RJ Barrett

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Rose, Barrett, Robinson

A right quad contusion may force Jalen Brunson to miss his first game since signing with the Knicks, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post. Brunson suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Friday’s loss to Portland. He sat out today’s practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday when New York hosts the Grizzlies.

Brunson has been worth the $104MM investment that the Knicks made in free agency, leading the team with 21.8 points and 6.5 assists per game through the first quarter of the season. He has also become an on-court leader for a franchise that spent years searching for an answer at point guard.

“The leadership, I think point guard is a leadership position, and it helps you to manage and control the team,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think Jalen is so team-oriented, I think it makes your team play unselfishly. I think we’re scoring a lot of points, and he gives us an attack, a pace to the game, downhill, guys are playing off each other. And if you move and you’re open on a cut, he’s gonna hit you. He wants to get the ball up the floor fast and when we do that, I think it presents a lot of easy scoring opportunities for everybody.” 

There’s more from New York City:

  • Derrick Rose participated in most of today’s practice after missing the past two games with an injured toe, Botte adds. Thibodeau said Rose looked “better,” but he’s still questionable for Sunday. Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride figure to see additional playing time if Brunson and Rose are out.
  • RJ Barrett‘s extended shooting slump continued Friday, but he told reporters, “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine,” writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Barrett made 6-of-22 shots against the Trail Blazers and is now 36-of-114 in his last seven games. Thibodeau thought Barrett was too focused on trying to draw fouls rather than attacking the basket, and Barrett seemed to agree. “They were getting everything, I thought I would get some. Sheesh,” he said, referencing Portland’s 51 free throw attempts. “Second half I started going in more aggressively, trying to finish. I played a little better.”
  • Mitchell Robinson, who had to leave Monday’s game due to pain in his right knee, admitted that the knee still isn’t 100% but he’s trying to be available for the team, Braziller adds. Robinson played 23 minutes Friday with 12 points and eight rebounds.

11 Players Affected By Poison Pill Provision In 2022/23

The term “poison pill” doesn’t actually show up in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, but it’s used colloquially to refer to a provision in the CBA that affects players who recently signed rookie scale contract extensions.

As we explain in our glossary entry, the so-called poison pill provision applies when a player who signed a rookie scale extension is traded before the extension takes effect.

In that scenario, the player’s incoming value for the receiving team for matching purposes is determined by averaging his current-year salary and the salaries in each year of his new extension. His current team, on the other hand, simply treats his current-year salary as the outgoing figure for matching purposes.

For instance, Heat guard Tyler Herro is earning a $5,722,116 salary in 2022/23, but signed a four-year, $120MM extension that will begin in ’23/24. Therefore, if Miami wanted to trade Herro this season, his outgoing value for salary-matching purposes would be $5,722,116 (this year’s salary), while his incoming value for the team acquiring him would be $25,144,423 (this year’s salary, plus the $120MM extension, divided by five years).

[RELATED: 2022 NBA Rookie Scale Extension Recap]

Most of the players who signed rookie scale extensions aren’t candidates to be traded anytime soon. But even in the event that a team does want to look into trading one of these recently extended players, the gap between the player’s incoming trade value and outgoing trade value could make it a real challenge to find a deal that works for both sides.

The “poison pill” provision applies to 11 players who signed rookie scale extensions in 2022. Here are those players, along with their outgoing salaries and incoming salaries for trade purposes:

Player Team Outgoing trade value Incoming trade value
Zion Williamson NOP $13,534,817 $34,639,136
Ja Morant MEM $12,119,440 $34,403,240
RJ Barrett NYK $10,900,635 $23,580,127
De’Andre Hunter ATL $9,835,881 $19,967,176
Darius Garland CLE $8,920,795 $33,870,133
Tyler Herro MIA $5,722,116 $25,144,423
Brandon Clarke MEM $4,343,920 $10,868,784
Nassir Little POR $4,171,548 $6,434,310
Jordan Poole GSW $3,901,399 $26,380,280
Keldon Johnson SAS $3,873,025 $15,574,605
Kevin Porter Jr. HOU $3,217,631 $15,234,726

Once the 2023/24 league year begins, the poison pill provision will no longer apply to these players. At that time, the player’s ’23/24 salary would represent both his outgoing and incoming value.

Until then though, the gap between those outgoing and incoming figures will make it tricky for these players to be moved, with one or two exceptions.

The small difference between Little’s incoming and outgoing trade figures, for instance, wouldn’t be very problematic if the Blazers wanted to trade him. But the much larger divide between Poole’s incoming and outgoing numbers means there’s virtually no chance he could be moved to an over-the-cap team in 2022/23, even if the Warriors wanted to.

New York Notes: Fournier, Knicks, Players-Only Dinner, Nets Injuries

Evan Fournier struggled in a starting role and has been even worse coming off the bench, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes. The Knicks shooting guard has missed all 10 of his shot attempts in the last two games and he has scored just 16 points in six games as a reserve.

“The thing is when you only shoot three times a game … it adds up. It adds up. And at the end of the season, you look at your [shooting] percentage and it’s not good,” Fournier said. “But it’s just hard to find a rhythm right now. I think not knowing the rotation, what’s coming your way, et cetera, et cetera. I have to do a better job of all that and just being in the moment, being ready for whatever.”

Fournier’s four-year, $73MM contract has turned into an albatross. He’s in the second year of the deal, though the club holds an option on the final year.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • The defensive breakdowns the Knicks displayed while giving up 145 points to Oklahoma City on Sunday could be due to a number of factors, writes Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post (subscription required). A potential solution could be a coaching change and Tom Thibodeau is rumored to be on the hot seat. Rotation changes, or perhaps a blockbuster trade, could alternatively turn the team’s fortunes, Sanchez adds.
  • Could the Knicks have solved their problems over dinner? Julius Randle organized a players-only dinner in Utah on Monday as the team began a road trip, Zach Brazilier of the New York Post reports. “It was good, good to have a team dinner like that,” RJ Barrett said. “Try to figure this out the best that we can. We all care, trying to get this going on the right track.”
  • Injuries to Seth Curry, T.J. Warren and Ben Simmons, plus the ongoing suspension of Kyrie Irving, have forced the Nets to go deeper into their bench and alter their rotations, according to Ethan Sears of the New York Post. “It just puts us straight on everyone else,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We put David Duke in, Patty [Mills] earlier, Markieff [Morris] earlier in our normal rotation. … It puts a strain on us when we are not completely whole, for sure.”

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Brunson, Grimes, Robinson, Fournier

As the Knicks were being torched for 145 points by the Thunder Sunday afternoon, two players they heavily invested in this summer were kept on the bench for most of the second half, writes Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post.

RJ Barrett, who signed a four-year extension in September, picked up his fourth foul about two minutes into the half and never returned. Jalen Brunson, the team’s top target in free agency, checked out with 4:46 left in the third quarter and spent the rest of the game on the bench. Both players said they accepted the decision by coach Tom Thibodeau.

“I think it’s time (to sit) when you’re fouling enough,” Barrett said. “It falls on me for sure because I was guarding Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), and he got me into some foul trouble. And that’s not good. I got to do a better job of not fouling.”

“I wouldn’t have played myself either, the way I was playing defensively,” Brunson added.

Immanuel Quickley and Cam Reddish sparked a late rally that ultimately fell short, and they played most of the fourth quarter alongside Julius Randle, Evan Fournier and Jericho Sims.

“We just got behind by so much,” Thibodeau explained when asked about Barrett’s benching. “We were looking for life, and that group that was in there gave us a little bit of a spark, and so that’s what we went with.” 

There’s more from New York:

  • Quentin Grimes logged just eight minutes Sunday in his third game since returning from soreness in his left foot, Sanchez notes in the same story. Thibodeau has called Grimes a “situational” player for now because the injury forced him to miss so much time since the start of training camp.
  • Mitchell Robinson has begun on-court workouts as he recovers from a sprained knee, but hasn’t resumed contact drills, Sanchez adds.
  • Being removed from the starting lineup hasn’t helped Fournier with his shooting slump, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Fournier misfired on all five of his shots from the field Sunday and has made just 6-of-31 over his last seven games. “I’m not gonna lie; I’m getting stiff on the bench now because I’m a little bit older. My knees can’t take it anymore,” Fournier joked. “But yeah, it’s not an excuse at all. I just have to figure it out myself so I can help the team. That’s all I can say, really.”

Knicks Notes: Gilgeous-Alexander, Brunson, Barrett, Walker

The Knicks weren’t willing to part with a major portion of their draft assets to land Donovan Mitchell, but Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might be worth the gamble, writes Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. New York fans will get to see the talented guard in person Sunday afternoon when Oklahoma City comes to Madison Square Garden.

Although SGA has often said that he prefers to remain with the Thunder — and repeated that sentiment Friday night — his trade value might be too tempting for a franchise that’s still in the rebuilding stage. Through 11 games, Gilgeous-Alexander ranks sixth in the league in scoring at 30.5 PPG and he’s averaging 4.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals as well.

Gilgeous-Alexander would fit the Knicks’ fascination with Kentucky players, and Sanchez states that team scouts saw plenty of him in college before New York took his teammate, Kevin Knox, with the No. 9 pick in 2018. SGA also has a connection with RJ Barrett as they’re set to join forces for Team Canada at the 2024 Olympics.

Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti has been willing to trade away stars in the past, and if he decides to move Gilgeous-Alexander in exchange for draft picks, New York is in a strong position to make the best offer, Sanchez contends.

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jalen Brunson believes Barrett has All-Star potential, per Ian O’Connor of The New York Post. “I think he can be a very impactful player, I think he can lead a franchise, and that’s what he was picked here to do,” Brunson told reporters Friday after Barrett’s 30-point outburst in a win over the Pistons. “He can do it. I have the utmost faith in him. He works very hard. He has a great demeanor about how he plays. You never see when he’s frustrated, you never see when he’s having the game of his life. … It shows he’s not afraid of the moment, not afraid of anything. He’s capable of doing a lot of big things.” 
  • Former Knicks guard Kemba Walker is being patient as he waits for a chance to return to the NBA, relays Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Appearing this week on a podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Walker explained what went wrong after he signed with New York last summer. “When the opportunity came about, I was über-excited,” he said. “But unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for me. Individually, I didn’t really fit the system and what those guys were trying to do over there. It just wasn’t for me.” 
  • Because the Knicks don’t have a true first option to lead their offense, they have to rely on effort and hard work more than other teams around the league, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. When that’s not present, like in Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Nets, the results can be embarrassing.

Eastern Notes: Mobley, Koloko, Raptors, Barrett, Terry

The Cavaliers announced on Monday that power forward Evan Mobley would miss one-to-two weeks due to a right ankle sprain. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff is confident that he’ll have Mobley back in action by opening night, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.

“We’ll always be safe with our guys, but right now there isn’t a concern that he would miss the start of the season,” Bickerstaff said.

In the meantime, Bickerstaff will look at different combinations during the preseason.

“It gives other people an opportunity to play different spots, and get more minutes and more reps and allows us to get more things on film that we can kind of dissect,” he said.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Raptors went most of last season with a rotation of players no taller than 6’9”. That could change this season if 7’1” Christian Koloko can establish a rotation spot, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. Coach Nick Nurse wants Koloko to become a shot-blocking presence. “For me, he’s a shot blocker, first and foremost,” Nurse said. “I’ll use the same analogy as I used (about) getting to the rim: If you want to block shots, you better take some swings out there. And I want to up his number of swings he takes at the ball.”
  • The Raptors might have to take a small step back this season to set up a bigger step forward in 2024 or 2025, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines in his season preview. Hollinger forecasts a top-six finish in the Eastern Conference with the possibility of the Raptors advancing out of the first round but no further.
  • Knicks guard RJ Barrett received his lucrative rookie scale extension this offseason but still feels he doesn’t receive the same accolades as his peers, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Besides the fans, which we do have a lot of fans, everybody else really doesn’t like us,” Barrett said. “Everybody else doesn’t like us. I mean, I don’t know. It’s weird. I’ve gotten respect, but at the same time, there’s a lot of disrespect. But that’s fine. All the guys that they want to put in front of me or whatever, I’m in their heads. So it really doesn’t matter.”
  • Bulls first-rounder Dalen Terry won’t mind going to the G League to develop his skills. He just wants to get playing time this season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “Do whatever I can do to stay on the floor,” Terry said.

Knicks Notes: Reddish, Toppin, Barrett, SG, Barrett

Knicks wing Cam Reddish says he didn’t request a trade this offseason, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter links), who points out that Marc Berman of The New York Post didn’t actually report that Reddish requested a trade, only that the 23-year-old preferred a change of scenery and a chance for a “bigger opportunity.”

That might seem like semantics, but there’s definitely a distinction between formally requesting a trade and what a player’s preference might be. Reddish only appeared in 15 games for the Knicks after they traded for him last season, averaging just 14.3 minutes per contest. When asked if the Knicks have made it clear what he needs to do to receive regular playing time, Reddish admits he isn’t sure.

I’m still figuring that out. That’s actually a really good question,” Reddish said, per Ethan Sears of The New York Post. “I’m still figuring that out, trying to find my role where I fit in. I’m really willing to do whatever it takes to win. Whatever that role is, whatever it may be, that’s fine with me. We’re winning, we all look good.”

Considering his lack of a clear rotation role, Reddish was then asked if he wanted to stay with the Knicks, but gave a non-answer.

I control what I can control,” he said. “So minutes and all that stuff have nothing to do with me. I just come in and do my job. Work as hard as I can every single day. I’m available, I’m healthy. So whatever happens, happens.”

For his part, head coach Tom Thibodeau was noncommittal about Reddish’s role, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv relays.

The players are going to earn what they get. We have good depth (at wing). I can’t tell you right now who’s in the rotation, who’s not in the rotation,” Thibodeau said on Wednesday when asked if he thinks Reddish will be in the rotation this season. “That’ll be earned. And then if someone’s not in the rotation initially, doesn’t mean that they stay there.”

If he doesn’t receive a rookie scale extension before next month’s deadline, Reddish will be a restricted free agent in 2023 if the Knicks issue a qualifying offer.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Third-year forward Obi Toppin spent the offseason working on his jump shot and defense, Sears writes in another article for The New York Post. Toppin says he feels better about his perimeter defense heading into 2022/23. “Guarding guards like Jalen [Brunson], for instance, in pickup games here or guarding guards like Coby White in L.A. … helped me a lot,” Toppin said. “I feel like even if I can’t get down low, I have to find a way to stay in front of them, still contest their shots and make it hard for them to do things. I feel like I worked on that this summer and I’m a lot better now.”
  • Thibodeau didn’t sound enthusiastic about having Toppin and Julius Randle share the frontcourt at times, Begley notes. The Knicks will “take a look” at the pairing during preseason, according to Thibodeau, who says the duo hasn’t been effective in practices over the past two years. As Begley observes, if Toppin and Randle don’t play much together, an increase in Toppin’s minutes will likely have to come at Randle’s expense — Randle has averaged 36.4 minutes per night over the past two seasons.
  • Zach Braziller of The New York Post (members-only link) explores the pros and cons of who should start at shooting guard between Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes. Braziller ultimately concludes that Grimes is the better fit due to his defense and upside, though he understands why Thibodeau values Fournier’s outside shooting and experience. Thibodeau considers Fournier the frontrunner for the job. Both players sat out today’s practice, per Begley (Twitter links). Grimes is considered day-to-day with left foot soreness, while Fournier has soreness after competing at EuroBasket. Neither issue is considered major.
  • RJ Barrett showcased his ability get into the paint last season, but he needs to improve his finishing to take his game to the next level, Katz writes for The Athletic. Out of 44 qualifying players who took five-plus shots at the rim in ’21/22, Barrett ranked last in field goal percentage, Katz notes. According to DunksAndThrees.com, Barrett shot just 52% at the rim last season, which ranked in the ninth percentile of all players.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks Rotation, Barrett, Udoka

Knicks team president Leon Rose will not impose minutes limits or rotational guidelines on head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s lineups this season in New York, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “We love our young players, too,” Rose said during an interview with the team’s cable channel MSG Network.

“Thibs decides who plays, how many minutes, what the rotations are. The one thing I know about Thibs – he’s going to make decisions based on who is going to win us a basketball game. That’s his role and I have full confidence in that.” During a lottery-bound year last season, the team’s intriguing young players Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes were all still given relatively limited run in favor of the team’s older starters.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Though newly-extended Knicks small forward RJ Barrett may still have All-Star upside, he has plenty to prove in New York, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I will not be surprised if that contract ends up looking as an overpay,” an NBA source tells Berman. “But I don’t blame the Knicks for signing him to an extension. Expectations aside, he’s improved into a solid starter in the NBA who can provide offense. I don’t think he’s good enough to be a top-three guy on your team. But some views on him are colored by expectations as a No. 3 pick in the [2019] draft.”
  • Celtics employees are grappling with fallout from the bombshell news of Boston’s year-long suspension of head coach Ime Udoka following a workplace affair with a female staff member, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic“We have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought yesterday was really hard on them,” team president Brad Stevens said on Friday in addressing rampant online speculation about the identity of the female staffer with whom Udoka engaged in an affair. “I think that nobody can control Twitter speculation… But I do think we as an organization have a responsibility to make sure we’re there to support them now, because a lot of people were dragged unfairly into that.”

Knicks Notes: L. Rose, Brunson, Barrett, Thibodeau

Even though his pursuit of Donovan Mitchell fell through, Knicks president Leon Rose said on Friday in a television interview that he’s “thrilled” with the roster heading into training camp, relays Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Bondy points out that Rose made his comments to MSG Network, which is owned by Knicks owner James Dolan. Under Dolan’s direction, the team has been boycotting outside media apart from sessions that are mandated by the league.

“We went through that process (of trying to trade for Mitchell) and at the end of the day we made a decision to stay put,” Rose said. “And we’re thrilled with where we are. Taking a look at the summer, we feel great about what transpired.”

Rose emphasized “internal stability” that was created by re-signing Mitchell Robinson, giving RJ Barrett a four-year, $107MM extension that carries the largest yearly salary in team history and retaining the team’s 11 first-round picks over the next seven years. Rose also touted the free agency addition of Jalen Brunson, who is being counted on to solve a long-standing problem at point guard.

“He fills one of the biggest voids that we have. The starting point guard,” Rose said. “That is such an important role on our team. We needed that person that was going stabilize us.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Even though he got his extension, Barrett was treated poorly by the Knicks this summer, Bondy contends in a separate story. Barrett had to listen to weeks of rumors that he was headed to Utah as part of the package for Mitchell, and Bondy called the eventual extension announcement “sloppy” because it was tweeted by the team shortly after news broke that Mitchell was headed to Cleveland. The Knicks also didn’t have a press conference to celebrate Barrett’s extension because of Dolan’s media blackout.
  • Coach Tom Thibodeau may start to feel some heat if the Knicks get off to a bad start, Bondy adds. Thibodeau was criticized last year for not trusting his young players, and he may become an easy scapegoat for management.
  • Zach Braziller of The New York Post (subscription required) grades the Knicks’ offseason moves, giving high marks to the addition of Brunson (B+) and the signing of backup center Isaiah Hartenstein (A-). He was less enthusiastic about the decision to hang onto draft assets instead of cashing them in for Mitchell (C+) and cites the risks of giving $60MM over four years to Robinson considering his injury history (C-).

Atlantic Notes: Grimes, Toppin, Celtics, Warren

Second-year guard Quentin Grimes could replace Evan Fournier in the Knicks‘ starting lineup, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. When New York signed Jalen Brunson this summer, there were concerns that he and Fournier might not provide enough defense as a backcourt combination.

Begley states that starting Grimes as the shooting guard and having Fournier come off the bench was among several scenarios discussed by Knicks management this summer. Another option the team considered is moving RJ Barrett into the backcourt and giving Cam Reddish a chance to start at small forward.

Although Fournier would be an expensive reserve, Begley doesn’t believe New York should try to trade him. Begley notes that the Knicks need all the shooters they can get, which is why they signed Svi Mykhailiuk earlier this week.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Members of the Knicks‘ coaching staff believe Obi Toppin could see an increased role, Begley adds in the same piece. Toppin showed progress during his second NBA season and could become a starter if New York finds a taker for Julius Randle.
  • Despite some speculation to the contrary, Jay King of the Athletic hears that the Celtics don’t plan to reach out to a veteran big man to help replace Robert Williams (Twitter link). Sources tell King that the roster spot that formerly belonged to Bruno Caboclo will likely go to another young center or power forward. Williams will undergo arthroscopic surgery and is projected to miss four to six weeks.
  • Surgeries for both Williams and Danilo Gallinari have been scheduled for Thursday, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens called Williams’ injury “short term.”
  • T.J. Warren could be the Nets‘ leading scorer off the bench if he can overcome the foot problems that have plagued him for the past two seasons, Alex Schiffer of The Athletic writes in an overview of Brooklyn’s roster. Warren averaged 19.8 points per game and shot 40.3% from three-point range during his last healthy season. Schiffer believes the team is strong everywhere but center, and he points to Dwight Howard as a potential low-cost addition who could provide experience in the middle.