Taj Gibson

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.

Knicks To Trade Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks To Pistons

The Knicks are trading center Nerlens Noel and guard Alec Burks to the Pistons, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The Knicks will unload more than $19MM in 2022/23 salary in the deal, providing ample cap space to sign free agent guard Jalen Brunson. Noel has a $9.24MM salary next season, while Burks is due approximately $10MM.

Both players are signed through the 2023/24 season, but there are team options in the final year of their respective contracts — Noel at $9.68MM and Burks at approximately $10.5MM. Thus, those salaries could come off the Pistons’ cap next summer.

New York will send Detroit back its 2023 second-round pick, plus the Heat’s 2024 second-round pick (top-55 protected) and $6MM in cash as sweeteners to take those contracts off its books, Wojnarowski reports in a separate tweet. The Pistons can absorb those salaries without sending out any contracts, since they project to have more cap space than any other team.

The Knicks and Pistons were involved in a three-way draft-night deal that included the Hornets. In that trade, Detroit also took Kemba Walker‘s contract off New York’s books. While the Hornets and Knicks have completed their half of that trade, the Pistons’ and Knicks’ half isn’t yet official, so it could be folded into Tuesday’s agreement.

New York won’t necessarily have to waive Taj Gibson‘s non-guaranteed contract now in its pursuit of Brunson, John Hollinger of The Athletic observes (via Twitter). The trade will give the Knicks approximately $30MM in total projected cap space, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

As Marks notes (Twitter link), there’s no way Dallas can offer Brunson that kind of money without serious tax implications. Signing Brunson to a $30M starting salary would cost the Mavericks a total of $130MM in salary and tax penalties in one season alone, Marks says.

The Pistons plan on keeping Burks and Noel, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Burks, a 38% career 3-point shooter, will give the Pistons a perimeter threat on the wing who can help mentor the young backcourt of Cade Cunningham and rookie Jaden Ivey. Noel provides depth in the middle behind Isaiah Stewart and rookie Jalen Duren.

Despite the addition of Noel, the Pistons are still committed to bringing back restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III, Omari Sankofa of the Detroit Free Press tweets.

Atlantic Rumors: Tucker, Sixers, Knicks, Robinson, Nets

With free agency still two days away, rumors about P.J. Tucker landing in Philadelphia continue to percolate. After Marc Stein reported earlier in the week that multiple executives believe the Sixers will sign Tucker to a three-year, $30MM contract, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer conveys a similar sentiment today.

According to Pompey, three sources believe Tucker to the 76ers is a “done deal,” while a fourth source said he’d be shocked if the veteran forward doesn’t end up in Philadelphia. Sources tell Pompey that Tucker’s three-year deal with the Sixers, assuming it materializes, could be worth $27MM with incentives that increase the value to $30MM.

The Sixers still need to do some cap work in order to realistically make that kind of offer to Tucker. If James Harden turns down his $47MM+ player option and agrees to a lesser first-year salary on a new contract, the team could create the cap flexibility necessary to use its full mid-level exception on Tucker. But Harden is expected to opt in and then sign an extension, which means Philadelphia would have to shed some salary. Furkan Korkmaz ($5MM), Matisse Thybulle ($4.4MM), and Georges Niang ($3.5MM) are among the club’s potential trade candidates.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Knicks are considering converting Jericho Sims‘ two-way contract into a standard NBA deal, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. If that occurs, second-round pick Trevor Keels would likely receive a two-way pact. Both moves were considered likely as of Tuesday afternoon, Begley writes.
  • Within the same story, Begley says he expects the Knicks to give strong consideration to re-signing Taj Gibson if they waive him this week as part of their cap-clearing efforts.
  • The four-year, $48MM contract Robert Williams signed with Boston last fall is viewed by rival executives as a fair comparable for Mitchell Robinson, according to Steve Popper of Newsday, who suggests the Knicks likely wouldn’t want to go much higher than that to retain Robinson this summer.
  • The Nets are expected to give David Duke a prominent role in summer league games next month and will give him an opportunity to compete for a roster spot in 2022/23, sources tell Chris Milholen of NetsDaily. Duke received a two-way qualifying offer from Brooklyn, as we relayed earlier today.

Scotto’s Latest: Wizards, T. Jones, Brunson, Knicks, Ayton, More

The Wizards used their No. 10 overall pick on Thursday night to land one of the top guards in this year’s draft, selecting Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis. However, the Wizards remain in the market for veteran help at the point guard spot, and Grizzlies free agent Tyus Jones is among the players on their radar, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

As Scotto explains, Washington should have the flexibility to use the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception and could make a compelling bid for Jones. The club could potentially give him the opportunity to start, which Jones “ideally desires,” writes Scotto.

The Grizzlies hold Jones’ Bird rights, giving them the ability to make a strong offer to retain Jones. Memphis’ decision to trade De’Anthony Melton to Philadelphia perhaps signaled that re-signing Jones will be an offseason priority, though the team did draft a potential backup point guard in Kennedy Chandler on Thursday night.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • Rival NBA executives believe the Knicks are “all-in” for Jalen Brunson after making efforts to open up cap space on Thursday. Taj Gibson and his $5MM+ non-guaranteed salary will likely be waived to create more cap flexibility, says Scotto.
  • The Knicks will have to open up more cap room to make a serious bid for Brunson, and Scotto reiterates that Cam Reddish and Alec Burks are possible trade candidates. Reddish was part of one of the offers New York sent to the Pistons for Jaden Ivey, according to Scotto, who says Burks has been offered to the Cavaliers and Pacers, among other teams.
  • In considering potential landing spots for Suns RFA center Deandre Ayton, Scotto writes that people around the NBA have speculated about a possible sign-and-trade deal involving Pacers center Myles Turner — both players are represented by the same agent, Bill Duffy. Previous reports have indicated the Pacers spoke to the Suns prior to the trade deadline about Ayton.
  • The Trail Blazers have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Ayton, but they remain intent on re-signing incumbent center Jusuf Nurkic, league sources tell Scotto.
  • Although EuroLeague star Vasilije Micic is interested in coming to the NBA for the 2022/23 season, he wants to join a playoff contender and is interested in a salary worth close to the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception, says Scotto. The Thunder may have to trade Micic’s draft rights for those goals to come to fruition.

Knicks Notes: Sims, Robinson, Gibson, Westbrook

The Knicks may lose free agent center Mitchell Robinson this summer, so they’re seeing if they have a capable replacement already on the roster, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Rookie Jericho Sims, the 58th pick in last year’s draft, started the past two games and made all eight of his shots as New York picked up a pair of road wins.

Robinson is headed toward unrestricted free agency unless the Knicks sign him to an extension (which could be worth up to $55.6MM over four years) by June 30. He missed Wednesday’s game at Charlotte because of back pain and was used as a reserve Friday at Miami.

When healthy, Robinson has been New York’s starting center over the past two seasons, but the organization may not want to make a huge financial commitment to someone with his injury history and limited game away from the basket. If Sims can become a dependable center, that would ease the pain of losing Robinson.

“He’s been terrific since the summer,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said of Sims. “Just the way he approaches things. I think he’s growing, he’s learning, he puts a lot into it every day. And I think playing has been helpful for him, but it’s his preparation I think that’s helping him the most. He’s a lot more confident.’’

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks no longer have a realistic shot at reaching the play-in tournament, but coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t want to waste the rest of the season, per Steve Popper of Newsday. The team’s young players sparked a rally Friday against the Heat as New York overcame a 17-point fourth quarter deficit and improved to 7-4 in its last 11 games. “Honestly, really since the All-Star break, every game we’ve been feeling good about ourselves for real,” RJ Barrett said. “We’ve been playing great basketball. Even some of those losses, we’ve been playing amazing basketball since the All-Star break. You’re seeing it more and more, just trying to get better every day.”
  • Taj Gibson has improved as a three-point shooter this season, which could give the Knicks a reason to bring him back on his non-guaranteed $5.2MM salary for 2022/23, Popper adds. If Gibson isn’t retained as a player, he would definitely consider coaching. “For sure, because I love being around the game,” he said. “It comes easy to me. First thing, I love it. You’ve got to love watching film. I love just being around the guys. I love having the communication as far as just being on the court. And even in the workouts, I love being in the gym on off days with young guys and handling my business.”
  • Cross off New York as a potential trade destination for Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer said on a podcast with Marc Stein of Substack (hat tip to Brad Sullivan of Lakers Daily). Fischer talked to several people in the Knicks organization who told him they’re focused on building around the current core, rather than gambling on a veteran like Westbrook.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Williamson, Sims, Anunoby, Morey, Harden

The speculation over Zion Williamson‘s future with New Orleans has Knicks fans dreaming of acquiring the 2019 top pick. Williamson’s former coach and current TV analyst Stan Van Gundy scoffs at the notion that big-name players want to go to New York, Ethan Sears of the New York Post relays.

“No matter how many times people have proven they don’t want to play for the Knicks, the Knicks have this idea that everybody in the league wants to play for the Knicks,” Van Gundy said on the Dan Le Batard Show. “Now, what is the last time it actually happened that somebody came and tried to get their way to New York? Like, never in the last 20 years? But still the Knicks and Knicks fans think everybody is trying to get to the Knicks. I’m not saying [Zion] won’t end up there — there’s all kinds of ways people can end up somewhere — but this idea that everybody wants to be a New York Knick, I mean if that were the case, then they wouldn’t be as bad as they’ve been for the last 20 years.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau played rookie center Jericho Sims ahead of Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson on Friday, which may signal a shift in philosophy, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Thibodeau typically relies on veterans, so it was unusual to see a late second-round pick get 18 minutes of playing time. “We’ll see how it unfolds. Taj did a good job for us,” Thibodeau said. “Nerlens did a good job for us. Jericho, the opportunities that he’s had, he’s played well. So just let him get in there; let him gain some more experience.”
  • Raptors forward OG Anunoby will get a second opinion on his injured finger, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. An X-ray revealed that Anunoby had a fractured right ring finger and would miss some games. The trip to the specialist will presumably clarify a recovery timeline.
  • James Harden, who made his Sixers debut on Friday, wanted to play with Joel Embiid “for a long time,” president of basketball operations Daryl Morey told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne“James is a basketball genius,” Morey said. “And he’s been wanting to play with Joel for a long time. I think he’s always thought Joel was, like, the perfect guy to pair with him.”

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Young, Robinson, Sixers, D’Antoni

Knicks star Julius Randle is rejuvenated and encouraged despite his team coming off a rough road trip, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. New York went 1-4 on the trip, defeating the Warriors and losing to the Lakers, Jazz, Nuggets and Blazers.

“Honestly encouraged in a sense of this was a tough trip,” Randle said. “We played some really good teams on this trip. We were in the game and really gave ourselves a shot to win four of the five games.

“It’s encouraging in that sense. But it’s also very disappointing that we were 1-4, easily could have gone 4-1. It’s tough. It’s tough. But for me it sucks, got a long plane ride back home.”

The Knicks are now 25-32 and rank 12th in the Eastern Conference. The team will return to New York for a four-game homestand on Monday, playing the Thunder, Nets, Heat and Sixers.

There’s more out of the Atlantic:

Mitchell Robinson In Concussion Protocol, Out Indefinitely

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has entered the concussion protocol after being hit in the face against the Rockets Saturday night, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. He is out indefinitely.

Robinson, 23, was hit in the nose by an elbow from Jae’Sean Tate in the third quarter of the contest and did not return to the game, Berman relays.

Last season Robinson suffered a broken hand that sidelined him for 15 games. Four games after he returned, he had an awkward landing and broke his foot, which required surgery.

Robinson has still been dealing with lingering effects from the foot surgery this season, as he’s struggled with conditioning and multiple ankle sprains, Berman says. The big man also had a hip flexor injury less than two weeks ago.

Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. It’s tricky to gauge his market value due to his injury history and offensive limitations. Through 15 games, he’s averaging 7.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 25.7 minutes per contest.

According to Berman, backup center Taj Gibson is also sidelined with a strained groin, while Nerlens Noel, who’s been dealing with knee issues, still isn’t 100%. Rookie Jericho Sims figures to see some playing time with the frontcourt so undermanned, while second-year forward Obi Toppin could see an increase in minutes.

Atlantic Notes: Kanter, Schröder, C. Thomas, Gibson

Entering Monday’s game, Celtics center Enes Kanter has appeared in just two games this season, logging less than total 10 minutes in his latest stint in Boston. Kanter, who has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, published a social media post on Sunday implying that there may be a connection between his limited role on the court and his political stances off of it.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka dismissed the idea that Kanter has been out of the rotation due to his comments in the press and on social media.

“My thing is strictly basketball,” Udoka said, per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link). “We’re switching a lot and doing some things that probably are not as natural for him and that’s limited his time to some extent … Nothing basketball-related will be based on [social media].”

Kanter ended up seeing a little action on Monday in Cleveland, scoring five points in eight minutes as Boston defeated the Cavs by a score of 98-92.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Dennis Schröder is off to a strong start with the Celtics this season, averaging 17.1 PPG and 5.2 APG through 14 games (33.0 MPG). However, as Forsberg writes for NBC Sports Boston, the better Schröder plays, the less likely it is he remains in Boston beyond 2021/22, given the team’s cap constraints going forward.
  • Nets rookie guard Cameron Thomas has new representation, according to Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype, who tweets that Thomas has signed with Jim Tanner and Terrence Felder of Tandem Sports + Entertainment/You Sports. Thomas is in the first year of his rookie scale contract, so it will likely be a while before his new agents have to negotiate a new deal.
  • Mitchell Robinson tweaked his ankle on Monday and Nerlens Noel has battled injuries all season, so Taj Gibson has played a greater role than the Knicks may have anticipated when they re-signed him this offseason. The veteran big man has responded admirably when called upon, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. In 29 minutes on Monday, Gibson had more fouls (three) than points (two), but grabbed eight rebounds and was a plus-22 in a game New York won by eight points.

Knicks Notes: Fournier, Robinson, Gibson, Chemistry

The signing of Evan Fournier has added another dimension to the Knicks‘ offense, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Fournier made a statement with 32 points in his first game with his new team, and although he hasn’t duplicated that, he has put up consistent numbers, averaging 14.9 PPG and shooting 37.5% from three-point range.

Fournier was barely mentioned as a target for New York when free agency began, Braziller notes, as the team was rumored to have more interest in Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan. They both wound up in Chicago, so the Knicks lured Fournier away from Boston on a four-year, $73MM deal.

“I just like his playmaking, I like the shooting,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “One of the things when you go back, we had to close the gap in the 3-point shooting. That was a big thing for us. Two years ago, we were so far behind in that. I think that he and Kemba (Walker) have added the right shot profile to what we’re trying to get accomplished. We still have room to grow in that area. Understanding how we get to those shots is important.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Mitchell Robinson is reminding people how valuable he can be when he’s on the court, notes Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. The Knicks’ disappointing first-round playoff exit last season came without Robinson, who was sidelined with a broken foot. The team believes it has an effective center combination with Robinson and Nerlens Noel, as long as both can stay healthy. “When they play together, I think we’re a handful to deal with,” Thibodeau said.
  • While Robinson and Noel have both battled injuries, Taj Gibson has been the team’s most reliable center, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Gibson said cutting sugar from his diet has helped him remain productive at age 36. “No candy. No candy,” he said. “Me and Derrick (Rose) were talking about all the good candy we used to eat back in the day. I can’t eat that stuff anymore because so much inflammation it leads to after a game. Playing real physical, playing against talented big men the way we’ve been playing, I just been taking care of my body.”
  • The Knicks are still working to develop team chemistry after bringing in a new starting backcourt, observes Peter Botte of The New York Post. “It’s only going to get better,” Walker said. “We’re still trying to figure each other out. But yeah, as long as we keep communicating, which we are, me and (Julius Randle), us as a team, we’ll continue to grow. That’s what it’s about.”