Wayne Ellington

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.

Knicks Notes: Randle, Fizdale, Dotson, Barrett

Before putting up 30 points on Monday against Cleveland, Julius Randle had struggled in his first few weeks as a member of the Knicks, averaging 15.5 PPG on .423/.200/.623 shooting with 3.8 TOPG through 13 games. Randle was the team’s big free agent addition of the offseason, inking a three-year deal worth about $19MM per season. However, the big man told Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that the pressure of living up to that contract isn’t the reason for his slow start.

“No, the money is in the bank. So it’s not pressure for that,” Randle said. “Me and (head coach David Fizdale) joke about it all the time — the money is the bank, just go out and have fun. But moreso than the money, I have more responsibility.”

As Randle explained, he’s essentially the No. 1 offensive option for the Knicks, a role he didn’t have on his previous teams. As he continues to adjust to that new role, Randle is leaning on agent Aaron Mintz to help keep him focused and on the right track, as he told Bondy.

“I talk to (Mintz) every day. He talks me off a ledge every day. It’s like, I joke with him, it’s like my sane side — him and my wife,” Randle said. “Because I’m ready to blow up and they kind of talk me back to reality. He gives me a day just to chill out and then he talks me back to reality.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • David Fizdale dismissed concerns about his job security on Tuesday, telling reporters – including Ian Begley of SNY.tv – that he gets regular votes of confidence from team owner James Dolan. “Every game, every game. Jim Dolan comes in and gives me a vote of confidence, a pat on my back and really has just been incredibly encouraging over the last year and a half or whatever it’s been,” Fizdale said. “All we talk about is just sticking to the process of making these guys better and building for a future of sustainable winning.”
  • The Knicks have no shortage of options for their backup shooting guard job, but Damyean Dotson appears to be claiming that role for now, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details. Dotson has averaged 19.6 minutes per game over New York’s last five contests, while Allonzo Trier has played 21 total minutes during that stretch and Wayne Ellington has played just 18. Dotson and Trier will be eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end; Ellington has a non-guaranteed $8MM salary for 2020/21.
  • Mike Vornukov of The Athletic and Kevon Pelton of ESPN each take a look at RJ Barrett‘s early-season workload, exploring how closely that issue is worth monitoring.
  • As we relayed earlier today, Elfrid Payton will be sidelined for at least 10 more days due to a hamstring strain.

Atlantic Notes: Ellington, Konate, Horford, Simmons

With Wayne Ellington headed back to the Knicks, he recalls that his first stay with the team was so short that he “never put the jersey on,” relays Steve Popper of Newsday. The Mavericks sent Ellington to New York in a trade during the summer of 2014, but the Knicks shipped him to the Kings before the season started. So it doesn’t officially count as one of his eight stops during a 10-year NBA career.

Ellington is back in New York after signing a two-year deal last month with the first season fully guaranteed. Along with providing a veteran presence, Ellington will bring a much-needed 3-point threat to the Knicks, who were among the league’s worst teams from behind the arc last season.

“I’m here first and foremost to help lead a very young team,” Ellington said. “That’s one of the things (Knicks coach David Fizdale) and I spoke about, helping to lead. And of course, I’m here be a player, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench, whatever Fiz needed me to do, I’m going to be ready and prepared for it. That’s really not my main focus, whether I’m a starter or not, but I’m definitely coming in here to compete.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors are being careful with shot-blocking specialist Sagaba Konate, who missed most of last season at West Virginia because of knee problems, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Konate signed with Toronto shortly after being passed over in the draft, but hasn’t seen much on-court action in the past two months. He was held out of the Las Vegas Summer League and hasn’t participated in five-on-five scrimmages. “We feel really strong about our medical staff and what the proper sort of approach you can take to a rehabilitation project,” assistant GM Dan Tolzman said. “We’re curious to see what he can become. It’s all about getting him ready for the start of the training camp and see what he does from there.”
  • Al Horford is likely to become more of an outside shooter playing alongside Joel Embiid, predicts Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. Horford, who signed with the Sixers in free agency, took 203 3-point shots last season, but Hofmann expects that number to grow as he tries to provide more spacing for his teammates.
  • With a video circulating of Ben Simmons sinking long 3-pointers, Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports notes that the All-Star guard’s development in that area could be critical for the Sixers‘ long-term success. Simmons, who signed a five-year extension last month, hasn’t made a 3-point shot during his first two NBA seasons.

Contract Details: Portis, Theis, G. Hill, Harrison

As we previously relayed, most of the new Knicks that signed multiyear contracts with the team this month received modest partial guarantees in the final year of their respective deals. Taj Gibson, Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington, and Reggie Bullock each have $1MM partial guarantees for 2020/21, while Julius Randle has a $4MM partial guarantee in 2021/22.

The only newly-signed member of the Knicks whose deal includes a team option – rather than a non-guaranteed final year – is Bobby Portis, per Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Portis will earn a guaranteed $15MM salary in 2019/20 with a $15.75MM team option for 2020/21.

Meanwhile, Marcus Morris is the only Knicks free agent addition who didn’t get a multiyear contract at all, as Pincus notes. Morris will earn a flat $15MM salary on his one-year deal.

Here are a few more contract details from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Daniel Theis‘ new two-year, $10MM deal with the Celtics is only guaranteed for the first year, according to Pincus. Theis’ $5MM non-guaranteed salary for 2020/21 would become guaranteed if he remains under contract through July 3, 2020.
  • Pincus also provides the specific details on the partial guarantee in year three of George Hill‘s new contract with the Bucks. After earning a total of $18.72MM in his first two seasons, the veteran guard has a $1.28MM partial guarantee in 2021/22 that increases his overall guarantee to exactly $20MM. If he remains under contract through July 1, 2021, Hill’s third year would be worth $10.05MM.
  • Having re-signed with the Bulls on a new one-year, minimum-salary contract, Shaquille Harrison received a partial guarantee worth $175K, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Harrison will also get a de facto no-trade clause as a result of signing a one-year deal with his previous team.

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.