Nicolas Claxton

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Mills, Shumpert, Claxton

A starter in seven straight games, Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina is finally trending in the right direction, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv, largely because of his newfound mental approach to the game that began last season and continued this summer.

“I think the work I put in all summer and even last season while I was injured, allows me to be more comfortable and everything else in life be more comfortable here in this country, this situation as an NBA player, said Ntilikina. “And everything is set now, so my mind is all the way into basketball and do what it takes to get to the next level.

There’s more from the Big Apple this afternoon:

  • Lesser-used players like Theo Pinson and Dzanan Musa rewarded Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson with his trust in them during the team’s recent win over Chicago, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “That’s what we’re about,” Atkinson said. “We’ve got to trust these guys. They put in the work, they’ve been in our program a while so they understand what we’re doing. We can’t burn out our other guys, our top eight. We can’t play them 45 minutes. So, those guys’ contributions were huge.”
  • Stefan Bondy of the Daily News opines that allowing president Steve Mills to choose the Knicks’ next head coach (should David Fizdale be fired) is a silly proposition, as Mills has already failed time and time again to find the right candidate to lead the team moving forward.
  • Atkinson says the Nets are looking for new addition, veteran swingman Iman Shumpert, to fill a need with his perimeter defense, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “He fits a need right now. Perimeter defense, that’s always been his calling card. I … know him well, know the personality. He gets after it defensively. That will be his role for us.”
  • According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, at least one former Knicks player did not like how MSG fans booed his former teammate, Mavs’ forward Kristaps Porzingis. “I think everybody can think what they want but I feel bad for KP,” said Hornets’ big man Willy Hernangomez. “He’s my brother. We spent too many nights in this amazing arena. I understand what people [do]. The people always treated me good when I was here and appreciated. But I was sad when I saw that.”
  • SB Nation’s Nets Daily takes a look at how Nets rookie power forward Nicolas Claxton is set to earn additional minutes at the NBA level as a result of the recent poor play of teammate Rodions Kurucs. “We’ve got to get our best talent on the floor,” Atkinson said Friday. “I think (Claxton’s) a talented guy. We need to find a way to play him.”

Atlantic Notes: Claxton, Porzingis, Ennis, Sixers

Spencer Dinwiddie, speaking after the debut of Nets rookie center Nicolas Claxton on Friday night in a 119-115 victory against Portland, called the 20 year-old the team’s second-most talented player. Claxton, drafted 31st by Brooklyn this summer, scored eight points on three-of-five shooting from the field and pulled down six boards in just 12 minutes of action.

“So, I still believe [starting center Jarrett Allen] is going to be an All-Star, but Nic is the second-most talented player on this team,” Dinwiddie said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “[First] is [Kevin Durant], either the first or second most talented scorer of all-time. But Nic’s got game. He’s got a chance [to be great].”

Those comments reflect just how high Dinwiddie is on the rookie, considering he apparently has him ahead of Kyrie Irving on his informal list of Brooklyn’s most talented players. Irving, the Nets’ only healthy current All-Star, is averaging 31.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game for the 4-4 squad.

Meanwhile, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson lauded Claxton’s defensive awareness: “Just understanding the coverages,” Atkinson noted. “I think one time in the first half we were switching everything and he handled that fantastically. That was part of the reason we drafted him, that he was versatile and could guard five positions, so he proved that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • As Kristaps Porzingis prepared to suit up last week against the team that drafted him in 2015, The Athletic’s Frank Isola explored the Knicks front office’s alienation of the team’s former franchise player. Trouble began to brew when Porzingis blew off an April 2017 season exit interview with then-team president Phil Jackson and then-GM (now team president) Steve Mills. When pressed about the messy breakup Thursday, Porzingis said, “I’ll probably get in more trouble if I start talking about that stuff.” Isola observes that the Knicks’ returns in the deal have yet to bear much fruit: center DeAndre Jordan joined Brooklyn over the summer, point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was booed in the team’s first home game, and the Knicks have yet to use their two Dallas future first-rounders acquired in the deal.
  • It’s been a season of streaks for the Sixers. After starting out 5-0, the 76ers have lost three straight games on a Western Conference road trip, falling to the fifth seed in the East. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer posits that the Sixers’ current troubles can be credited to their summer roster overhaul, and that they have too many new faces for continuity at present. New power forward Al Horford and long-term starting center Joel Embiid are still developing their on-court chemistry. When questioned about the team’s recent struggles, Horford observed, “What’s going to help us is the more games we continue to play, the more we get used to playing with one another, everything is going to come together.”
  • Veteran point guard Tyler Ennis made his triumphant return to a basketball game for the Raptors‘ G League affiliate, Raptors 905, 13 months after suffering a gruesome leg injury for Turkish team Fenerbahce. Doug Smith of The Toronto Star has the story and the details on Ennis, who feels that the time off had some unexpected developmental benefits. “I had six, seven, eight months of nothing, so I was able to think, ‘When I get back this is what I want to work on,’ ” Ennis said. “I want to be able to shoot better off the dribble and that’s how we kind of did it, in stages.” Though Smith observes that the parent Raptors could use a third point guard and liked Ennis as far back as the 2014 draft, Ennis is nursing a zen calm about the prospect of a callup: “I kind of just want to let it manifest.”  

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/4/19

Here are Monday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • Pistons first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya was assigned to the Grand Rapids Drive, Eric Woodyard of ESPN tweets. The teenage forward had been in the league’s concussion protocol since late in the preseason.
  • The Raptors assigned rookie big man Dewan Hernandez to Raptors 905, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Hernandez has yet to make his NBA debut.
  • The Wizards recalled rookie guard Justin Robinson prior to their team’s game against the Pistons, the team’s PR department tweets. The point guard has made two cameo appearances this season.
  • The Celtics assigned first-round pick Romeo Langford to the Maine Red Claws, the team’s PR department tweets.  The rookie guard from Indiana is still looking for his first NBA basket.
  • The Nets recalled power forward Nicolas Claxton from their Long Island affiliate, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. The rookie out of Georgia has yet to make his NBA debut.
  • The Mavericks recalled rookie forward Isaiah Roby from the Texas Legends, according to a team press release. This is the second time the second-round pick has been recalled from the G League.

Atlantic Contract Notes: Durant, Jordan, Claxton, Milton, Brazdeikis

Kevin Durant‘s max contract with the Nets includes $4.3MM in likely bonuses, according to Jeff Siegel of EarlyBirdRights.com. It’s not clear how those bonuses can be earned but if they’re based on individual statistics, he can’t reach them next season due to his Achilles injury. His deal also includes a full 15% trade kicker. DeAndre Jordan‘s salary with Brooklyn starts at 9.9MM, rises 5% in the second year, dips back down to 9.9MM, then drops slightly in the fourth year for a total of 40MM, Siegel adds (Twitter links).

We have more contractual news from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The timeline of the Nets’ moves in free agency – signing Kyrie Irving and Jordan to free agent deals using salary-cap room and then acting like a team over the cap to pull off the Durant sign-and-trade with Golden State — also allowed them to give Nicolas Claxton a three-year contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Without room, Claxton’s fully guaranteed deal would have been limited to two years. The University of Georgia big man was the first pick of the second round.
  • Shake Milton‘s four-year minimum contract with the Sixers includes a team option in the final year and is otherwise fully guaranteed, Siegel tweets. The shooting guard played last season on a two-way contract, splitting his time between the Sixers and their G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.
  • Knicks rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis received a three-year minimum deal, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Brazdeikis will make approximately $900K as a rookie, $1.5MM in his second year and $1.8MM in his third season (team option).
  • The Celtics have been exploring a variety of contract terms with second-round pick Carsen Edwards, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets. The negotiations with the Purdue guard include guaranteed amounts.

Nets Sign Nicolas Claxton

Second-round pick Nicolas Claxton has signed a multi-year deal with the Nets, the team announced in a press release.

A power forward/center out of Georgia, Claxton was taken with the 31st pick in last month’s draft and should provide front-court depth behind Jarrett Allen and newly signed DeAndre Jordan.

A sophomore, Claxton was a second team All-SEC selection, leading the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding and steals. He also blocked 2.5 shots per game, ranking him 10th in the nation.

Draft Rumors: Knicks, Barrett, Herro, Porter, More

Although they brought in Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland for a last-minute workout today, the Knicks remain locked in on selecting Duke forward R.J. Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

With just over 24 hours to go until the 2019 NBA draft, rumors continue to trickle in about which prospects other teams might be targeting with their first-round picks. Jeremy Woo and Jake Fischer of SI.com suggest that league sources believe the Celtics – who hold Nos. 14, 20, and 22 – have serious interest in Kentucky sharpshooter Tyler Herro. The SI duo also reports that the Spurs – who pick at 19 and 29 – are among the teams with real interest in Croatian forward Luka Samanic.

Woo and Fischer share a few more tidbits in their latest mock draft, writing that the Hornets, Heat, and Celtics are all showing “a degree of interest” in USC’s Kevin Porter Jr., who could be in play to come off the board near the end of the lottery.

League sources also tell SI.com that the Magic have put the No. 46 pick on the trade block and could sell it, with the Lakers, Wizards, and Trail Blazers among the teams believed to have interest in purchasing a second-rounder.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • Kevin Porter Jr. (USC), Nicolas Claxton (Georgia), and Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State) have received last-minute invites to the Green Room for Thursday’s NBA draft, reports ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter links). That increases the number of prospects expected to be in attendance in the Green Room to 23, Givony notes.
  • Speaking today to reporters, including Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link), Texas center Jaxson Hayes said he only worked out for two teams, the Bulls and Hawks, during the pre-draft process. Those clubs hold three top-10 picks between them.
  • UNC guard Coby White also confirmed his pre-draft workouts today, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). White worked out for four lottery teams, including the Suns and Bulls, who are both believed to be in the market for a point guard.
  • Terry Harris, the younger brother of pending free agent Tobias Harris, is seeing his stock rise, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays (Twitter link). The younger Harris has worked out for the Suns and Thunder, among many other teams.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Draft Notes: Bol, Williamson, Hawks, Knicks, Langford

Oregon center Bol Bol has received the last of 20 invites to the draft’s Green Room, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Bol Bol is ranked No. 15 overall by Givony. The 7’2” freshman appeared in only nine games with the Ducks due to a foot injury but averaged 21.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG and 2.7 BPG.

We have more draft notes:

  • Projected top pick Zion Williamson has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to terminate an agreement he signed with a Florida marketing company, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Williamson signed a marketing deal, which included a clause that it couldn’t be terminated for five years, with Gina Ford and Prime Sports in April. Williamson’s family told the agency two weeks ago that it was terminating the agreement and the agency responded that it would sue for damages in excess of $100MM, Wojnarowski continues. According to Williamson’s suit, the agreement was unlawful under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act because Prime Sports is not certified by the Players Association or a registered athlete agent in North Carolina or Florida.
  • The Knicks’ workout on Friday included St. John guard Justin Simon and Kansas power forward Dedric Lawson, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. Virginia Tech swingman Ahmed Hill and St. Louis guard Javon Bess also participated in the workout, Zagoria adds.
  • The Pistons, Magic and Hornets are the teams most likely to take first-round prospect and former Indiana swingman Romeo Langford, Dustic Dopirak of The Athletic writes.
  • The Hawks will look at six big men on Saturday according to a team press release. That group includes center Nicolas Claxton (Georgia), Aric Holman (Mississippi State), Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State) and Naz Reid (LSU) along with Europeans Sekou Doumbouya and Luka Samanic. Langford will also visit with the Hawks on Saturday but will not workout.

Draft Updates: Bol, Claxton, Norvell, Green Room

As expected, Oregon center Bol Bol held a Pro Day on Wednesday in Los Angeles, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who tweets that about a dozen NBA teams attended the event, including five general managers. Bol, who is viewed as one of the draft’s biggest high-risk, high-reward prospects, is coming back from surgery on his left foot and wanted to use the Pro Day to ease concerns about his health, says Givony.

Givony adds that Bol showed on Wednesday why he’s considered a top-five prospect in terms of talent, and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic (Twitter link) also hears from teams that the young big man looked good. However, Vecenie points out that the questions about Bol weren’t going to get answered in a non-contact open gym setting. He remains one of the draft’s most intriguing wild cards.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Georgia big man Nicolas Claxton has canceled and shut down all of his workouts for non-lottery teams, a source tells Vecenie (Twitter link). Claxton, who ranks 29th on ESPN’s big board, feels good about where he’ll be picked based on the feedback he’s received so far, per Vecenie.
  • Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr., the 63rd prospect on ESPN’s big board, said today he’s been told he’s projected to be drafted in the 20-40 range, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Norvell also said that he’s had 15 workouts during the pre-draft process (Twitter link).
  • Two more draft prospects have been invited to the Green Room for next Thursday’s event, according to reports. Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com tweets that Georgian center Goga Bitadze has received an invite, while Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com adds Keldon Johnson (Kentucky) to the list (Twitter link). Sixteen other Green Room invitees were previously reported.
  • In addition to his previously-reported workouts, Cameron Johnson (UNC) has auditioned for the Timberwolves, Celtics, Thunder, Sixers, and Warriors, tweets Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Mike Schmitz, and Kevin Pelton (Insider link) named several of their favorite draft sleepers, singling out Grant Williams (Tennessee), Dylan Windler (Belmont), and Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State), among others.

Nets Targeting Big Men In Draft?

There’s no guarantee that the Nets will use all three of their picks (Nos. 17, 27, and 31) in the 2019 NBA draft, as those selections could become trade assets next month. But assuming they keep at least one or two, they’ll be using those picks to target a certain type of player, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

According to Begley, Brooklyn is hoping to draft a big man that can either complement or back up starting center Jarrett Allen.

As Begley observes, there’s not necessarily a consensus among draft evaluators this season about which players will come off the board in the middle or back end of the first round, so it’s hard to say which bigs will be available to the Nets. However, Begley identifies Bol Bol (Oregon), Goga Bitadze (Republic of Georgia), Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State), Naz Reid (LSU), and Nicolas Claxton (Georgia) as possible options.

Allen had a promising sophomore season for Brooklyn in 2018/19, averaging 10.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 1.5 BPG with a .590 FG%. Despite Allen’s strides, the Nets’ front line, with Allen and Ed Davis handling most of the center minutes, was undersized on many nights, Begley notes. That was on display during the team’s first-round loss to Joel Embiid and the Sixers.

With Davis facing unrestricted free agency and a desire to add more size to their frontcourt, the Nets will see if they can address that hole at all in the draft.

Northwest Notes: J. Howard, Jazz, Nuggets, Noel

Before he reached a deal to become the new head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Juwan Howard reportedly drew interest from the Timberwolves as they considered whether to retain head coach Ryan Saunders or go in a different direction.

While Minnesota ultimately opted to retain Saunders and Howard left the NBA for a college job, the Wolverines’ new head coach revealed today that the Timberwolves’ interest was real. According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (via Twitter), Howard said that the Wolves offered him their associate head coach position – presumably under Saunders – but he declined. “My heart is with Michigan,” he said.

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Northwest…