Bojan Bogdanovic

Knicks Notes: Anunoby, Bogdanovic, Burks, Hart, Thibodeau

After returning to the Knicks‘ lineup Friday night, OG Anunoby said it was “just inflammation” in his right elbow that forced him to miss the previous nine games, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Anunoby, who is operating under a minutes restriction, believed it was important to get back on the court before the postseason begins.

He was able to play three games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on the elbow in February, but suffered a setback that kept him out of action again. He told reporters that he took a different approach to rehab this time than he did immediately after the operation.

“Maybe less shooting. Building up the shooting, not just going back to shooting like I normally shoot,” Anunoby said. “So just taking my time and it’s going to get better and better.” 

Anunoby played 29 minutes on Friday, scoring 12 points and shooting 5-of-8 from the field. He replaced Miles McBride in the starting lineup and guarded DeMar DeRozan for most of the night. Anunoby made an immediate impact after being acquired from Toronto in late December, and Friday’s loss dropped the Knicks to 15-3 with him on the court.

“I’m happy he’s back, happy he’s healthy,” Jalen Brunson said. “Obviously, we didn’t win so it clouds my judgment right now (on how Anunoby played), but just happy he’s healthy and out there.” 

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks were expected to provide much-needed shooting help when they were acquired in a deadline deal with Detroit, but both players are in danger of being left out of the playoff rotation, Bondy states in a separate story. Bondy notes that Anunoby’s return pushes Burks to the 10th spot in the rotation, which is more players than coach Tom Thibodeau typically uses in the postseason. Bogdanovic and Burks have struggled with efficiency since coming to New York, and they’ve seen their playing time reduced recently.
  • Josh Hart was ejected in the first quarter Friday for kicking Javonte Green in the side of the head on a play that appeared to be accidental (video link), Bondy adds in another piece. Referee Scott Foster said “intent was not a criteria” in handing out the Flagrant 2.
  • Talking with the media in Chicago, where he coached for five years, Thibodeau pushed back against the long-standing criticism that he gives too many minutes to his starters, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “People tend not to look at — what are the star players playing? Because usually you’re matching their players with a primary defender,” Thibodeau said. “So when LeBron [James] is on the floor, that’s when that player is on the floor. So LeBron is playing 39, he’s 39. If DeMar is playing 40, then whoever is guarding him has to play 40. Otherwise, you’re reducing your chances of winning. And the bottom line is to win games.”

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Harden, Knicks-Pistons Trade, DiVincenzo, Holiday

The Sixers‘ first meeting with James Harden since trading him to the Clippers last fall was relatively calm, but Wednesday’s rematch in Philadelphia will likely have a different atmosphere, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Harden concentrated on play-making on Sunday afternoon, scoring 12 points and handing out 14 assists as the Sixers picked up a much-needed road victory. Harden left without speaking to reporters, but his former teammates said they’re happy that he appears to have found a positive situation in Los Angeles.

“James is a hell of a player and I’ll always have a huge amount of respect for him,” Tobias Harris said. “Playing with him here, it’s good to see him playing in L.A., flourishing and playing his game and just ballin’ out. It’s all love and respect. He’s a hall-of-fame player, and for me it was an honor being here, playing with him.”

Harden can expect a raucous reception when he returns to Philadelphia for the first time since a bitter contract dispute with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey led him to demand a trade last summer. Haden launched repeated verbal attacks at Morey and disrupted training camp and the early part of the season before being traded to L.A. at the start of November.

Vardon adds that instead of being focused on Harden, the Sixers are concerned about their playoff prospects as they try to stay in the race for the sixth seed while Joel Embiid recovers from meniscus surgery.

“We know what the situation is,” Tyrese Maxey said. “We know we gotta go out there and fight. He’s not here, he’s not walking through those doors right now. What we have in this locker room, that’s who has to go out there and compete.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks will host the Pistons tonight in a reminder of a trade that has turned out poorly for both teams so far, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. New York hoped to bolster its shooting last month when it acquired Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic from Detroit. However, they’ve both been disappointing, even with extra opportunities created by injuries to Julius Randle and OG Anunoby. For Detroit, Quentin Grimes has missed 15 of 21 games with a right knee injury he suffered when he was still with the Knicks. Evan Fournier has appeared in 19 straight games after being trapped on Tom Thibodeau’s bench, but he’s been in a severe shooting slump.
  • Donte DiVincenzo is nearing the Knicks‘ record for most three-pointers in a season, Bondy adds in a separate story. He’s 18 away from the mark of 241 that Fournier set two years ago. “I don’t think about it. Obviously I’m aware of it, but I don’t go into the game going, ‘How many do I need?’” DiVincenzo said. “That’s for you guys to talk about, that’s for everybody else to have fun with. But when you start doing that — there’s basketball karma, basketball gods. That’s not something [I want to mess with].”
  • Celtics guard Jrue Holiday explained the shoulder issue that will cause him to miss his fourth straight game tonight, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “Not a dead arm. I got hit on my shoulder and it felt like my arm went dead,” Holiday said. “But it’s not a nerve thing or anything. It’s just the part of the shoulder that I got hit in. But my shoulder is fine.

Knicks Notes: Offensive Struggles, Anunoby, Randle, Milton, Rotation

The Knicks played their worst game of the season and posted their lowest offensive total in nearly six years in Sunday’s 79-73 loss to Philadelphia, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. It was the fewest points scored by any NBA team in 2023/24, barely eclipsing the 74 points that New York held Orlando to Friday night, and Knicks players were honest about their performance.

“We played like [expletive],” Josh Hart said. “I mean, we obviously didn’t shoot the ball well. Turnovers bad. I think I had six or seven myself … But we’ve got to try to flush it. Got them again on Tuesday. Try to come out and play better.”

The Knicks shot 32.5% from the field and committed 19 turnovers, with All-Star Jalen Brunson going just 6-of-22. The game had a late-1990s feel to it, Popper observes, including a fourth quarter altercation between Donte DiVincenzo and Kelly Oubre that led to a shoving match involving several players.

DiVincenzo refused to comment on the scuffle, but Oubre said, “All of that stuff’s funny to me. I don’t know why. I just laugh, because nobody’s gonna fight.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Coach Tom Thibodeau said OG Anunoby will travel with the team when it departs for the West Coast on Thursday, per Ian Begley of SNY (Twitter link). There’s hope that Anunoby will be able to return soon from a right elbow injury that has sidelined him since January 27. Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson will also make the trip, but there are concerns about why Randle still hasn’t been cleared for contact, Begley adds.
  • Randle missed his 18th game of the season Sunday night, which means he won’t receive a $1.28MM bonus for appearing in 65 games, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Randle’s contract includes the same bonus for next season, which will now be considered unlikely. His cap hit will be adjusted to $28.9MM and the team will receive a $1.28MM tax variance credit for this season, Marks adds.
  • Shake Milton has only played one minute in three games since signing with the Knicks last week, but Thibodeau is urging him to be patient, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post. “Just fit in and stay ready. Trades are hard in the middle of the season. You gotta learn the system,” Thibodeau said. “But I like what I’ve seen from him in terms of his attitude, his approach. He’s been very, very good.”
  • In a separate story, Popper examines what the Knicks’ rotation might look like if everyone is healthy. He notes that a potential starting five of Brunson, DiVincenzo, Anunoby, Randle and Robinson hasn’t played together yet. If that’s the starting unit, Popper expects Hart, Isaiah Hartenstein and Miles McBride to be the first three reserves. It’s tougher to determine who’s next in line, as Precious Achiuwa, Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks, Jericho Sims and Milton will all be competing for limited minutes.

Sixers Notes: Hield, Covington, Melton, Payne, Martin

Buddy Hield wasn’t surprised by the deal that sent him from the Pacers to the Sixers at last month’s trade deadline, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Philadelphia was in the market for shooters, also pursuing ex-Pistons marksman Bojan Bogdanovic, who wound up in New York, sources tell Fischer. Even though he hasn’t been on the court yet with Joel Embiid, who suffered a meniscus injury in late January, Hield is glad to be with the Sixers and believes they can become an effective combination.

“You want to go to a team that wants you. You don’t want to go to a team where you’re a piece and it’s like, ‘We’re gonna try this out,’” Hield said. “Other teams are trapping Embiid, so having a three-point shooter to keep guys honest, I know the reason why I was traded here.”

Hield is averaging 15.5 points per game since joining the Sixers while shooting 44% from the field and 42.2% from beyond the arc. He’s also landed a consistent role in the starting lineup, something that didn’t happen in Indiana as coach Rick Carlisle experimented with different backcourt starters alongside Tyrese Haliburton. Hield said he enjoyed the Pacers’ up-tempo approach, but he didn’t believe he had a future with the team after extension talks failed to produce a new contract.

“If a team doesn’t want to re-sign you, we asked them early and you know how it is. It’s the game,” Hield said. “They say they want to sign you and then after it doesn’t happen, the conversations don’t really keep going on the phone, and it’s like talking to a wall, and nobody’s responding back. But after that, you’re under contract, and you have to, like, honor your contract. So it’s one of those deals where you just gotta come in every day and be professional. But I know that the whole vibe was so different.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers say Robert Covington will be reevaluated in about a week for a bone bruise to his left knee and could resume on-court activities in seven-to-10 days, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. De’Anthony Melton, who is battling a lumbar spine injury, has started an “offloading” program and will be reevaluated in approximately two weeks.
  • Cameron Payne said he was at about 70% because of the flu Tuesday night, but he opted to play because Tyrese Maxey is in concussion protocol, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I was like, ‘I’m 30 years old. Get out there and play, sick or not,’” Payne said. “‘Just get out there and help your team.’”
  • KJ Martin has been effective in his new role as a small-ball big man, observes Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports. Martin was seeing an uptick in his playing time before missing three games with an injury last week.

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Bogdanovic, DiVincenzo, Maxey, Lowry

The Knicks got more good news on Jalen Brunson‘s knee. An MRI on the injured area came back clean, coach Tom Thibodeau told Newsday’s Steve Popper (Twitter link) and other media members.

Brunson, who didn’t play against the Hawks on Tuesday, was diagnosed with a left knee contusion after colliding with teammate Isaiah Hartenstein in the opening minute of New York’s win over Cleveland on Sunday. It initially looked much worse. The Knicks’ All-Star guard was helped off the court after attempting a mid-range shot and did not return.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Bojan Bogdanovic and Donte DiVincenzo combined for 48 points after Brunson left Sunday’s game and snapped out of shooting slumps. They were aided by crisp ball movement, Jared Schwartz of the New York Post notes, as the Knicks had 32 assists on Sunday, the most they had recorded since Dec. 11.
  • Sixers star guard Tyrese Maxey has entered the league’s concussion protocol, as relayed by ESPN’s news services. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Maxey hit his head against the knee of Mavericks forward Derrick Jones in the third quarter of Sunday’s win and was subbed out, though he did eventually return.
  • Kyle Lowry, who has taken over as the Sixers’ starting point guard, doesn’t want to reflect on his career accomplishments until he retires, he told Pompey. “Of course, I know what they are,” Lowry said. “I’ve never sat down and really thought about the things that I’ve done. I just continue to live in the moment where I can’t think about what I’ve done, what is there to do, you know? ‘Do you want to win a couple more championships or whatever I can win?’ But I never sat back and thought about it yet. The reason is because I’m still playing.”

Knicks Notes: Slump, Standings, Deadline Additions, Hartenstein

The Knicks went 12-2 in their first 14 games with OG Anunoby and won four of their next five after he went down with an elbow injury. However, New York’s sheer amount of injuries has led to a 2-7 record since that point and the Knicks are in danger of sliding down the standings. At the moment, Anunoby, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson are dealing with long-term injuries while Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein are among those who have also missed time as of late.

The New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro argues that while it isn’t time to panic yet, it’s getting close. After looking like a serious contender for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed at the beginning of February, the Knicks are in danger of falling all the way to play-in territory. While they could be at their healthiest when the playoffs begin, Vaccaro writes it’s possible they peaked in January.

However, Knicks players and coaches aren’t panicking. According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Josh Hart said he and his teammates are making the most of what they have available to them and will be fine once key players start getting healthier.

We’re playing our asses off,” Hart said. “It’s not like we’re just sitting there and crying about injuries and laying down. Nah, we’re grinding. We’re pushing ourselves. And once we get guys back, we’re good.

Coach Tom Thibodeau and players are continuing to take everything one game at a time and contextualize the situation they’re in.

I didn’t see anybody talking about the way we were playing before [this losing streak],” Hart said. “Nine in a row, 10 in a row, 15 out of 16. Take four starters, six rotation guys out of any lineup in the league and they’re going to struggle.

We have more from the Knicks:

  • The Knicks entered Saturday 35-25, good for fourth in the East’s standings. They’re 4.5 games behind the Bucks and just a half-game ahead of the fifth-seeded Sixers. Peter Botte of the New York Post further examines where the Knicks are at in the standings, observing that they’re just 1.5 games ahead of the Pacers, who are currently the No. 8 seed. Unfortunately for the Knicks, it may get more difficult before it gets easier. The Magic (sixth), Heat (seventh) and Pacers are all surging as of late, and the Florida teams have the two easiest remaining strength of schedules. All three clubs are also relatively healthy. The only East competitor in a similar situation to New York as of now is the Sixers, who are sliding without superstar Joel Embiid.
  • While injuries are obviously the biggest culprit for New York’s recent skid, it hasn’t helped that trade deadline acquisitions Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks aren’t yet acclimated, according to Botte. Bogdanovic is averaging 13.3 points in his first seven games in New York after averaging 21.1 points in his two seasons in Detroit. Burks is down to 8.5 PPG in New York from 12.7 in Detroit. Their struggles were on full display in Thursday’s loss to Golden State, when the pair combined for nine points while making just two of their combined 13 shot attempts.
  • Hartenstein is one of the New York players dealing with injury issues, missing a handful of games due to an Achilles injury. Per SNY’s Ian Begley (Twitter link), Hartenstein said he came back early from his injury to try and help New York win. “I probably could have sat out a couple more weeks,” Hartenstein said, though he added that he’s happy with the balance he and the team struck to get him back into full form by the time playoffs arrive.

Pistons Notes: Fournier, Grimes, Umude, Draft, Offseason

Evan Fournier seemed to be a potential buyout candidate when he was traded from the Knicks to the Pistons. However, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack post that all signs point to Fournier remaining on Detroit’s roster for the rest of the season.

Players must be waived by Friday afternoon to become playoff eligible with his next team. Fournier has appeared in four games with the Pistons, one more than he did with the Knicks this season, averaging 11.5 points in 21.5 minutes with his current club.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Detroit’s game against the Knicks on Monday night features two former New York players — Fournier and Quentin Grimes — and two former Pistons — Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks — who were dealt for each other at this month’s deadline. Grimes admitted during Detroit’s shootaround he was jacked up for the contest. “I really don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, I got to go off or something,’” Grimes told Stefan Bondy of the New York Post. “But you do get a little extra oomph when you wake up and try to go off against a team that traded you.” Grimes lost his starting spot prior to getting traded and knew he wasn’t long for New York. “I knew it was going to happen. I didn’t know it would be Detroit. It was a few teams,” he said. “But I knew it was going to happen, for sure.”
  • Stanley Umude‘s two-year contract includes a team option for next season, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Umude had his two-way contract converted to a standard, minimum-salary deal last week.
  • This year’s draft doesn’t have any surefire stars but the Pistons will have a high lottery pick again. Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press takes a look at eight potential lottery picks and considers how they might fit in with the team’s core players.
  • The additions of wings Grimes and Simone Fontecchio will allow the front office to concentrate the Pistons’ resources on one or two high-value targets with their cap space this summer, rather than spreading money around to cover multiple needs, Keith Langlois of writes.
  • In case you missed it, rookie guard Marcus Sasser will be sidelined at least a week due to a right knee contusion.

Knicks Notes: Randle, Anunoby, Robinson, Hartenstein, More

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said on Tuesday that Julius Randle continues to make “good, steady progress” in his recovery from a dislocated right shoulder, per Ian Begley of One day later, speaking publicly on Wednesday for the first time since suffering the injury, Randle told reporters that he’s feeling “better and stronger” than he was earlier in the month, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post.

However, neither Thibodeau nor Randle indicated that the possibility of season-ending surgery is off the table.

“I mean, we’ll see. There’s still necessary steps. It’s a process to everything. I have to weigh out everything ultimately and decide from there,” Randle said. “But right now I’m just focused on trying to avoid (surgery), obviously, and get back on the court as soon as I can.”

Even if Randle is able to return to action this season without undergoing surgery, it’s unclear if he’ll be able to avoid a procedure on the shoulder in the offseason, Botte writes.

“I’ve heard many different opinions. Both, so we’ll see,” Randle said when asked about that scenario. “I like how I feel today as far as getting better, feeling stronger, progressing to where I need to be, as far as getting on the court.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While Randle’s recovery timeline remains very much up in the air, another injured Knicks forward – OG Anunoby – said on Tuesday that he “for sure” expects to return before the end of the regular season and be available for the playoffs, according to Botte. Anunoby, who underwent a procedure on his right elbow a couple weeks ago, is expected to be reevaluated around March 1 and to resume on-court activities not longer after that, a league source tells Fred Katz of The Athletic.
  • Within that same Athletic story, Katz says center Mitchell Robinson (ankle surgery) is on track to resume on-court work not long after the All-Star break, though it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll return this season. Katz adds that big man Isaiah Hartenstein doesn’t view the Achilles injury he has been nursing as a serious issue.
  • Hartenstein, Donte DiVincenzo (hamstring), and Bojan Bogdanovic (calf) all returned to practice on Tuesday and went through a second day of workouts on Wednesday, according to Thibodeau, who said that all three players remain on track to return on Thursday (Twitter link via Steve Popper of Newsday).
  • During a discussion (YouTube link) between Kevin Durant and longtime business partner Rich Kleiman, the duo confirmed that Kleiman badly wanted Durant to sign with the Knicks as a free agent in 2019, when the star forward instead chose to join the Nets.

Knicks Notes: Achiuwa, Injuries, Randle, DiVincenzo

After a highly impressive stretch of play which saw New York go 15-2 from January 1 to February 1, a wave of injuries finally caught up with the Knicks, who have dropped five of their past six games entering the All-Star break.

With OG Anunoby (elbow), Julius Randle (shoulder), Mitchell Robinson (ankle surgery) all sidelined and Isaiah Hartenstein missing the past three contests with a sore Achilles, the Knicks have been heavily reliant on Precious Achiuwa, and the fourth-year forward/center has responded well, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post.

Over the past eight games, all starts, the 24-year-old big man has put up 14.5 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks in 41.6 minutes. Achiuwa pulled down an eye-popping 19 offensive rebounds over the past two games, Botte notes.

I mentioned earlier what Isaiah has shown us and then Precious coming in,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s road loss to the Magic. “Obviously there were things we liked about [Achiuwa], that’s why we traded for him. But he’s shown us a lot. And it’s given us more versatility, we have size now at the 4. He can play the 4 or the 5, can play it well. … So that’s a big plus for us.”

Achiuwa, who was acquired from Toronto in the deal that sent Anunoby to New York, will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Knicks give him a qualifying offer, which seems very likely based on how he’s performed of late.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Thibodeau is hoping to have multiple players back from injuries after the All-Star break, Botte writes in another story for The New York Post. Donte DiVincenzo (hamstring), trade-deadline addition Bojan Bogdanovic (calf) and Hartenstein all missed Wednesday’s game, but they could return next Thursday against Philadelphia. “I think we’ve had a great two-thirds of the season. We’ve put ourselves in a position where we’ve done well, but we have a lot of room for improvement,” All-Star guard Jalen Brunson said. “So I think this break is obviously good for us. We’re the walking wounded right now. But I’m more than happy with what we’ve been able to do. So quick reset and just be ready to go next week.”
  • While there’s still a chance he may need season-ending surgery after dislocating his right shoulder on January 27, Randle’s rehab has gone well over the past few weeks, per Ian Begley of “I’ve heard during this period that there’s been some positive progression here during the rehab and I think that’s left people with even more reason to be optimistic that Randle will be back at some point this season,” Begley said on Thursday’s episode of The Putback with Ian Begley. “I don’t know if they’re out of the woods yet, but certainly the progress that he has made over the last couple of weeks during this rehab stretch has left people excited about the possibility of him coming back.”
  • DiVicenzo is another player who has stepped up his game with Randle and Anunoby out. As Fred Katz of The Athletic details, DiVincenzo is drawing extra defensive attention lately due to his long-range shooting, with the sixth-year guard ranking second in the NBA over his past eight games in three-point attempts (13.3) and makes (5.3), only trailing Stephen Curry in those two categories. He’s averaging 26.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals on .459/.396/.750 shooting in 40.4 minutes over that span. “I think it’s his best stretch of basketball,” Thibodeau said.

New York Notes: Sharpe, Johnson, Simmons, Knicks Injuries, Bogdanovic

Nets big man Day’Ron Sharpe will return to action on Tuesday night against the Celtics, according to Lucas Kaplan of Sharpe has missed the last 15 games due to a left knee hyperextension.

“I ain’t think I would be out this long,” Sharpe said. “But you know, it could have been worse.”

Cameron Johnson, who has missed the last three games due to an adductor issue, won’t play the first of two consecutive games against Boston. He participated in full-court five-on-five at practice on Monday but may be held out until after the All-Star break.

We have more from the New York teams:

  • Nets guard Ben Simmons scored a season-high 13 points against San Antonio on Saturday, missing just one field goal attempt. Simmons is gaining more confidence in his body after missing a good chunk of the season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post . “Feeling better. It takes time. It’s one of those things where it’s just up and down each day. But I’m just staying with it. The storm doesn’t last forever,” Simmons said. “You know, I’m gonna get back to where I was. So just staying on it. And you know, each day is a day to get better.”
  • Frontcourt injuries have sapped some of the Knicks’ greatest strengths — notably, strength, size and rim protection, Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post writes. That was evident in a loss to Indiana on Saturday. The Knicks will have to make do with a depleted frontcourt once again when they play Houston and Orlando prior to the All-Star break. “It’s always tough when you’re small,” Donte DiVincenzo said, “but I think over these next two games, we’ve just got to find a way to win. Hopefully, we get guys back, but if you don’t, you’ve gotta be ready, gotta be scrappy, and collectively we have to hit the boards a little bit better.”
  • Bojan Bogdanovic got a taste of what it’s like playing for the home team in Madison Square Garden on Saturday, producing 11 points in 33 minutes during his Knicks’ debut. He was acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline and was blown away by the atmosphere at the Knicks’ home arena, Sanchez writes in separate story. “It’s crazy. I think that we all European players dream to play in the Garden,” he said. “So being able to be part of the Knicks, it’s really special for me. The building was on fire the whole game. So I really appreciate the support and love that they showed me (Saturday).”