Taj Gibson

Atlantic Notes: Gibson, Allen, Walker, Davis

Many of the Knicks free agent signees this summer can be dealt after December 15th but those players still believe New York can get into the playoff picture, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “You got to look at the circumstances we’re in,’’ said big man Taj Gibson, one of those free agent additions. “We’re in the East. Nobody’s running away. Maybe the top four teams. We’re still optimistic. If we get three wins in a row, you’re right back in the hunt.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have already exercised their team option on center Jarrett Allen for next season and he’ll probably command major dollars once he’s eligible for free agency, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. Allen had a 20-20 game against Cleveland on Monday.
  • Kemba Walker‘s upbeat personality has made the Celtics’ locker room a happier place, Tim Bontemps of ESPN notes. Walker returned to action on Wednesday after recovering from a neck sprain. “I’m really just being myself,” he says. “I’m really just genuinely happy for guys and my teammates. I love when guys have success. I’ve had a lot of success in my career, and I want guys to have great success.”
  • Undrafted rookie guard Terence Davis signed a two-year contract with the Raptors in July and he’s quickly paying dividends, Arten Zwelling of SportsNet Canada reports. He’s averaging 13.0 PPG and 3.5 APG over the last four games. “I really focus on the task at hand,” he said. “Coming here and just getting better every single day. Even on off days. If it’s getting treatment, getting shots up, just doing something, just staying ahead.”

Taj Gibson Talks Growing Up In Brooklyn, NBA Memories, Young Knicks

Big man Taj Gibson signed a two-year, $20MM contract with his hometown Knicks this summer. Though there has been plenty of drama for the Knicks already in the 2019/20 season, the 6’9″, 34 year-old Gibson has been a stabilizing old-school post presence, averaging 6.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in just 15.9 minutes a night.

In a far-reaching conversation with Steve Serby of the New York Post, the Fort Greene, Brooklyn native reflected on his tough childhood, his proudest basketball moment, the upside of his young Knicks teammates, his time at USC, his favorite movie, and much more.

The whole article is well worth a gander, but here are some highlights from Serby’s chat with the 11-year vet.

On his childhood in Brooklyn:

“Fort Greene Ingersoll Houses has always been tough. It was a lot of murders, a lot of killings. To this day, I thank my dad personally for some days making me stay in the house, ’cause there was a lot of stuff going on outside. I lost a lot of friends that were just … young, and never got a chance to grow. I think my parents deserve most of the credit for just knowing when to keep me inside and keep me locked in.”

On his proudest basketball achievement:

“Going to the [2011] Eastern Conference finals [with the Bulls]. Just knowing how hard it is to win basketball games in the NBA, but when you’re locked in with a group [of] guys, to have a bond and you’re in the heat of the battle each and every night, especially going against everybody’s opinion on you, telling you you can’t do something, you can’t do this and you overachieve in it, that’s the best feeling in the world.”

On the Knicks’ young pieces:

Frank [Ntilikina] is eager to learn, he’s eager to get better. I think he’s taking the next step, which is understanding what he has to do to become a good professional basketball player in this league. He’s only scratched the surface… [Mitchell Robinson] can be All-World if he wants. He works extremely hard every morning with me, and he’s extremely competitive. And he listens. And you can’t teach those things… [RJ Barrett is] super-competitive, eager to learn, always willing to listen. He has a grown man frame already.”

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Typically, each installment in our Trade Candidate series focuses on a single division and then identifies players from three separate teams as possible trade candidates. However, a number of Atlantic clubs don’t yet have any obvious candidates to be dealt, so today we’re focusing on a single Atlantic roster that does feature plenty of potential trade targets: New York’s.

Here are three Knicks players who could emerge as trade candidates prior to February’s deadline:

Wayne Ellington, SG
New York Knicks
$8MM cap hit; $1MM partial guarantee on $8MM cap hit in 2020/21

A career 37.8% three-point shooter, Ellington was a full-time starter for the Pistons down the stretch last season and averaged 32.8 minutes per game in the playoffs. This season, he’s playing just 13.4 MPG for the lottery-bound Knicks and has received a handful of DNPs.

The Knicks have a crowded rotation, and it’s hard to argue that they shouldn’t be prioritizing young players like RJ Barrett, Damyean Dotson, and Allonzo Trier more than Ellington, especially since the veteran sharpshooter has slumped to start the season. But Ellington, who will turn 32 next Friday, should get hot at some point, and will have more value to a playoff team than he will as a bench player in New York.

Ellington’s contract is team-friendly — a trade partner would only have to send out about $4.52MM in outgoing salary to match his $8MM cap hit, and he could easily be waived in the offseason with a minimal impact on a club’s 2020/21 cap if he doesn’t work out.

Reggie Bullock, SG
New York Knicks
$4MM cap hit; $1MM partial guarantee on $4.2MM cap hit in 2020/21

If the Knicks can’t find regular minutes for Ellington, it seems unlikely that they’ll be there for Bullock once he eventually gets healthy. Bullock provides a similar skill set, including a 39.2% career three-point mark, and has a similar contract structure, at half the price, which should make him an appealing target for a contender in need of shooting.

However, the big question surrounding Bullock is his health. The surgery he underwent in July for a cervical disc herniation is no joke, and it’s unclear when he might be able to get back on the court. Last we heard, he’ll be re-evaluated by the Knicks in early December.

If Bullock can get healthy and gets enough playing time before February 6 to rebuild his value, the Knicks will have to determine whether to shop him or to potentially look toward keeping him for a second year at an affordable price.

Taj Gibson, F/C
New York Knicks
$9MM cap hit; $1MM partial guarantee on $9.45MM cap hit in 2020/21

Outside of Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and maybe one or two other players, the Knicks will probably be willing to discuss just about anyone as the trade deadline nears.

Still, Gibson is among the club’s most logical trade candidates because he’s the sort of veteran whom a playoff team can slot into its rotation without having to worry about getting him a ton of touches or having him adjust to new a scheme. The 34-year-old is in his 11th NBA season and is playing for his fourth team, so he’ll be a quick learner. And you’d be acquiring him for his defense, rebounding, and toughness — not his offense.

Unfortunately, at $9MM, Gibson isn’t really a bargain, so it may be difficult for the Knicks to extract much of value for him. If they’re willing to take on some guaranteed 2020/21 money, that would open up their options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, Randle, Trier

As head coach David Fizdale promised, Frank Ntilikina is getting his chance to prove whether he can be the Knicks‘ solution at point guard, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. After barely being used in the first few games, Ntilikina made his first start of the season Friday night, playing 38 minutes in a narrow loss to the Celtics.

The third-year point guard’s strengths and weaknesses were both on display. He defended well against a variety of players, but only had two assists and his shot remains a concern. He was 4-of-9 for the game, but has made just 7-of-24 attempts from the field for the season and is only 3-of-10 beyond the arc.

“He’s learning,” former teammate Enes Kanter said. “Obviously, he was learning last year, but there was too much pressure on him. Now I feel he feels more comfortable and more confident out there. Obviously, I think he’s one of the best defenders out there and his vision on the court is amazing. I’m happy to see him grown because he’s an amazing dude on and off the court.”

Although Fizdale has vowed to give all the players in New York’s crowded backcourt a chance to prove themselves, Ntilikina’s start came largely because of circumstance with Elfrid Payton injured and Dennis Smith Jr. absent because of a death in the family. Even though the Knicks offered a show of confidence in their No. 8 pick from 2017 by picking up his fourth-year option last month, Ntilikina will eventually have to produce more on offense to earn consistent minutes.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Although Kanter had a contentious end to his time with the Knicks, he enjoyed a friendly reunion with the team Friday night, Vorkunov adds in the same story. Upset over a lack of playing time, Kanter asked for a trade and was eventually waived in February. All seems to be forgiven as he hugged team president Steve Mills on the court. “I like all these guys — even with Julius Randle, because we had this beef and everything,” Kanter said. “… I see there are a lot of good characters on the team. I’m really excited to see them grow together.”
  • Not having a play-making guard to rely on is affecting Randle’s game, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Randle took just seven shots Friday and had a season-low eight points. He turned the ball over six times, giving him 25 in the past five games, and is just 1-for-15 on 3-pointers for the season.
  • Opening-night starter Allonzo Trier has fallen completely out of the rotation, Berman notes in the same piece. Fizdale wouldn’t explain why Trier racked up his third straight DNP, but his time has gone to free agent addition Wayne Ellington. Another offseason signee, Taj Gibson, also wasn’t used against the Celtics.

Taj Gibson Always Wanted To Play For The Knicks

The Knicks didn’t land their top targets in free agency, but the players they did sign are determined to turn things around in New York, Taj Gibson tells Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Camp is still a month away, but Gibson said many of the players have been training together and staying in touch through an email chain.

“Everybody’s in the group chat, everybody’s talking, everybody’s getting together to work out together,” Gibson said. “The eagerness in guys (has stood out), guys are committed, guys are going to let the work show for itself.”

A rebuilding situation may seem odd for Gibson, considering his veteran status and history of being with winning teams. The 34-year-old has made the playoffs eight times during his 10 NBA seasons, although he missed last year with the Timberwolves despite a typically solid season in which he averaged 10.8 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 70 games.

However, Gibson was born in Brooklyn and still feels a strong connection to the area.

“I just always had it in the back of my mind, it was always one of those places I wanted to go,” he said. “I wasn’t scared of the opportunity. I was waiting for the right opportunity (to come here). I just jumped on it. I know they’ve had a lot of tough years, but when you win games, the city loves you. I’m looking forward trying to compete and playing hard.”

Gibson was one of several free agents the Knicks signed to short-term deals after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were off the board. Although Gibson has a two-year, $20MM contract, the second season only carries a $1MM guarantee. Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock all received similar deals.

It’s a situation that could lead to massive turnover next summer, or perhaps even sooner as all the new players may be attractive to contenders at the trade deadline. For now, Gibson wants to enjoy the experience of playing in New York.

“It’s a dream come true and it’s a blessing, because I grew up a Knicks fan,” he said. “To be back home around my people, it’s amazing.”

Contract Details: Knicks, Cook, T. Young, Mann

Details on the free agent contracts signed by the Knicks are starting to trickle in, with Bobby Marks of ESPN and Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights (Twitter links) providing specifics on Julius Randle‘s three-year deal.

While it was initially reported as being worth $63MM, Randle’s three-year pact with the Knicks has a base value of just $18MM in its first year, per Marks. Those cap hits increase to $18.9MM in year two and $19.8MM in year three, according to Siegel, who notes that the third year is partially guaranteed for just $4MM. The agreement has about $2MM in annual unlikely bonuses which could increase the total value into the $63MM range.

Here are details on a couple more Knicks contracts, as well as some other deals from around the NBA:

  • Taj Gibson and Elfrid Payton don’t technically have second-year team options on their respective contracts with the Knicks, but their second-year salaries are only guaranteed for $1MM apiece, according to Siegel (Twitter links).
  • The second season of the Lakers‘ two-year, $6MM deal with Quinn Cook is only partially guaranteed for $1MM, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). It would become fully guaranteed if Cook stays on the roster through June 29, 2020.
  • Thaddeus Young‘s three-year contract with the Bulls will have a total value between $40.6MM and 43.6MM, depending on whether he earns his incentives, tweets Pincus. The third year on Young’s deal is partially guaranteed for $6MM.
  • The Clippers used their cap room to sign second-rounder Terance Mann to a four-year, $6.2MM contract before they went over the cap to acquire Paul George, tweets Bobby Marks. A minimum-salary deal for Mann would be worth about $6.13MM over four years, so it sounds like he may get slightly more than the minimum in his rookie season.
    • Update: The first two years of Mann’s deal are guaranteed, and he’ll make $1MM in year one, tweets Siegel.

Knicks Officially Sign Randle, Portis, Gibson, Ellington, Payton

The Knicks officially finalized five of their free agent signings on Monday night, according to NBA.com’s transactions log, which lists the deals for Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, and Elfrid Payton as having been completed.

Those deals are structured as follows:

  • Randle: Three years, $63MM. First two years guaranteed. (Story)
  • Portis: Two years, $31MM. First year guaranteed. (Story)
  • Gibson: Two years, $20MM. First year guaranteed. (Story)
  • Ellington: Two years, $16MM. First year guaranteed. (Story)
  • Payton: Two years, $16MM. First year guaranteed. (Story)

While those five signings will use up most of the club’s cap room, there’s still one notable signing to be finalized, as Reggie Bullock‘s two-year, $21MM deal is not yet official.

Knicks’ Deals With Portis, Gibson, Bullock, Ellington Include Second-Year Team Options

With the exception of Julius Randle, who agreed to a three-year contract, all of the veteran free agents who have agreed to sign with the Knicks so far are reportedly set to receive two-year deals. The structure of those contracts appeared to put New York on track to regain cap flexibility in 2021.

However, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the two-year deals for Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Reggie Bullock, and Wayne Ellington will all include second-year team options.

By not guaranteeing the second year on those contracts, the Knicks will be able to maintain cap flexibility for the 2020 offseason, bringing back any veterans who impress them and parting ways with those who don’t.

[RELATED: 2019 NBA Free Agent Tracker: Knicks’ Deals]

Although Randle’s contract runs an extra year, his deal will also reportedly feature a team option – or possible a modest partial guarantee – in its final season, according to reports.

Knicks To Sign Taj Gibson

The Knicks have agreed to a deal with Taj Gibson, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com relays (Twitter link). The contract will be for two years and $20MM.

The 10-year veteran spent the last two seasons in Minnesota on a $28MM deal that the club signed him to during the summer of 2017. He played in all but 12 games for the Wolves over his two seasons with the team.

After the agreement, the Knicks are looking at approximately $41MM in cap room. It was previously announced that the team will ink Julius Randle to a three-year, $63MM pact.

Free Agent Rumors: Randle, Gibson, Bullock, Bulls

The Kings will be among the teams in pursuit of Pelicans forward Julius Randle, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN. He cites the Nets, Knicks and Bulls as other expected suitors.

Randle, 24, had a career-best season after signing a one-year deal with New Orleans last summer. He averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in 73 games while shooting 52% from the field. He also improved as a long-distance shooter, hitting 34% of his shots from 3-point range.

Here are more rumors as we move to within 24 hours of the start of free agency:

  • The Timberwolves will have plenty of competition for Taj Gibson, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who lists the Clippers, Nets, Bucks, Bulls, Warriors, Raptors, Trail Blazers, Hornets and Lakers as having interest in the veteran forward (Twitter link). Gibson has averaged 11.5 PPG and 6.9 RPG during his two years in Minnesota.
  • There’s mutual interest between the Knicks and shooting specialist Reggie Bullock, according to Ian Begley of SNY.TV. Bullock averaged 11.3 points per game while splitting last season between the Pistons and Lakers.
  • The Bulls are looking for a point guard, but want to limit the contract to two years, reports K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. That may take them out of the running for Malcolm Brogdon or Patrick Beverley, Johnson notes, but he cites other options such as Cory Joseph, Tyus Jones and George Hill who might be willing to accept a shorter contract. The Bulls are counting on first-round pick Coby White to take over the position within two years and want the free agent’s contract to expire in the summer of 2021 at the same time as Otto Porter‘s and Cristiano Felicio‘s.