Noah Vonleh

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the playoffs ongoing at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Enes Kanter, Celtics, 28, C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9.77MM deal in 2019

It’s difficult to pump up your value when you’re glued to the bench. That’s the dilemma for Kanter, who has dropped out of the Celtics’ big man rotation. Kanter averaged 15 MPG in the opening round against Philadelphia but coach Brad Stevens has gone with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III during the second-round series against Toronto. Save for a four-minute cameo on Thursday, Kanter has been a spectator. He has a $5MM player option for next season and the benching might compel him to take the guaranteed money and force the front office’s hands.

Goran Dragic, Heat, 34, PG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2015

Perhaps we all forgot how good this guy can be. Dragic is getting a little long in the tooth and has battled injury issues, but he’s been fantastic on the Orlando campus. He’s been the most consistent offensive force for the surprising Heat, averaging 22.8 PPG and 5.0 APG against Indiana in the first-round sweep and 25.0 PPG and 4.5 APG in Games 1 and 2 against Milwaukee. Dragic could provide a major jolt for any playoff-caliber club and his price tag keeps rising.

Ben McLemore, Rockets, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $4.3MM deal in 2019

McLemore got off to a strong start in Orlando, including back-to-back 20-point games during the seeding round. As the playoffs have moved along, McLemore has seen his playing time diminish. He received 10 or fewer minutes in the last three games against Oklahoma City, as Russell Westbrook’s return affected his role. McLemore’s $2.3MM for next season isn’t guaranteed. The contract is cheap enough for the Rockets to retain him, but if that happens, there’s no guarantee he’ll be a rotation player.

Evan Fournier, Magic, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2016

Fournier has a $17.15MM option on his contract for next season. It seemed likely prior to the stoppage of play in March that he’d opt out and test a weak free agent market. His career year hit a snag during the restart, as he battled a non-COVID related illness and then was generally a non-factor in the first-round series against Milwaukee. He shot 35.7% from the field, compared to 44.9% shooting during the regular season. With all the uncertainty surrounding next season, Fournier has more incentive to take the guaranteed money.

Noah Vonleh, Nuggets, 25, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019

A lottery pick in 2014, Vonleh has already played for six organizations. It looks like he’ll be adding a seventh to his resume next season, provided he can find another NBA home. Vonleh made three brief appearances in the seeding round but his only action during the playoffs was a three-minute stint during a 37-point loss to Utah. It’s easy to forget that Vonleh started 57 games for the Knicks last season. There won’t be any teams valuing him as a starter this offseason; he’ll be fortunate to get another veteran’s minimum deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nuggets Notes: Campus, Bol, Vonleh, Daniels

The Nuggets have yet to relay to reporters exactly how many of their players are in Orlando, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bench guard Troy Daniels indicated today that between eight and ten players are currently available to the team in the Disney World campus. Thus, there may be at least seven players who have yet to join the club.

Per reporting from Monday, Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., and Torrey Craig number among the absent players. To the relief of all Nuggets fans, Denver superstar Nikola Jokic, who tested positive for the coronavirus while in Serbia, has already rejoined the team in Orlando for the NBA’s season restart.

There are more notes from Denver:

  • Due to the aforementioned shorthanded Nuggets roster, 7’2″ rookie center Bol Bol, who has yet to log any time with Denver this season, may make his season debut during the NBA restart, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Bol noted to reporters that he has been playing out of position during team practices due to the absences. “With not so many people, you can get placed anywhere,” Bol said. “There were some times, like today, I was playing at the three.”
  • Nuggets big man Noah Vonleh has new representation, says Singer (Twitter link). Vonleh will now be represented in all negotiations, marketing and publicity by Tandem Sports/You First Sports. Vonleh, a free agent this fall, was traded to Denver from the Timberwolves midseason, and has played sparingly (4.3 MPG) in four games for his new club.
  • New Nuggets sharpshooting guard Troy Daniels, inked to Denver just six days ahead of the league’s coronavirus-related pause, has enjoyed his tenure with the team in Orlando, according to Eric Spyropoulos of Nuggets.com. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride for me and this is an unprecedented time, so it’s tough to get used to it,” Daniels said. “But the guys have been great, coaches are great and everything’s been smooth for me.” The journeyman three-point specialist, who started the 2019/20 season with the Lakers, will be a deep-bench option on a loaded roster.

Nuggets Notes: Trade Deadline, Bates-Diop, Health, Bench

When the Nuggets traded bench players Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt in a series of deadline deals this week, the team was actually improving its long-term outlook by shoring up its collection of draft picks, Mike Singer of the Denver Post contends.

Beasley and Hernangomez, free agents in 2020, could not finalize extensions with Denver last October. After that, it became clear both players would seek more playing time elsewhere this summer, in Singer’s view.

The Nuggets were able to secure the Rockets’ 2020 first-round draft pick, plus intriguing youth in Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan McRae, and Noah Vonleh to shore up their bench. Extracting a first-round pick for a few little-used players destined to depart anyway was a smart play, Singer argues.

There’s more out of Denver:

  • Bates-Diop, the lengthy, rangy No. 48 pick out of OSU by the Timberwolves in 2018, could be a valuable addition as a multifaceted forward off the Nuggets’ bench, Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post notes.
  • The Nuggets hope to finally reach full health after the All-Star break. Paul [Millsap] is right there,” Denver president of basketball operations Tim Connelly told Denver’s Altitude Sports Radio (92.5 FM), according to DNVR Sports’ Adam Mares (Twitter link). Michael [Porter Jr.] is getting right there. I think Mason [Plumlee] will be after the All-Star break…Will [Barton] is just banged up… I think coming out of the all-star break you should see a fully healthy roster.” 
  • The newest bench assets should serve to enhance a backup roster whose play has improved in 2020, according to Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com.

Wolves, Hawks, Rockets, Nuggets Complete Four-Team Trade

FEBRUARY 5: The trade is now official, with Twitter announcements from the RocketsTimberwolves and Nuggets confirming the deal. Atlanta also formally waived Chandler Parsons to accommodate the trade, as detailed earlier.

FEBRUARY 4: The Timberwolves, Hawks, Rockets, and Nuggets are in agreement on a massive four-team trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the four clubs were close to reaching a deal, while Woj says (via Twitter) the players involved are now being informed.

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Charania (Twitter links), Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link), and Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), the trade looks like this:

There have been rumors for the last several days suggesting that a trade like this one could be in play. An earlier variation had the Warriors in Denver’s place, with the Wolves pursuing D’Angelo Russell, but Golden State backed off those talks earlier on Tuesday, leaving Minnesota, Houston, and Atlanta to work out a new agreement.

Let’s break down how the deal will impact each team…

Houston Rockets:

Daryl Morey‘s group has long been on the lookout for an upgrade on the wing, and they’ll get their man in Covington, a three-and-D specialist who is on a team-friendly contract that’s worth $11.3MM this season and runs through 2021/22.

The Rockets gave up two valuable assets in Capela and their 2020 first-round pick to bring in Covington, Bell, and a second-round pick. By moving Nene and Green in the deal, the team will also move well below the luxury-tax line, which would be a favorable outcome for ownership — while Tilman Fertitta has claimed to have signed off on the club being a taxpayer, it looks like this could be the second straight season that the Rockets sneak out of the tax at the deadline.

On the other hand, as Wojnarowski points out (via Twitter), the structure of the deal would allow Houston to take back up to another $12MM in salary. So until the trade is made official, there’s a window for the Rockets to potentially expand it even further to include another team and player, assuming they find a suitable target, agree on compensation, and are willing to go back into the tax. That won’t be easy, however.

While Bell could play some minutes at the five, the Rockets will remain on the lookout for a more reliable replacement for Capela, either via a trade or on the buyout market, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston’s go-to lineup will feature P.J. Tucker at center, but the team still wants a more traditional big to match up with star bigs in the playoffs, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN (via Twitter).

MacMahon also adds (via Twitter) that Green, who is likely out for the season with a broken foot, had the ability to veto his inclusion in this trade, but won’t do so.

The move will reduce the Rockets’ roster count to 13 players on standard contracts, so the team will have two weeks to get back up to the NBA’s required minimum of 14 players.

Denver Nuggets:

The Nuggets were said to be seeking a first-round pick for Beasley and a second-round pick for Hernangomez, their two restricted-free-agents-to-be. They won’t quite meet that asking price, but they’ll at least get the first-rounder they were looking for, acquiring Houston’s 2020 pick in the deal.

In addition to sending out Beasley and Hernangomez, Denver also moved Vanderbilt and will bring back four players: Green, Bates-Diop, Napier, and Vonleh. The team had an open spot on its 15-man roster, so no one will have to be waived, though MacMahon reports (via Twitter) that Green is expected to be cut after the trade is official, once again opening up that last roster spot.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski observes (via Twitter), Napier and Vonleh are capable of playing rotation minutes and providing depth off the bench for the Nuggets. Bates-Diop will probably be further down on the depth chart. Napier and Vonleh will be unrestricted free agents at season’s end, while KBD has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for 2020/21.

Having previously traded away their own 2020 first-round selection for Jerami Grant, the Nuggets can get back into this year’s draft with Houston’s first-rounder. Of course, with Wojnarowski suggesting Denver will continue to be active before Thursday’s deadline, that pick could theoretically be flipped in another move.

Atlanta Hawks:

The Hawks have been linked to several centers over the course of the season, reportedly expressing interest in Andre Drummond, Steven Adams, and Dewayne Dedmon, among others. In recent days, the club appeared to be zeroing in on Capela, a big man whose rim-running ability will complement Trae Young on offense and whose rim-protecting ability could help bail out Young on defense.

Atlanta will surrender Turner’s expiring contract, Brooklyn’s lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick, and an extra future second-round pick in order to lock up Capela. The move will give the Hawks some cost certainty in the middle — Capela, who has a $14.9MM cap hit in 2019/20, has three more years and about $51.3MM left on his contract after this season. He won’t be eligible for free agency until the summer of 2023.

Acquiring a center now rather than waiting until the summer and trying to land one in free agency will give the Hawks the opportunity to evaluate how Capela looks next to big man John Collins. A heel injury is currently nagging Capela, but it’s not believed to be an issue that jeopardizes the rest of his season.

A 2017 first-round pick, Collins will be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2020 offseason. If he meshes with Capela down the stretch, Atlanta would likely be more willing to invest heavily long-term in Collins, who is expected to seek the max or something close to it.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Hawks are currently carrying 15 players, so they’ll have to waive or trade someone in order to take back both Capela and Nene for Turner, even if they intend to eventually release Nene.

Minnesota Timberwolves:

Although the Timberwolves probably would have preferred to get the Warriors involved in this deal to acquire Russell, they’ll get a handful of intriguing assets in exchange for Covington and several low-cost role players (Bell, Bates-Diop, Napier, and Vonleh).

Beasley and Hernangomez will both be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, which will give the Wolves the chance to match any offer sheet they sign. Neither player had been great this season in Denver, as a crowded depth chart pushed them out of the rotation at times, but they both had solid seasons in 2018/19.

Beasley averaged 11.3 PPG with a .474/.402/.848 shooting line in 81 games (23.2 MPG) a year ago, while Hernangomez averaged 5.8 PPG and 3.8 RPG on .439/.365/.767 shooting in 70 games (19.4 MPG). The Nuggets explored contract extensions last fall with both players, reportedly offering Beasley $30MM over three years, but they didn’t reach a deal with either one. Now the Wolves will have the opportunity to evaluate them during the season’s final two months and decide whether they’re part of the franchise’s long-term plans.

In addition to acquiring those two Denver players – and a little-used project in Vanderbilt – the Timberwolves take on Turner’s $18.6MM expiring contract, generating some extra cap flexibility for the 2020 offseason by moving off Covington’s guaranteed money. They also secured Brooklyn’s lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick, which could end up at No. 15 or 16 if the Nets hang onto a playoff spot this spring.

This move doesn’t necessarily affect the Wolves’ plans to revisit a Russell trade with the Warriors, though like Allen Crabbe, Turner can’t be aggregated with another player in a deadline deal to match D-Lo’s salary. That Brooklyn first-round pick figures to be one of the assets Minnesota dangles in any offer for Russell.

Like Houston, Minnesota will have two openings on its 15-man roster once this trade is finalized, and will have up to two weeks to get back up to 14 players, the league’s required minimum.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Northwest Division:

Malik Beasley, Nuggets, 23, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $7.8MM deal in 2016
Beasley reportedly declined a three-year extension offer worth at least $30MM prior to the season. Oops. Beasley’s playing time has significantly dropped this season and so has his production. He’s averaging 6.9 PPG and just 1.0 APG in 16.0 MPG. Beasley has been a bigger factor on offense recently, reaching double figures in four of the last six appearances, but he never left the bench against Indiana on Thursday. The prime trade candidate probably needs a change of scenery to restore his value. Denver can make him a restricted free agent but that’s an increasingly unlikely scenario.

Noah Vonleh, Timberwolves, 24, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019
Vonleh entices NBA teams with his physique and potential but no one has been able to tap into it. At age 24, the 2014 lottery pick has already played for five teams. The way things are going in Minnesota, he’ll probably be looking for a sixth team to take a chance on him. He’ll get you some rebounds but defenses don’t have to respect him on the offensive end. He hasn’t developed a three-point shot, which is a no-no for a young ‘four man’ these days. Injuries led to increased playing time for Vonleh the past two weeks before he sat out Thursday’ game with a back injury. It’s unlikely he’ll remain in the rotation when the T-Wolves get healthier.

Nerlens Noel, Thunder, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019
Seems like Noel has been around for quite awhile but he’s still just 25. He’ll never live up to his draft status (No. 6 pick of 2013) but in shorter bursts, Noel can be quite effective. Noel has been a force off the bench at both ends of the floor, averaging 7.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.4 BPG and 1.1 SPG in 18.7 MPG. He’s even making his free throws this season (79.7%). Noel knows his strengths and finds ways to contribute. He can have a long career in the league as a backup big.

Hassan Whiteside, Trail Blazers, 30, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $98.4MM deal in 2016
Going strictly by the numbers, Whiteside is having a bounce-back season after a couple of uneasy years with Miami. During 14 games in December, Whiteside posted a stat line of 16.2 PPG on 63.2% shooting, 15.1 RPG, 1.8 APG and 3.4 BPG in 31.6 MPG. The flip side is that the Blazers have nosedived in the standings with Whiteside as their starting center. As a traditional post man who doesn’t shoot threes, Whiteside will have to take a significant pay cut next season. But his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess can’t be totally ignored.

Jordan Clarkson, Jazz, 27, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $50MM deal in 2016
The NBA went five-plus months without a trade until Utah, seeking more bench scoring, acquired Clarkson from Cleveland for Dante Exum and two second-round picks. Utah is thrilled with the early returns. In his first four games in a Jazz uniform, Clarkson has averaged 15.0 PPG in 23.8 MPG. That lifted Utah to victories over Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit. Represented by super agent Rich Paul, Clarkson should draw plenty of interest as teams look to fortify their benches in a weak market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: SGA, Vonleh, MPJ, Gallinari

New Thunder point guard Chris Paul has changed the way the team’s other new point guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, thinks about defense, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman relays. “Everybody’s always talking about offense, offense, offense,” Paul said in November, “but the biggest thing I’m talking to him about is defense.”

Gilgeous-Alexander told Lee that before Paul, no one had “really sat me down and shown me how to read (an opposing team’s) offense the same way you read a defense on the opposite end.” Paul is a nine-time All-Defensive Team selection. The Thunder are currently 11-12, good for the No. 7 seed in a top-heavy Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Wolves center Noah Vonleh has been relegated to the bench a lot lately, tallying eight healthy scratches in the last 10 games heading into tonight’s contest against the Jazz (he has yet to play tonight, too). Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune details Vonleh’s plight. The forward signed a one-year, $2MM contract with Minnesota expecting an opportunity to play, but thus far has seen sparse playing time.
  • In Denver, Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. is struggling to carve out a bench role for himself, and seeking clarity on his usage in coach Mike Malone‘s system.. The No. 14 draft pick in 2018, Porter got some meaningful spot minutes during the first half of last night’s 97-92 loss to the Sixers. But he was passed over in the third quarter in favor of fellow small forwards Torrey Craig and Juan Hernangomez“Yeah, I need to talk to coach again,” Porter told The Denver Post’s Mike Singer. “When we’re more mentally prepared about when we’re coming in, what he’s thinking for certain games.”
  • With most summer contracts eligible to be traded come December 15th, Thunder power forward Danilo Gallinari and his expiring $22.6MM contract have been the talk of the NBA town. One possible suitor, the Trail Blazers, could use Gallinari as their starting four in a 2020 playoff push. HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky details the versatile scorer’s potential fit in Portland.

Knicks Notes: Morris, Bullock, Vonleh

After officially announcing their deals with Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock today, the Knicks appear to be just about done with free agency. Damyean Dotson‘s salary for 2019/20 became fully guaranteed because he remained on the roster through Monday, so New York is now carrying 15 players on guaranteed deals. The team has also exhausted its cap room and appears to have used a portion of the room exception to sign Bullock.

Here are a few Knicks-related notes on Morris, Bullock, and more:

  • Morris’ agent Rich Paul wasn’t directly involved in his client breaking his verbal agreement with the Spurs, and preferred that Morris stick to that agreement, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, Morris and the Knicks worked together to strike a deal. As for Morris and Paul, they’re reportedly parting ways after the forward’s tumultuous free agency.
  • A source tells Berman that Bullock is out “indefinitely” and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports that Bullock will likely miss at least a month of the season. The details on the veteran guard’s health issue remain a mystery, but that issue helped scuttle the initial two-year deal between the two sides — that $21MM agreement would have been worth more than double the value of their new contract.
  • The Knicks’ goal is to win – not tank – in 2019/20, according to Berman, who speculates that Morris and Julius Randle may end up being the team’s starting forward tandem, with 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox moving to the bench.
  • After leaving the Knicks for the Timberwolves in free agency, Noah Vonleh told Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic that he had a “great” time in New York last season. “It was a great opportunity,” Vonleh said. “They gave me some playing time, let me be the 4-man, just grow as a player and change the narrative that was on me that was in the league and gave myself another a chance to give myself a new life in the league.”

Noah Vonleh Signs One-Year Deal With Timberwolves

JULY 8, 7:11pm: The signing is official, the team’s PR deparment tweets.

JULY 2, 8:23pm: Vonleh’s $2MM deal is worth slightly more than the league minimum, so the Wolves will have to use part of the mid-level or bi-annual exception to sign him, Krawczynski writes in his full story on the deal. According to Krawcznyski, the Wolves offered Vonleh a deal worth more money that would have had a team option in year two, but he wanted the opportunity to reach the open market again next year.

5:09pm: The Timberwolves and free agent forward Noah Vonleh have agreed to terms on a contract, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that it will be a one-year deal.

Krawczynski adds (via Twitter) that the agreement will be worth $2MM. Vonleh’s minimum salary for 2019/20 will be $1,882,867, so that figure may be rounded up. Otherwise, the capped-out Wolves would have to use part of another exception to sign him.

Vonleh, who was the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will be joining his fifth NBA team and hasn’t developed into the sort of impact player that his draft spot might suggest. However, he had a very solid year in New York in 2018/19, averaging 8.4 PPG and 7.8 RPG with a shooting line of .470/.336/.712 in 68 games (25.3 MPG) for the Knicks.

Vonleh will slot into a Timberwolves frontcourt rotation that is expected to feature another newcomer in Jordan Bell alongside incumbents like Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng. Vonleh will help shore up the power forward spot with Dario Saric and Taj Gibson not returning.

Atlantic Notes: Butler, Vonleh, VanVleet, Ntilikina

Jimmy Butler will return to Minnesota on Saturday when the Sixers visit the Timberwolves, marking his first game back in Target Center since shockingly requesting a trade from the team back in September.

Butler, who received mostly boos in the 10 games after his trade request last fall, is preparing to enter what’s sure to be a hostile environment during his return.

“They’re going to boo me,” Butler said of the Timberwolves fans, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. “I would boo me, too. I’m not going to lie to you.”

Butler, who’s known as one of the most outspoken players in the NBA, said he’ll even consider joining in with the fans’ boos. Butler spent just one full season on the Wolves, with the 29-year-old set to reach unrestricted free agency on July 1.

“Oh, I love it,” Butler continued about the fans’ reaction to the trade, as relayed by Stein. “I love it. I love it. Who wants to be loved all the time?

“It’s O.K. It’s fine. I don’t need everybody to like me. I know who I am. I can’t say that enough. I know what I’m about. I know where my heart is. People will say, ‘He’s this way, or he’s that way,’ but nobody knows except for the people around me every day. Ask them and they’ll tell you differently.”

Let’s check in on more items from out of the Atlantic…

  • Knicks forward Noah Vonleh underwent an MRI on Wednesday that revealed a right ankle sprain with a bone bruise in his right foot, the team announced. Vonleh is expected to be re-evaluated in one week, with the 23-year-old averaging a career-high 8.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 25.3 minutes per game this season.
  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet turned to analytics in order to improve his game while injured, Blake Murphy of The Athletic writes. VanVleet missed 12 straight games after undergoing surgery to fix ligament damage in his left thumb, returning to the court two weeks ago. “I’ve found some spots where I think I can be good. I’ve looked at my numbers. I’ve been bored outta my mind so I studied some analytics a little bit, watched a lot of film, and just seeing where I can get better,” VanVleet said. “This feels like October again for me so I’m approaching this as a new season, the end of the season, and hopefully I can come back and take another jump of improvement towards the end of the season.”
  • Knicks coach David Fizdale couldn’t commit to Frank Ntilikina returning this season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Ntilikina re-injured his groin on Friday, an injury that cost him nearly two months of action earlier in the year. “We don’t know yet on the status of how far away he is from coming back,” Fizdale said when asked whether Ntilikina is out for the season. “I know it was a tough blow to the kid the other night. I just don’t know how severe it is. I just know that it got to a point during the game where it was really bothering him. It’s just been frustrating for the kid. It’s been frustrating for all of us, but for him it’s been tough.”

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Davis, Trade Deadline, Allen

The Knicks were surprised to discover how much Kristaps Porzingis‘ trade value had dropped when they started shopping him, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post. Some of that was because of the ACL injury that has sidelined him for a year with still no clear date for a return. But some executives also expressed reservations about “where his mind was at and his actual skill set,’’ a source tells Berman.

The Knicks had three criteria in any trade for Porzingis: a good young prospect, which they got in Dennis Smith Jr.; enough expiring contracts to offer two max deals in free agency, which Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan provided; and future first-round picks. Of eight to 10 offers that were available, the Dallas deal was the best one that checked all three boxes.

But New York could have gotten much more if it had traded Porzingis prior to the 2017 draft, when former team president Phil Jackson first raised the idea. Berman reports that the Celtics offered a package of young assets, while the Suns were willing to part with Devin Booker along with a draft pick swap that could have brought Lauri Markkanen to the Knicks.

There’s more this morning from New York City:

  • Signing two elite free agents is just one way the Knicks can take advantage of their cap space, Berman notes in the same story. They could also use that money to absorb Anthony Davis‘ $27MM salary in a potential trade with the Pelicans. New York attempted to convince New Orleans GM Dell Demps to accept Porzingis as part of a package for Davis rather than wait for a trade this summer, a source close to Demps tells Berman, but the Pelicans didn’t believe Porzingis would be willing to re-sign in a smaller market. Berman states that the Knicks will become a serious contender for Davis if they land a top-two pick on lottery night.
  • A lack of interest in their available players led to the Knicks being quiet on deadline day, Berman adds. Virtually no one wanted to take on Enes Kanter‘s $18.6MM contract when a buyout was expected; offers for Frank Ntilikina “underwhelmed;” Damyean Dotson sparked some inquiries, but not enough for New York to act; and few teams made offers for Noah Vonleh.
  • G League callup Kadeem Allen continues to impress, Berman and Howie Kussoy write in a separate story. Allen, who signed a two-way contract with the Knicks last month, played in his seventh straight game last night and produced career highs with 14 points and six assists. “He’s a tough little runt. I love him. I really do. He fits my personality,” coach David Fizdale said. “He’s a grimy kid. He’s really worked his way to where he’s at. He keeps getting better and better.”