It’s not a surprise — we told you yesterday it was coming — but now it is official.
Well, it is if you can believe J.R. Smith himself. We tend to. Smith tweeted this Friday morning:
New York Knicks it is
Smith will join the Jeremy Lin show, along with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Which is kind of the order it feels like in New York now. Smith is expected to be at the Garden when the Knicks take on the Hornets tonight, but he will not suit up.
Smith had interest from a number of teams — Orlando, Minnesota, Los Angeles Lakers — but had narrowed the choices down to the Clippers and Knicks. Both are good teams (the Clippers likely better) and both could offer a lot of minutes. But the Knicks could offer more money — the $2.5 million mini mid-level exception — and for a guy who went all the way to China for a paycheck during the lockout you had to figure money mattered a lot.
The Knicks have won seven in a row during the Linsanity run and Smith gives then another real scoring threat. Don’t be surprised if Mike D’Antoni uses him as a sixth man, providing a real scoring boost to the second unit. The Knicks have surprisingly been winning during this streak in part due to having the sixth-ranked defense in the league, something Smith can help with as well.
To make room on the roster, the Knicks cut Renaldo Balkman.
Quin Snyder has evolved into one of the best coaches in the NBA (and my pick to win Coach of the Year this season). He’s built a development program and system in Utah that has turned Rudy Gobert into a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Donovan Mitchell into the face of a franchise, and Joe Ingles into a guy other teams covet. His players like and respect Snyder, and he has worked well with the front office of Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik.
So the Jazz are locking him up with a contract extension beyond the two seasons remaining on his deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.
Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder has agreed to a long-term contract extension, league sources tell ESPN. Snyder had two years left on his deal, and a new contract extends multiple years beyond that term, sources said.
After upgrading the team’s talent base over the summer, locking Snyder into an extension had been a top organizational priority.
Jazz fans should be ecstatic about this.
Snyder has built a system team in Utah, one that moves the ball beautifully on offense, and that has been tough to defend in the regular season, with the Jazz winning 50 games last season. Utah has made it to the second round of the playoffs the past two seasons, but when the level of play made that leap a lot of the system gets taken away by good defenses, and the Utah offense became Donovan Mitchell against the world. It didn’t work, Mitchell (still just 22) wasn’t fully ready and there was not enough shooting around him.
This past summer, the Jazz added Mike Conley at point guard and Bojan Bogdanovic on the wing, two excellent shooters who also can create off the dribble. Expectations are high in Utah.
Whatever happens, Snyder is their coach now for a long time.
Milwaukee was up 2-0 in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals on Toronto, having won those games by an average of 15 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo had scored 54 points, pulled down 31 rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and was looking every bit the MVP.
Then the games shifted to Toronto, Kawhi Leonard took over — including guarding Antetokounmpo more — and the Raptors rattled off four straight wins to take the series on their way to the NBA title. The Greek Freak still averaged 20.4 points a night in those final four games, but the buckets were much harder to come by.
Milwaukee returns this season as the Eastern Conference favorites and legit title contenders, in part because of what they learned from that loss. Antetokounmpo told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports he learned a lot directly from Leonard in that series.
“I learned a lot from him,” Antetokounmpo said. “He knocked down free throws. He was calm. When double-teams came, he was swinging the ball but getting it right back. He was aggressive. He was calm but he was on a mission.”
Leonard is the living embodiment of the old John Wooden axiom “be quick, don’t hurry.” He’s not rushed, he’s rarely forced into shots he doesn’t want to take or plays he doesn’t want to make. That’s true of all champions on some level. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan all bring an inner calm.
If Antetokounmpo brings that to his game, the Bucks are one big step closer to a title.
The Indiana Pacers have started to explore the trade market for Domantas Sabonis. There are logical reasons for this: Sabonis is good (he was second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season), yet he and the Pacers are nowhere near agreement on a contract extension, and the Pacers already paid big money for Myles Turner to be their center, how much do they want to pay Sabonis, too?
That’s sound logic if you’re in the Pacers’ front office.
If you’re Sabonis, it can feel like a slap in the face to a guy who put in a lot of sweat and passion for the franchise. That’s what Sabonis sounded like in this quote, via Scott Agnes of The Athletic.
The Pacers are not talking about the report, which started with the well connected and reliable Sam Amick at The Athletic.
Pacers’ brass needs to talk about this with Sabonis (and likely already have, behind closed doors). If the Pacers trade him, it’s likely not until after Dec. 15 at the earliest (when most players signed this summer can be included in a deal) and probably closer to the February trade deadline. That’s a lot of season to play out, and Sabonis remains a vital part of the Indiana rotation.
There is likely to be a lot of interest in Sabonis on the market. However, because he’s a center (a position teams are careful not to overspend on in today’s market) and in the last year of his rookie deal — meaning he becomes a restricted free agent next summer and gets more expensive — teams are not going to overpay for him. Right now the Pacers are asking for too much and interested teams are lowballing their offers. The sides will meet in the middle.
That middle could shift if Sabonis has a rough start to the season. Both sides need him to play well and feel comfortable, whatever is going on with the business side of his contract.