Former Knicks Star Willis Reed Passes Away

Former Knicks star Willis Reed died on Tuesday at age 80, according to reports from veteran NBA writer Peter Vecsey (Twitter link) and Don Burke of The New York Post. Reed was battling congestive heart problems during the past year, per Vescey.

A member of the Knicks from 1964-74, Reed earned seven All-Star nods over the course of his career and was named the Rookie of the Year in 1965 and the NBA MVP in 1970. He won titles with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973, earning Finals MVP honors in both instances.

Reed appeared in a total of 650 regular season NBA games, averaging 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds in 35.5 minutes per night. He also played in 78 postseason contests, posting 17.4 PPG and 10.3 RPG in 33.9 MPG. The big man was named to both the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

Reed, who was the first Knick to have his jersey number retired and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, is perhaps best known for Game 7 of the 1970 Finals.

After missing Game 6 due to a significant thigh injury, Reed unexpectedly hobbled out of the tunnel onto the court at Madison Square Garden in uniform before the start of Game 7. He scored the Knicks’ first two baskets and logged 27 minutes in the championship-clinching game.

Following the end of his playing career, Reed served as a coach and a front office executive for multiple NBA franchises, including the Knicks (as a head coach in 1977/78). He retired from his role as the New Orleans Hornets’ vice president of basketball operations in 2007.

Our condolences go out to Reed’s family and friends.

Spurs Notes: Vassell, Branham, Graham, Bassey

The Spurs are more concerned with developing their young players than maximizing their lottery odds, writes Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. Some fans may have been dismayed to see back-to-back wins this week or Devin Vassell‘s return after missing two months following knee surgery, but the organization is committed to getting its young players on the court together to build a foundation for the future.

“I am not trying to tank,” Vassell said. “I am trying to win as many games as possible.”

Vassell is one of five recent first-round picks on the roster, and the Spurs want him to become a clutch-time scorer who’s capable of closing out games. He showed some of that prowess in his return Thursday against Indiana, pouring in 10 points in the third quarter as San Antonio pulled away.

“The shot-making is still there obviously,” assistant coach Mitch Johnson said. “It’s tough in this league when teams have guys that can make shots when there is good defense and there is not really anything going offensively, and he did that for us.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Malaki Branham had a breakthrough in February, leading all NBA rookies by averaging 16.8 points per game, Orsborn adds. The 19-year-old small forward hadn’t topped 7.8 PPG in any other month. “It’s a tribute to him and a lot of the young guys in this program,” Johnson said. “If they trust the process and put in the work, at some point the game usually slows down for them and they find some success.”
  • Devonte’ Graham has been given a green light to shoot since the Spurs acquired him at the trade deadline, and he took advantage Saturday with 28 points in 29 minutes, Orsborn notes in another Express-News article. “As an athlete, you always want opportunity to show you have talent and whatever the case might be,” Graham said. “(Coach Gregg Popovich) gives everybody confidence to just go out and play freely and play the right way.”
  • Charles Bassey has been excelling as the primary backup center since Jakob Poeltl was traded, Orsborn tweets. Bassey had 14 points and eight rebounds Saturday night and tied a career high by making seven shots from the field.

Hornets Notes: Smith, McGowens, Hayward, Washington

The Hornets‘ offense was clicking before LaMelo Ball‘s ankle injury on Monday, but now coach Steve Clifford needs to find a new approach for the rest of the season, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The team scored just 91 points Wednesday as its five-game winning streak was snapped, marking just the fourth time since December that it failed to reach 100.

“It’s important that we understand that once you have a way to play, you’ve got to commit to that,” Clifford said after Wednesday’s loss. “From now to the end of the year, we’re not going to be scoring 135 a night anymore. We’ll play a lot better than this offensively, but we’re going to have to defend, rebound and be low turnover every night.”

Terry Rozier has taken over for Ball as the starting point guard in the two games since the injury, with Kelly Oubre sliding into the backcourt as his partner. The first guard off the bench has been Dennis Smith Jr., who has shown a notable improvement on defense since signing with the Hornets last offseason.

“I was out of the league because I got waived because (of injury and) I couldn’t play for the rest of the season, and going into the summer I didn’t have a deal or anything in place,” Smith said. “So everybody was like, ‘Oh, he can’t play, he’s not an NBA player.’ This, that and the third. It didn’t really mean much to me when they saying that because I know who I am. But to be able to come in and prove the people that believe in me right, I think that means a lot.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Rookie guard Bryce McGowens had his two-way contract converted to a standard deal this week, but his play of late hasn’t matched his promotion, Boone writes in another Observer article. McGowens opted for extra practice time after Friday’s game, in which he misfired badly on two of his three shot attempts. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the rookie wall,” McGowens said. “I would say it’s just getting back to the basics and the stretch that I had in midseason, just getting back to that, staying confident. I feel like these past couple of games it wasn’t there and I feel that.”
  • In a recent appearance on the Hornets Nest podcast, Gordon Hayward characterized his time with the franchise as “unlucky.” He notes that Charlotte has been plagued by numerous injuries since he was traded there in 2020.
  • P.J. Washington is listed as probable for Sunday after missing the last four games with a foot injury, Boone tweets.

Follow NHL Trade Deadline Coverage At Pro Hockey Rumors

The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is approaching today at 2 p.m. CT, and Pro Hockey Rumors is your go-to source for all the latest news and rumors.

Pro Hockey Rumors will provide extensive coverage of all the trades and rumors leading up to the deadline, as always. While a lot of big names have been moved in recent days — including big fish like Jakob ChychrunPatrick KaneVladimir Tarasenko, and Ryan O’Reilly — there is a multitude of intriguing options available left on the market. James van Riemsdyk and Brock Boeser are there for teams looking to add on the wing, and former 65-point scorer John Klingberg is on the block for teams looking to add an offensive boost to their defense.

Some teams are still embroiled in tight playoff races, with Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa, Washington, Detroit, and the New York Islanders all stuck battling for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. In the West, the Calgary Flames are still looking to crack the top eight after a busy offseason.

Stay up to date with our comprehensive coverage, including expert analysis and insights into all the deals. Don’t miss a single trade or rumor – follow Pro Hockey Rumors for all your trade deadline news. You can visit prohockeyrumors.com, or follow @prohockeyrumors on Twitter!

Atlantic Notes: Pritchard, D. Green, Ross, Harden, Raptors

Payton Pritchard was a little surprised and disappointed to still be with the Celtics when the trade deadline passed Thursday afternoon, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The third-year guard has proven he can contribute when he gets the opportunity, but he’s only averaging 12.6 minutes per game this season, the lowest figure of his career.

“I definitely was expecting and hoping (for a trade),” Pritchard said. “But you know, I (have to) look at the good things. We’re the best team in the NBA right now and we have a great team with really great players, so for me it’s an opportunity to learn and to keep growing.”

The Celtics were open to trading Pritchard and reportedly explored the market to see what they could get in return for him and Danilo Gallinari. One report said Pritchard was part of Boston’s offer to the Spurs for Jakob Poeltl, but San Antonio opted to send Poeltl to the Raptors.

Pritchard, a four-year college player, is already 25 and is hoping to find a situation soon that offers consistent playing time. The Celtics already picked up his option for next season, so there’s little he can do about his situation until the summer of 2024.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Danny Green and Terrence Ross are probably the most realistic targets for the Celtics in the buyout market, Brian Robb of MassLive states in a mailbag column. He points out that the $3.2MM disabled player exception that Boston received for Gallinari puts the team in position to outbid most competitors.
  • James Harden played his first game in Brooklyn tonight since being traded to the Sixers at last year’s deadline. Harden offered his thoughts about what went wrong for the Nets‘ Big Three and said he was glad to get out when he did, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. “I don’t look like the crazy one,” Harden said. “I don’t look like the guy or the quitter or whatever the media want to call me. I knew what was going on and I just decided to … hey, I’m not built for this. I don’t want to deal with that. I want to play basketball and have fun.”
  • The Raptors had to renounce their rights to six former players to complete the Poeltl trade, tweets Spotrac contributor Keith Smith. They are Isaac Bonga, Jeremy Lin, Jodie Meeks, Lucas Nogueira, Jason Thompson, and longtime restricted free agent Nando De Colo.

NHL Free Agency Begins Today

Although it’s a few weeks late due to the lingering schedule effects of the COVID pandemic, the NHL free-agent period kicks off today at 11 AM CT. Pro Hockey Rumors (@prohockeyrumors on Twitter) has all-day coverage of the busiest and most exciting day in hockey.

Some teams were busy yesterday keeping their star players from hitting the open market. The Pittsburgh Penguins came in at the eleventh hour to re-sign franchise cornerstone Evgeni Malkin to a four-year deal, while the Edmonton Oilers were able to retain left wing Evander Kane, who led the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs in goals, on a four-year deal as well.

There’s still plenty of drama left to unfold today, however. After a 115-point season, former Calgary Flame Johnny Gaudreau is hitting the open market and is undoubtedly the top free agent available. Likely to earn eight figures on his next deal, does he head to the Eastern Conference as expected? After winning the Stanley Cup this season with the Colorado Avalanche, where do center Nazem Kadri and goalie Darcy Kuemper land?

To keep up with what’s sure to be a chaotic news day, make sure to keep up with Pro Hockey Rumors‘ coverage of breaking news.

Follow Pro Hockey Rumors For 2022 NHL Draft Coverage

The 2022 NHL Draft continues today after a chaotic day of trades yesterday as well. Make sure to follow our coverage over at Pro Hockey Rumors (@prohockeyrumors on Twitter!) to see what transpires as teams add to their prospect pools through both draft selections and trade transactions.

The biggest newsmakers at the draft have been the Chicago Blackhawks, who ended up with three first-round picks last night after entering the day with none. They shipped out 40-goal-scoring winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators in order to make it happen, though.

There’s still the potential for more trades today. The Carolina Hurricanes already made some big news, trading hot-topic defenseman Tony DeAngelo to the Philadelphia Flyers. Future Hall of Fame defenseman Duncan Keith is also retiring from the NHL with one year left on his contract as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

Make sure to continue to follow Pro Hockey Rumors throughout the NHL Draft as the day wraps up. You can also keep up with all of the picks on our pick tracker.

Follow The NFL Draft At Pro Football Rumors

The 87th NFL draft begins tonight from Las Vegas. Our sister site, Pro Football Rumors (@pfrumors on Twitter), has all the top stories covered. Although this draft differs from the past several, as it appears to lack a top-end quarterback, the event features a host of teams with high-stakes decisions. This promises to be the most enigmatic NFL draft in at least nine years.

Picking first for the second straight year, the Jaguars have their quarterback (2021 top pick Trevor Lawrence) and are focusing on their lines. Georgia defensive end Travon Walker has become the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick, despite fellow D-end standout Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) producing far better college numbers. But Jags owner Shad Khan was believed to disagree with GM Trent Baalke‘s Walker preference, adding intrigue to tonight’s top pick. The Jaguars are also interested in trading down, though a lack of interested suitors may force them to stay at No. 1.

The Panthers look to represent the draft’s first quarterback domino, having needed an answer here since Cam Newton‘s injury run began years ago. Rather than the NFC South team gambling on one of this class’ polarizing QBs, waiting for a mid- or post-draft trade for the Browns’ Baker Mayfield is in play. That said, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule recruited one of this class’ top QBs (Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett) when he was Temple’s coach years ago; a belated partnership remains a possibility. The Falcons (No. 8), Seahawks (No. 9), Saints (No. 15) and Steelers (No. 20) also loom as quarterback suitors. Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral join Pickett as this class’ top signal-caller prospects; the group could be in for an Aaron Rodgers-esque green-room wait.

This draft’s most interesting subplot: the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel decision. The All-Pro wide receiver requested a trade last week. Reports of Samuel disenchantment with the 49ers’ first extension offer, his unconventional role as a part-time running back, and a desire not to live in California have come up as reasons for the request. The Jets are viewed as Samuel’s most likely landing spot, and the 49ers’ future with the fourth-year playmaker could come down to the wire tonight — with a loose deadline being the Jets’ No. 10 overall pick.

For the latest updates throughout tonight’s first round, and the final six rounds this weekend, stay with Pro Football Rumors and follow us on Facebook and Twitter — @pfrumors.

The NHL Trade Deadline Is Today

What’s already been a hectic week of trades and transactions is set to culminate today, as the NHL’s 2022 Trade Deadline is at 2:00 p.m. CT. Make sure to follow our coverage on Pro Hockey Rumors (@prohockeyrumors on Twitter!) to see what happens as teams have their last chance to move talent in and out before the end of the regular season.

We’ve already seen some gigantic waves this week, such as the Florida Panthers acquiring longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux for an unexpectedly low price, and the Boston Bruins shoring up their defense by trading for and extending former Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm.

There’s still the potential for blockbusters today, though. All eyes are on the Arizona Coyotes and defenseman Jakob Chychrun, as the 23-year-old defenseman is now the best man on the market, but it’s not a given that he gets moved out. The Anaheim Ducks may not be done yet after dealing away a good portion of their defense, as two-time 30-goal scorer Rickard Rakell is also on the market.

Make sure to continue to follow Pro Hockey Rumors throughout Deadline Day as all the action wraps up. You can also keep up with all of the trades on our Twitter.

NFL Free Agency Is Underway

Although free agency deals cannot officially be signed until Wednesday, agreements are coming at a frenetic pace. The NFL’s legal tampering period, which allows free agents to negotiate with other teams, began Monday morning. Head on over to Pro Football Rumors (@pfrumors on Twitter) to keep up with all the action!

Future Hall of Famers like Von Miller and Bobby Wagner headline a free agent crop that includes numerous Pro Bowlers, and after the NFL salary cap spiked by more than $25MM, budding young standouts will cash in as well. With teams needing to move under the $208.2MM cap by Wednesday, big names like Jarvis Landry and Za’Darius Smith are being sent to the market. The trade block continues to produce blockbusters, too.

Yes, Tom Brady is back. The Buccaneers and Broncos, who now have Russell Wilson headlining their roster, will be busy aiming to fortify their teams around Canton-bound quarterbacks. The Steelers appear to have pegged Ben Roethlisberger’s successor, agreeing to terms with Mitchell Trubisky. The Deshaun Watson market has accelerated to the point the Texans could land a historic trade haul soon.

Check out Pro Football Rumors for the latest updates from the start of unofficial NFL free agency. Follow the action on Facebook and Twitter.