Kurt Helin

Report: Knicks “strong favorites” to sign Joakim Noah in free agency

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Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and maybe Joakim Noah all on the same team? Now all the Knicks need is a DeLorean with a flux capacitor to get back to 2011.

Anthony remains under contract and the Knicks made a big trade to upgrade at the point and get  Rose from the Bulls. Now the Knicks are looking very likely to land long-time Bulls big man Joakim Noah, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The New York Knicks have emerged as strong favorites to sign free-agent big man Joakim Noah, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that multiple teams interested in Noah have all but conceded already that the Knicks are his runaway preferred destination in free agency.

Since the Knicks shipped out Robin Lopez (currently a better player than Noah), they need a new big in free agency. Noah, a native New Yorker”  is great in the locker room and he’s still fierce on the defensive end, but at 31 years old his body has started to betray him — he has missed 68 games in the past two seasons. Even when he does play the injuries and age show, he doesn’t move the same way and with the same athleticism that made him so special in the past. There are teams not chasing him because they think he is “done.”

How much will the Knicks offer Noah? More than $15 million a season? And for how many seasons? Noah is exactly the kind of player who gets overpaid — because a team pictures his past glories and not his current realities. The only question is will the Knicks be the team to do the overpaying, or will they strike a more reasonable deal (by this wild market’s standards)?

It’s going to be an interesting couple of days when the calendar flips to July 1.

Thunder to play two 2016-17 preseason games in Spain

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The Oklahoma City Thunder will play two preseason games in Spain as part of the NBA Global Games Europe 2016.

The NBA and Euroleague made a joint announcement on Wednesday.

The Thunder will play Real Madrid, a nine-time Euroleague Champion and 33-time Spanish League Champion, on Oct. 3. Oklahoma City will then travel to Barcelona to face 18-time Spanish League Champion and two-time Euroleague Champion FC Barcelona Lassa on Oct. 5.

Last season, the Thunder made their fourth Western Conference finals appearance in six years.

In March, the NBA announced that the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans will play preseason games in Shanghai and Beijing on Oct. 9 and Oct. 12 as part of the NBA Global Games 2016.

Multiple reports out of Europe have Dario Saric coming to Sixers next season

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Dario Saric must really want to come to the NBA. It apparently matters more to him than $10 million (at least).

Saric was drafted 12th by Orland and traded to the Sixers in 2014 and has played the last two seasons in Turkey. But now reports are cropping up from newspapers and those connected in Europe that Saric wants to come to the NBA next season and start playing for the Sixers.

Then this is this quote via Basket USA (from this Croatian article, I believe), translated by Hoopshype.

“Everything is going in the right direction, and I expect to finish the Qualifying Tournament with Croatia to go sign my contract in the US,” he said in local media. “I still have a year of contract with Efes and Perasovic wants me to stay, but I promised to join the Sixers after two years. What is promised is most important, and when you are a man of your word, it doesn’t matter what the contract says.”

Saric is 6’10” but has point-forward skills with a very high hoops IQ. Saric brings impressive ball handling skills for his size, great scoring instincts (in the post and in transition), plus he is a gifted passer pass. He needs a more polished jumper, there are questions about his defense, but there is a lot of potential here.

If that sounds a lot like Ben Simmons to you, you’re not alone. It will be interesting to see how Brett Brown would use both of them.

It’s a surprise Saric is coming over now because it will cost him money. If Saric comes to the NBA next season (two seasons after he was drafted) he is locked into the 2014 rookie scale, meaning his salary would be (via our own Dan Feldman).

2016-17: $2,318,280
2017-18: $2,422,560
2018-19: $2,526,840 (team option)
2019-20: $3,481,986 (team option)

That’s about $4.7 million guaranteed and $10.8 for the four years of the contract. After three seasons, the Sixers could offer a contract extension beyond this deal, but he would be locked in for the rookie scale that fourth year.

If Saric waits one more season and comes over for the NBA’s 2017-18 season, he is not bound by the rookie scale and can negotiate any deal he can get from Philadelphia. This is what Nikola Mirotic (among others) have done, and Mirotic negotiated a 3-year deal worth $16.6 million last summer. Remember Mirotic was a lower pick (23rd) and signed before the salary cap spike hitting the league this year. Conservatively, if Saric waits one more a season he should be able to to get three years $21 million from the Sixers, or four years $28 million. That’s at least — at least — $10 million more guaranteed. If your argument is “he gets to his second contract faster coming over now” you are wrong — he would still be under his rookie deal through 2020, if he comes over next summer he can sign a three-year deal for $10 million more and he would still be a free agent in 2020.

But he wants to be here now more than the cash. That’s a good sign for the Sixers.

Report: Jamal Crawford to meet with Clippers, Heat, Knicks, Mavericks, others

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At age 36, Jamal Crawford can still get buckets. He averaged 14 points a game last season, often running the second unit for the Clippers while Chris Paul rested. Crawford still has one of the best crossovers in the game, plus he can knock down pull-up jumpers (even if he is a bit streaky as a shooter).

However at age 36 he is showing declining efficiency and to say he doesn’t give a team much on defense is putting it kindly. How many teams would be interested in him?

A lot, it turns out. The newest is from Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

The incomparable Dan Woike of the Orange County Register had even more details a couple days earlier.

Crawford, who does have a meeting scheduled with the Clippers, is also drawing interest from a number of teams in search of a scoring guard. Crawford is expected to receive interest from the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat, the Toronto Raptors, the Dallas Mavericks, the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets in addition to the Clippers.

Crawford made $5.7 million a year ago, he’s about to see a healthy raise. Welcome to the new economics of the NBA.

Doc Rivers has said he wants to keep the core of the Clippers together, so his interest shouldn’t be a surprise. None of these should be.

The questions with Crawford are how much — in this market he might well pull down an eight-figure salary — and for teams, the more pressing issue will be years. Is there a team willing to go more than two years fully guaranteed to secure his services?

Wherever he lands, the fans will love him. He’s an entertaining player to watch.

Report: Jodie Meeks traded from Detroit to Orlando Magic

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On paper, Jodie Meeks should have been a good fit in Detroit — Stan Van Gundy wanted shooting, and Meeks brings that skill to the table (he’s a career 37.3 percent from three).

However, Meeks missed most of the season with a fractured foot. After two disappointing seasons in Detroit, Meeks is on the move, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Detroit Pistons are nearing a deal to send guard Jodie Meeks to the Orlando Magic, league sources told The Vertical.

The Pistons are receiving a 2019 future second-round pick, sources said. The Magic have room to acquire Meeks because they are $7.3 million below that cap.

This deal makes sense for the Magic because they are thin at the two guard spot, didn’t give up much to get him, and if Meeks is healthy he can be a quality part of the rotation. For the Pistons, they were ready to move on, the second round pick is a nice consolation.

The Pistons still need shooting, something Van Gundy needs to address in free agency.