Wayne Ellington

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.

Knicks To Sign Wayne Ellington

The Knicks have agreed to a two-year, $16MM contract with free agent sharpshooter Wayne Ellington, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Ellington, a career 38% shooter from behind the arc, will play for the ninth different team of his career. He’s previously made stops with Minnesota, Memphis, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Miami and Detroit.

New York has already reached agreements with Julius Randle (3-year/$64MM), Bobby Portis (2-year/$31MM), Taj Gibson (2-year/$20MM) and Reggie Bullock (2-year, $21MM) during the first day of free agency. The team has roughly $10MM left in cap space with two open roster spots.

In addition to his floor-spacing ability, the Knicks value Ellington’s veteran mindset and locker room mentality. He averaged 12 points in 28 games for the Pistons last season, holding a 37% shooting mark from 3-point range.

Free Agency Notes: Mirotic, Kanter, Knicks

Nikola Mirotic helped kick off free agency weekend by opting to play in Barcelona next season. It’s a surprising development considering he was a coveted free agent.

The Jazz had their eye on Mirotic and had “major interest” in trying to sign him to a three-year deal in the $45MM range, Marc Stein of The New York Times hears (Twitter link). The market for stretch fours is even thinner now after Mirotic’s decision.

Let’s take a look at more free agency notes from around the league:

  • The Clippers have interest in Enes Kanter, Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard reports (Twitter link). Broussard also confirms that the Celtics and Lakers are eyeing the center, as was previously reported.
  • There’s been no indication that the Celtics are still pursuing Clint Capela, whether it be a Rockets‘ sign-and-trade involving Jimmy Butler or any scenario, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets. Capela had previously been linked to Boston.
  • The Knicks will not extend a qualifying offer to Isaiah Hicks, Ian Begley of SNY.tv tweets. Hicks was on a two-way contract last season.
  • New York has interest in George Hill and Wayne Ellington, Begley relays in a full-length piece. Both veterans will be targets regardless of whether the Knicks land any stars in free agency.

Heat Notes: Draft, Ellington, Langford

Should the Heat enter the sweepstakes for the No. 4 overall pick? Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel believes it depends on the cost.

The scribe isn’t a fan of the team sending away Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, or Bam Adebayo in a deal, though if a trade was structured around one of their player-friendly contracts, such as Dion Waiters or James Johnson, an additional player and the No. 13, moving up would make more sense.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat could use Wayne Ellington back, but luxury tax concerns may put him out of the team’s price range, Winderman notes in the same piece. Miami began last season with great depth in the backcourt but that’s no longer the case after the team sent Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and Tyler Johnson away and watched Dwyane Wade retire.
  • Romeo Langford (Indiana) met with the Heat today, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports tweets. Langford’s busy day also includes a meeting with the Pelicans. He has previously visited Cleveland, Atlanta, and Minnesota.
  • The Heat also worked out Sekou Doumbouya (France), according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Doumbouya is expected to go in the lottery.

Bulls Rumors: Ball, Ellington, I. Smith, Point Guards

The Bulls figure to cast a wide net as they seek out point guard help this summer, as it’s the position most in need of an upgrade on their roster. In fact, Chicago has already had at least one interesting discussion involving a point guard this year.

An NBA executive tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the Bulls and Lakers had “initial conversations” about Lonzo Ball after Ball’s camp leaked that Chicago would be on the point guard’s list of preferred destinations if he were traded.

It’s not clear whether those in-season discussions went anywhere or if either team plans on revisiting them this summer, but it’s a signal that the Bulls figure to explore plenty of options as they consider how to fortify their point guard position.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • According to one scout, the Bulls have “taken interest” in the Pistons’ roster, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, adding that the club likes Wayne Ellington‘s shooting and Ish Smith‘s ability to run a team. Both veterans will be free agents this offseason.
  • While he recognizes that the Bulls aren’t likely to be major players for top free agents this year, executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson believes Chicago is on the right track to eventually become an attractive destination again, as Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I do think that when you establish yourself, which we’re trying to do right now as a relevant team again, and as we get better positioning ourselves to have money when guys come up in the future, I think this will be a destination place,” Paxson said last week. “But we have to get better. That’s the thing. We have to get to a point where we are playing for important things. But our young guys have to develop into the type of players that other guys want to play with. And I think we have a couple guys right now on the roster and hopefully we’ll have more in the future.”
  • Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago takes a closer look at the Bulls’ roster by position, identifying which players are likely – or unlikely – to return, and reiterating that point guard tops the club’s list of offseason needs.

Eastern Notes: Ellington, Wizards, Cavs

Detroit remains in the playoff race in large part due to the addition of Wayne Ellington. The shooting guard has made 38.1% of his looks from behind the arc on 7.8 attempts per game since coming to the franchise. Coach Dwane Casey sees Ellington’s use of his speed as a major reason why he’s able to succeed from 3-point land.

“If he was slow coming off, teams would chase him over and get there. He really comes off with speed and he knows how to change speeds to get open. [Luke Kennard] could really learn from him as far as watching him work out. It’s not just for games. He does it every day in practice,” Casey said (via Keith Langlois of NBA.com).

The Pistons were in need of outside shooting after shipping Reggie Bullock to the Lakers at the trade deadline and the team is glad it was able to nab Ellington after the veteran agreed to a buyout with the Suns. The sharpshooter will again be a free agent at the end of the season.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Wizards are working with prominent sports executive Mike Forde as the team looks to reset its front office, a source tells Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Forde is the CEO of Sportsology and was previously the director of football operations for Chelsea in the Premier League.
  • Bradley Beal has been a mentor to Troy Brown Jr. and the All-NBA candidate sees a bright future for the Wizards‘ rookie, as Zach Rosen of NBA.com relays. “I told him in the beginning of the year, you are going to see a lot of stuff throughout this year, and one thing I always tell him is, it is easy to just get caught up in the negativity but the more positive you stay and the more ready you stay, your name will eventually be called and sure enough, it was called and he performed,” Beal said. “He did excellent. He has been constantly growing. It is just a matter of him just getting more minutes.”
  • The Cavaliers‘ home arena will see a name change from Quicken Loans Arena to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, according to Tom Withers of The Associated Press. The venue is also undergoing “major” renovations.

And-Ones: Calipari, Trice, Ochefu, Pistons

After receiving some interest from UCLA, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has elected to remain with the Wildcats, and the program made it worth his while to do so, reports Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com. According to Borzello, Calipari – who was already under contract through 2024 – has agreed to an extension that will run through his retirement, and will also feature a lifetime role as an ambassador to the university.

“Where else would I want to coach?” Calipari said on his radio show in confirming the news.

Calipari reportedly received a six-year, $48MM offer from UCLA before electing to extend his agreement with Kentucky, per Seth Davis of The Athletic. The 60-year-old is the highest-paid head coach in the NCAA ranks, earning a reported $9.2MM salary this season.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Travis Trice, a veteran G League guard who has been in camp with the Knicks and Bucks in recent years, is headed to Turkey to continue his professional career. After averaging 16.9 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.3 RPG in 36 total NBAGL games this season for the Austin Spurs and Wisconsin Herd, Trice has officially signed with Tofas SK, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Former Wizards center Daniel Ochefu, who appeared in 19 games for Washington in 2016/17, has signed with Spanish team CB Breogan, according to an announcement from the club (via Twitter). Ochefu spent most of the 2018/19 season with the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate, posting 14.8 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 39 games (24.2 MPG).
  • The Pistons will enter the offseason looking to fortify their point guard and wing spots, but won’t have much financial flexibility to do so. As such, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press wonders if attempting to re-sign Ish Smith and Wayne Ellington might make the most sense for the club.

Lakers Rumors: Zubac, LeBron, Butler, PG13, Randle

The Lakers‘ decision to trade Ivica Zubac to the Clippers in a deal for Mike Muscala was one of the more questionable deadline moves last month. To make matter worse, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes that the Lakers actually instigated those trade discussions.

Sources tell McMenamin that the Clippers never inquired on Zubac, and that it was the Lakers who made the offer, which the Clips “gladly accepted.” Veteran Clippers executive Jerry West “couldn’t believe how Zubac fell into his lap,” McMenamin writes.

The Lakers had hoped the roster spot they opened up in that swap – which also included Michael Beasley – would clear the way for the team to sign a player like Wayne Ellington, DeAndre Jordan, or Enes Kanter on the buyout market, per McMenamin. However, those players either chose other teams or never became available.

McMenamin’s latest article for ESPN digs into the Lakers’ disappointing season in detail, and includes several more noteworthy tidbits. Here are the highlights from the piece:

  • One team source tells McMenamin that they felt as if LeBron James didn’t fully engage with his younger teammates prior to the trade deadline.
  • Rajon Rondo organized a players-only meeting about a month ago in the hopes that the team would find “a better understanding of one another,” a source tells McMenamin. Players spoke up about LeBron’s “inconsistent body language,” and James took the criticism to heart, making an effort to improve on that going forward. Of course, the meeting hasn’t led to improved on-court results. “Just because [the meeting] was positive doesn’t mean we’re going to win 25 games in a row,” a team source told McMenamin.
  • Anthony Davis‘ name didn’t come up last summer when James met with Magic Johnson on the eve of free agency and discussed future plans. However, it has been clear all year that the Lakers intend to pair LeBron with a second maximum-salary free agent. L.A. was one of several teams to inquire on Jimmy Butler before he was sent to Philadelphia last fall, McMenamin reports.
  • Paul George‘s decision to stay in Oklahoma City last offseason was more about what the Thunder did right than what the Lakers did wrong, sources tell McMenamin. Still, it’s worth noting that George was somewhat familiar with how the Lakers ran things, having spoken to his agent Aaron Mintz and former teammate Corey Brewer about their experiences with the organization.
  • Mintz represents Julius Randle, who never received an offer from the Lakers as a restricted free agency last July, per McMenamin. Randle ultimately signed with the Pelicans because he felt like they really wanted him, which wasn’t a feeling he got from the Lakers, despite the fact that head coach Luke Walton and his staff hoped he’d be back, McMenamin writes.

Central Notes: Ellington, Cavs, Middleton, Pistons

Wayne Ellington has seen significant minutes since joining the Pistons, a stark contrast from his previous situation with the Heat. Miami traded him to Phoenix on February 7, with both sides then reaching a buyout to allow him to enter free agency and sign with Detroit.

Ellington has averaged 28.5 minutes in his first four games with his new team, including a 33-minute contest against Boston before All-Star Weekend.

“Wayne showed in his minutes against Boston that he’s picked up things pretty quickly,” head coach Dwane Casey said, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Ellington has started in the last two games for the Pistons — including the team’s 119-96 victory over the Heat on Saturday — proving his worth as a valuable shooting guard capable of spreading the floor around Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and others.

Ellington spent much of the All-Star break studying plays and prepping for his ascension to the starting five, according to Beard. It’s possible that he remains in this role for an extended time, with the Pistons currently fighting for a playoff berth alongside Brooklyn, Charlotte, Orlando, Miami and Washington.

There’s more out of the Central Division today:

  • The Cavaliers are not interested in tanking and plan to play at a playoff pace the rest of the season, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes“With everybody coming back and guys really coming into their own — myself, Cedi (Osman), Collin (Sexton) has been playing great — I would like to see us, if you start the season today, I would like to see us in the playoffs,” Larry Nance Jr. said. “Look, I know we’re not going to make the playoffs. I know that. I’m talking about finishing top eight in the conference just over the final 23 games.” Despite his honesty, Nance Jr. recognized the importance of continuing to play with a competitive fire until the season ends.
  • Zach Lowe of ESPN.com details the game of Bucks guard Khris Middleton, a rare kind of second star who’s expected to reach free agency this July. Middleton, an NBA All-Star, has averaged 17.3 points on 38% shooting from 3-point range with the team this season. “It’s amazing how Khris has grown,” teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “As a team, we have clicked. It is something special.”
  • Pistons center Andre Drummond still has plenty of room to improve, Rod Beard writes in his mailbag for The Detroit News. Drummond, 25, makes up a talented Detroit frontcourt alongside Blake Griffin. Beard also discussed the role of Svi Mykhailiuk, whether the team can build a successful roster around Griffin, and more.