Wayne Ellington

Knicks Notes: Ellington, Rose, Miller

Following the trade deadline in February, there were multiple teams that would have had interest in Wayne Ellington if he and the Knicks had reached a buyout agreement, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. A source tells Berman that general manager Scott Perry and Ellington’s agent Mark Bartelstein had several conversations about the possibility, but ultimately elected not to move forward.

As Berman explains, Perry wanted Ellington around the Knicks’ young players because he felt as if the veteran guard was a positive influence, and the 32-year-old was happy to take on that mentor role.

Although Ellington is now on track to finish the season with the Knicks – whenever the season may end – he may end up moving on to a new NBA home for 2020/21. New York is unlikely to guarantee his $8MM salary, Berman notes.

“He might be back to a minimum-salary player next season,” an NBA personnel person told Berman. “I think maybe he’s a lost a step and he was never too athletic to begin with. He’ll hang around a couple more years because of his shooting profile.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Although new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose was on the job for less than two weeks before the NBA suspended its season, he came away with “a positive feeling” about interim head coach Mike Miller, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Sources tell Begley that Rose was impressed by the way Miller handled the team and respected the job he’d done since taking over for David Fizdale.
  • Rose is still expected to conduct his own head coaching search after the season, but some “prominent people at Madison Square Garden” would like to see Miller remain with the organization in some capacity, sources tell Begley.
  • Appearing this week on ESPN Radio, former Knicks great Patrick Ewing addressed the feud between his former teammate Charles Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan, as Scott Thompson of SNY.tv details. “Whatever is going on with (Oakley) and Mr. Dolan, like I’ve said before, it’s something that needs to stop,” Ewing said. “He’s one of the best players that I’ve played with. He’s a part of the Knicks’ history. He and Mr. Dolan need to get in a room somewhere and figure that out.” The two sides have been ordered by a federal appeals court to mediate their dispute.
  • In case you missed them, we’ve published stories this week on Damyean Dotson, Reggie Bullock, and more Knicks-related subjects. Check out their team page right here.

Knicks Not Planning To Buy Out Veterans

The Knicks have no plans at the moment to buy out any of their veteran players on expiring or pseudo-expiring contracts, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.

New York began its post-All-Star schedule hoping to make a push for a playoff spot in the East and not intending to prioritize playing youngsters over veterans if it compromised the team’s ability to win games. That philosophy has meant that players like Reggie Bullock, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson are still key contributors rather than buyout candidates.

While it’s possible the Knicks will adjust their approach to late-season player development as their postseason hopes continue to fade, their position on buyouts isn’t expected to change, says Popper. The team still views many of its veteran contracts – several of which include team options or small partial guarantees for 2020/21 – as potential trade assets for the offseason, Popper adds.

Besides Bullock, Portis, and Gibson, Wayne Ellington and Maurice Harkless are among the vets who fit the mold of a typical buyout candidate, at least to some extent. However, if those players aren’t interested in buyouts, the Knicks would have little to gain from pursuing them — the team already has one of the NBA’s lowest payrolls for 2019/20 and the savings would be minimal.

Additionally, none of those players have more than $1MM in guaranteed money on their contracts for next season, so they could be easily cut loose if no trade materializes in the offseason and the Knicks decide to move on. The only real benefit to moving on from them now would be to open up an immediate roster spot or two for developmental projects.

For what it’s worth, players like Portis and Harkless have publicly suggested they’re not looking to go the buyout route.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Walker, Harris, Ellington

The Nets recently ruled out Kyrie Irving for the rest of the 2019/20 season, with the star point guard set to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his injured shoulder in the near future. Irving, who appeared in just 20 games this season, is expected to be ready for the start of next season — provided he doesn’t have rotator cuff damage or suffer any major setbacks.

“I’m not going to get into details now, because he’s still evaluating what his options may be over the next couple of days,” general manager Sean Marks said, as relayed by Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “But in terms of he is having surgery, and he will be out for the remainder of the season.”

Irving first injured his shoulder against the Pelicans on Nov. 4. He continued playing through the pain for multiple contests, later missing 26 straight games as a result of the injury. Brooklyn failed to adjust to Irving’s arrival, mostly playing better without him this season.

“Obviously, we feel bad for [Irving],” teammate Caris LeVert said. “He wants to be out here with us. That’s first and foremost. He definitely worked extremely hard to come back. It’s just a series of unfortunate things that happened with him.”

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Celtics guard Kemba Walker didn’t have a minutes restriction during the All-Star Game last week, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Walker missed Sunday’s contest against the Lakers due to a knee injury, which was made worse by the highly competitive style of play in the All-Star Game.
  • Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris has expressed his desire to re-sign with the team this summer, with the 28-year-old set to become an unrestricted free agent. Brooklyn is expected to enter next season with the likes of Kevin Durant, Irving, LeVert, Spencer DinwiddieJarrett Allen and others, sporting one of the league’s most talented cores on paper. “Definitely, why wouldn’t you?” Harris said when asked if he hopes to re-sign this summer, according to NetsDaily. “Obviously, those are guys who I’ve gotten close with now that I’ve been with them this past year,” Harris said. “They’re obviously incredible players. You see what they’re able to do when they are healthy and playing. I don’t think there’s anybody in the NBA who wouldn’t want to play with those guys.”
  • Knicks guard Wayne Ellington remembers the late Kobe Bryant as both a friend and a mentor, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Both Ellington and Bryant played for the Lakers during the 2014/15 season, with Bryant’s competitiveness, drive and passion holding a permanent impact on Ellington and many other players  around the association.

Wayne Ellington Considers Buyout With Knicks

Wayne Ellington is talking to his agent, Mark Bartlestein, about working out a buyout deal with the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

The 32-year-old shooting guard has appeared in just 25 games after signing as a free agent over the summer.  His $8MM salary for next season is partially guaranteed for just $1MM, so his days in New York appear numbered.

“There will be a decision to make,’’ Ellington said at today’s shootaround. “I’m just listening to my agent at this point. I come in here, come into work every single day like it’s a normal day. Listen and get advice and take it from there.’’

The Knicks are expected to accommodate Ellington if he decides he wants out, Berman adds. Ellington’s playing time has been cut significantly since Mike Miller took over as interim head coach and Reggie Bullock returned from injury. The team showcased him a little bit on Thursday against the Magic, and Ellington responded with 12 points in 18 minutes.

Berman suggests the Lakers, who Ellington spent the 2014/15 season with, could have some interest.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there,’’ Ellington said. “There’s a lot of different things floating around for options. It’s part of the business. It’s part of the game. There’s nothing imminent right now. There’s nothing for sure. I’m going to keep pushing forward. We won three games in a row, try to keep that going.’’

Berman shares a few more buyout tidbits in his story:

  • The Knicks could have obtained rookies Terance Mann and Mfiondu Kabengele along with Maurice Harkless in Thursday’s trade that sent Marcus Morris to the Clippers, but they opted for Harkless and a package of draft picks because they wanted to avoid waiving players right away. New York has a full 15-man roster and would have needed to open two spots before the deal could have been finalized. Berman suggests that management is either counting on saving money with buyouts or just wants the veterans to stay for leadership.
  • Bobby Portis, another Bartlestein client, is also a buyout candidate. The Knicks have a $15.75MM team option next season on Portis, who was reportedly included in a trade offer to the Warriors for D’Angelo Russell.
  • Buying out Ellington would give the Knicks a better chance to evaluate Damyean Dotson before he enters free agency this summer.

Buyout Rumors: Ellington, Jackson, Jazz

Veterans on the trading block that teams were unable to move by Thursday’s deadline could still wind up with other teams. Below are updates on some of those players:

  • The Knicks will look into buying out shooting guard Wayne Ellington, Ian Begley of SNY-TV tweets. Ellington signed a two-year, $16MM contract with New York last summer but the second year is only guaranteed for $1MM. Ellington, 32, has appeared in just 24 games this season, averaging 4.0 PPG in 14.1 MPG. He’s a 37.7% career shooter from beyond the arc.
  • A buyout of point guard Reggie Jackson is an option for the Pistons but is termed “premature” for the time being, Yahoo Sports’ Vince Goodwill tweets. Jackson, who is making over $18MM in the final year of his deal, has missed a good chunk of this season with a back ailment. He is close friends with Andre Drummond, who is headed to Cleveland.
  • The Jazz will be one of the contenders scouring the buyout market both domestically and internationally, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Utah explored several deals the past two days but couldn’t find one that made sense, Jones adds.
  • The Cavaliers are apparently uninterested in buying out center Tristan Thompson. Get the details here.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers, 22, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $3.34MM deal in 2019
This was the player the Sixers envisioned when they made Korkmaz a draft-and-stash pick in 2016. Korkmaz has become a steady presence in Philadelphia’s rotation and is averaging 8.9 PPG while shooting 39.5% from deep. He’s made a significant impact in the last five games, averaging 16.6 PPG while lifting the Sixers to four victories. With Josh Richardson out a few weeks with a hamstring injury, Korkmaz figures to get even more playing time in the near future. Korkmaz’s $1.76MM contract for next season isn’t guaranteed but it’s a foregone conclusion Philadelphia will retain him.

Joe Harris, Nets, 28, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $16MM deal in 2018
Overall, Harris’ numbers are virtually identical to last season’s output, other than a dropoff from an outstanding 47.4% success rate on 3-point tries to a still very solid 40.8%. However, like his team, Harris has been in a slump. He’s scored 13 or fewer points in his last seven games and made seven more turnovers than 3-pointers during that stretch. Harris is too established to stay in this funk for very long. He will still receive offers well above his current salary of $7.67MM but stretches like this might temper some of the enthusiasm for his services when he heads into unrestricted free agency this summer.

Wayne Ellington, Knicks, 32, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $16MM deal in 2019
Ellington had a couple of good years in Miami and gave Detroit a lift during the second half of last season but he’s been a non-factor with the Knicks. Ellington has only appeared in 23 games, averaging 4.0 PPG in 14.3 MPG while making just 30.9% of his 3-point attempts. If the veteran guard isn’t knocking down his threes, there’s no reason to play him — he hasn’t seen any court time since January 14. Only $1MM of Ellington’s $8MM contract for next season is guaranteed. It’s safe to say he will not have to other $7MM forwarded to his bank account. In fact, he may struggle to find anything more than the veteran’s minimum on the market this summer.

Fred VanVleet, Raptors, 25, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $18MM deal in 2018
The arrow continues to point upward for the fourth-year guard, whose production has steadily climbed as his playing time has expanded. VanVleet has missed some games this season due to injuries, most recently a hamstring strain. In the 34 games he’s started, he’s averaging 18.5 PPG, 6.8 APG and 2.0 SPG while shooting 40.2% on 3-point attempts. In the first three games since returning to action, VanVleet averaged 23.7 PPG and made 14 of 19 3-point attempts. He could be looking at offers in the $20-25MM per year range as an unrestricted free agent.

Enes Kanter, Celtics, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $9.77MM deal in 2019
Kanter was the third overall pick in the draft back in 2011, so it’s easy to overlook the fact he’s still just 27 years old. Kanter has always been a double-double machine when given extended minutes. He’s averaging 18.5 MPG, his lowest amount of court time since the 2012/13 season with Utah. Yet he’s posted six doubles-doubles since New Year’s Eve, including a game-changing 18-point, 11-rebound outing against the Lakers this week. Kanter holds a $5MM player option on his contract for next season. He might test the market again and see if he can get a better deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marcus Morris Draws Interest From Clippers, Sixers

The Clippers and Sixers both have interest in acquiring Knicks forward Marcus Morris, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Morris’ playoff experience and expiring $15MM contract make him an attractive addition for any playoff contender. He is among several veterans who signed short-term deals with New York over the summer that carry little to no guaranteed money beyond this season.

With the Knicks in Los Angeles for a game today, Morris was asked about the possibility of joining the Clippers.

“Rumors are rumors,” he said. “Look, I told you before I’m in New York and love being here. I’m excited to help to turn this around. I’m not paying that any mind. I’m focused on what we got going on in this locker room.’’

Morris would likely be more interested in winding up in his hometown of Philadelphia. He said in July that playing close to home was among his reasons for backing out of a deal with the Spurs to join the Knicks.

Berman notes that the Sixers don’t have a first-rounder to offer in the 2020 draft, but they have four second-round picks. He adds that a third team would probably be needed to facilitate a deal, such as the Hawks, who are under the salary cap.

A source tells Berman that the Knicks may also be able to land second-round selections in exchange for Allonzo Trier and Wayne Ellington, who have both fallen out of the rotation.

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Robinson, Bullock, Predictions

Carmelo Anthony received a hero’s welcome as he returned to Madison Square Garden with the Trail Blazers last night, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Anthony was cheered during pre-game introductions and every time he touched the ball. The cheers grew even louder when he scored, as the fans offered their thanks for his six and a half years of service to the Knicks.

“The love was definitely felt tonight,” Anthony said. “From the fans that were here, just the city as a whole, just being back. I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain. But for me to kind of get that ovation, I think I’ve always had the love from the city like that. But to be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight.”

It was only Anthony’s second trip back to Garden since being traded in 2017, and he celebrated with a season-high 26 points. He admitted to reporters that he’d like to see the Knicks retire his number some day.

“I did glance up at the rafters today during the national anthem,” Anthony said. “You know, they say in life you’ve got to envision, so I was envisioning seeing Anthony hanging up there.”

There’s more from New York this morning:

  • The difference in the fan reactions to Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis may have something to do with the return the Knicks got for each player, suggests Marc Berman of The New York Post. While the Porzingis deal brought back Dennis Smith Jr. and a ton of cap room that failed to deliver a star, the package for Anthony included a second-round pick that turned into Mitchell Robinson. The second-year center delivered one of his best performances Wednesday, making all 11 of his shots from the field in a 22-point, eight-rebound night. “I honestly think he’s getting better and better and better,” Anthony said of Robinson. “I don’t really think he understands how good he is or how good he can be and his ceiling. The way he plays is perfect for the way the Knicks play.”
  • Reggie Bullock made his Knicks debut last night, giving the team five healthy shooting guards for the first time this season, Berman notes in a separate story. Playing his first game since spinal fusion surgery in July, Bullock scored 11 points in 15 minutes as Wayne Ellington and Allonzo Trier both remained on the bench.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic offers several Knicks predictions for 2020, including no first-round pick in exchange for Marcus Morris, roster moves to get rid of Ellington and Bobby Portis by the end of February, and no Mark Jackson or Masai Ujiri in the team’s future.

Knicks Notes: Trade Rumors, Bullock, Ellington, Smith Jr.

Another rocky start in New York has led several Knicks to begin seeking a way out, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Sources tell Begley a few players have said privately that they hope to be dealt before the February 6 trade deadline arrives.

That was always a danger for a team that signed so many players to short-term contracts this summer. Of the seven free agents who came to New York, only Julius Randle has any money guaranteed beyond this season. Management has admitted that it prioritized roster flexibility and future cap room after missing out on its top targets in the free agent market.

Begley expects the team to explore trading options on everyone except rookie guard RJ Barrett and possibly second-year center Mitchell Robinson. He notes that several teams, including the Timberwolves, have expressed interest in Dennis Smith Jr.

There’s more from New York:

  • Two much-needed shooters are expected back in the lineup soon, Begley adds in the same story. Reggie Bullock practiced yesterday with the Knicks’ G League team and is close to making his season debut after having cervical disc herniation surgery in July. Wayne Ellington, who has missed the past 10 games with an Achilles issue, may be ready for Saturday’s game at Washington.
  • Efforts to trade Smith will be complicated by an oblique injury that could sideline him for several games, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Smith started feeling discomfort during an extra workout after playing just seven minutes Monday. There’s no word on how much time he might miss with the injury, which is more common among baseball players. “He pulled something in his oblique while he was playing,’’ interim coach Mike Miller said. “It wasn’t a collision. It was just some kind of movement when he did something, it pulled something. … He’s been testing it and going through treatment as best he can. We’ll just have to see day-to-day how he feels.”
  • Robinson credits an agreement he made with former coach David Fizdale for turning his season around, relays Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Any time Robinson commits a reach-in foul during a game, he has to run laps during practice as punishment. “Who wants to keep running all day in practice?” Robinson said. “Why not jump vertical? It worked out pretty great.”

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.