG). The former lottery pick is also one of the NBA’s least effective facilitators, recording 0.5 APG in 266 career contests.

An unrestricted free agent in 2017, Muhammad sought a raise but ultimately had to settle for a two-year, minimum salary contract to return to Minnesota. The second year of that deal is a player option, which would become guaranteed if the Wolves were to waive Muhammad outright — it’s not clear if he’d be willing to give up some or all of that option salary to accommodate his release.

March 1 is the deadline to watch for the Wolves and Muhammad, who wouldn’t be playoff-eligible for a new team if he’s waived after that date.

Chris Bosh Still Hoping For NBA Comeback

1:03pm: ESPN has now posted a lengthier video of today’s First Take discussion with Bosh, which includes the former Heat and Raptors star addressing concerns about his health.

“Medicine is like law, I’ve come to find out,” Bosh said. “It’s a very gray area. Some people say yes, some people say no. Usually it’s about what the majority agrees to, and sometimes it’ll take somebody to have some revolutionary plan or something like that. I’m not going to be in a position where I’m risking my life, so if I ever get back on the court like that and people are worried, it’s not going to be a life-risking situation.”

Asked later in the discussion whether he hopes to make a comeback in 2018/19, Bosh said he hasn’t closed the door on returning this season. He also identified the Warriors, Rockets, and Raptors as teams that would interest him, and didn’t rule out the Cavaliers either.

11:57am: It has now been more than two years since Chris Bosh last played an NBA game, but the 11-time All-Star still hasn’t given up on the idea of resuming his playing career. Appearing on First Take (video link), Bosh told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith today that he’s still making an effort to return to the NBA.

“I’ve been in the gym. I can still play basketball,” Bosh said.No, I’m not done yet.”

Joking that he can’t call it a career when he sees how many current players are getting by shooting three-pointers and not playing defense, Bosh repeated a sentiment that he has expressed several times since his medical retirement. As recently as November, the former Heat star said he was keeping his options open as a player.

Although Bosh is still physically able to play basketball, concerns about his history of blood clots have made him medically ineligible to return to an NBA team. Doctors and teams have been unwilling to risk those blood clotting issues resurfacing.

Bosh last appeared in the NBA in 2015/16 for the Heat, averaging 19.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 53 games and earning an All-Star nod. He played his last game on February 9, 2016.

Knicks’ Ron Baker Out For Season

FEBRUARY 14: Following a successful surgery, Baker will be in a sling for 4-6 weeks as his shoulder heals, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. The full recovery time is about four months, which means he should be fully healthy come June, as initially reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post.

FEBRUARY 5: Knicks guard Ron Baker is scheduled to undergo an arthroscopic shoulder stabilization procedure on his right shoulder this Wednesday, the team announced today (Twitter link). The surgery will sideline Baker for the remainder of the 2017/18 season, according to the Knicks.

The Knicks had announced last week that a dislocated right shoulder and torn labrum would keep Baker out of action indefinitely, but initially avoided ruling him out for the entire season. Now that he’s set to go under the knife, the second-year guard will see his season come to an end, but he should be healthy for training camp — the Knicks said today that there will be a four-to-six month recovery period for Baker.

After being rewarded for a promising rookie season with a two-year, $8.9MM contract in the offseason, Baker struggled this year. In 29 games for the Knicks, the former Wichita State standout has averaged just 2.4 PPG and 1.6 APG, with a shooting line of .339/.333/.769.

While Baker’s $4.54MM salary for 2018/19 isn’t yet guaranteed, he has long been considered a lock to exercise his player option, and this season-ending injury should only further cement that decision.

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