Report: Knicks are eyeing 3 guards as potential free agent targets

talen horton-tucker, knicks

Having added multiple guards in the 2021 NBA draft, the New York Knicks are trying to establish a base of potential starters for the upcoming season. Landing Quentin Grimes out of Houston provides a solid 3-and-D player who can make an impact immediately, but guaranteeing him a starting spot might be overzealous.

With $50+ million in free agency to spend, the Knicks will be active this August, signing new players and adding talent to a roster that is preparing to lose several impact players.

The team is targeting shooting guards and point guards, being connected to three different players who could contribute.

“The Knicks are mentioned by league sources as a team that has expressed interest in [Evan] Fournier, while New York has also been linked to Lakers guards Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker,” according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Taking a look at the three targets listed for the Knicks:

1.) Evan Fournier

Evan Fournier is coming off a season where he featured on the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics. He’s able to play small forward and shooting guard, similar to Reggie Bullock, in case the Knicks lose him to free agency. The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly have an interest in Bullock’s services. Fournier, alternatively, averaged 17.1 points, 3.4 assists, and shot 46% from the field this past season. From three, he connected on 41% of his shots over 6.7 attempts, a solid clip that would provide plenty of value to a Knicks team that is focusing on three-point shooting.

His versatility to play multiple spots at guard and forward is a major positive, but depending on the former first-round picks asking price, it could be more affordable to retain Bullock instead. Fournier is coming off a five-year, $85 million deal, earning $17 million per season. He could earn a similar amount over the next few years, which is a major pay increase compared to what Bullock was earning last season.

2.) Dennis Schroder

One point guard, the Knicks, could be interested in is Dennis Schroder. The German could find his way back to the Lakers, but his asking price is quite high. Apparently, he is seeking a $100 million contract in free agency, based on his production, that number is quite lofty. He averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 assists and shot 43% from the field last year. His lackluster 33% from range doesn’t exactly scream efficiency and scoring production, and having elite players like Anthony Davis and LeBron James can mask deficiencies. In addition, the team just traded for Russell Westbrook, so Schroder is as good as gone.

If I’m the Knicks’ front office, I’m staying away from Schroder and his ridiculous asking price, as there are better options on the market.

3.) Talen Horton-Tucker

Another player who has been connected is Talen Horton-Tucker, who is preparing to turn 21 years old entering his third season of the NBA. Playing in 65 games last year, he averaged 9.0 points, 2.8 assists, and shot 46% from the field. As a primary shooting guard, he is solid driving to the basket and plays good defense, which is exactly what Tom Thibodeau is was looking for.

Horton-Tucker is a restricted free agent, so the Lakers have the final say in extending him a qualifying offer or letting an alternative club present an offer sheet. Unless the Knicks are willing to provide a sufficient deal, the Lakers can easily extend him on his qualifying offer. In that scenario, he would earn $1.8 million, a price point the Knicks can overcome. With the right coaching and scenario, Horton-Tucker could see his perimeter shooting improve, which is his primary weakness entering year three in the NBA.

Quinnen Williams, Marcus Maye top New York Jets’ Madden 22 ratings

New York Jets

Defenders reign supreme, but a strong offseason wasn’t enough for the New York Jets to impress the powers that be at EA Sports.

Put EA Sports on the list of so-called experts the New York Jets will be looking to prove wrong in 2021.

The unveiling of player ratings for EA’s upcoming pro football simulator Madden NFL 22 (the 35th edition of the long-running video game franchise) is complete after Saturday, released in conjunction with ESPN programs. In terms of overall team ratings, the Jets round out the list of 32 teams, coming in last with a mark of 72.

The effects of last year’s two-win endeavor apparently still weigh heavily on the Jets, whose strong offseason failed to impress EA’s talent evaluators. Their plunge becomes particularly visible when it comes to the offense, as they’re the only unit ranked below 70 with a 69 (right behind 31st-ranked and fellow AFC East competitor Miami). They fare slightly better on defense, as their label of 74 is tied for third-worst on the list with Cincinnati and Detroit. Only Atlanta (73) and Houston (72) trail.

In individual cases, Quinnen Williams tops the Jets’ personal rankings with an 86 rating. It’s an eight-point improvement from the opening rankings of Madden NFL 21, which perfectly showcase the transformation the Jets have gone through over the past year. Of the top 15 names in the Jets’ ratings from last season, only four (Williams, C.J. Mosley, Marcus Maye, and Jamison Crowder) remain.

Defenders take the first four spots of Jets’ ratings and seven of the first ten. Williams is followed by Maye (85), Mosley (84), and Carl Lawson (83). The offensive group is paced by receiver Corey Davis, who’s tied with his fellow New York newcomer Lawson (83).

As previously reported, Zach Wilson earned a 75 overall rating, second amongst rookie passers behind Trevor Lawrence. Wilson is tied for the fourth-best rating amongst rookies overall, tied with receivers JaMarr Chase and DeVonta Smith. Though he was upset with his respectable change of direction rate of 93, rookie catcher Elijah Moore nonetheless tied for the team lead in the subsection with Crowder.

The Jets’ full team rankings can be found here.

Five players were granted access to the “99 Club” as gainers of the game’s top possible rating. The Los Angeles Rams (Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey) put in two each, as did the Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce). They’re joined by Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams. One such member, Mahomes, graces the cover with fellow Super Bowl LV competitor Tom Brady.

Madden NFL 22 will be released on August 20. The game can be pre-ordered on several platforms on its official site.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Knicks guard Luca Vildoza helps Argentina march to Olympics quarterfinals

The New York Knicks have to wait a little longer for Luca Vildoza after Argentina punched a ticket to the knockout round of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Vildoza scored all of his seven points in the opening half, where Argentina established control en route to a 97-77 victory over host Japan Sunday (early Monday US time).

The Japanese were able to cut the deficit to four in the early moments of the third quarter. But the Argentines answered with an 11-2 run for a 57-44 advantage, and they were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

Luis Scola led four Argentines in double figures with 23 points.

Vildoza added four assists, two rebounds, and a steal in 26 minutes off the bench. He was 2 for 3 in the first half but missed his next three shots in the final two quarters, all from behind the arc.

Vildoza averaged 7.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals but only shot 35 percent from the field, and he’s only hit 2 of his total 12 three-point attempts in 3 games in the group stage.

Argentina claimed one of the quarterfinals berths in the Olympics as the best third-placed team despite its 1-2 record. They had the best plus/minus (-6) among the three third placers in the group stage. Germany and the Czech Republic also finished with identical 1-2 records in their respective groups. But Germany had a superior plus/minus (-16) over Czech Republic (-49) to complete the quarterfinal cast.

France, Team USA, Slovenia, Spain, Australia, and Italy have earlier claimed their quarterfinal tickets as the top two teams in their respective groups.

The quarterfinals will be played on Tuesday, with the matchups to be drawn on Monday.

If Argentina wins on Tuesday, Vildoza will have to extend his stay in Tokyo until Saturday. The Knicks will open their NBA Summer League campaign on Sunday in Las Vegas.

If Argentina bows out in the quarterfinals, Vildoza can fly back to the US on Wednesday to rejoin the Knicks Summer League squad bannered by Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and their NBA Draft picks Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and Jericho Sims.

Vildoza signed a partially guaranteed four-year, $13.6 million deal last May and will have to impress the Knicks for a guaranteed spot next season.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

AJ McKee finishes Patricio Pitbull in the first at Bellator 263

AJ McKee

In the headliner of Bellator 263, we saw the featherweight title fight we’ve been waiting on. The final match of the Featherweight Grand Prix that featured a clash between Bellator champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) and AJ McKee (17-0).

When Bellator announced that they would be doing a Featherweight Grand Prix, fans started dreaming of the potential fight between Patricio Pitbull and AJ McKee.

Pitbull is the greatest fighter in the history of Bellator. The two-division champion has fought with the promotion most of his career and holds virtually every record. Coming into this fight tonight, he’s won seven in a row including back-to-back first round finishes.

Standing across from Pitbull at Bellator 263 is AJ McKee. McKee has been brought up by the promotion have his first professional fight with Bellator back in 2015. He’s been bread to be a superstar and the undefeated McKee had his chance to take the crown tonight.

Bellator 263 Recap

Round 1

The Bellator 263 main event started with a touch of the gloves. McKee opens up with a side kick to the lead leg of Patricio Pitbull. Another side kick lands for McKee. McKee holding the center as he lands another leg kick.

Pitbull starts bouncing as he seems to be gauging the challenger. Powerful kick lands for Patricio Pitbull. 90 seconds in and not a lot of action so far as both men appearing to feeling the other out.

McKee rocks Patricio Pitbull badly on the feet with a head kick. A big combination and Pitbull goes down. McKee thinks it’s over and he backs away, but the referee didn’t stop the fight.

McKee goes back in and he locks in a guillotine choke. It’s deep and Pitbull tries to fight it. However, he goes completely out and it’s over. AJ McKee is officially the Bellator featherweight champion.

AJ McKee def. Patricio Pitbull by Submission (Guillotine Choke) – Round 1