RJ Barrett

Atlantic Rumors: Knicks, Barrett, Harris, DiVincenzo

With the Knicks expecting to re-sign Mitchell Robinson, the next focus will be on finding a back-up center, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. There’s an opening with Nerlens Noel headed to the Pistons in a salary dump trade.

New York has expressed interest in several free agent centers, sources tell Begley. He adds that the team plans to convert two-way player Jericho Sims to a standard contract and may re-sign Taj Gibson if he’s needed for depth.

Isaiah Hartenstein could be under consideration, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, although several teams have interest in the Clippers center. The Knicks will aggressively pursue Hartenstein, Begley adds in a separate story, and may have interest in Andre Drummond as well.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Fischer cites “mutual interest” in an extension agreement between the Knicks and RJ Barrett (Twitter link from Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School). The 22-year-old swingman was the team’s second-leading scorer this season at 20.0 points per game.
  • The Sixers haven’t given up efforts to trade Tobias Harris, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Twitter link from Talkin’ NBA). Windhorst expects the team to shake up its roster to find players who fit better alongside Joel Embiid and James Harden.
  • The Raptors could have interest in Donte DiVincenzo, who is unrestricted after not receiving a qualifying offer from the Kings, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Grange says Toronto would have pursued Pat Connaughton if he hadn’t decided to exercise his player option with Milwaukee, adding that DiVincenzo is younger and better suited for a playmaking role.

New York Rumors: Knicks, Brunson, Burks, Nets, Claxton, Kyrie

The Knicks have “legitimate optimism” about their chances of signing free agent point guard Jalen Brunson, Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports, citing people in touch with the organization since the draft.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report conveyed a similar sentiment during his latest podcast, suggesting that the Knicks may have moved ahead of the Mavericks as the favorites to lock up Brunson long-term this offseason (hat tip to HoopsHype).

As Begley observes, the Knicks still have some work to do if they want to create the cap room necessary to make Brunson a strong offer — trading either Alec Burks or Nerlens Noel may be the most likely path to opening up that space.

Burks underwent foot surgery this spring after the Knicks’ season ended, and while that procedure has reportedly hurt his trade value, Begley says there are still multiple teams with some interest in the veteran guard, including the Celtics.

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

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic spoke to 16 officials in NBA front offices to get a sense of how much they’d be willing to offer RJ Barrett in extension talks this offseason if they were running the Knicks. According to Katz, the responses ranged from $15-30MM per year, with no one saying they would go up to the max. A four-year, $100MM offer was the most-cited suggestion, Katz adds.
  • In the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that restricted free agent center Nic Claxton appears likely to remain with the Nets (audio link via Jac Manuell of Nets Republic). “The word is amongst executives, I’ve talked to a couple of executives today who believe that Nic Claxton will be back with the Nets, that that’s been worked out,” Windhorst said. “I shouldn’t say it’s been worked out. There’s an understanding.”
  • In the same podcast, Windhorst wondered whether or not the standoff between the Nets and Kyrie Irving has truly been put to bed after Irving announced he’ll pick up his player option for 2022/23. “I was told that the option pick-up came as a total surprise to the Nets, that they found out when everybody else did,” Windhorst said, per NetsDaily. “… The people that I talk to in the league are skeptical that Kyrie is going to be ‘all for one and one for all’ on this. … The people who are in the business to earn the business are telling me, ‘No, Kyrie actually has leverage here,’ because now he’s making the $36 million, he’s got his money and he can make life hell.”
  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton considers what’s next for the Nets now that Irving has decided to opt in.

Knicks Notes: Brogdon, Sharpe, Barrett, Draft

While Indiana and New York have had conversations about Malcolm Brogdon, some Pacers officials came away from those talks under the impression that the Knicks are exploring a lot of point guard options and Brogdon isn’t necessarily at the top of their wish list, says Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

That doesn’t mean that the Knicks won’t ultimately make a deal for Brogdon, but most recent reports – including those from Begley – have suggested that Jalen Brunson is New York’s preferred target at point guard this summer.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jaden Ivey isn’t the only player on the Knicks’ radar in possible trade-up scenarios, according to Begley, who writes in a separate SNY.tv story that Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe also “fans in high places” within the organization. Sharpe appears likely to come off the board in the top 10, though that’s not a lock.
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic notes that the Knicks’ cap situation for the 2023 offseason will be impacted by where the NBA’s estimated average salary for 2022/23 ends up, since RJ Barrett‘s cap hold will depend on whether his ’22/23 salary ($10.9MM) is deemed to be below or above the league average. If his salary falls below the league average, his cap hold in 2023 would be $32.7MM; if it’s above the league average, his cap hold next year would be $27.25MM. The issue would be moot if Barrett signs an extension this offseason, since his cap hold for 2023/24 would be replaced by the first-year salary in his new deal.
  • In another story for The Athletic, Katz and draft guru Sam Vecenie explore how Thursday night might play out for the Knicks, who control the 11th and 42nd overall picks.
  • Zach Braziller of The New York Post also takes a look at the myriad options the Knicks will have available to them on draft night.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Nets Front Office, Raptors, Barrett

Celtics starting point guard Marcus Smart, already the Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Defensive First Teamer, has added another end-of-season honor to his résumé.

The league has given Smart the 2021/22 NBA Hustle Award, per a press statement. The award is given to players who contribute to their teams in ways that transcend traditional box score statistics, including deflections, screen assists, box-outs, loose balls recovered, drawn charges, and contested shots.

Smart previously won the award for the 2018/19 NBA season. With the hardware this year, he becomes the first-ever two-time recipient of the honor, which debuted during the 2016/17 season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • With Nets assistant coach Ama’re Stoudemire moving on and David Vanterpool and Adam Harrington also expected to join the exodus, head coach Steve Nash‘s bench could look quite different next season, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Former Hornets head coach James Borrego could be a target as a seasoned assistant for next season. Lewis adds that Brooklyn may make some changes to its front office personnel as well, mentioning that consultant Steve Clifford could also be looking to depart.
  • Raptors All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet may be open to signing an extension with Toronto, but his decision could ultimately be dictated by the free agent market this season, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic in a new mailbag. Koreen also projects the Raptors’ starting lineup heading into next year, identifies the team’s biggest offseason need, and more.
  • Knicks small forward RJ Barrett, who missed New York’s final game of the year with a knee sprain, appears to be recovered and ready to play for Team Canada in this summer’s World Cup qualifiers, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Knicks Notes: Davis, Brunson, Brogdon, Barrett

If the Knicks decide to address their backcourt needs through the draft, Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis could be an attractive option with the 11th pick, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York had representatives at his Pro Day on Saturday and interviewed him at last week’s draft combine.

“It went really well,’’ Davis said. “It was nice to see familiar face [in coach Tom Thibodeau] and somebody who’s been part of the game for a while. It was amazing to talk to him after seeing what he’s done with a lot of teams. He’s a very recognized coach in the league. I heard from people he likes guys like [me]. So hopefully I can fit in with them and they’ll be invested in me enough to draft me.’’

Davis is a strong defender – which likely appeals to Thibodeau – and a reliable mid-range shooter, but he only connected at 30.6% from beyond the arc this season with the Badgers. Berman sees the Spurs, who hold the ninth pick, as the greatest threat to take Davis before the Knicks are on the clock.

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks’ reported interest in Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson is legitimate, Fred Katz of The Athletic states in a mailbag column. Brunson could be the top point guard on the free agent market this summer, and his father, Rick, has strong connections with both Thibodeau and team president Leon Rose. However, Katz theorizes that the Mavs’ run to the Western Conference Finals could make them more eager to re-sign Brunson, who could command more than $20MM per year in a new contract.
  • Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News sees the Knicks as one of at least eight teams with interest in Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and examines the offers that each could make. For New York, he suggests a package of Alec Burks, Kemba Walker and a future protected first-round pick. Winfield would add Evan Fournier, Cam Reddish and another first-rounder if Indiana is also willing to part with center Myles Turner.
  • RJ Barrett has reached an agreement to play for the Canadian National Team, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. It’s a three-year commitment that will run through the Summer Olympics in 2024, and it will begin with the next round of World Cup qualifiers in July.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Horford, Knicks, Raptors

Joel Embiid won’t be named MVP this season, but that might benefit the Sixers in the rest of the playoffs, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. After a Monday report stated that Nuggets center Nikola Jokic will win the trophy for the second straight season, teammate Georges Niang expects Embiid to be motivated to prove the voters wrong.

“I mean, obviously congratulations to the Joker. But obviously I think you know, Joel deserved it,” Niang said. “But like I’ve said before, now you guys get to see a pissed-off Joel. So, you’re welcome.”

Embiid, who finished second in last year’s MVP race, was a strong candidate again, leading the league in scoring at 30.6 PPG to go along with 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 blocks per night. Coach Doc Rivers was among Embiid’s most vocal supporters, but he admits there’s a strong field of candidates.

“Listen, his résumé was great, and not taking anything away from Jokic either because he’s a hell of a player,” Rivers said. “I do think this whole analytics-driven society, world is out of control at times. Some of the measures they use, like watch the damn game and decide is what I’ve always said. But at the end of the day, if Joel had won, which I thought he should have, there would have been criticism that way, if Giannis (Antetokounmpo) had won. Only one guy can win it, unfortunately.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics big man Al Horford, who wanted to show after an unsuccessful stint in Philadelphia and a stopover in Oklahoma City that he could still play, certainly proved just that on Monday night when he put up 30 points (a personal playoff high) in a crucial victory over Milwaukee, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN and Jay King of The Athletic write. Horford’s big game came at just the right time for the Celtics, who were the only team last offseason that showed interest in trading for him without insisting that the Thunder give up an asset in a deal, says Chris Mannix of SI.com.
  • In a discussion with colleague Fred Katz about the Knicks‘ offseason, John Hollinger of The Athletic says he’s not sure he trusts center Mitchell Robinson enough to invest heavily in him, and suggests it might be prudent for the team to delay its decision on RJ Barrett‘s future until 2023. Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, while Barrett will be extension-eligible.
  • It should be a fairly low-stakes summer for the Raptors, since all of their most important players are under contract, but there will still be some roster and contract decisions to make, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes in his offseason primer.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

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

Knicks president Leon Rose expressed his support for head coach Tom Thibodeau in a recent interview and he backed it up in a letter sent to season-ticket holders this week, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. There was reportedly some desire for a coaching change among the front office during the season, but Rose’s letter leaves no doubt that Thibodeau will return.

“Our coaching staff is at the heart of our young core’s development and confidence to compete at the highest level, as well as our vets’ ability to produce in their roles,” Rose wrote. “We have seen multiple players take leaps over the last two seasons under Coach Thibodeau’s tutelage and commitment to playing the right way.”

Thibodeau was named Coach of the Year in 2021 after leading the Knicks to a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Although the team fell out of the playoffs this year, it posted a 12-7 record to finish the season with several veteran players unavailable.

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks had a large contingent at today’s playoff game between the Mavericks and Jazz, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Executive vice president William Wesley was there, along with front office members Allan Houston and Makhtar N’diaye and the scouting staff. Julius Randle met the group as well. The Knicks are known to have interest in Dallas guard Jalen Brunson in free agency, and there have been reports that they would make a trade offer for Utah’s Donovan Mitchell if he ever becomes available.
  • Rose will likely make at least one significant move this summer to shake up the roster, Ian Begley of SNY.tv. predicts in a column for Yahoo Sports. Begley notes that owner James Dolan has given Rose the financial freedom to make whatever changes he believes are necessary, so it would look bad for Rose if next year’s roster is virtually the same.
  • It may be difficult for the Knicks to finalize a rookie-scale extension with RJ Barrett during the offseason, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Barrett is eligible for a deal that would start around $37MM in the 2023/24 season. Gozlan believes the team will try to get him to take a starting salary in the $25MM range, similar to the extensions for Jaylen Brown and Jaren Jackson Jr. If Barrett doesn’t reach an agreement, he’ll be on track for restricted free agency next summer.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Randle, Robinson, Fournier

In a rare media appearance, Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose spoke to MSG Network’s Mike Breen over the weekend about the state of the franchise, head coach Tom Thibodeau, and forward Julius Randle, among other topics. Rose acknowledged it was a “disappointing” season in New York, but expressed confidence that the team’s long-term plan is on track.

“Absolutely. We have to stick to the plan,” he said, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “We have to build one block at a time, be patient. We feel like we’re set up, you know, really well as far as like, we’ve got 13 draft picks over the next three drafts, four first-round picks. With regard to opportunities that may come along, we’re very flexible. We want to show patience, we want to show prudence in making those decisions and continuing to develop what we have.”

Rose said the Knicks fell short of their goal of being a playoff team, but added that he saw some positive signs from the club during the season’s home stretch. Following a seven-game losing streak that began in February and ended in March, New York went 12-7 the rest of the way and got solid production from a handful of young players.

Jericho (Sims) going against starting centers, the 58th pick in the draft,” Rose said, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Obi (Toppin), the last week or so has just taken it to another level, scoring a career-high the last game. Quentin (Grimes), who had already established himself in the rotation. (Miles McBride) getting minutes and doing a good job with it. (Immanuel Quickley) playing point guard and showing some signs.

“And RJ (Barrett) is only 21 years old. We have nine players on our team who are 24 years old or younger and Julius is only 27, so … we look at that like development is key. And just in this part of the season, we’ve seen some good development and just need to work and continue on and build on that.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Rose said that Randle “loves it here in New York (and) wants to be in New York,” according to Begley. The Knicks’ president also praised the job Thibodeau did in a challenging season. “I mean, again, he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA,” Rose said, per Popper. “So obviously none of us are happy with the results this year. But he’s a guy who prepares our team better than anybody. I feel that he’s done a good job under the circumstances.”
  • According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Rose was “dead-set” against letting Thibodeau go during the season when at least two members of the front office recommended making a coaching change. Berman also hears from a source that some Knicks executives and players didn’t love the fact that the coaching staff didn’t hold Randle more accountable for his “miscues” throughout the season.
  • Randle and Toppin have talked about the possibility of playing together in small-ball lineups next season, as Peter Botte of The New York Post relays. “There are so many different things we can do when we’re both on the court,” Toppin said. “But we’ve definitely talked about it and hopefully we’re both back here next year and we can see that. I feel like we can definitely do some damage in the league if we’re on the court together.”
  • Although he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, Mitchell Robinson remains eligible to sign an extension with the Knicks up until June 30 and Rose hasn’t ruled out that possibility, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. “With Mitchell, there has been ongoing discussions throughout the year with his agent,” Rose told Breen. “And those discussions will continue, will continue for the remainder of the time until free agency.” The Knicks are limited to offering Robinson about $55.6MM over four years on an extension — they could go higher in free agency.
  • Knicks swingman Evan Fournier intends to represent France in this September’s EuroBasket tournament, tweets Katz.

Injury Notes: Allen, Doncic, Murray, LeBron, Barrett

Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, who has been sidelined since March 6 due to a fractured finger, has shed his splint and has his injured finger wrapped with black tape, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. However, sources tell Fedor there’s still pessimism about Allen’s potential availability for Cleveland’s play-in game vs. Brooklyn on Tuesday.

One of Fedor’s sources said it’s “unrealistic” to expect Allen to play on Tuesday, while another said that Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is preparing to be without his All-Star center.

“I can’t give you an exact timeline,” Bickerstaff said before Sunday’s regular season finale. “He’s doing more and more with that hand. It’s just a matter of time.

“It’s a structure thing first and foremost. You always want to make sure that it’s as healthy as it possibly can be. In his position, the banging that he does, on the rim, like blocking shots, all those things. Then it becomes pain tolerance. Then strengthening and his ability to use that finger. But he’s making steps. It’ll be one of those things where the day will come and he’ll be ready to go.”

If the Cavaliers can’t get by the Nets on Tuesday, they would face either Atlanta or Charlotte on Friday, with the No. 8 spot up for grabs. One source who believes Allen will miss Tuesday’s game thinks it’s “50-50” that he’d return on Friday, according to Fedor.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic will undergo an MRI on his strained left calf on Monday to determine the severity of the injury and a potential recovery timeline, tweets veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein.
  • Appearing on 104.3 The Fan in Denver, Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said it’s “100%” up to Jamal Murray if he returns from his ACL injury this season. We want him to feel no pressure, want him to know that the organization has his best interests in mind,” Connelly said (Twitter link via Mike Singer of The Denver Post). “… He’s done a great job in rehab, he looks really, really good.”
  • Lakers forward LeBron James underwent an MRI on his left ankle in Los Angeles this weekend and didn’t make the trip to Denver for the team’s regular season finale, Frank Vogel told reporters on Sunday (Twitter link via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). Presumably, the Lakers will be able to share more information on the results of that MRI at today’s exit interviews with the media.
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed that RJ Barrett avoided a worst-case scenario when he injured his right knee earlier this week and has been diagnosed with just a sprain. The team anticipates Barrett will be back to 100% for offseason workouts in about a month, says Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Nash, Barrett, Siakam, Knicks

Nets superstar Kevin Durant praised head coach Steve Nash for the job he’s been doing in his second season, as Chris Milholen of NetsDaily relays. Nash, hired in 2020, has pushed through a tumultuous season, which has included Durant missing time due to injury, Kyrie Irving‘s part-time availability and James Harden‘s trade request.

“I think he’s done a great job. The last two years, he’s been dealt a wild hand: injuries, trades, disgruntled players, guys in and out of the lineup, and stuff that he can’t control,” said Durant, his “disgruntled” player comment apparently referring to James Harden. “I felt like he’s handled it the best as he could.”

Nash spent 18 seasons in the league as a player, retiring in 2014. That career included eight All-Star appearances, though the former MVP never served as an assistant coach after retirement. Still, Brooklyn owns the seventh-best record in the East (44-38) and won four straight games to end the season.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Knicks swingman RJ Barrett suffered a knee injury against the Wizards on Thursday, but Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link) hears it isn’t serious. New York ruled Barrett out for its finale on Sunday, calling it a right knee sprain. The 21-year-old raised his scoring average from 17.6 to 20.0 points per game this season, but his shooting numbers slipped from last year (44% to 41% from the field and 40% to 34% from deep).
  • Michael Grange of Sportsnet examines how Raptors star Pascal Siakam reclaimed his place among the NBA’s elite players. Siakam finished the regular season, the best of his professional career, averaging 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. The 28-year-old also shot 49.4% from the floor and 34.4% from three-point range, leading Toronto to the fifth-best record in the East.
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post explores the potential futures for each player on the Knicks, terming the roster as “broken.” New York failed to make the play-in tournament after a successful season last year, finishing the campaign on a disappointing note.