Report: Knicks player says team’s CAA clients get preferential treatment

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The New York Knicks have deep ties with Creative Artists Agency. It’d be one thing if the Knicks just had good relationships with those agents and that led to them repeatedly signing their players.

But the Knicks reportedly forced their coach, Mike Woodson, to join CAA. And above him, general manager Steve Mills and assistant general managers Mark Warkentein and Allan Houston are also CAA clients.

You can see how that could lead to problems.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

One Knicks player recently told ESPN.com that the CAA ties were a problem in the locker room.

“You see how guys from CAA are treated differently,” the player said. “How they get away with saying certain things to coaches. How coaches talk to them differently than they talk to the other guys. It’s a problem.”

First, for reference, let’s split the Knicks’ roster into two lists:

CAA

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Andrea Bargnani
  • J.R. Smith

Non-CAA

  • Tyson Chandler
  • Amar’e Stoudemire
  • Raymond Felton
  • Iman Shumpert
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.
  • Pablo Prigioni
  • Kenyon Martin
  • Toure’ Murry
  • Cole Aldrich
  • Jeremy Tyler
  • Earl Clark
  • Shannon Brown

With Chris Smith gone, the Knicks are no longer quite as CAA-heavy.

Melo gets preferential treatment, because he’s the team’s best player and a true star. He’d get special privileges no matter which agent represents him.

Bargnani and J.R. Smith? Yeah, I can why (at least) one of their teammates is dismayed.

Smith has gotten a ridiculously long leash from Woodson, and before getting injured, Bargnani regularly started despite poor – and occasionally stupid – play. When all signs point to the Knicks playing better with other players – mostly small lineups that include Tyson Chandler as the only big and two point guards in the backcourt rather than Smith – these two got chance after chance.

Maybe the Knicks are pursuing Phil Jackson, who isn’t a CAA client, to fix these broken processes. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

The Knicks under Dolan have maintained a close relationship with CAA, the agency that represents both Anthony and Woodson. The hiring of Jackson could be viewed as Dolan wanting to distance himself from CAA.

“The Knicks and Phil are getting exactly what they want out of this,” said one general manager. “The Knicks are showing that they want to do something and this is a chance for Phil to get the Lakers to make a move. If they don’t, he can take the Knicks’ money.”

Why the Knicks are distancing themselves from CAA now, just before Melo hits free agency, confuses me. It might be the right move at just the wrong time. But New York shouldn’t throw good money after bad, either.

If Jackson can make the Knicks function like the well-run franchise they aren’t, including putting the relationship with CAA on more reasonable grounds, they’ll be getting their money worth.

Meanwhile, Smith and Bargnani will continue to get the money they’re not worth.

It’s too late to completely fix the issue, but Jackson could get New York headed in the right direction.

Pistons claim Christian Wood off waivers

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The Bucks waived Christian Wood late last season to ensure avoiding the luxury tax. The Pelicans claimed him. Wood had played well in limited minutes with the 76ers, Hornets and Bucks and in the NBA’s minor league since going undrafted in 2015.

New Orleans gave him his biggest opportunity yet. In 24 minutes per game over eight games, he averaged 17 points and eight rebounds.

But the Pelicans filled their roster for next season and waived Wood.

Detroit will take advantage.

Pistons release:

The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has claimed forward/center Christian Wood off waivers.

Wood’s $1,645,357 minimum salary is unguaranteed until the regular season. So, Detroit could still waive him before the season. But it seems he’ll at least go to training camp and get a shot at a regular-season roster spot.

The Pelicans also could’ve kept him through the preseason then waived him before the regular season. They seemingly did him a favor of allowing him to get somewhere he has a realistic chance of sticking.

Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond will start in the frontcourt for the Pistons. Markieff Morris and Thon Maker appear to be first in line is backups.

But don’t be surprised if Wood earns playing time. At minimum, the 23-year-old should provide nice depth at both power forward and center.

The Pistons have also now acquired four members of last year’s Bucks – Tony Snell, Thon Maker, Tim Frazier and now Wood.

Knicks: Reggie Bullock has spine injury

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Reggie Bullock had his agreed-upon salary cut by more than half with the Knicks. He’ll reportedly miss at least a month of the regular season.

All because of a mysterious health issue.

The Knicks have finally disclosed what’s happening.

Knicks release:

Reggie Bullock underwent successful surgery today at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York for a cervical disc herniation. The team will plan to provide an update on his rehab and progress around the start of training camp.

Bullock is a good shooter from the wing. New York could use him. Many teams could use him.

But Bullock must get healthy first.

At this point, we probably shouldn’t expect much from him any time soon. The best indication: how eagerly his agent praised the Knicks for their handling of this situation. Again, Bullock settled for less than half his initially agreed-upon salary.

Report: Suns signing Cheick Diallo to two-year contract

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The Suns went old in the draft, picking 23-year-old Cameron Johnson at No. 11.

Phoenix will go younger in free agency with 22-year-old Cheick Diallo.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Barring another move, the Suns have only the minimum available. Diallo will get $1,678,854 next season and $1,824,003 the following season.

The No. 33 pick in the 2016 draft, Diallo worked his way into the low end of the rotation during his three years with the Pelicans. He’s a hustle big, committed rebounder and athletic player. But at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, he’s not strong enough to bang with most centers. His skill level is low for power forward.

Phoenix will stick him behind Deandre Ayton, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky in the frontcourt. Diallo might receive situation minutes, but he must develop further to hold staying power.

Report: Chris Paul increasingly expected to start season with Thunder

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Last week, the Thunder had an expensive point guard who’s into his 30s and didn’t fit a team shifting into rebuilding without Paul George.

Same story now.

Oklahoma City traded Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul to acquire draft picks and shed long-term salary. Getting Paul as a player was of minimal concern. That’s why the Thunder worked with him to flip him. But a team like the Heat wanted draft picks just for taking the three years and $124,076,442 remaining on Paul’s contract.

So, Oklahoma City might hold onto Paul, after all.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The 34-year-old Paul is past his prime. But he’s still good. It’d be interesting to see him once again as his team’s best player after he spent so much time stuck in the corner watching James Harden.

Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams could form the core of a solid team this season. Paul can run an offense, and Adams (pick-and-roll) and Gallinari (pick-and-pop) offer nice complementary skills. If Andre Roberson is healthy or if a young player like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nerlens Noel, Terrence Ferguson or Hamidou Diallo takes the next step, Oklahoma City could make real noise.

The Thunder’s biggest challenge: They play in the loaded Western Conference. That makes it far more difficult to make the playoffs. But in terms of team quality, Oklahoma City could be in the thick of competitiveness.

If Paul and Gallinari stay healthy. That can’t be assumed, though Adams can do some dirty work to keep those two clean.

The Thunder have tremendous draft capital – so much of which is tied to the fates of the Clippers, Rockets, Heat and Nuggets. Oklahoma City could tank and improve its draft position further and sooner. But owning so many picks from other teams allows the Thunder to try to win now while simultaneously rebuilding. They don’t necessarily have to waste seasons in the basement just to build themselves back up.

It will probably be easier to trade Paul on Dec. 15. That’s when most free agents who signed this summer become eligible to be traded. Right now, too many teams have untradable players, making it difficult to match Paul’s high salary. Generally, the more of Paul’s contract the Thunder pay out, the easier it’ll be to trade him.

But if Paul declines sharply or gets hurt, his value could diminish even further. There’s risk in waiting, though an injured Paul might allow Oklahoma City to tank anyway.

The Thunder must also cut a few million of salary before the final day of the regular season to avoid the luxury tax. That’s a priority.

So, Oklahoma City will make some move – Paul or otherwise.

But it appears likely we’ll see Paul play for the Thunder. It’ll be a return to Oklahoma City after he played home games there with the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets following Hurricane Katrina.

This isn’t the reunion Paul or the Thunder appeared to desire when the Westbrook trade was agreed upon. I still think it could be pretty cool.