Tim Hardaway Jr.

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Knicks reportedly could add Trey Burke, Jarrett Jack for camp

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The Knicks have the aging veteran Ramon Sessions, the rookie Frank Ntilikina, and the wildly overpaid Ron Baker to play the point this season, all on guaranteed deals. Not thrilling options, but that’s your point guard core (with maybe some Chasson Randle in the mix, too, although his salary is not guaranteed until the first day of training camp, Sept. 26).

But they could add another guard for training camp and Ian Begley of ESPN threw out some interesting names.

Jack is a good veteran but is coming off multiple knee surgeries, the latest of which was last March after he had gotten a 10-day contract with the Pelicans. Burke washed out in Washington as a backup point guard after he had not panned out for Utah, either.

The Knicks are fairly set at both guard spots — Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee will split the bulk of the time at the two — but they are looking for guys for camp. New York has 14 guaranteed roster spots, if Randle is there when camp opens it’s 15 and there are no more openings.

Hawks commit more earnestly to rebuild, but enough?

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Hawks were pretty good without a clear path forward.

Now, they’re pretty bad without a clear path forward.

Luckily for them – and despite their best efforts – they might be bad enough.

Atlanta continued its descent from its 60-win peak two years ago by losing its two best players. The Hawks let Paul Millsap leave for the Nuggets and traded Dwight Howard to the Hornets in what could be described as a salary rearrangement more than a salary dump.

After multiple half-measures toward rebuilding – refusing to offer Al Horford the max, trading Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver for first-round picks – Atlanta finally committed.

Kind of.

The Hawks hedged against full-on tanking by signing Dewayne Dedmon and Ersan Ilyasova. Those two big men – Dedmon in his prime, Ilyasova close enough to it – supply enough hustle and basketball intelligence to sabotage a proper tank. Coach Mike Budenholzer, whose teams tend to exceed the sum of their parts, won’t help Atlanta bottom out.

I can see breaking up a team with a playoff chance to torpedo high into the lottery. The Hawks aren’t doing that – not purposefully, at least. It appears they’re trying to remain credibly competitive, which could only undermine their rebuild.

Atlanta is rebuilding around Dennis Schroder, John Collins, Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry. The Hawks also have all their own first-rounders plus protected first-rounders from the Rockets, Timberwolves, and Cavaliers. But the Houston pick is the only one of those extras that can ever land in the top 10, and that’s just top-three protected this season, a season in which the Rockets project to pick in the low 20s.

Simply, this is not an encouraging asset pool to begin a rebuild with. Atlanta would benefit greatly from a high 2018 pick.

The Hawks just don’t seem interested enough in securing one.

They also lost Tim Hardaway Jr. and Thabo Sefolosha in free agency. Like the 32-year-old Millsap, the 33-year-old Sefolosha had no place on a team mostly rebuilding. The 25-year-old Hardaway could have fit into the next era or even as a trade chip, but not on the four-year, $71 million offer sheet the Knicks signed him to. Though Atlanta wisely passed on matching, it’s a shame to lose an asset for nothing.

That’s really the story of the Hawks’ descent. Millsap, Horford, Sefolosha and DeMarre Carroll all walked in free agency. Atlanta was always reluctant to trade those players for value while it could.

I’m trying to grade only this offseason, not prior decisions. General manager Travis Schlenk took over this offseason, and he has the runway for a patient rebuild.

The Hawks wisely got a first-rounder for taking and buying out Jamal Crawford. Could they have found similar deals rather than signing Dedmon and Ilyasova? Could they have signed younger players instead?

The Hawks might hope they can trade Dedmon (two years, $12.3 million) and Ilyasova (one-year, $6 million) for even greater value, but that comes with complications. Dedmon has a $6.3 million player option for next season, so if his deal goes south, Atlanta is on the hook for another year. (If it goes well, Dedmon will become an unrestricted free agent and – fitting the theme – could just leave.) As a returning player on a one-year contract, Ilyasova can veto any trade.

If the Hawks had re-signed Millsap (and maybe Sefolosha, too), they could have made a decent case to return to the playoffs in the lowly Eastern Conference. Atlanta has the NBA’s second-longest active playoff streak, 10 seasons. That isn’t nothing, and continuing it would have been fine.

If the Hawks tried to return to the playoffs and failed, they would have ended up in a similar position to where they are now – somewhere in the lottery, but not necessarily high in it. They could have even traded Millsap – whose Denver deal guarantees him just $61 million over two years – for value.

If the future is murky either way, I’d rather be better in the interim.

Perhaps, Atlanta just tired of losing in the first or second round (though ownership and management has recently changed). That would have been the team’s likely ceiling if it re-signed Millsap.

But I just don’t see winning about 30 games as more pleasurable than reaching the playoffs, even with an early-round exit. A 30-win season doesn’t bring enough value in the draft to offset the difference.

Here’s the good news: The Hawks’ hedging probably didn’t go far enough. They might be downright terrible, anyway – positioning them to draft the elite young talent they badly need to galvanize their rebuild.

This was a D+ effort that stumbled into a slightly more favorable position – i.e., a team that struggles more than it expects.

Offseason grade: C-

Report: ‘Continues to be distance’ between Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks

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The Knicks ousted Phil Jackson – who went out of his way to alienate Kristaps Porzingis – and promoted Steve Mills, who said he had a “hectic texting relationship” with the young big man. They exercised Porzingis’ 2018-19 team option. Porzingis said he wants to spend the rest of his career in New York.

So everything is now smooth between Porzingis and the Knicks?

Not necessarily, especially not with Kyrie Irving on the trade block.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Porzingis has emerged as a primary Cleveland target, but that’s a conversation that can occur only with Cleveland’s willingness to unburden the Knicks of the three years and $55 million left on Joakim Noah‘s contract. For now, the conversation is a nonstarter for the Knicks, league sources said.

For the right All-Star player, though — Irving or otherwise — multiple NBA teams are seriously questioning how emphatic of a “no” that will stay for New York. There continues to be distance between Porzingis and the organization, and how the Knicks truly value Porzingis’ future could become clearer once they’re together to begin the season.

I am shocked that a regime that paid Tim Hardaway Jr. $71 million over four years and Ron Baker $9 million over two years – and gave both player options! – hasn’t elicited complete confidence from Porzingis.

Porzingis still has two seasons before restricted free agency. There’s still plenty of time for this relationship to fully heal.

Porzingis is also more valuable than Irving. Noah, who carries highly negative value, could bridge the gap to the Cavaliers star. But I wouldn’t trade Porzingis and Noah for Irving. The Knicks are likely to be mediocre for the rest of Noah’s contract, anyway. Better just to ride that out and still have Porzingis at the end of the tunnel. There’s no such guarantee with Irving, who will become an unrestricted free agent in two years.

But it sounds as if the Knicks must still work to get Porzingis back fully on the same page.

Report: Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum did “good job of recruiting” Carmelo Anthony

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According to every report and every source, as of right now Carmelo Anthony will only waive his no-trade clause for the Houston Rockets.

That doesn’t mean plenty of people are not trying to get ‘Melo to broaden that list. The Knicks certainly are. So have been the Portland Trail Blazers, in the persons of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN Radio’s The Russillo Show,

Wojnarowski had said before that Portland was a dark horse in the chase.

Lillard and McCollum have been public about it and worked hard to get Anthony to put Portland in the mix. So far to no avail, but the pair apparently has not given up.

Portland has the salary to make a trade work, particularly if the Knicks take on Evan Turner plus another rotation player, although with Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the roster that may not work for New York. To match the salaries the Blazers could do Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu’s and Ed Davis, plus the Blazers can throw in picks and maybe one of their recent draftees. But I can’t see the Knicks taking on Leonard. Also, if the Knicks want a quality young player or if the Trail Blazers want to shed Leonard they will need a third team.

You could ask at this point how picky can the Knicks be, unless they want to bring ‘Melo into to training camp? However, GM Scott Perry has made it clear the Knicks are willing do just that.

All of this is fun speculation, but also moot if Anthony doesn’t add Portland to his list of destinations. So far, he has not.

 

Report: Knicks, Rockets “re-engaged” on Carmelo Anthony trade talks, still major hurdles

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The Knicks and Rockets are back at it.

That doesn’t mean they are any closer to a deal.

The Knicks want to trade Carmelo Anthony so they can build around Kristaps Porzingis. ‘Melo is good with that so long as he is traded only to Houston (he has the no-trade clause to get his way, and with the Kyrie Irving situation Cleveland is now off the table). The Rockets would love to add Anthony, but they need a third team to take on Ryan Anderson‘s contract (three years, $60 million, the Knicks don’t want it) and no team has been willing to do that without serious sweeteners — such as two high first round picks. Not many teams have the space to do it period. Talks stalled out before because no third team could be found.

But the Knicks and Rockets are trying again, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The New York Knicks and Houston Rockets have re-engaged on trade talks involving 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony, with the Rockets again canvassing third-team trade partners to construct a deal, league sources told ESPN.

Anthony remains steadfast that he only plans to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets and refuses to expand his list to include more possible destinations, league sources said….

The Knicks remain willing to start training camp with Anthony, 33, on the roster, and a real scenario exists where the Rockets and Anthony remain patient that a deal could have to wait until the regular season is underway, league sources said.

The Knicks are saying no trade is better than a bad trade. They are right. They technically don’t have to trade Anthony.

However, bringing Anthony into training camp would create a media circus. Plus, the Knicks want to start focusing their rebuild around Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. (and maybe Frank Ntilikina), and having Anthony on the floor is going to mean he gets a lot of shots, which could slow the development of the Knicks young stars.

The rumors aren’t going anywhere, the two sides can talk all they want, but until some team is found that is willing to take on Anderson nothing has changed.