Cleanthony Early

Knicks sign second-round pick Cleanthony Early


The Knicks don’t get to draft that often.

Before this year, they’d chosen only once in each of the previous three drafts. And they had no selections planned for this year. Plus, they’d already traded their 2016 first rounder and next three second rounders.

But Phil Jackson dealt for the No. 34 and No. 51 picks, bringing New York into the NBA’s strongest draft in a decade. You better believe the Knicks weren’t going to squander those selections already.

Knicks team release:

New York Knickerbockers President Phil Jackson announced today that the team has signed forward Cleanthony Early to a contract.

Because the Knicks used the full taxpayer mid-level exception on Jason Smith, they can offer Early only a minimum contract. The deal can be up to two years – $507,336 this season and $845,059 the next.

Increasingly, players drafted in Early’s range get two years guaranteed, and I’d guess he did too. But because the Knicks are so intent in preserving cap space for next summer, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Early received only one fully guaranteed season.

In the meantime, he’ll try to earn some minutes behind Carmelo Anthony. Early, coming out of Wichita State, is fairly NBA-ready for a second-round pick. But he’s still a second-round pick. Anything positive contributions this season should be viewed as a bonus.

Stan Van Gundy rips ‘selfish’ Pistons

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The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.

Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.

On offensive problems:

I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball

On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:

He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.

On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:

We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.

Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.

But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.

Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.

Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.

He’d appreciate them getting this message.

Report: Dwight Howard didn’t have offseason surgery

Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.

So, um, did he have offseason surgery?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.

We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?