Knicks add guard Tyler Hall to camp roster, replacing Luca Vildoza

tyler hall, knicks

With the New York Knicks releasing two-way guard Luca Vildoza after he sustained a foot injury that kept him of the Summer League and Training Camp, the team announced a new signing on Friday.

The Knicks will bring in guard Tyler Hall, who spent three games with the Summer League team, averaging 7.9 points per game. He posted two points, shooting 33.3% from the field, and tallied one rebound per game. Spending the last two seasons with the Westchester Knicks, Hall averages 10.1 points last season, including 2.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds. He shot nearly 42% from the field and 41.5% from three-point range, attempting 6.7 shots per game.

Hall is actually a solid player out of Montana State University, and at 6’4″, 209 pounds, he will be vying for a roster spot over the next few weeks.

Hall has a tall task ahead of him to make the roster, and after going unselect in the 2019 NBA draft, his work ethic is proving to present opportunities. While it is unlikely he makes the final cut, he could receive a bonus of up to $50K if he returns to the Westchester Knicks this season and spends at least 60 days with the G-League club.

It’s unfortunate the team had to part ways with Vildoza after offering him a solid contract, but ultimately they had to cut ties with his injury requiring surgery.

“You gotta make roster decisions this time of the year, and so availability is a big part of it,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Sunday. “And we feel that the guys who are here, those are the guys that are fighting it out for that last spot. But he’s a good player and we wish him well.

In the meantime, the Knicks are off to a hot start in the preseason, scoring 125 points against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, led by Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.

The Knicks will take on the Washington Wizards on Saturday evening at 7 PM, and with Randle projected to be OUT of the contest, expect a healthy dose of Obi Toppin.

Luca Vildoza undergoes surgery after getting waived by Knicks

Now it can be told.

The ankle injury doomed Luca Vildoza’s chances even before he could start his NBA journey with the New York Knicks.

Vildoza revealed Tuesday that he underwent surgery to extract fluid from the back of his right foot. The Knicks waived him last Sunday.

The 26-year old Argentinian guard said he sustained the injury before the Tokyo Olympics. That explains his poor showing after an impressive outing in the FIBA World Cup two years ago, which led to Kobe Bryant calling the Los Angeles Lakers to take a look at him and his other teammate Gabriel Deck, who is now with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

At the Summer Games this year, Vildoza failed to help Argentina get past the quarterfinal round. A week later, he played meaningless minutes with the Knicks in the NBA Summer League before being held out due to his ankle injury.

Vildoza may have aggravated the injury as he pressed on playing. Those months leading to Tokyo games and during the tournament proper were difficult, according to him.

“I always tried to keep going, but at one point I couldn’t take it anymore,” Vildoza said.  “The pain was very intense and constant. That is why I made this determination with my family and my girlfriend looking for the best for my health and my future.”

Vildoza reported to the training camp in a walking boot. The Knicks could have until after the opening night to arrive at a decision. But they couldn’t wait any longer. They decided what was best for the team and Vildoza’s health.

“You gotta make roster decisions this time of the year, and so availability is a big part of it,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Sunday. “And we feel that the guys who are here, those are the guys that are fighting it out for that last spot. But he’s a good player and we wish him well.

Vildoza signed with the Knicks last May, but only the first year of the four-year, $13.6 million deal was guaranteed. He collected at least $1.5 million after the $2-million buyout of his contract with Baskonia in the top Spanish League was deducted.

“I thank the people in the Knicks organization. They were amazing to me and also to those who genuinely cared about my health. This NBA outing is just “a see-you-later” for me. I will do my best to return,” Vildoza said. “It is my dream, and I will pursue it while I can.”

There was no timetable provided for his recovery. Vildoza is now a free agent and can sign with any NBA team after returning from the injury.

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Knicks waive Luca Vildoza as point guard plans begin to take shape

knicks, luca vildoza

The New York Knicks made the decision to waive guard Luca Vildoza on Sunday, electing to go with some of their younger pieces and allow a few NBA veterans to compete for a roster spot this upcoming season. With Dwayne Bacon and Wayne Selden both on the training camp roster, they will be competing for one of the final spots, as Thibodeau mentioned the importance of wings in the league right now.

Vildoza, though, has been dealing with a foot injury the past few weeks, which kept him out of Summer League play and likely any preseason games. Ultimately, the team had to make a business decision regarding the Argentinian guard, who they anticipated will play a big part moving forward. However, the team brought in Kemba Walker and drafted Miles McBride to serve as their new point guards, seeing Vildoza’s contributions become a moot point.

“You gotta make roster decisions this time of the year, and so availability is a big part of it,’’ Thibodeau said. “And we feel that the guys who are here, those are the guys that are fighting it out for that last spot. But he’s a good player and we wish him well.

With training camp underway and the regular season rapidly approaching, the team can only work with their healthy players, and waiting for Vildoza to return was simply going to take too much time.

“We couldn’t wait, and we just felt like we’ve had guys here all summer doing a really good job,’’ Thibodeau said. “So, we feel that’s the best decision for the team.

Last season with Baskonia in the Euro League, Vildoza averaged 10.1 points, 3.4 assists, and shot 41% from the field. He will now be looking for a new opportunity, potentially in the NBA, once he returns to full health.

The Knicks originally signed him to a four-year, $13.6 million deal, but it was completely non-guaranteed unless he made the roster out of training camp. They will save that full amount, so they will have a bit of wiggle room regarding salary space heading into the season.

Knicks: Luca Vildoza in limbo as he starts training camp in walking boot

New York Knicks guard Luca Vildoza started his first NBA Training Camp on the wrong foot—a walking boot.

Vildoza, who has yet to recover from an ankle injury he sustained in the NBA Summer League last month, was reduced to a spectator. And his chances to realize his NBA dream are getting slimmer by the day.

“Look, we have one roster spot open. Right now, you base it on the guys that are available and who can help the team the most,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau when asked about Vildoza’s status.

But he was quick to add that they still have time to evaluate their roster.

“We have all (training) camp to figure that out. If you ask me today on what has happened in the fall and where we are now, I have some thoughts. Leon (Rose) has some thoughts. But I think as time goes on, we’ll get more information,” Thibodeau said. “We practice more. We play preseason games. And then look at, ‘Okay, who fits our team the best and what do we need out of that position. And so that’s what we’ll look at before we make the final decision.”

The Knicks signed Vildoza to a partially guaranteed, $13 million, three-year deal last May upon the strong recommendation of their scouts. They have until October 21 or after the season opener to guarantee his next season’s salary or clear his second-year $3.3 million salary.

Vildoza, who recently turned 26, trained with the Knicks’ player development staff for a month before he joined Argentina in its Olympic quest. The Argentine guard had underwhelmed in the exhibition games in Las Vegas and Tokyo. Then the injury happened two games into the NBA Summer League.

Vildoza is likely competing for the 15th spot in the roster against veteran guard Dwayne Bacon. He was brought in apparently on the strong recommendation of his former coach Steve Clifford, a good friend of Thibodeau.

The 26-year old Bacon, who signed an Exhibit 10 or a training camp contract, averaged a career-best 10.9 points last season, playing all 72 games for the Orlando Magic. Bacon is also familiar with Knicks newcomers Kemba Walker (his teammate in Charlotte) and Evan Fournier (his teammate in Orlando).

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Luca Vildoza will rejoin Knicks this week

Did the pristine waters of Vitoria heal Luca Vildoza’s right foot?

The answer will be known this week when Vildoza rejoins the New York Knicks with the NBA training camp only two weeks away.

Vildoza will fly to New York on Thursday, according to his camp. The Knicks’ medical staff will re-evaluate him upon his return.

A right foot injury held Vildoza to just two games in the NBA Summer League. The medical report, according to his camp, revealed fluid at the back of his right foot. He avoided surgery and was only advised to rest and get treatment. It is not clear whether he sustained the injury with the Knicks or with the Argentina national team.

Vildoza only had a few days in between the Tokyo Olympics and the NBA Summer League.

The 26-year old guard didn’t score in the limited time he saw action with the Knicks’ Summer League team. But he contributed 1.5 assists and a rebound in 6.5 minutes in the Knicks’ first two games. He missed the rest of the tournament with the injury.

Vildoza went to Vitoria, Spain after the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas for a much-needed break.

The Argentine guard arrived in New York last May with a reputation as one of the top European talents available in the free agent market.

The Knicks shouldered $750,000 (the maximum amount allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement) of Vildoza’s reported $2 million buyout with his Spanish club Baskonia in the Liga ACB. Shortly after, the Knicks signed him to a partially guaranteed $13.6 million, four-year deal.

After spending a month with the team’s player development staff, Vildoza rejoined Argentina’s national squad for their Olympic buildup. But Vildoza underwhelmed in Argentina’s quarterfinal run in Tokyo, averaging 7.0 points and 3.0 assists while shooting 31 percent from the field and an atrocious 16.7 percent from the three-point zone.

The Knicks will have until the opening night to guarantee Vildoza’s next season salary. The training camp and the preseason games will represent Vildoza’s last shot to salvage a guaranteed spot next season.

The Knicks already have 14 guaranteed deals and one two-way player in rookie Jericho Sims on their roster. The last guaranteed spot looms to be a two-way battle between Vildoza and veteran guard Dwayne Bacon. On the other hand, undrafted free agents MJ Walker and Aamir Simms will compete for the team’s other two-way slot.

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The Knicks have a perfect strategy at point guard to mitigate fatigue

knicks, new york knicks, derrick rose, miles mcbride

The New York Knicks are taking a different approach toward the point guard position this upcoming season. Last year, the team relied on Elfrid Payton as their primary starter before trading for Derrick Rose at the deadline.

Rose ended up being a catalyst toward the team’s success and eventual playoff appearance, but injuries began to take hold as Tom Thibodeau was forced to rely on him more than anticipated. Payton’s inability to score efficiently and shoot from three eventually saw his minutes depreciate, which led the Knicks to replace him this off-season.

Extending Rose on a new three-year contract, the team is clearly convinced he can provide significant value as the starter. However, they also want to mitigate fatigue, as Rose is preparing to turn 33 years old and can’t handle an entire regular season and the physical constraints it comes with. To help supplement that reality, the front office signed Kemba walker to a two-year contract, coming off a season where he played in just 43 games.

With a degenerative knee issue, Walker is also unable to play a full 82 game season but is only one year removed from an All-Star appearance during the 2019-20 campaign.

Last year with Boston, Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shot 42% from the field. He also connected on 36% of his shots from range, averaging 8.2 attempts per game. When playing at the top of his game, Walker is an All-Star caliber player who can elevate a roster and provide immediate scoring production. Playing off one another, Rose and Walker can help keep the point guard position fresh and efficient throughout the course of a season.

Theoretically, both players would split minutes evenly, playing 41 games in total. Kemba average 31.8 minutes last season while Rose played in 25.6. But the Knicks didn’t stop there when considering the PG spot, they also drafted West Virginia stand-out Miles McBride with the 36th overall selection. During Summer League play, McBride looked fantastic, averaging 15.2 points on 53% shooting from the field and 50% shooting from three-point range.

Showcasing solid defense and shooting prowess, McBride is in line to earn minutes as well. Luckily for McBride, Argentinian native Luca Vildoza was forced out with an injury, providing him with a great opportunity to prove his worth over a larger sample size. Vildoza’s contract is non-guaranteed, so the Knicks can let him walk and save a bit of salary space to allocate elsewhere if need be.

The emergence of McBride during Summer League play motivated the coaching staff, meaning if Walker or Rose miss any time, they have a young supplement they can rely on. I would be remiss not to mention Immanuel Quickley and his performance at PG this summer as well. Quickley averaged 7.8 assists per game and 20.2 points leading the offense.

It is clear that the Knicks have far more talent at a spot of weakness this upcoming season than the year prior. If all goes to plan, they will have a solid rotation of options at point guard, and it should change the course of the franchise for years to come, potentially allowing them to take a step forward in the postseason.

Knicks training camp roster now up to 18 after signing Dwayne Bacon, Aamir Simms

The New York Knicks have officially added Dwayne Bacon and Aamir Simms on Thursday.

According to ESPN’s NBA front office insider Bobby Marks, Bacon’s deal is non-guaranteed while Simms is on an Exhibit 10 or training camp contract. Ian Begley of SNY first reported the signings.

Bacon, who played with Evan Fournier in Orlando and Kemba Walker in Charlotte, is coming off a career season with the Magic. He appeared in all 72 games, including 50 starts. He averaged 10.9 points and 3.1 rebounds with 1.3 assists in 25.7 minutes, all career highs.

Simms, who went undrafted last July, was on the Knicks’ Summer League team. The former Clemson forward averaged 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11 minutes in Las Vegas.

Simms is a candidate to take the Knicks’ remaining two-way spot. Jericho Sims, the 58th pick, is the other Knicks’ two-way player for next season. Two-way player contracts do not count against the salary cap.

For the 2021-22 season, two-way players will be paid $462,500 or equivalent to 50% of the minimum salary applicable to those with zero years of service ($925,000 per Spotrac). Two-way players will also be eligible to be on a team’s active roster for a maximum of 50 games during the regular season.

Knicks players on guaranteed deals:

PG Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, Miles McBride

SG Evan Fournier, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes

SF RJ Barrett, Alec Burks, Kevin Knox

PF Julius Randle, Obi Toppin

C Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson

The Knicks currently have 14 guaranteed deals and two non-guaranteed players in Bacon and Argentine guard Luca Vildoza. Bacon and Vildoza will likely fight for the last guaranteed spot in the roster. The Knicks have until the opening night of the season to guarantee Vildoza’s salary.

Vildoza is on a short vacation in Vitoria, Spain, but he is expected to rejoin the Knicks for the training camp and preseason games.

NBA teams are allowed to bring 20 players to the training camp. But the Knicks will need to cut the roster down to a maximum of 15 active players and two two-way players.

The NBA training camp begins on Sept. 28.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderamo

 

Luca Vildoza quickly falling out of favor with Knicks’ brass

knicks, luca vildoza

When the New York Knicks acquired Luka Vildoza on a four-year, $13.6 million deal, they made sure it was a non-guaranteed contract. The Argentinian guard spent last season with Baskonia of the Spanish ACB league.

Over 27 games, Vildoza averaged 23.5 minutes, posting 10.9 points, 3.7 assists, and shot 42% from the field. The Knicks view him as a combo guard with experience at the European level. Attempting to make the transition to the NBA, Vildoza has a tall task ahead of him, having missed the majority of Summer League play and the emergence of rookie Miles McBride out of West Virginia.

McBride was a player head coach Tom Thibodeau fell in love with during the pre-draft process. With a focus on defensive prowess, McBride impressed with his offensive production. Over 27.7 minutes of play during the Summer League, McBride averaged 15.2 points, shooting 53.2% from the field and 50% from three point range. He also connected on 87.5% of his free throws and picked up 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Defensively, he averaged 1.3 steals per contest and turned the ball over 1.3 times.

Overall, McBride proved that he is deserving of minutes during the regular season, but of course, Summer League play can’t be considered the end all be all of his development. Performing against rookies and the majority reserve players, McBride hasn’t faced off again some of the league’s best, which will likely dampen his progression.

Nonetheless, his shooting and defensive efficiency will undoubtedly put him above Vildoza, who the Knicks can easily let go of and retain some salary space. With Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, and McBride all featuring at the point guard position, Vildoza is quickly becoming irrelevant. Second-year player Immanuel Quickley also looked solid as a facilitator and shot creator during the Summer League, but he will primarily feature as a shooting guard this upcoming season. The acquisition of Evan Fournier also takes up a starting spot on the roster — Vildoza is quickly falling out of favor for a variety of reasons…and for that reason, he’s OUT (as Shark Tank would say)!

It is entirely possible management keeps him around for one season to test his value, but the Knicks are surprisingly deep after retaining Alec Burks and having Quickley off the bench. It will be an uphill battle for the Argentinian native to make the roster. He will have to have a dominant pre-season to prove his worth, and that might not even be enough.

Obi Toppin, Jericho Sims electrify in Knicks’ first Summer League loss

New York Knicks, Obi Toppin

New York Knicks couldn’t find their mark from the outside, but Obi Toppin and Jericho Sims provided the highlights in an 89-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors Sunday at the start of their NBA Summer League campaign in Las Vegas.

The Knicks shot an atrocious 7 for 40 from deep, with Immanuel Quickley and Toppin combining for 4-of-21 three-point shooting. Both incoming sophomore players were 1 for 5 from the floor in the opening quarter as the Knicks played catchup the rest of the way.

“I was very curious. So far, it’s been a great experience,” Toppin said after the game. “It would have been better if we got the W. We just didn’t lose but we learned today. We’ll learn from this and get better.”

Toppin’s confidence grew as the game went on as he got comfortable in a go-to guy role in their summer roster after languishing behind Julius Randle last season. He led the Knicks with 24 points, including a breakaway slam in the opening half. He added eight rebounds, a steal, and a block and finished the game on 10-of-21 shooting.

Jericho Sims jumped out of nowhere to steal the show among the Knicks rookies. His energy and athleticism led him to produce 12 points on a perfect 6 for 6 shooting on the floor. He was electric and a human highlight reel with his above-the-rim shots. The Knicks announced during the early moments of the game that Sims had been signed to a two-way contract. He can be with the Knicks next season up to a maximum of 50 games. The 58th overall pick added eight rebounds and one shot block for good measure.

Quickley pushed the pace after his slow start and had the Knicks within single digits, 83-74, on his three-pointer with 2:26 left. But the Raptors answered with back-to-back threes to put the game away.

Quickley played a game-high 37 minutes and collected 15 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals as the primary point guard.

The Knicks’ first-round pick Quentin Grimes opened the game with a three-pointer and finished with nine points, all coming from beyond the arc. He was 3-for-11 overall and 3-of-8 from the three-point line. Miles McBride missed all his four attempts from 3 but scattered nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal while showing some toughness on both sides of the floor.

Luca Vildoza’s shooting slump from the Tokyo Olympics continued, but he drew a charge on his first defensive play and handed out three assists.

Lithuanian Rokas Jokubaitis did not see action, and Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yashimoto described him as situational. Barcelona only cleared him to play three games in Las Vegas. From the looks of it, he’s more likely a pick-and-stash with the Knicks prioritizing Vildoza before him.

The Knicks will return to action on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 pm ET on ESPN2.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Vildoza, Jokubaitis make Knicks debut as last guaranteed spot still up for grabs

With rookies Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride signing their rookie contracts Friday, the New York Knicks have now filled 14 guaranteed spots in their roster.

The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas could prove to be the battleground for the last remaining roster spot between two Euroleague guards.

Luca Vildoza arrived in Sin City Friday night, still feeling the effects of jetlag. While Rokas Jokubaitis, the Lithuanian guard, who models his game after Goran Dragic, reportedly looked impressive in practice.

Both Euroleague players will be essentially fighting for that 15th spot in the Knicks roster.

“I’m trying to work hard. I’m trying to show myself. I’m trying to get better every day. I just want to show who I am,” Vildoza told reporters Saturday in his first media availability since the Knicks brought him for a partially guaranteed four-year deal last May. “If after that, I can’t get with the team, that’s okay. At least I gave everything.”

The Knicks have until the opening night of next season to guarantee Vildoza’s salary.

Vildoza is coming off a lackluster play in the Tokyo Olympics, where Argentina could only show one win in four games and got trashed in the quarterfinals.

“To be honest, we didn’t play as we know it. We played terrible. To be honest, I was missing a lot of shots I usually don’t miss. I was without confidence. Now, I’m trying to get back to where it was,” Vildoza said.

The 25-year old Argentine guard averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.3 steal playing behind Facundo Campazzo and Nico Laprovíttola. His shot looked shaky, converting only 31 percent from the floor and just 3 of 18 3s.

On the other hand, Jokubaitis has recently signed a four-year deal with Barcelona with an NBA escape clause. He was initially expected to be a draft-and-stash prospect. But the 36th overall pick isn’t discounting the possibility that he could come right away if he plays outstanding basketball in the NBA Summer League.

“Right now the plan is to go to Europe, but you never know in basketball because basketball is a sport where anything can happen,” Jokubaitis said during his zoom call Thursday in Las Vegas.

The 6-foot-4 Jokubaitis has secured clearance from Barcelona to play three Summer League games. He averaged 7.0 points and 2.5 assists in 31 Euroleague games last season for his Lithuanian club Zalgiris.

Vildoza joined his first practice with the Knicks Summer League team Saturday. He said he will be ready if ever he gets playing time when the Knicks open their campaign against fourth overall pick Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors Sunday at 4:30 pm ET (ESPN2).

“It was actually very tough. I was trying to figure out the sets. In Europe, I usually play similar sets. I think I’m gonna get into the team as I know. But I was tired, to be honest. I didn’t sleep very well last night. The jetlag was very tough,” Vildoza said of his first practice with the Knicks. “But I am okay today (Saturday). I’m really happy to be here. That’s the only thing that matters.”

Vildoza is the flashy guard who is a streaky shooter, while Jokubaitis said he brings calmness and acts like a second coach on the floor.

Both Euroleague players are eager to prove themselves worthy of a spot. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Las Vegas.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo