Three winners from Cam Reddish trade to New York Knicks

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We have our first trade of the deadline, and the patient New York Knicks — a weird thing to say, but they have been under Leon Rose — made a move.

Atlanta Hawks wing Cam Reddish is headed to New York to reunite with former Duke teammate R.J. Barrett in a trade that is more about a future pick for Atlanta. Here is how the Reddish trade breaks down:

Knicks receive: Cam Reddish, Solomon Hill (out for the season with a hamstring injury), a 2025 second-round pick (via Brooklyn)
Hawks receive: Kevin Knox, a protected first-round pick (via Charlotte)

Traditionally this is a winners and losers trade breakdown, but there are no serious losers in this deal. One could argue Kevin Knox is, but he had fallen out of favor with Tom Thibodeau and he will at least get a clean slate and a chance with Nate McMillan. If Knox can prove to be a highly efficient shooter — and he was nowhere near that in New York, making just 35.7% of his shots this season — he can help his stock.

Solomon Hill is not a loser in this; he was already sidelined for the season with a hamstring injury. Maybe the biggest loser will be the Pelicans, who will now feel the “Zion’s coming to New York” train picking up steam with two of his former Duke teammates on the Knicks.

So who were the winners?

WINNER: New York Knicks

The Knicks got the best player in this trade in Reddish. That’s usually the sign of winning a trade.

New York lands a 6’8″ wing who can defend multiple positions, is shooting 38% from 3 this season, and can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot. He’s also just 22, he’s young and improving, with a fairly high ceiling.

There are minutes to be had at the wing in New York (although things get crowded once everyone is healthy). Tom Thibodeau starts RJ Barrett and Evan Fournier there, with rookie Quentin Grimes behind them (Ian Begley reports the Hawks wanted Grimes in the deal, but New York wouldn’t give him up, another reason this is a win for the Knicks). None of the players on the Knicks roster has stepped up and looked irreplaceable on the wing (although Barrett has been on fire the past couple of weeks), now they bring in a potentially better defender and someone who could be a fit. (Just ignore the rumors about how Barrett and Reddish didn’t get along all that well at Duke.)

Reddish is extension eligible after this season, and the going rate for starting-level 3&D wings is around $18 million a season. New York can try to reach a deal to keep Reddish this summer or let him go to restricted free agency in the summer of 2023 and match any offer then.

WINNER: Cam Reddish

Not standing out on a Hawks team deep on the wing, Reddish needed a fresh start and opportunity, now he got one on a big stage (and Reddish has always seemed to play a little better on a big stage, think back to last year’s playoffs).

Reddish has shown real flashes in the ATL, but he needs to be more consistent, better and more focused on defense, and more efficient on offense, to take the next step in his career (and get paid like he wants). He’s averaging 11.9 points a game this season, but with a 53.7 true shooting percentage, a little below league average. Many of his stats are similar — good, solid, but closer to average than standout — and a few stats suggest he hasn’t played as well as it looks (-3.4 estimated +/-).

New York is a fresh start and Reddish will get the minutes he has been craving. What he does with them is up to him.

WINNER: Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are deep on the wing: Bogdan Bogdanovic, De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Chaundee Brown.

With all those players — and the knowledge that a much larger payday was coming for Reddish in a couple of years, money Atlanta was not sure it wanted to pay — the team could afford to trade Reddish and not take a hit. This trade is a bet on Hunter, who the Hawks have liked better as their defender on the wing, but he now has to stay healthy (he’s missed time this year with a wrist injury and played 35 games total over the past two seasons).

Atlanta’s biggest prize in this deal is Charlotte’s first-round pick, but it is top 18 protected in 2022, top 16 protected in 2023 and lottery protected in 2024 and 2025. As things stand today, that pick could convey in this upcoming draft (Atlanta would pick 20th). The chances LaMelo Ball and the Hornets would miss the playoffs the next few years in a row is unlikely, meaning the Hawks will get their first-round pick at some point.

Atlanta gets to take a free look at Knox before he hits the market. Also, by trading Hill, the Hawks open up a roster spot, giving them options heading into the trade deadline and buyout season.

Suns promote GM James Jones to to President of Basketball Operations

Phoenix Suns Open Practice
Barry Gossage / NBAE via Getty Images
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James Jones put together the roster that took the Suns to the Finals two seasons ago and had the best record in the NBA last season (64 wins). At 13-6, the Suns sit atop the Western Conference this season.

The Suns have rewarded Jones, giving him the title of President of Basketball Operations on top of GM.

“In the nearly 15 years I have known James, he has excelled in every role he performed, from player to NBPA Treasurer to his roles in our front office, most recently as general manager,” Suns interim Governor Sam Garvin said. “James has the unique ability to create and lead high-performing teams in basketball operations and his commitment to collaborating with our business side, including at the C-level with partners like PayPal and Verizon, is second to none. We are fortunate for his contributions across the organization and this promotion recognizes his commitment to excellence.”

Jones moved into the Suns’ front office in 2017 at the end of a 14-year playing career, then became GM in 2019. The move gives Jones a little more stability during the sale of the franchise. Not that the new owner would come in and fire a successful GM.

“I am grateful for the privilege to work with and support the players, staff and employees of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury,” Jones said in a statement. “The collective efforts of our business and basketball operations have allowed us to provide an amazing atmosphere and best-in-class experience for our fans and community. I remain excited about and dedicated to driving success for our Teams on and off the court.”

Jones has made several moves that set the culture in Phoenix, including hiring Monty Williams as coach then, after an undefeated run in the bubble (that left Phoenix just out of the playoffs), he brought in Chris Paul to take charge at the point.

Report: Leaders in Lakers’ locker room think team ‘only a couple of players away’ from contending

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There’s a sense of optimism around the Lakers: They have won 5-of-6 and are expected to have both Anthony Davis and LeBron James healthy Monday night, plus Russell Westbrook has found a role and comfort level off the bench and other players are settling into roles. They may be 7-11, but it’s early enough there is a sense this could be turned around.

That is echoed by “locker room leaders” who think the team is just a couple of players away from being a contender in the West (where no team has pulled away), reports Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

There is belief shared by leaders in the Lakers’ locker room, sources said, that the team is only a couple of players away from turning this group into a legitimate contender. But acquiring the right players could take multiple trades.

Let’s unpack all of this.

• “Leaders in the Lakers’ locker room” means LeBron and Davis (both repped by Rich Paul). Let’s not pretend it’s anything else.

• If the Lakers don’t make a move to significantly upgrade the roster, how unhappy will those leaders become? How disruptive would that be?

• It is no coincidence that McMenamin’s report comes the day the Lakers face the Pacers, a team they went deep into conversations with this summer on a Myles Turner/Buddy Hield trade, but Los Angeles GM Rob Pelinka ultimately would not put both available Lakers’ first-round picks (2027 and 2029) in the deal and it fell apart. Turner said the Lakers should “take a hard look” at trading for him. The thing is, the Pacers are now 11-8, not tanking for Victor Wembanyama but instead thinking playoffs, so are they going to trade their elite rim protector and sharpshooter away? Not likely. At least not without an overwhelming offer, and the Lakers’ two picks may not get there anymore.

• While Westbrook has found a comfort level coming off the bench (and not sharing the court as much with LeBron), he is still a $47.1 million contract that no team is trading for without sweeteners. To use NBA parlance, he is still a negative value contract, even if it feels less negative than a month ago.

• Are the Lakers really a couple of players away from contending? While they have won 5-of-6, three of those five wins came against the tanking Spurs, the others were against the so-injured-they-might-as-well-be-tanking Pistons, and the Nets before Kyrie Irving returned. The Lakers did what they needed to do and thrived in a soft part of the schedule, but that schedule is about to turn and give the Lakers a reality check on where they really stand. After the Pacers, it’s the Trail Blazers (likely still without Damian Lillard), then an East Coast road trip that includes the Bucks, Cavaliers, Raptors and 76ers. The next couple of weeks will be a better marker for where the Lakers stand, and if they can build off of the past couple of weeks.

Dallas Mavericks near agreement to sign Kemba Walker

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks
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Looking for help spacing the floor and with secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks are turning to Kemba Walker.

Marc Stein was first with the news the sides were close to a deal, but since then multiple reports — plus comments from team owner Mark Cuban — confirmed it is happening.

This will be a veteran minimum contract (all the over-the-cap Mavericks can offer). To create the roster spot, the Mavericks will waive Facundo Campazzo, who was signed a few weeks ago and has barely touched the court for the team.

Walker averaged 11.6 points and 3.5 assists a game playing solidly in stretches for the Knicks last season, but the concern was his staying on the court — he appeared in just 37 games due to ongoing knee problems. Walker spent the offseason working on getting past those, but the Knicks traded him to Detroit for picks, but the Pistons were stacked at the point guard spot (at least before the season and injuries hit Cade Cunningham), so they bought out his $9.2 million for this season.

Walker worked to convince teams he still had plenty in the tank, but it was always going to take a situation where a team reached a certain level of desperation. Enter the Mavericks.

Doncic calls Antetokounmpo ‘the best player in the NBA right now’

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It was a matchup of two of the NBA’s top five players and two guys high in the way-too-early mix for MVP this season: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.

Doncic carried the Mavericks again with 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting plus 12 assists.

Antetokounmpo was a force of nature with 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting plus 11 rebounds, plus he had more help around him leading the Bucks to a 124-115 win.

There is a mutual admiration society between these two players, and after the game Doncic called Antetokounmpo the best player in the NBA. Via Jack Maloney at CBS Sports.

“Enjoy [competing against him] is hard because I want to win, so it’s hard to go against a guy like that,” Doncic said after the Mavericks’ fourth consecutive defeat. “He’s the best player in the NBA right now. He’s almost impossible to stop. It’s really fun to see him play, but it’s not that fun to go against him.”

Antetokounmpo had praise for Doncic as well.

“That’s a great compliment and I appreciate that,” Antetokounmpo said. “When you play against the best players in the league, being able to say something like that feels good. No matter wins or losses, just being respected by your peers, it’s always a good feeling.”

We have many years of these two players testing each other, and someday it may be Antetokounmpo calling Doncic the best in the NBA.