However, since Leon Rose was hired as president, the player to watch out for most is Suns combo guard Devin Booker, according to league sources.
This vague report sounds like fantasy.
Rose represented Booker before getting hired by the Knicks. But discussion of agents-turned-team executives landing their former clients far outpaces the reality of it actually happening.
With four more seasons left on his contract, Booker also has little leverage to choose his team. He could demand a trade from the Suns and make them feel compelled to move him. But the main way for players to pick their trade destination is refusing to re-sign with undesirable teams. Booker threatening to leave in 2024 wouldn’t scare off many teams any time soon. And plenty of other teams could offer more than the Knicks, whose top assets include their own first-rounders, two Mavericks first-rounders, R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox. The most valuable of those assets – New York’s own first-rounders – would become less valuable with a prime Booker.
Besides, would Booker really try to steer himself to New York? He has shown impatience in Phoenix, which has the NBA’s worst winning percentage (29%) since he entered the league and remains bad. But the team with the second-worst winning percentage in that span (33%)?
Leon Rose reportedly ‘not sold’ on Knicks’ Kevin Knox
In his sophomore season, Kevin Knox moved to the bench after the front office signed a plethora of other forwards, he played 10 fewer minutes a game than he did as a rookie, his true shooting percentage remained basically flat at a dreadful 47%. Across the board, the advanced stats do not love his game.
Knox also is still just 20 years old. Is he part of the Knicks’ future?
Rookie president Leon Rose, who has not spoken to the media since his hiring, is not sold on Knox and desperately wanted to see him in the now-scrapped final 16 games, sources told The Post…
Former Knicks coach David Fizdale failed to reach Knox in the season’s first two months. [Interim coach Mike] Miller did no better. Maybe defensive genius Tom Thibodeau or player-development ace Kenny Atkinson can. After the Marcus Morris trade at the Feb. 6 trade deadline, Miller opted to keep Knox coming off the bench because his defense still wasn’t up to winning standards.
It is far too early to write Knox off as a future contributor. Knox’s physical gifts are unquestioned, but he needs to be more aggressive attacking the rim and find the ability to finish there, he needs to be able to knock down a three, and his defense needs to improve. Confidence is a big part of that, Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne told Berman of the Post.
Rose has a decision to make this coming offseason, whether to pick up the 2021-22 option for Knox worth $5.8 million. Either way, Knox is playing for his future paychecks next season, he’s got to prove some real value.
Mock NBA expansion draft: Celtics, Nets, Knicks, 76ers, Raptors
The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.
We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.
Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.
We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division. Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Atlantic:
Analysis: Boston’s decisions are fairly cut and dry. Jayson Tatum, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Robert Williams are all on their rookie-scale contracts. Jaylen Brown will be starting a four-year contract extension. Kemba Walker was just signed to a max contract. Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are good values and key rotation players.
The toughest decision was on Gordon Hayward. Carrying a salary over $34 million, the Celtics are betting he’ll go undrafted and will return to the team. Everyone else was a fairly easy decision to leave unprotected.
Analysis: The Nets are keeping their big four in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Jarrett Allen is still on his rookie-scale contract, so that’s an easy decision. With over $101 million on the books for just Durant, Irving, Dinwiddie and LeVert, Nicolas Claxton and Rodions Kurucs help bring some low-cost upside to the back-end of the roster.
DeAndre Jordan will likely go unselected, given his age and $30 million-plus owed through 2022-23. If Jordan is selected, Brooklyn can bank some potential luxury tax savings down the line. Taurean Prince was on the fence, but given his disappointing play this season, and lack of fit in a lineup featuring Durant, the Nets will take their chances he’ll be selected.
Analysis: The Knicks are clearing the decks for a run at free agency this summer. The expansion draft could only help along that way. New York is protecting their young players with upside, as well as Julius Randle, last year’s big free agent addition. The Knicks are also protecting Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier. Not out of fear of losing them, but in hopes that either of the expansion teams will select a bigger salary and take it off the New York cap sheet.
Dennis Smith Jr. was the only questionable player to leave unprotected, but $5.7 million is simply too much for a player out of the rotation. The other five players aren’t part of the future in New York, so that decision was easy.
Analysis: Philadelphia’s decisions make themselves. The highly paid players are key rotation players. Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton are steals on minimum contracts. Matisse Thybulle is only entering year two of his rookie scale deal. Zhaire Smith was on the bubble, but he’s young enough, and under team control, that he’s worth protecting.
Al Horford is very unprotected. His signing simply hasn’t worked out for the Sixers. He’s a player Philadelphia is open to talking about a trade with either of the expansion teams. With an extra first-round pick, the 76ers hope to dangle it to entice a team to select Horford.
Analysis: The Raptors don’t have to expose any of their core rotation players in the expansion draft. Up front, Pascal Siakam just inked his contract extension, and OG Anunoby is still on his rookie scale deal. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are all free agents. In the backcourt, Toronto can protect Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, along with undrafted find Terence Davis. And Fred VanVleet is a free agent.
The leaves just a handful of players who don’t have a role for the Raptors. Toronto could even entertain offering a second-round pick to entice either expansion team to select Stanley Johnson and take his $3.8 million off the cap/tax.
Three Things to Know: Nothing is finalized. Yet. An NBA trade deadline rumors update.
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Nothing is finalized… yet. Here’s your NBA trade deadline rumors update. With the NBA trade deadline just about 48 hours away, NBA teams are getting serious with their offers and the rumors are flying… but no deals. Yet. Here are some of the latest rumors flying around the NBA.
The Warriors have said all along they want to see what a Russell/Stephen Curry backcourt looks like before they trade Russell. Also, because Russell came in a sign-and-trade the Warriors are hard-capped and believe they can find a better trade (for themselves) after July 1 when that restriction is out of the way.
Otherwise, this trade gets Houston the wing they wanted (although if they trade Capela they need to bring back another rim-protecting center somehow), and Atlanta gets its center (which would mean John Collins becomes available via trade now or this summer). Speaking of Capela…
• Houston and Boston are talking about a Capela trade. In this scenario (possibly with a third team), the Celtics would get Capela as their playoff center, and Minnesota would get Enes Kanter or Daniel Theis back from Boston plus one of Boston’s three first-round picks for 2020. That pick could be part of a package flipped to Golden State for Russell. Except, as mentioned above, the Warriors aren’t eager to trade Russell right now.
Whatever Houston does, don’t be surprised if they also maneuver to get below the luxury tax line.
• As an aside, the Timberwolves with Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns would be an offensive force, but could they get any stops? That’s a troubling defensive combo, and opposing coaches are going to drag Russell and KAT into all the pick-and-rolls.
• The Knicks reportedly have interest in Russell, too, but are not throwing their (likely very high) 2020 pick in the mix. Instead, it seems Kevin Knox and Bobby Portis plus a future pick are the bait. Hard to see the Warriors biting on that.
• The Clippers have been rumored in a lot of trades (looking for an upgrade at center and more shooting) but Paul George likes the roster Los Angeles has.
Clippers’ Paul George on the upcoming trade deadline: “Fortunately for us, I haven’t heard of anybody on the hot seat. I think this locker room is in a good place. We hope this is the roster down the stretch that we keep.” pic.twitter.com/0bMhNsdRHF
• There continues to be little market for Andre Drummond of Detroit, multiple sources tell NBC Sports. Drummond has game — he is the best rebounder in the league and can get buckets around the basket — but he is not a great rim protector, does not space the floor, the game is moving away from his style of play, and he makes $27 million this season then can opt-out to become a free agent next summer. That’s a lot of matching salary to put in a trade, then a lot of money spent next summer to keep him, for whatever team trades for Drummond. It’s hard to construct a trade teams will take around that.
2) Ben Simmons calls Sixers soft after another road loss. Miami continues to play good basketball, and on Monday night Jimmy Butler went off for a season-high 38 points — and he didn’t even need to play the fourth quarter — as the Heat scored a franchise-record 81 points in the second half and crushed the 76ers 137-106.
The Sixers are now 22-2 at home but just 9-18 on the road, including having dropped 10-of-12 away from the Wells Fargo Center. A frustrated Ben Simmons called Philadelphia “soft” after the loss.
Does trading for Robert Covington solve that problem? This was a game where the Sixers defense — sixth-best in the NBA this season — just got torched by Butler, Bad Adebayo and the Heat.
As an aside, and just my gut feel, but at some point Brett Brown is going to be the fall guy in Philly. That ultimately may not solve the problem that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are both All-Star/All-NBA level players whose games simply don’t mesh. Still, teams will dump the coach and try that approach before coming to the realization they need to break up two outstanding players. That is always the last resort.
3) The coronavirus outbreak has shut down the Chinese Basketball Association indefinitely. As Americans, we tend to like our sports as an escape from reality, even though it never really works that way.
It’s certainly not in China right now, where the Coronavirus — which has become a pandemic, infecting more than 17,000 people in 23 countries (including the United States) and killed more than 360 — has restricted travel and led to precautions to halt the spread of the virus.
That has shut down the Chinese Basketball Association for now, and a lot of American players in that league have already come home. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony was Tweeting about this a few days ago, but the information is still relevant.
The Chinese CBA league is currently postponed indefinitely, with this weekend's round of games delayed for at least two weeks, sources say, and possibly extending into March.
CBA teams have mostly reacted by sending American players and their families home (some were back regardless for the Lunar New Year break) and telling them to await further news next week. Others preferred players (and US assistant coaches) stay.
A handful of Americans are still in China, fearing leaving would jeopardize lucrative (and sometimes non-guaranteed) contracts. Others left on their own volition. There is talk the league may be postponed until March, or potentially cancelled, although there's no final decision.
Now its unclear how long the league will extend for, although its almost certain the playoffs will be shortened. Players say getting real information has been challenging for them. Every team seemingly has conveyed different information to different players about what's going on.
Players are wondering how FIBA will approach the issue of late payments, contracts potentially being voided, and players with guaranteed or non-guaranteed contracts signing in Europe/the G League while this gets sorted out. Will FIBA letters of clearance be issued for example?
Mix in fraught USA/China relations, and it’s easy to see how this could come out poorly for the players involved.
Jeremy Lin said on Instagram: “The CBA season’s been postponed indefinitely and I’m on standby, training and staying ready if the season resumes.” In the wake of the disease, the death of Kobe Bryant, and much more, Lin talks about the need to live life to the fullest because “Today isn’t guaranteed. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Nothing in life is guaranteed.” He also rails against the fools using this virus and human suffering to promote their racist viewpoints.
LeBron James (Western Conference frontcourt), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Eastern Conference frontcourt) and Luka Doncic (Western Conference guards) each led their categories in all three voting segments – fans, players and media. LeBron claims the overall crown with the most fan votes.
On the flip side, Green got no player votes, no media votes and just 219 fan votes. Presumably, the Jazz waiving Green last month halted his votes, but that put him last on the complete All-Star starter voting list.
The big winners were the actual All-Star starters:
But now you can see how everyone stacked up with the NBA’s formula – which sums double a player’s rank in fan voting, his rank in player voting and his rank in media voting then divides by four for a “score.” Fan vote serves as tiebreaker.
Here’s every player’s rank in each category (total votes), sorted by score: