Leon Rose

Celtics’ Brad Stevens Named NBA’s Executive Of The Year

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been named the NBA’s Executive of the Year for the 2023/24 season, the league announced today (via Twitter).

In his third season as the Celtics’ head of basketball operations after eight years as the team’s head coach, Stevens put together a dominant Boston roster that posted a 64-18 record, easily the best mark in the NBA, along with a +11.7 net rating, the third-best mark in league history.

The Celtics were coming off a 57-win season in 2022/23, but Stevens shook up the roster drastically last summer, trading away longtime defensive stalwart Marcus Smart in a deal for Kristaps Porzingis, then moving key role players Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams in a a blockbuster for Jrue Holiday as training camps got underway.

Stevens also signed several Celtics players to contract extensions in the past 12 months, including Jaylen Brown, Payton Pritchard, and Holiday.

Unlike the NBA’s other major awards, the Executive of the Year is voted on by 29 team executives from around the league rather than 99 media members. Stevens received 16 of 29 potential first-place votes, along with six second-place votes and three third-place votes, for a total of 101 points (Twitter link).

The runner-up, Sam Presti of the Thunder, had 47 points, including four first-place votes. Tim Connelly of the Timberwolves also earned the top spot on four ballots en route to a third-place finish (29 points).

Knicks president Leon Rose (27 points; one first-place vote) was the only other executive to earn more than 11 points, though Nico Harrison (Mavericks) and Monte McNair (Kings) also received first-place votes, while Rockets general manager Rafael Stone earned a pair of them. A total of 13 executives showed up on at least one ballot.

Knicks Notes: LaVine, Rotation, Grimes, Perry

If Zach LaVine gets traded, his representatives would prefer somewhere other than the Knicks, a source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. LaVine’s camp doesn’t see New York as a good fit for the high-scoring guard, Bondy adds, because the team already has RJ Barrett, another ball-dominant wing who is five years younger and has a less expensive contract. Bondy also hears that the Knicks wouldn’t have much interest in sending Barrett to the Bulls in a potential LaVine deal.

LaVine’s contract will be daunting for any team, as he’s still owed about $178MM, including a 2026/27 player option that’s worth nearly $49MM. He’s represented by Klutch Sports, which is a longtime rival of CAA, the former agency of Knicks president Leon Rose.

With reportedly just one more year left on his contract, Rose will have to acquire a big-name talent at some point, Bondy suggests. The Knicks have young players and a wealth of draft picks to offer, including up to four first-rounders next year, although picks from Washington and Detroit appear unlikely to convey right away. Rose has plenty of ammunition to pursue disgruntled stars, but it doesn’t appear he will make a play for LaVine.

There’s more from New York:

  • Coach Tom Thibodeau has a reputation for leaning on his starters, but he doesn’t seem to trust anyone on his current squad beyond his nine-man rotation, Bondy adds. In four games in which Barrett wasn’t available, Thibodeau cut that to eight players, with Miles McBride seeing the most playing time beyond that group with 13 total minutes.
  • The Knicks are saying a “bruised hand” caused Quentin Grimes to leave Wednesday’s game, Bondy states in a separate story. Grimes went straight to the tunnel when he suffered the injury with about 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Bondy notes, and he wasn’t in the locker room after the game. Thibodeau wasn’t sure if X-rays had been taken when he talked to reporters.
  • Chasing unhappy stars is a risky way to run an organization, former Knicks general manager Scott Perry tells Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I don’t have the arrogance necessarily to believe that a guy’s gonna come to our place and he’s gonna be happy just because,” Perry said. “I like when players and people in general try to figure out the situation they’re gonna be in. And when you look at these disgruntled stars, how many of them have left a situation where everything was catered around them and gone to the new situation, and it’s the exact same thing for them?”

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: Reed, Simmons, Thibodeau, Keels

Paul Reed said that he didn’t expect the Sixers to match the offer sheet he received from the Jazz earlier this month, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire.

The three-year, $23MM contract was designed to be more onerous for Philadelphia than Utah because it puts the Sixers in danger of exceeding the luxury tax threshold and the final two years become guaranteed if Reed’s team advances past the first round of the playoffs. President of basketball operations Daryl Morey decided the gamble was worth it to hold onto a promising young talent like Reed.

“I didn’t know what was gonna happen to be honest,” Reed said. “I was a restricted free agent, so they had an opportunity to match. Then I seen they signed Trez (Montrezl Harrell) and (Mohamed) Bamba, my agent was like, ‘It’s probably not likely that they match,’ but when they matched, I was real surprised.”

As Reed noted, Philadelphia now has a logjam of centers behind Joel Embiid. But new head coach Nick Nurse has a expanded role in mind for Reed that will go beyond playing in the post.

“He talked about molding me into a Pascal Siakam-type player,” Reed said. “Somebody who can kind of do it all. Shoot the ball, drive, pass, but right now, it’s all about focusing on my shot mechanics. That’s the start.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets guard Ben Simmons is “as healthy as he has ever been since his last year in Philly,” a source tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape (video link from NBA Today). The source also said Simmons is in the “final stage” of preparing for the upcoming season and has been able to pass every health benchmark the team has set so far. Simmons has been dealing with back and knee problems over the past two years, along with mental health issues, and only played 42 games last season.
  • Assuming the Knicks have another successful season, owner James Dolan will likely talk with coach Tom Thibodeau, team president Leon Rose and other members of the front office about contract extensions, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (video link). Thibodeau is heading into the fourth season of his five-year contract, and much of the management team is on the same timeline, Begley adds.
  • The Knicks will retain the G League rights to Trevor Keels, who was waived on Wednesday, Begley tweets. Keels had a two-way contract last season and appeared in three NBA games.

LaVine’s Reps Don’t Want Him Traded To Knicks

Zach LaVine‘s representative oppose a potential trade to the Knicks, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports.

The Bulls’ star swingman is represented by superagent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, while the Knicks have a reputation of favoring clients of CAA, the agency that employed Leon Rose before he took over as New York’s president of basketball operations.

Paul has told confidants for over a year he prefers not to have a client play for the Knicks, according to former Knicks beat reporter Marc Berman (Twitter link). Cam Reddish‘s stint with the Knicks didn’t help matters, as he’s also represented by Klutch Sports. The frosty relationship between Rose and Paul developed during the LeBron James saga — Rose was James’ agent before switching to Klutch.

New York, which didn’t have a first-round pick in Thursday’s draft, has reportedly been seeking ways to acquire another star. LaVine would certainly upgrade their offense — he averaged 24.8 points and 4.2 assists. However, he also brings a huge long-term salary concern for would-be trade partners. He’s entering the second year of his five-year, $215,159,700 contract.

The Knicks can put together an impressive package of picks and young players if the right deal comes along. They were reportedly involved in negotiations with the Wizards for Bradley Beal. A source told Bondy that the Knicks were not having ongoing discussions with the Clippers regarding a potential trade for Paul George. The Knicks reportedly had interest in George, then reconsidered given his age and injury history.

GM Scott Perry To Depart Knicks’ Organization

Knicks general manager Scott Perry will leave the organization once his contract expires this summer, Steve Popper of Newsday reports.

Perry joined New York’s front office in 2017. Current president of basketball operations Leon Rose, who was hired in 2020, gave him a contract extension two years ago.

However, Perry’s influence in the front office has waned as executive VP William Wesley and senior basketball consultant Gerrson Rosas have taken a bigger role in personnel moves.

Perry was instrumental in drafting RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson and signing Julius Randle as a free agent.

Perry has been a front office mainstay in the league since 2000, when he was hired by the Pistons. He was also an executive with Seattle in its last season before the franchise moved and had stints with Orlando and Sacramento. Before he was hired by the Knicks, Perry was part of the Kings group that drafted De’Aaron Fox.

Knicks Notes: Hart, McBride, Grimes, Brunson

Josh Hart‘s competitive fire was on display Saturday night in his first game with the Knicks, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Calling himself “a dog” in post-game interviews, Hart brought the defensive intensity the team was counting on when it acquired him Thursday in a four-team trade.

Hart delivered 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in 26 minutes. He played the entire fourth quarter, sinking a late three-pointer to help stave off a Jazz rally, and appears to be a new fan favorite at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m a guy that’s gonna bring it every night,” he said. “I’m a guy that’s gonna be physical. I’m a guy that’s gonna do the dirty work. Going to rebound, going to defend. Get on the floor for a loose ball and do those kind of things. I feel like that style fits every team, especially a New York team. That’s what this city is about and what the city builds off of. I take that with pride. I’m just a blue-collar guy; I think that’s really going to work well here.”

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Hart is expected to turn down his $13MM player option and become a free agent this summer, Bondy adds in a separate story. The Knicks have a few months to decide whether to make a long-term commitment to the 27-year-old guard, but with team president Leon Rose having served as Hart’s agent at CAA, a strong connection is already in place. “It’s definitely somewhere that I would definitely like to be,” Hart said of New York. “It’s my third time getting traded, sixth year in the league, fourth team, sixth head coach. It’s been a whirlwind. I didn’t think that was how my first six years were going to be, but I’m looking for a home, and I think this could be it.”
  • Hart’s arrival may mean reduced roles for Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes, observes Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. McBride didn’t play at all Saturday, while Grimes was limited to 22 minutes and wasn’t used in the fourth quarter. McBride had played in the last 35 games and had been part of the rotation since early December. “Those things are tough, but you always have to do what’s best for the team,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “What makes the team function best, and we’ll go from there.”
  • Jalen Brunson turned in his latest huge scoring performance since being snubbed for the All-Star Game, Sanchez notes in a separate piece. Brunson has averaged 31 PPG in the five games since the All-Star reserves were announced.

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.

New York Notes: Anunoby, Knicks Front Office, Robinson, Claxton

Prior to the team’s hot streak, someone within the Knicks organization reached out to the Raptors to inquire about a potential deal for OG Anunoby, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. That would have signaled a major roster shakeup. Anunoby is averaging 18.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. The Knicks would have needed to surrender serious assets to acquire Anunoby, who has two years left on his four-year, $72MM contract.

We have more from the New York teams:

  • In the same piece, Begley reports that the Knicks were a few defeats away from a major shakeup after getting blown out by Dallas on Dec. 3. Even before that loss, a top Eastern Conference executive tried to convey through back channels that he would be an ideal candidate for team president if Leon Rose lost his job.
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t always seemed particularly enamored with center Mitchell Robinson. But Thibodeau feels Robinson has been a major catalyst during the seven-game winning streak. “Every game, it’s protecting the rim, making good decisions, guarding the pick and roll and then offensively, his offensive rebounding, then putting pressure on the rim,” the coach said. Robinson is in the first year of a four-year, $60MM contract.
  • Nets center Nic Claxton recently declared he should be a prime candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award. His coach and teammates certainly value his rebounding and defense, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “He guards multiple positions for us … coming over to the weak side, blocking shots, putting pressure on the rim, rebounding,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “The games he doesn’t play, we miss him; it puts an extreme amount of pressure on other guys — there’s not another guy on our team that can do the things Nic does.”

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Mitchell, Melton, VanVleet

After an unsuccessful outing against his former team Saturday afternoon, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson sought to take some heat off coach Tom Thibodeau, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Brunson had a season-low 13 points and was minus-26 overall in his first game against Dallas since leaving in free agency.

The 21-point loss drew boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd as the Knicks suffered their seventh defeat in their last eight home games. Thibodeau has become a target for the fans, but Brunson insists the downturn isn’t his fault.

“Coach Thibs has done a great job,” Brunson said. “He’s been able to put us in positions where we need to succeed. I think he knows where to put those puzzle pieces. It’s just on us to actually execute and do things. So it’s just — I know he’s going to get a lot of the blame, guys are going to get some of the blame. It’s on us. We’re the players out there not battling. It’s his job to put us in positions, which he’s done.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks will get a reminder of their most significant decision of the summer when Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers come to town Sunday night, Bondy adds. Team president Leon Rose’s refusal to part with a large amount of draft capital after extensive trade talks with Utah is looking like a “backfire,” according to Bondy.
  • De’Anthony Melton is making an impact on defense for the Sixers after being acquired in a draft night trade, notes Spencer Davies of Basketball News. Melton is second in the league with 2.0 steals per game and ranks first overall with a 3.6% steal percentage. “I think De’Anthony’s a very easy guy to play with,” coach Doc Rivers said. “… He defends. And I think guys who defend always have a little more longitude to do whatever. Guys respect that. You want to get respect in a locker room? Go stop somebody and you’ll get it, and I think De’Anthony has that.”
  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet isn’t overreacting to two bad road games, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. VanVleet said the losses at New Orleans and Brooklyn can be part of a growing experience. “I think we’ve got to learn how to be a team,” he said. “We have to learn to play together a little bit more, be professional, be a little bit more ready to go. You can find excuses in this league every night — there are a million of them — or you can show up and play the game the way it is supposed to be played.”