James Dolan

Knicks Notes: Anunoby, Brunson, Burks, Officiating, Oakley

Knicks forward OG Anunoby won’t be available for Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 at Indiana. He’s listed as out on the team’s official injury report due to the left hamstring strain that also caused him to miss Game 3.

Anunoby’s status for the rest of the series is uncertain after he left Wednesday’s game when he came up limping with pain in his hamstring area. Even though Anunoby wasn’t considered likely to play in either game at Indianapolis, the organization decided it was best to have him make the trip.

“Our medical team is here, so it makes sense [for Anunoby to be in Indianapolis),” coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters, including Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. “So just keep working at it and we’ll see where he is every day.” 

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jalen Brunson admitted he took a bad shot in the final seconds Friday night when New York had a chance to tie the game, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. With the Knicks trailing by three points, Brunson was determined to shoot before the Pacers had a chance to send him to the line, but he wound up launching an off-balance three-point attempt that was far off the mark. “There’s times where teams foul up three, and I’ll leave it at that,” Brunson said. “I just made a bad decision.” Brunson still appeared to be bothered by a foot injury that sidelined him for part of Game 2, Katz adds. However, he managed to play 38 minutes and doesn’t appear on the injury report for Sunday.
  • Alec Burks, who had barely played in the postseason before Friday night, provided an unexpected lift for the Knicks in Game 3, notes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News. The veteran swingman logged 21 minutes and scored 14 points as injuries forced Thibodeau to reach deep into his bench. “I think him coming in and not playing for that long, staying ready, I think him mentally being ready, mentally giving us a spark, our offense, was big for us,” Isaiah Hartenstein said.
  • After Rick Carlisle complained about the officiating in the first two games of the series, the Pacers seemed to get a better whistle Friday night, observes Barbara Barker of Newsday. Among the crucial calls that went Indiana’s way, according to Barker, was an apparent goaltend that wasn’t called when Myles Turner blocked Josh Hart‘s layup attempt with 2:03 left to play.
  • Plenty of Knicks legends have been spotted at Madison Square Garden since the playoffs began, but Charles Oakley isn’t among them. Oakley hasn’t been in the arena since he was ejected following a 2017 scuffle with security, and a spokesperson for the organization tells Dan Gelston of The Associated Press that he wasn’t invited to attend. Oakley insists he won’t consider going to MSG until he hears from team owner James Dolan. “They’ve got to apologize,” he said. “We’ll go from there. Can (Dolan) be man enough to say, mistakes happen. And he made one.”

Atlantic Notes: Dolan, Embiid, Sixers, J. Porter

Knicks owner James Dolan has been accused of sexual assault, according to reports from Ben Sisario of The New York Times and Marjorie Hernandez and Selim Algar of The New York Post.

Dolan’s accuser, Kellye Croft, filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday claiming that he pressured her into unwanted sex with him and that he coordinated an encounter with Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly sexually assaulted her. Croft worked as a masseuse on a 2013 tour headlined by The Eagles that also featured Dolan’s band, J.D. and the Straight Shot. The incidents with Dolan and Weinstein are said to have taken place in 2013 and 2014.

One of Dolan’s attorneys issued a statement saying that there is “absolutely no merit” to the allegations: “Kellye Croft and James Dolan had a friendship. Mr. Dolan always believed Ms. Croft to be a good person and is surprised she would agree to these claims. Bottom line, this is not a he said/she said matter and there is compelling evidence to back up our position. We look forward to proving that in court.”

Asked today about the lawsuit, commissioner Adam Silver didn’t have much to tell reporters so soon after the publication of the reports, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. “I saw the article and don’t know anything else about it other than I read the article so we’ll stand by and wait to find out more information,” Silver said.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers star Joel Embiid, who returned on Monday from a three-game injury absence, said he’s not worried about meeting the 65-game requirement to qualify for end-of-season awards such as MVP. “It doesn’t matter how many games I play,” Embiid said (story via ESPN.com). “The goal is to be healthy the rest of the year.” Embiid isn’t on the injury report for Tuesday’s contest vs. Denver, so it appears he’ll square off on the second night of a back-to-back set against fellow MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a look at how Daryl Morey‘s and Nick Nurse‘s time together in Houston laid the groundwork for them to reunite with the Sixers. Nurse tells Mizell that he believes his history with Morey has given him a leg up during his first year in Philadelphia. “Where the relationship enhances what’s happened is the speed at which we can move things along,” the head coach said. “Because we know each other, it’s not this, ‘Where’s this guy coming from?’ six-month process. That part I think has been a big plus.”
  • Jontay Porter didn’t open the season on the Raptors‘ roster, but the two-way big man has appeared in each of the team’s past seven games and earned his first start on Monday vs. Boston. Given how Porter has performed so far in Toronto, he could turn out to be a developmental win at a key position for an organization that has lacked those under-the-radar success stories in recent years, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

Latest On Knicks’ Lawsuit Against Raptors

Since resigning from his Board of Governors committee positions, owner James Dolan and the Knicks launched a lawsuit against the Raptors seeking more than $10MM in damages over an issue that would typically be arbitrated by the NBA.

The suit, which alleges that a former team employee illegally took “confidential” files with him to his new position in Toronto, accused commissioner Adam Silver of bias due to his friendship with Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Tanenbaum’s position as chairman of the Board of Governors.

As Baxter Holmes writes in an in-depth story for ESPN, Dolan also has a lengthy history with Raptors president Masai Ujiri. Back in 2011, when Ujiri was Denver’s lead basketball executive, he traded Carmelo Anthony to New York — a deal in which Dolan was later criticized for giving up too much on a player who wanted to sign with the Knicks in free agency.

Ujiri had another famous trade with the Knicks a couple years later while he was running the Raptors, Holmes notes, sending Andrea Bargnani to New York for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and multiple first-round picks. Bargnani only played 71 games over two seasons with New York.

Dolan reportedly nixed a deal between Toronto and New York that same year — 2013 — that would have sent Kyle Lowry to the Knicks because he “didn’t want to get fleeced again by Masai,” a source told The New York Daily News.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported a few years ago that Ujiri was Dolan’s “dream candidate” to run the Knicks, but he wound up returning to the Raptors on a long-term deal in 2021.

As far as the ongoing lawsuit, legal experts, analytics staffers and rival executives alike are skeptical and “generally dismissive” of the Knicks’ claims, according to Holmes.

“​If you were concerned about privacy and the loss of proprietary information, the last place you would be pursuing that is in a court proceeding seeking only monetary damages — because whether it’s actually proprietary is going to be an issue,” said Robert Boland, a professor of sports law at Seton Hall University Law School who also maintains a practice focused on sports labor and governance issues.

You have to prove your damages in this circumstance and you’re going to have to tell the court, and by extension the public, what they took from you and what its value was. So more of that becomes public, which likely means the Knicks don’t care about it. I’m assuming by the time we get through the court hearings, all this information will be out of date. I’m not sure the subject matter is proprietary or that it’s even timely anymore.”

Executives in particular cited Dolan’s “litigious reputation,” Holmes adds.

I think this is a complete middle finger from Dolan to Larry Tanenbaum — and I think it’s nothing more than that,” one Eastern Conference executive told ESPN.

According to Holmes, the Raptors are expected to file a response to the Knicks’ latest filing on December 11. Boland — one of the legal experts Holmes spoke to — is unsure what will happen next.

I don’t see a settlement in this case, but I don’t know if the Knicks are going to win,” said Boland, an admitted Knicks fan. “I don’t really see a clear strategy. I think the attention is the desired outcome.”

Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic is also named in the lawsuit. He once again defended himself amid the allegations and said he’s looking forward to the case being resolved, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Post.

Support from the beginning was just fine because we talked about it, we explained what happened or what did not happen. I know who I am, I know my integrity, I know who I represent,” Rajakovic said. “I represent one amazing organization and people in the front office and the players. I’m really looking forward for all of this to be solved and for everybody to find out the truth. I’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Knicks’ Dolan Resigned From NBA Board Committee Positions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Notes: Dolan, Knicks, Rose, Simmons, Nets

Ahead of the opening of James Dolan‘s new Las Vegas arena, the Sphere, Katherine Rosman of The New York Times has published an in-depth feature on the Knicks owner which digs into his adversarial relationship with certain portions of the fanbase.

As he explains within the story, Dolan would support ejecting a fan at Madison Square Garden who was simply holding up a sign urging him to sell the team, but wouldn’t eject the same fan if he were aiming his criticism at the team itself. His logic is that the former is “directed at, on a personal basis, the guy who’s in charge — me,” whereas criticism of the team is aimed at a group.

“If you held up a sign that says, you know, ‘Play better, this team sucks,’ you can do that. That’s part of being a fan,” Dolan said.

Interestingly, in discussing why he decided to spend big money to build the Sphere – a lavish entertainment venue – Dolan said that he initially considered expanding his sports portfolio by buying a franchise in another sport, perhaps baseball or soccer. However, while the Knicks and the NHL’s Rangers are “near and dear” to his heart, he referred to the economics of major league sports as “kind of sleepy,” adding, “I don’t really like owning teams.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York-based franchises:

  • Making a rare public comment within Rosman’s New York Times feature, Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose said that Dolan is invested in the front office’s decisions but doesn’t meddle in those decisions himself. “He places a lot of faith and trust in our basketball operations,” Rose said.
  • Speaking to Tina Cervasio of FOX5, Nets guard Ben Simmons said he feels a responsibility to regain his All-Star form now that he’s feeling fully healthy following back surgery. “I owe it to everybody, the fans and everybody, to get back to where I need to be,” Simmons said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “That’s what I did this summer to get back.” The former No. 1 overall pick previously expressed confidence about his chances of having a bounce-back season.
  • After opening training camp in Brooklyn from October 3-6, the Nets will move to the UNLV campus for Oct. 7-8, the team announced on Tuesday (story via NetsDaily). Wrapping up training camp in Las Vegas will allow the Nets to avoid traveling for their first preseason game, which will be played at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas on Oct. 9 vs. the Lakers.

Atlantic Notes: Fournier, Dolan, Harden, Griffin, Langford

Evan Fournier could eventually become a buyout possibility if the Knicks can’t find somewhere to trade him, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Fournier played just 27 games last season as coach Tom Thibodeau pulled him from the rotation, and he doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans for the upcoming campaign.

While Fournier may not have any remaining value to the organization as a player, his contract remains an asset in a potential trade. He will make $18.8MM this season and has the equivalent of an expiring deal with a team option of $19MM for 2024/25.

Fournier was benched because Thibodeau opted for a focus on defense, but he can still help a team as a shooter and play-maker. He set a Knicks record for most three-pointers made in a season during 2021/22.

With his 31st birthday upcoming in October, Fournier is concerned about what another season of inactivity will mean for his career, as he said in a recent interview with the French outlet L’ Equipe. Popper notes that the Knicks haven’t pursued any stars so far this offseason, but Fournier will probably remain on the roster for a while in case an opportunity for a significant deal arises.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks owner James Dolan cast the only vote against the sale of the Hornets, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The transfer of a majority stake in the team to a group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin was approved by a 29-1 margin.
  • It’s difficult to envision a quick resolution to the trade request submitted by Sixers guard James Harden, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harden asked for a deal when he picked up his option for next season at the end of June, but little to no progress has been made. President of basketball operations Daryl Morey has reportedly set a high asking price that no teams have been willing to meet. Harden recently removed all references to Philadelphia and the team from his social media pages and wrote “Been comfortable for so long. It’s time to get uncomfortable” on his Instagram account.
  • The Celtics are likely exploring other options before deciding whether to re-sign Blake Griffin, Brian Robb of MassLive writes in a mailbag column. Robb points out that president of basketball operations Brad Stevens hasn’t mentioned Griffin in any of his sessions with the media since Boston was knocked out of the playoffs. Robb also expects Romeo Langford to get a training camp opportunity with another team rather than returning to the Celtics.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Randle, Barrett, Dolan

Mitchell Robinson didn’t need any time to adjust to being back on the court as he returned to the Knicks‘ lineup Friday night, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. In his first game since undergoing thumb surgery in January, Robinson had 10 points, 12 rebounds and posted a plus-12 rating in 28 minutes as New York rallied to beat the Wizards.

Now in sixth place at 34-27, the Knicks have been able to rise up the Eastern Conference standings without Robinson, who anchors the team on defense. His return gives New York a complete lineup as it tries to avoid the play-in tournament and possibly capture home court in the first round of the playoffs.

“Still have work that needs to be done, so I’m gonna take it day by day,” Robinson said. “Still trying to get better at stuff I’m normally already used to doing. So just gotta lock in and get better at it. We only got 22 games left (now 21) in 40-something days. So we’re gonna make the best of it and get it right.”

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Julius Randle played in the All-Star Game, but he looked much fresher on Friday than his more rested teammates, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. Randle scored 46 points and sparked a rally that led to the Knicks overcoming a 19-point deficit. “Just came out aggressive,” he said. “That time of the year. Just gotta lock in. Just lost in the game, man, so whatever the team needs, that’s what I’m gonna do.”
  • RJ Barrett played just 28 minutes against Washington and remained on the bench late in the game as coach Tom Thibodeau used Immanuel Quickley and Josh Hart to get better defense on the wing, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “A lot of it is flow of the game,” Thibodeau explained. “Like I said, I love our depth. We have a number of guys that are coming off the bench that are starters. There’s no dropoff. So whoever is going good, whatever the best matchup is, that’s what we’re going to go with. … So we need everyone. We’re asking guys to sacrifice. Some guys would like to start and they’re not starting. And some guys would like more shots and more minutes. That’s common. But everyone has to put the team first.”
  • Knicks owner James Dolan skipped a New York City Council hearing Friday on facial recognition technology, which he allegedly uses to keep his enemies from entering Madison Square Garden, according to Chris Sommerfeldt of The New York Daily News.

New York Notes: Thomas, Claxton, Dinwiddie, Knicks, Reddish

It was just two weeks ago that a report identified Cam Thomas as one of the young players the Nets could dangle in trade talks. Since then, Thomas’ role in Brooklyn has changed in a major way.

Thomas has scored at least 43 points in each of his last three games, totaling 134 points on 42-of-75 (56.0%) shooting in those three contests while knocking down 14-of-25 (56.0%) three-pointers. According to ESPN Stats and Info (Twitter link), the 21-year-old is the youngest player in NBA history to score 40 or more points in three consecutive games.

During an SNY TV appearance (Twitter video link), Ian Begley said he hadn’t gotten the impression prior to Thomas’ scoring binge that the Nets were looking to shop him, and that’s even more true now. If anything, Begley noted, Thomas’ play may result in more potential trade partners inquiring on the second-year guard as a valuable young asset as Brooklyn explores the market for roster upgrades.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Begley also confirmed during his SNY TV appearance that the Raptors are seeking center Nic Claxton as part of any major trade with the Nets. That represents a major “roadblock” in Brooklyn’s efforts to land a player like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, or Fred VanVleet, given what an important role Claxton has played for the team this season, Begley says.
  • Speaking to reporters at an introductory press conference on Tuesday, new Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie stated that he expects to remain with the team through Thursday’s trade deadline, observing that it would be “silly” for Brooklyn to hold the press conference if that wasn’t the plan (Twitter link via Marc J. Spears of Andscape). Brian Lewis of The New York Post passes along a few more of the presser’s notable quotes from Dinwiddie and new Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith.
  • Madison Square Garden Sports president David Hopkinson said on Tuesday that the company would be open to selling minority shares in the Knicks, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Knicks owner James Dolan has been adamant that he has no desire to give up control of the franchise, but with franchise valuations skyrocketing, it sounds like he’s open to the idea of raising capital by giving up a smaller stake.
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News explores the Knicks‘ trade deadline outlook, suggesting that Cam Reddish will be a strong candidate for a buyout if he’s not moved by Thursday afternoon.

Knicks’ Dolan Says He Has No Plans To Sell, Retire

Appearing on Friday afternoon on WFAN Sports Radio in New York, Knicks owner James Dolan said he doesn’t intend to surrender control of the franchise anytime in the near – or distant – future, as Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets.

“I have no plans whatsoever to sell at this point,” Dolan said. “I’m not retiring anytime soon. It’s a family-controlled asset, so someone in the family will eventually own it.”

There have been no recent reports indicating that Dolan was considering the possibility of selling the team and he has said in the past that he has no intention of doing so.

Still, with NBA franchise valuations soaring, there has been some recent speculation that more owners could be looking to cash out. There has also been a segment of the Knicks fanbase hoping for years that Dolan would take that route — it sounds like they shouldn’t get their hopes up.

Asked later in his WFAN appearance whether he likes the job president of basketball operations Leon Rose has done with the team since being hired nearly three years ago, Dolan gave Rose a positive review.

“Yes. Absolutely. … The team with the best talent wins,” Dolan said (Twitter link via Katz). “So then you want a guy who can get you the best talent and I believe Leon Rose is still the best guy.”

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays (via Twitter), Dolan went on to say that the Knicks don’t have a specific timeline for contention that they’re holding Rose to, and are simply looking for “progress” at this point. He did add, however, that “we absolutely expect” to make the playoffs this season.

Knicks Notes: Quickley, Toppin, Randle, Dolan

While Evan Fournier and Cam Reddish are considered the most available trade candidates in New York, one league executive who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com pointed to another Knicks player who would bring back a far greater return if the team were willing to move him.

“The one guy who is really their trade asset is the one guy they’d like to keep, and that’s (Immanuel) Quickley,” the exec said. “Great kid. But he sees himself as a starting point guard, and the Knicks see him as a combo guard. Thibs (head coach Tom Thibodeau) doesn’t like to play young guys, but he’s embraced Quickley.

“The problem is Quickley sees what Tyrese Maxey is doing 80 miles south of there and he thinks, ‘Hey, I’m every bit as good as Tyrese. The only difference is he’s had opportunity and I haven’t.’ So he’s worried that the Knicks will never commit to letting him do what he wants to do. But he would bring back some value if they ever decided to trade him.”

It’s probably safe to take the anonymous executive’s commentary on Quickley with a grain of salt, since there’s no reason to think he’d have any inside insight on the 23-year-old’s thinking. Still, it’s worth noting that Quickley has posted some of the best numbers of his career in the Knicks’ last two games with Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett unavailable, racking up 15 assists on Tuesday and 36 points on Thursday.

“He’s not going to get those opportunities when they’re whole,” the exec added.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • An Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com believes the Knicks have spoken to the Pacers about a possible Obi Toppin trade. “There has been some talk between the Pacers and Knicks about Obi,” the exec said. “He fits in Indiana, especially if they keep (Myles) Turner. Obi is a rim-runner, he has some toughness, he has athleticism. He needs minutes and a team that is rebuilding with young talent like Indy is a really good match.”
  • A productive December has increased Julius Randle‘s season-long averages to 23.8 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 3.7 APG, but he’s not thinking about the possibility of earning a second All-Star nod, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I’m just trying to focus on the team, helping us get wins, day by day, how I can improve as a player and a leader, and how we can improve as a team,” Randle said. “Those things, if they happen, whatever it is, it’s great. But I’m more focused on the team.”
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News identifies five moments that defined a disappointing 2022 for the Knicks.
  • Writing for his Substack (subscription required), Ethan Strauss takes a closer look at troubling reports and stories about Madison Square Garden security using facial recognition technology to turn away fans based on James Dolan‘s personal vendettas. Botte passes along some of the highlights of Strauss’ story in an article for The New York Post.