Taj Gibson

New York Notes: Knicks, Nets, Rose, Claxton/Perry

The outstanding recent play of Knicks veteran big men Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson has appeared to validate the team’s decision not to make a big offer to center Andre Drummond on the buyout market, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman notes that head coach Tom Thibodeau ultimately made the call to not add Drummond.

“Those guys cover so much for us on the defensive end, blocking shots, being in the right position,” All-Star forward Julius Randle raved of the Knicks’ two veteran bigs. “They anchor our defense, honestly. They make my job easier, our guards’ job easier. It’s just amazing to have those two guys behind you. If you make mistakes, they’re going to cover for you.’’

Noel and Gibson have had to step up in the absence of Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, anticipated to miss the rest of the year with a broken foot.

There’s more out of the Big Apple:

  • Thanks to sharpshooting Nets duo Landry Shamet and Joe Harris connecting on 43% of their triples combined since the league’s All-Star break, Brooklyn might have its own poor man’s version of a “Splash Brothers” shooting tandem, writes Matthew Brooks of NetsDaily.
  • 32-year-old veteran Knicks reserve guard Derrick Rose is relishing his second tour of duty in New York, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News“It’s great being on a young team where everybody is locked in, everybody loves playing with one another and everyone is on the same page — which is to win games,” Rose said. “So it’s perfect.”
  • Nets center Nicolas Claxton and power forward Reggie Perry have entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN.

Knicks Notes: Gibson, Ntilikina, McCollum, Live Fans

Veteran big man Taj Gibson sees a resilient quality in this year’s Knicks, which he credits to the coaching change, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Gibson, who also played for Tom Thibideau in Chicago and Minnesota, believes the coach has brought a toughness to the organization that wasn’t there before.

New York nearly let a 21-point lead slip away Sunday night, but managed to hold on for a narrow win over the Timberwolves. At 15-16, the Knicks are seventh in the East and solidly in the playoff race with the All-Star break approaching.

“Our coaching staff has been drilling guys from the beginning of the summer up to this point,” Gibson said. “The preparation beginning at shootarounds has been outstanding. It’s always tough to play 48-minute games, but the way we all huddle around each other, everybody top to bottom, hangs out, works out late with each other. Everybody understands the stakes. And guys want to win.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Frank Ntilikina is out of contact tracing, but the team isn’t planning to send him to the G League for playing time, Begley adds in the same piece. “I think we’ll take a look at it as we go,” Thibodeau said. “I like Frank being here. He’s done an excellent job; he’s got a great attitude, great approach. And even though he’s not playing, he’s adding a lot to our team right now.”
  • The Knicks are “monitoring” Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, who is rehabbing a broken foot, a source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. However, Jonathan Warner of NBC Sports Northwest says Portland has no plans to move McCollum and speculates it would take an offer of multiple first-round picks plus a core player to get the Blazers’ attention.
  • Sunday marked the last game of the season with no fans in Madison Square Garden, notes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Under new regulations from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 2,000 spectators will be permitted at games starting Tuesday. “Even with the fake noises, it kind of sounds like the way it sounds when I watch it on TV,’’ Immanuel Quickley said. “It’s definitely a buzz even without fans. So I’m sure with fans, it’s going to be even more lively. So I’m excited to get the fans back in the building.’’

Knicks Notes: D. Rose, Gibson, Thibodeau, L. Rose

Wherever Tom Thibodeau goes, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose eventually show up, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Thibodeau coached both of them when they were young players in Chicago, then brought them in to be veteran leaders in Minnesota. Now they’re together again after the Knicks signed Gibson last month and completed a trade for Rose today.

“I’ve known (Rose) my whole career — we came in together,’’ Gibson said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a great guy. … He’s one of those guys who’ve been around the system — same as myself. We know what Thibs basically wants. As long as you give 100 percent effort every day, 110% on defense. At same time just coming in and being vocal and understanding what you need to do.’’

Gibson has only gotten into four games since signing with New York, but his role could expand if the team sees more need to rest Nerlens Noel, who has been dealing with knee issues. Noel sat out a second straight game Sunday, allowing Gibson to play 16 minutes.

“I thought he played really well and when Nerlens is back, he’ll be ready in any role we ask him to play,’’ Thibodeau said. “That’s always been with him. Even early on in his career, start him, bring him off the bench. Whatever the team needed he provided. He’s a great teammate, great leader.’’

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • The trade shows how much influence Thibodeau has with team president Leon Rose, Berman adds in a separate story. In addition to his fondness for Derrick Rose, who he still believes can play at an MVP level on some nights, Thibodeau doesn’t place much value on second-round picks, preferring to use them as trade fodder. Berman also examines how the trade will affect the rest of the roster and views Austin Rivers as most likely to lose playing time.
  • The Knicks may be most effective using Rose as a shooting guard, rather than breaking up their point guard combination of Elfrid Payton and Immanuel Quickley, suggests John Hollinger of The Athletic. He notes that Detroit frequently played Rose at the two-guard spot, where he would be taking minutes away from Rivers and Reggie Bullock.
  • The deal offers some insight into how Leon Rose plans to run the organization, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who points out that the Knicks’ president was patient in free agency and aggressive on the trade market. Rose and Thibodeau appear to be focused on securing a playoff spot this season, rather than developing young talent.

Knicks Rumors: Rose, Gibson, Ball, Robinson

Following up on a Shams Charania report from Tuesday, Marc Berman of The New York Post confirms that the Knicks have interest in Derrick Rose, though he hears from sources that the team hasn’t yet talked to the Pistons about a possible trade.

According to Berman, sources close to Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau believe he would like to reunite with Rose, who played for him in Chicago and Minnesota. Berman notes that Thibodeau “pushed hard” for New York to re-sign Taj Gibson, who was also a member of the Bulls and Timberwolves under Thibs.

If the Knicks do give up any sort of asset for Rose, that would be a strong indication the team believes it would be able to re-sign him when he becomes a free agent during the 2021 offseason, says Ian Begley of SNY.tv. For now, it remains to be seen whether the Pistons will move Rose — or whether New York will make the best offer.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While a Tuesday report indicated that the Pelicans are open to discussing a Lonzo Ball trade, it’s unclear whether or not the Knicks would have any interest. According to Ian Begley, some people within the organization supported the idea of trading for Ball entering the 2020 offseason. However, a strong early showing from Immanuel Quickley – combined with Ball’s up-and-down play – may have changed that equation. One team monitoring the Ball situation told Begley that the Pelicans still value the former No. 2 overall pick and won’t trade him if they don’t get a strong return.
  • Noting that Mitchell Robinson deleted a Tuesday tweet that read, “One day they’ll let me play,” Marc Berman wonders if the young center is seeking a larger offensive role. As Berman observes, Robinson is logging 29.6 minutes per game this season, well above his previous career high, so the tweet probably wasn’t about his playing time.
  • With All-Star voting set to open on Thursday, Julius Randle figures to receive consideration for a spot on the Eastern Conference squad. The veteran big man is averaging 22.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 6.0 APG so far in 2020/21 — those marks would all be career bests.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Walker, Irving, Toppin

After having three straight games postponed due to coronavirus issues, the Celtics will likely be able to return to the court Friday night, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. All-Star forward Jayson Tatum will remain sidelined after testing positive last week, but four other players are expected to receive clearance in time for the game against Orlando.

“I don’t think there’s an easy answer here,” coach Brad Stevens said after today’s shootaround, which marked the first time his players have been on the court together since Sunday. “This is a difficult time around the country. This pandemic is as rampant as it’s ever been and obviously we’re feeling some of that despite the great precautions and great steps we’re taking not to.”

The NBA is dealing with its worst stretch of COVID-19 issues since the season began. Nine games have been postponed so far, with eight of those coming this week. The league is considering expanded testing that would provide same-day results on game days.

“We’re like everyone else,” Stevens said. “We appreciate the opportunity to gather. We appreciate the opportunity to be together. We appreciate the opportunity to play the game we love and when it’s taken away for a week or four months that’s hard. And the rest of the world’s dealing with that in every which way, so for us to complain about it … would be insensitive to everything else that’s going on in the world.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics guard Kemba Walker is getting closer to making his season debut, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Stevens said Walker, who has been sidelined by soreness in his left knee, went “full” in today’s session, which was focused on drills.
  • Just as coach Steve Nash did Wednesday, Nets general manager Sean Marks refused to get into specifics about Kyrie Irving‘s absence during a session with reporters today, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Irving is away from the team for personal reasons and there’s no set date for his return. “I don’t want to speculate and say why he’s out,” Marks said. “I’ve had conversations with him. I’ll continue to have conversations. … You also hope there is a more than adequate excuse as to why he needs personal time. He will address that without a doubt.”
  • Knicks rookie Obi Toppin returned Wednesday after missing three weeks with a strained left calf, but he only played 57 seconds, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’m super excited to be back,” Toppin said before the game. “I’m a little rusty. But I’ll be ready when Coach calls my name.”
  • Knicks free agent addition Taj Gibson received a rest-of-season veteran’s minimum contract, Berman adds in the same story.

New York Notes: Durant, Irving, Toppin, Gibson

Star forward Kevin Durant has yet to play both halves of a back-to-back set this season, as the Nets have made an effort to ease him back into the regular season schedule following his year-long absence due to an Achilles tear.

However, after leading the team to a comeback victory over Denver on Tuesday night, Durant is prepared to play the Knicks in New York tonight, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details.

“I plan on it,” he said.

As of Tuesday night, head coach Steve Nash wasn’t ready to fully commit to having Durant available on Wednesday, cautioning that the Nets have to “judge these things day-to-day and moment-to-moment.” However, the team listed the two-time Finals MVP as available on its latest injury report today.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams ahead of their game tonight:

  • There’s “real concern” around the league from people who know Kyrie Irving about his ongoing absence, says Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The Nets guard, who was spotted on a Zoom call for a Manhattan District Attorney candidate on Tuesday evening, will face a quarantine period when he returns, assuming the NBA finds he violated COVID-19 protocols by attending a large gathering to celebrate a family member’s birthday. Having previously reported that Irving isn’t expected back this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link) suggests the star guard may not be active next week either.
  • The Knicks have unexpectedly upgraded Obi Toppin (calf) to probable for Wednesday’s game (Twitter link). The rookie forward said he was just cleared for contact today and hasn’t yet practiced in full, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll actually see much – or any – action tonight, says Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link).
  • Taj Gibson will be available for the Knicks on Wednesday night, as Berman writes for The New York Post. The recently-signed big man is reportedly in shape, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll play an immediate role.

Knicks Notes: Gibson, Toppin, Ntilikina, Hayward

The Knicks signed Taj Gibson to a rest-of-season contract last Thursday, according to NBA.com’s official transactions log. However, the veteran big man hasn’t been able to play for the team yet due to COVID-19 protocols, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. It’s possible that Gibson will be able to join the club for Wednesday’s game against Brooklyn, Berman says.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Obi Toppin (calf) and Frank Ntilikina (knee) aren’t yet close to returning, according to Berman. Toppin hasn’t been cleared for contact, while Ntilikina may not be back at practice until next week.
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau pushed to sign Gordon Hayward in free agency in November, but the team ultimately felt the price was too high, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. With the Knicks in Charlotte on Monday, Thibodeau acknowledged that Hayward was “rated pretty high on our (free agent) board,” while the Hornets forward said there was “a lot of interest on both sides.”
  • The Knicks aren’t as good as their 5-3 start suggested, but they seem refreshingly free of dysfunction this season, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who says the franchise finally seems to be building the right way with the right people.

New York Notes: T. Johnson, Durant, Randle, Gibson

Nets guard Tyler Johnson missed Thursday’s game against Philadelphia due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. According to Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter links), head coach Steve Nash said Johnson hasn’t tested positive for COVID-19 but is out due to contact tracing. In the early going of the 2020/21 season, contact tracing protocols have typically sidelined players for seven days, though Johnson’s exact timeline has yet to be confirmed.

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

  • Nash told reporters on Thursday night that he thinks Nets star Kevin Durant (also out for contact tracing purposes) should be available to return on Sunday as long as he continues to test negative for the coronavirus (Twitter link via Andrews). Can’t wait for Sunday to come,” Nash said.
  • Entering the season, veteran Knicks big man Julius Randle looked like a prime candidate to be moved at the trade deadline. However, Randle’s All-Star caliber play so far (23.1 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 7.4 APG) may force the team to reevaluate its plans for him, says Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype makes the case for why the Knicks signing Taj Gibson is a smart move. While Gibson will reportedly sign with the team, he’s still going through COVID-19 protocols and may not be on the roster in time to be activated for Friday night’s game vs. Oklahoma City, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post.
  • In case you missed it last night, Kyrie Irving missed Thursday’s game for personal reasons and didn’t travel with the Nets to Memphis for Friday’s game.

Knicks Waive Omari Spellman, Sign Taj Gibson

9:59pm: The Knicks officially announced in a press release that they’ve waived Spellman. The signing of Gibson is also official, per NBA.com’s transactions log.

1:46 pm: The Knicks are waiving big man Omari Spellman to clear room to sign a veteran free agent, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter), the club plans to sign Taj Gibson to fill its newly-opened roster spot.

As we detailed earlier today, the Knicks were said to be one of many teams keeping an eye on Gibson, who reportedly worked out for seven clubs, including the Wizards. With Obi Toppin, Nerlens Noel, and Spellman all battling injuries, New York had been monitoring the free agent market for help in the frontcourt, eyeing Gibson and Tyson Chandler, among others.

While it’s not official yet, it sounds like the team will reunite with Gibson, who was a Knick in 2019/20 and has played for head coach Tom Thibodeau for much of his NBA career, including in both Chicago and Minnesota. It seems unlikely that Gibson’s new deal will be worth more than the minimum, but the Knicks – armed with $18MM in cap room – certainly have the flexibility to go higher.

Gibson, 35, started 56 of the 62 games he played for New York last season, averaging 6.1 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 16.5 minutes per contest. The club reportedly liked the job he did as a veteran mentor for young center Mitchell Robinson.

As for Spellman, the third-year big man came over from Minnesota in an offseason trade that sent Ed Davis to the Timberwolves. He was cited as a possible release candidate in December when the Knicks were mulling the possibility of retaining Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the regular season, and also had his fourth-year team option for 2021/22 declined last month, so it comes as no surprise that he’ll be the odd man out.

Spellman, a former first-round pick who has struggled with conditioning during his NBA career, will still receive his $1.99MM salary for 2020/21, since his contract is fully guaranteed. Having declined his fourth-year option, the Knicks won’t be on the hook for any money beyond this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks, Others Keeping Eye On Taj Gibson

10:06am: Gibson has worked out for seven teams, including the Wizards, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Berman adds that Tyson Chandler is among the free agent big men on the Knicks’ radar and that the team has had some internal discussions about bringing him back.

8:04am: The Knicks waived Taj Gibson back in November before his salary for the 2020/21 season could become fully guaranteed, but the two sides had mutual interest at that time in a possible reunion, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Although the Knicks didn’t re-sign Gibson during the offseason, they’ve continued to keep an eye on the veteran big man and have recently touched base with him, sources tell SNY. According to Begley, New York is one of a handful of clubs keeping Gibson on its radar, as he’s being monitored by “a few contenders.”

Gibson, 35, started 56 of the 62 games he played for the Knicks in 2019/20, averaging 6.1 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 16.5 minutes per contest.

According to Begley, some people within the organization like the idea of bringing Gibson back in part because he was viewed as a good mentor for young center Mitchell Robinson — if he returns this season, he could also be a positive influence on rookie Obi Toppin. Of course, Gibson also has a history with Tom Thibodeau, having played for the Knicks’ new head coach in Chicago and Minnesota.

Although the Knicks are off to a surprisingly strong start this season, their frontcourt depth chart is somewhat thin, particularly with Toppin, Nerlens Noel, and Omari Spellman all battling injuries. According to Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School (Twitter link), the club is eyeing a few other big men in addition to Gibson and may meet with some.

New York currently has a full 15-man roster and would have to waive a player to make room for Gibson or another free agent. Spellman, whose rookie scale option for 2021/22 was turned down last month, would probably be the most obvious release candidate in that scenario.