Reggie Bullock

Knicks Notes: Trade Deadline, Randle, Bullock, Vildoza

The Knicks didn’t make any significant upgrades at the trade deadline and it may be coming back to haunt them in their opening-round series against Atlanta, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. New York trails 3-1 in the series and there’s no hint of a comeback. Coach Tom Thibodeau was hoping for an upgrade, with Norman Powell high on his wish list, but management viewed this season as a stepping stone while protecting their ample cap space for a potential summer bonanza.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Julius Randle has yet to return to his regular-season form and now it may be too late, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News notes. Randle is shooting 27% from the field in the series after winning the league’s Most Improved Player award. “This is all a learning experience,” he said. “I need to get better individually, we need to get better as a team.”
  • Reggie Bullock went scoreless in 34 minutes during Game 4 and Thibodeau attributes that to Bullock guarding Trae Young, Steve Popper of Newsday relays. “We’re asking him to do a lot,” he said. “He’s in a lot of actions offensively, but he’s guarding Trae. You’re using a lot of energy there.” Bullock will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • Luca Vildoza is out of quarantine but didn’t join the team in Atlanta, Mark Berman of the New York Post tweets. The Knicks signed the Argentinian guard to a four-year deal in early May but, according to Thibodeau, he’ll be added to the mix next season. “For later in the summer,” he said.

Knicks Notes: Bullock, Toppin, Quickley, Crowd Size

Reggie Bullock has taken advantage of the chance to prove he can be a long-term fixture with the Knicks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Bullock arrived at training camp with just a small guarantee on this season’s contract, but he quickly proved his worth to new coach Tom Thibodeau and earned a spot in the starting lineup.

“I felt like I was starting at zero, but I knew what type of coach he was,” Bullock said. “I never played for him, but I knew that he was a hard-nosed type of coach, and I felt like he could be a coach to bring the best out of me, which he is doing. The things that he expects on the offensive and defensive end plays to my skill set. … He has a lot of belief in me, I have a lot of belief in him to prepare our team and myself, second to none in this league.”

Bullock is New York’s best perimeter defender and a dangerous outside shooter, connecting at 41% from beyond the arc this season. He figures to be an offseason priority for the Knicks in free agency and would love to get a long-term deal to stay with the team.

“I found a home,” said Bullock, who has played for five teams in eight seasons. “I’m just happy and excited to have actually found a place where a coach and organization believe in the things that I do on both ends of the floor.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Rookie forward Obi Toppin is likely to see his playing time reduced in the first-round series against Atlanta, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Sources tell Berman that the Hawks expect to see more minutes for Julius Randle and veteran backup Taj Gibson, who may be used at power forward as well as center, and fewer for Toppin.
  • Fellow rookie Immanuel Quickley will continue to play an important role in the playoffs, Berman adds in the same story. Quickley is looking forward to the postseason opportunity after having the NCAA tournament canceled last year. “When you play in postseason on any level, the level of intensity is intensified,” he said. “It’s usually low-scoring and defense. Just watching it all my life, watching the playoffs, it’s always been kind of cool. It’s going to be even more fun to be out there with my teammates.’’
  • After playing without home crowds for most of the season, the Knicks are excited to have 15,000 fans at Madison Square Garden for today’s playoff opener, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “I do think the home crowd is going to help us a lot,” RJ Barrett said. “It was loud when it was 2,000 people in here. 15,000 is going to be crazy.”

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Bullock, Sixers, Bruce Brown

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam chatted about the challenges facing the relocated club this year and the expectations that arrive with his status as a maximum-salaried player this week, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN details.

“It’s different, it’s crazy, you get so much more attention and it’s something that I’m not used to and it’s not really me or my character,” Siakam said of life as a max player.

“Adversity, obviously, is not something that you want to go through but sometimes it defines the type of person you are,” he added, referring to the team’s struggles this season following its temporary move to Tampa from Toronto during the pandemic.

The Raptors, winners of the 2019 NBA title, will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2012/13 season, well before Siakam was drafted. “I know that I’m a better player coming out of this and just going through the different struggles and stuff, and I’m excited about the future,” he said.​

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks are hoping to re-sign shooting guard Reggie Bullock, an unrestricted free agent, during the summer, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. New York head coach Tom Thibodeau praised Bullock as the team’s “unsung hero” this past weekend. The club will hold Bullock’s Early Bird rights during the upcoming 2021 offseason. Berman notes that sources around the league believe Bullock could fetch a deal in the vicinity of the full mid-level exception ($9-10MM). He is making $4.2MM this season.
  • As the playoffs near, the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Sixers could use their final four regular season games to figure out the back end of their rotation, opines Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey says that reserve center Dwight Howard‘s place appears secure, but that Philadelphia still seems to need to experiment with minute allocations for guards Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, George Hill, Shake Milton, and Furkan Korkmaz.
  • The injury-plagued Nets are dealing with another banged-up rotation player, after guard Bruce Brown fractured his nose during a team practice, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. The (now quite literally) tough-nosed Brown will play through the injury in a mask against the Bulls tonight, and the club will then equip him with another mask back in Brooklyn.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. 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 Atlantic Division:

Blake Griffin, Nets, 32, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.23MM deal in 2021

Well, Griffin proved he could still dunk after agreeing to a buyout with the Pistons and joining the Eastern Conference favorite. He’s also proven that he’s a shadow of the All-Star performer who carried Detroit into the playoffs just two years ago. Other than a 17-point outing against his former team and drawing some charges, Griffin has made a minimal impact with Brooklyn. He went scoreless in 41 minutes of floor time against the Lakers and Timberwolves this week before getting rested on the second game of a back-to-back. Griffin might go from a max player to a veteran’s minimum backup as soon as this offseason.

Dwight Howard, Sixers, 35, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Speaking of former perennial All-Stars playing on a veteran’s minimum contract, Howard has managed to stay healthy again after playing just nine games for Washington two seasons ago. Howard helped the Lakers win last season’s title but his production has dropped as a second-unit center in Philadelphia. His turnovers are up and his field goal percentage is down, though he does lead the league in one category – most technical fouls. Howard has nearly as many turnovers (12) as shot attempts (16) in the last six games. Perhaps Howard will get another minimum contract to stay in the league but it appears the end is near for an NBA career that began in 2004.

Reggie Bullock, Knicks, 30, SF/SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $8.2MM deal in 2020

While the playing time of the Knicks’ younger players has fluctuated quite a bit under Tom Thibodeau, Bullock has been a steady presence in the starting lineup. He’s the quintessential 3-and-D player, spacing the floor offensively and providing hard-nosed defense at the other end. Bullock is attempting 8.1 field goals per game, with 5.6 of them beyond the arc. He’s made 39.9% of his long-range attempts, connecting with incredible consistency. He drained 40% in both January and February, 40.5% in March and 43.1% this month. He’ll be in demand when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer.

Gary Trent Jr., Raptors, 22, SG/SF, (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018

The Raptors traded away Norman Powell to the Trail Blazers in part because they weren’t sure they could re-sign him in unrestricted free agency. Trent, one of the two players they acquired for Powell, will be a restricted free agent this summer. While Toronto can match any offer, the team may have a dilemma if another suitor makes a big offer to the young sharpshooter. He’s averaging 17.4 PPG in 11 games with the Raptors, including a 44-point eruption against Cleveland on Saturday when he missed just two of 19 field-goal attempts. He tossed in a clunker against Atlanta on Tuesday but no doubt, Trent is hitting restricted free agency at a very good time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Drummond, Robinson, Ntilikina

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has a reputation for preferring veterans over young players and other future assets, but he indicated the organization might not take that approach this year, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks have exceeded expectations so far, holding a 21-21 record that has them tied for sixth place in the East. Although there’s temptation to add talent to end a long playoff drought, Thibodeau suggested the team is willing to take a long-term approach.

“It’s important for us to go step-by-step and not skip over things,’’ he said. “The whole goal this year is to build a foundation and the right type of habits. Wherever that leads us, it leads us. Our players have responded. In this league, you’re always looking for player development first, then look at the draft and free agency, then trades. You never stop working in all four areas. Every day it’s how can we make the team better. That’s where our focus lies with coaches, front office and players. We’re all tied together. We’re going to do what’s best for the Knicks.’’

Berman notes that two of the most prominent names the Knicks have been tied to — Rockets guard Victor Oladipo and Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball — will be free agents this summer and may be obtainable without breaking up the young core.

There’s more from New York:

  • Andre Drummond could be worth watching if he reaches a buyout with the Cavaliers, Berman adds in the same story, but there’s “mutual disinterest” between the Knicks and Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who plays the same position as Julius Randle.
  • Center Mitchell Robinson could be back Sunday after missing 15 games with a broken hand, but he may not rejoin the starting lineup right away, Berman states in a separate story. Nerlens Noel has been effective in his place, and Robinson may return on a minutes restriction. “I want to see how that goes,” Thibodeau said. “There’s great versatility there. Eventually, he’ll get back to starting. Whether that happens right away or down the road … I’m comfortable with both guys in that role. And I’m really comfortable with Taj (Gibson) as well. That gives us great depth at that position.”
  • Frank Ntilikina, who’s on the final year of his rookie contract and will have a $15.6MM cap hold if he receives a qualifying offer, seems to be the most likely Knicks player to be traded, according to Steve Popper of NewsdayAlec Burks, Reggie Bullock and Elfrid Payton all have expiring contracts, but an Eastern Conference scout told Popper their trade value is limited to a second-round pick apiece.

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Dinwiddie, Chiozza, Bullock

A rash of backcourt injuries have allowed 6’5″ combo guard Frank Ntilikina to become the primary option at backup point guard for the Knicks, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Rookie Immanuel Quickley bruised his hip in the Knicks’ season opener, Dennis Smith Jr. will be missing all of the club’s current four-game road trip due to a bruised quadriceps muscle, and veteran off-guard Austin Rivers has yet to suit up for New York as he deals with a pulled groin.

Ntilikina has been striving to improve his jump shooting during this young season. “Working [on it] is the key,” he said. “The answer to probably everything in this game is probably work and just treat it with confidence.”

There’s more out of the Empire State:

  • With guard Spencer Dinwiddie likely out for the season due to a partially torn ACL, some league executives weighed in on whether or not he will pick up his $12.3MM player option with the Nets for the 2021/22 NBA season, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Dinwiddie released a statement on his Instagram page, expressing his hope to beat the odds as he works to recover from this latest knee issue.
  • Two-way Nets guard Chris Chiozza is currently the biggest rotational beneficiary of Dinwiddie’s absence, according to Mollie Walker of the New York Post. “You never want to see your teammate get hurt and praying for Spencer, we’re here for him, hopefully he makes a speedy return,” Chiozza said. “He’s a big part of this team. While he’s out, we take it, everybody takes it, to do a little bit more than we’ve been doing, collectively.”
  • After battling health issues for much of his 2019/20 season with the Knicks, veteran swingman Reggie Bullock has managed to contribute on both sides of the court to the injury-depleted club this year, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. “Well, his defense has been terrific,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So just watching him move on the court he’s obviously not laboring like he did last year. I think health is the big thing and he’s been a good pro wherever he’s been.” Bullock just poured in 17 points in almost 41 minutes to help the Knicks beat the Cavaliers tonight, 95-86. He connected on five of his nine three-point attempts.

Knicks To Guarantee Reggie Bullock’s 2020/21 Salary

The Knicks must make decisions today on whether or not to guarantee 2020/21 salaries for several veteran players. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post (via Twitter), the team has made at least one of those decisions and will retain Reggie Bullock through his salary guarantee deadline.

Bullock, 29, missed the start of the 2019/20 season due to a back injury, but ended up appearing in 29 games for the Knicks, starting 19 of them. He averaged 8.1 PPG and 2.3 RPG on .402/.333/.810 shooting in 23.6 MPG.

While Bullock didn’t have his best year, he’s a solid defender and shooter, having made 39.2% of his career three-point attempts before last season. His salary is also pretty affordable at just $4.2MM. With that figure locked in, he’s now on track to become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

Before the end of the day, the Knicks will also have to make a decision on Bobby Portis‘ team option ($15MM) and determine whether they’ll guarantee salaries for Taj Gibson ($9.45MM), Elfrid Payton ($8MM), and Wayne Ellington ($8MM).

Begley’s Latest: Gallinari, Green, Knicks, Wood, Portis

Some members within the Mavericks are interested in pursuing Danilo Gallinari once free agency opens on Nov. 20, according to Ian Begley of SNY. Dallas will likely join a significant number of suitors for Gallinari, with rival teams expecting that he’ll join a contender if the Thunder wind up trading Chris Paul.

Gallinari, 32, is one of the most intriguing forwards on the open market, averaging 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season with Oklahoma City. The Mavericks pursued Gallinari prior to last season’s trade deadline, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, but backed away upon learning that he wouldn’t sign an extension with the team. Some members of the Knicks have also labeled him as a potential target, Begley notes.

In addition to Gallinari, Begley touched on a number of other topics related to free agency, including how teams such as the Lakers and Knicks are thinking:

  • The Lakers are willing to discuss trades involving Danny Green, Begley reports. Green, an 11-year NBA veteran, struggled with his shooting in the playoffs, connecting on 34% of his attempts from behind-the-arc. He’s a career 39% shooter from deep in the postseason.
  • Should the Knicks acquire Paul or Russell Westbrook in a trade, multiple teams expect the club to pursue veterans in free agency with hopes of making a playoff push this season, Begley notes. New York last made the playoffs during the 2012/13 season.
  • Rival teams interested in Christian Wood believe the Knicks have made him a No. 1 target for free agency, according to Begley. Wood averaged 13.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 21.4 minutes per game with the Pistons last season. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent.
  • Opposing teams also expect the Knicks to decline the $15.75MM team option on forward Bobby Portis, which would allow the 25-year-old to enter free agency. The current plan for New York includes retaining Reggie Bullock ($4.2MM partially guaranteed salary) and exercising the $8MM team option on guard Elfrid Payton, though Begley cautions this could change.

Atlantic Notes: Bullock, Harris, Richardson, Horford, Raptors

Knicks guard Reggie Bullock has a team-friendly, non-guaranteed $4.2MM contract for next season and there are good reasons to retain him, including his friendship with Chris Paul, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Bullock provides a veteran presence along with his reputation for being a 3-and-D wing. New York would still take a cap hit of $1MM if it doesn’t guarantee Bullock’s contract prior to free agency. Bullock’s close friendship with Paul, a potential trade target for his former agent and current Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose, also works in his favor.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets can’t afford to let wing Joe Harris in free agency, Mike Mazzeo of Forbes.com opines. The Nets own Harris’ Bird rights, so they can make him a substantial offer even if it pushes them deeper into luxury tax territory. If they let him walk, they’d only have the taxpayers’ mid-level exception to replace him. Brooklyn is expected to have competition for Harris’ services with estimates that it would need to offer Harris a $15MM starting salary to retain him.
  • Josh Richardson and Al Horford will be traded this offseason, The Athletic duo of Rich Hofmann and Derek Bodner project in an examination of the Sixers‘ roster. In other predictions, they believe young defensive stalwart Matisse Thybulle could be added a trade sweetener in a deal involving Richardson or Horford, while Alec Burks will leave in free agency.
  • San Diego State guard Malachi Flynn and Kansas guard Devon Dotson worked out for the Raptors on Sunday, Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated tweets. Colorado forward Tyler Bey also worked out for Toronto, Alex Kennedy of Basketball News tweets. In ESPN’s ranking of best available prospects, Bey is slotted at No. 28 with Dotson at No. 33 and Flynn at No. 38. The Raptors own the No. 29 pick.

Eastern Notes: Mahinmi, Sabonis, Nunn, Knicks

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said on Wednesday that center Ian Mahinmi will not play in tomorrow’s regular-season finale against the Celtics, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).

Since the Wizards landed in Orlando for the seeding games, Mahinmi has not played a single minute. This season, the 33-year-old center only played in 38 games, averaging 7.4 PPG and 5.7 RPG.

The Wizards were expecting Mahinmi to be their veteran rim protector when they signed him to a four-year, $64MM contract in the summer of 2016. However, that never came to fruition due to injuries. Over the last two seasons, Mahinmi has only played in 72 games. The veteran center is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Here’s more from across the Eastern Conference: