Knicks reportedly had bigger offer on table for Mitchell early, ultimately walked away

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NBA trade discussions are rarely a clean, orderly process with a logical progression along a timeline. Trade talks are messy, offers ebb and flow, and what was on the table one day may not be the next.

It was that way with the Knicks’ pursuit of Donovan Mitchell.

Thursday the Jazz surprised the NBA world by trading Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers for three unprotected first-round picks, the rights to two pick swaps, Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, and Ochair Agbaji. While rumors of the Cavaliers having interest were out there, league sources NBC Sports spoke to called the Knicks clear frontrunners for Mitchell (everyone reported the same thing, Tim Bontemps’ ESPN poll of 15 executives and scouts saw 14 say he would land with the Knicks).

In the aftermath of that trade, reports came out about how close the Knicks got to Mitchell. Early in the process, the Knicks had put three unprotected picks plus RJ Barrett in a proposal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Early in the process, in July, Danny Ainge and the Jazz wanted a bigger haul for Mitchell than they got for Rudy Gobert (three unprotected picks plus one top-five protected first-rounder). When the Knicks had that offer on the table early, the Jazz likely pushed for more.

But then the Knicks pulled back, and internally there was disagreement at Madison Square Garden about how much to offer for Mitchell. What they put on the table evolved.

Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports added details to what the Knicks’ final offer was going to be, then they pulled back.

Sources told Yahoo Sports a deal was close with the Knicks before New York balked at the last second, pivoting to give RJ Barrett a four-year extension. It would’ve included Barrett, Quentin Grimes, expiring contracts, two first-round picks, a top-four protected pick owed to the Knicks from Milwaukee in 2025, two pick swaps and two second-round picks.

The Knicks felt the price was too steep, sources said, and walked away.

Whether they walked away or put an artificial deadline of Monday to include Barrett in the deal, once the Knicks extended Barrett on Monday and largely took him out of play, the Jazz were frustrated. Ainge and Utah focused on a new dance partner.

The Cavaliers were aggressive and made their play. Whether the Knicks should have been more aggressive is up for debate. Mitchell is a star player with New York (and CAA) ties who wanted to come there, and the fan base wanted him. However, Mitchell and Jalen Brunson would have formed an undersized backcourt that was a defensive liability and would have put a lot of pressure on Mitchell Robinson and the front line (Cleveland, with high-level defenders along the front line in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, is better positioned to support an undersized backcourt). Mitchell would have made the Knicks better, but three unprotected picks better? It’s not a simple answer.

New York will get another shot at the next big free agent or superstar up for a trade because, well, they’re New York. The city comes with that advantage. Cleveland lacks that and needs to be strategic and aggressive. Cavs GM Koby Altman was — he made his play.

But at points, the Knicks did have bigger offers on the table.

Report: Draymond Green facing potential discipline after fight with Jordan Poole

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Warriors practice got heated on Wednesday and Draymond Green reportedly escalated some chest bumping with Jordan Poole and punches were thrown. The team is now considering internal disciple, according to The Athletic.

When a heated interaction with guard Jordan Poole escalated, Green forcefully struck Poole and needed to be separated swiftly, sources said. Green and Poole came chest-to-chest, with both players pushing and shoving each other prior to Green’s escalation of the physical altercation, those sources said.

There aren’t details of the incident beyond that description (at least so far), although several reporters have confirmed the was a fight and the two had to be broken up. Poole was seen getting up shots after practice when the media was allowed in and reportedly was joking with teammates.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Tweeted out what feels like the Draymond Green camp spin on the incident.

Warriors elder statesman Andre Iguodala Tweeted out this on the situation, wanting to keep it all in the family, and adding that “it broke my heart… but it fixed my vision.”

There is a history of tension between Green and Poole, including a public flare-up between the duo early last season, but the two talked after and smoothed things over. At least for a while.

What punishment Green will face from the team remains to be seen.

Poole is on the verge of an extension to his rookie contract, one where Tylyer Herro just set the market.

Green had hoped for an extension from the Warriors this offseason but there were limited discussions between the parties. Green can opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.

Wizards’ Kispert likely to miss start of season due to sprained ankle

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The Washington Wizards made fewer 3-pointers than any other team in the league last season. They didn’t take a lot (second fewest) and didn’t make the ones they took (fifth lowest percentage). One goal for Wes Unlseld Jr. this season was to change that dynamic, and second-year player Corey Kispert was a big part of that plan.

Now Kispert is out through at least the start of the season, sidelined 4-6 weeks by a sprained ankle, the team announced Wednesday.

The injury happened on a fluke play in Japan against the Warriors, but Kispert shouldn’t miss much time once the real games start. The Wizards are a little short on the wing right now with Kispert joining Deni Avdija (groin injury) in the training room.

Kispert took 62% of his shots from beyond the arc last season and hit 35% of them, both solid numbers but ones Wizards hoped would improve for the 6’6″ wing this season.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.

Doc Rivers says he wants Harden to be ‘a scoring Magic Johnson’

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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We’re not in Houston anymore.

James Harden in Philadelphia will not be chasing scoring titles and dominating the game in quite the same way. Instead, he’s been asked to be more of a facilitator — but not too much of one. Doc Rivers told the team at ESPN’s NBA Today he wants scoring to go with the facilitating. Just like one of the all-time greats.

“I think we’ve talked so much about him being a facilitator… I need him to be James Harden too. If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don’t know, but that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, ‘Do both.'”

Just play like Magic, no pressure there. For his career, Magic averaged 19.5 points a game (with four over 20 PPG) with 11.2 assists.

Harden can get close enough to Rivers’ lofty goals to make Philly a real threat, so long as defenders still fear his first step and step back. Harden can get his shot and get to the line, and he’s long been a great passer who has averaged 10.5 assists a game over the past two seasons. Now it’s just a matter of finding the balance of when to set up Joel Embiid, when to turn the offense over to Tyrese Maxey, and when to get his own shot.

Philadelphia is a deep team poised to win a lot of regular season games — the Sixers being the top seed in the East is absolutely in play. The questions Harden — and, to a degree, Embiid — have to answer come in May, when the second round of the playoffs start and Harden has faded while Embiid has had poor injury luck. In a deep East with Milwaukee, Boston, and maybe Miami and Brooklyn in the contender mix, there is no margin for error.

A Magic-like Harden would be a big boost for the Sixers in that setting.