Beal or No Deal: Knicks reportedly interested in Beal; Barrett on the move?

Is Bradley Beal New York-bound?

Beal remained adamant that he’s not quitting on the Washington Wizards. But an influential New York Knicks executive is reportedly cooking up a Beal trade.

Last week, Michael Kay reported that Knicks vice president and senior basketball advisor William Wesley, more famously known as World Wide Wes, is working through back channels to land Beal in New York.

“I’ve got it from a very good source that the Knicks are quietly interested in a Bradley Beal. How’s that gonna happen? He’s signed to a long-term deal. He has not said he wanted to be traded. But you forget, the Knicks have World Wide Wes on their side. He’s been in the ears of some of Beal’s people and kinda nudging them that this might be the time to push for a trade,” Kay said on his ESPN radio show last week.

Brightest star in the biggest market

Beal is fresh from getting his first All-Star starter nod, ranking first in fans, media, and players’ votes among all Eastern Conference guards. He’s leading the league in scoring with a career-high 32.8 points per game on 47/34/90 shooting splits. The 27-year old star is also putting up career-best 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals. But despite his spectacular numbers, the Wizards are in the bottom three in the East though they have won their last three games.

On the flip side, things are getting rosy in New York. The Knicks are in the playoff conversations and are quickly becoming an attractive destination. New team president Leon Rose, along with Williams and head coach Tom Thibodeau, has dramatically changed New York’s culture.

The appeal to Beal in New York is a chance to become the biggest star in the biggest NBA market. And if he wins in New York, that will cement his basketball legacy.

Aggressive buyer

Along with their early on-court success, a treasure trove of picks, and a $15 million cap space, the Knicks are in a prime position to be an aggressive buyer in the trade market.

They own all their first-round picks plus two more from Dallas via the Kristaps Porzingis trade. All in all, the Knicks have seven first-round picks and eight second-rounders through the 2025 NBA Draft.

Stefan Bondy of the Daily News reported that the Knicks are also monitoring CJ McCollum’s situation in Portland. But ESPN’s Front Office Insider and former Brooklyn Nets’ assistant general manager Bobby Marks told Empire Sports Media that the Trail Blazers are not trading him.

Potential Beal package

If Beal and the Wizards decide to part ways, the asking price would be in the James Harden trade neighborhood.

When asked what the Wizards could seek from the Knicks in exchange for their long-time cornerstone, Marks told Empire Sports Media that it would require giving up both the first-round picks from Dallas (2021 unprotected, 2023 top-10 protected), a minimum of two unprotected first-round picks, pick swaps and sophomore swingman RJ Barrett. 

A package like that could still leave the Knicks in a good position to contend in the East with a core of Beal, Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Immanuel Quickley, all of whom are still under 30 years old and plenty of cap space to chase another star.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks: Divisional front office tweaks could indicate that ‘risk is the new safe’

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

There are a few significant coaching personnel and front office tweaks for New York Knicks fans to keep an eye on in the Atlantic Division, possibly. The Philadelphia 76ers hired Doc Rivers as Head Coach, then went on to hire Daryl Morey as Team President. The Brooklyn Nets hired Steve Nash as Head Coach, then went on to add Mike D’Antoni, Amare Stoudemire, and Ime Udoka to the assistant coaching staff.

76ers have their cornerstones in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, while the Nets will finally have their stars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving share the court. Of course, none of this matters if injuries keep occurring. Front office positioning also wouldn’t matter if there isn’t an improvement on the basketball court for the Nets and 76ers.

However, improvement to two playoff teams in Brooklyn and Philadelphia could rightfully steer the New York Knicks into an even stronger player developmental stance along with a maintained focus on young talent acquisition.

The Knicks won’t win anything now in the Eastern Conference, therefore, why not put all the emphasis on solidifying the foundation for the near future and long term? With fans being away from the game during the pandemic, Knicks have time to build without Madison Square Garden’s infamous fan and media impatience pouring pressure on the franchise and its young players.

Atlantic Divisional front office tweaks mentioned above could indicate that “risk is the new safe” for the New York Knicks moving forward, especially in the upcoming draft on November 18th, 2020.

The New York Knicks did their own coaching personnel and front office adjustment earlier this summer with the hiring of President Leon Rose, Executive Vice President/Senior Basketball Advisor William Wesley, former Utah Jazz Vice President of Player Personnel Walt Perrin, former Utah Jazz Assistant Coach Johnny Bryant, former ten-year Assistant Coach of the Kentucky Wildcats Kenny Payne, and a new, yet seasoned Head Coach in Tom Thibodeau.

Leon Rose has plenty of connections due to his time as an agent with Creative Artists Agency. William Wesley, also known as “World Wide Wes,” is basically the most connected man in the entire basketball world period. Bill Simmons of The Ringer wasn’t afraid to touch on a rumor circulating the NBA regarding all the connections Leon Rose and “World Wide Wes” have in the entire basketball landscape.

Recently on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons talked about NBA insiders having legit fear about the New York Knicks becoming the “Kentucky pipeline team.” Bill Simmons states the following on the podcast along with Kevin O’Conner:

 

 

There’s also a real fear in the NBA. I’m fine talking about this. It’s rumor, heresy stuff. But it’s just a fact. Kentucky, Worldwide Wes had a great relationship with John Calipari. CAA’s got multiple Kentucky guys and there’s a real fear in the league that the Knicks are going to become the Kentucky pipeline team.

 

 

Devin Booker is a great example of that, right? Even though he’s on a big deal right now, at some point if he wanted to move out of there…

 

 

The league is kind of watching the Kentucky factor with that team.

 

 

I think even [Anthony] Davis, if the Lakers hadn’t won the title this year, who knows? Right? Are we positive he would have stayed? I don’t know. All of the signs, all of the dialogue was like ‘LeBron and him love each other’. But who knows what would have happened?

Simmons believes there’s a CAA client that the Knicks love due to assumed access to extra intel and information on draft prospects as a result of Leon Rose and “World Wide Wes” CAA connections. Bill Simmons believes the Knicks will take advantage throughout the draft process.

With that being said, the Knicks are positioned for the future, whether it’s long-term or short-term. The focus is on player development, however, team development is the ultimate goal, and it could happen very soon with the help of Leon Rose and “World Wide Wes.”

In the upcoming draft, there are plenty of young prospects the Knicks could take a big home-run swing at. Knicks have many avenues available to them in terms of acquiring young talent. Whether it’s trading down in the draft or acquiring more draft picks on a contract dump from another team, the possibilities are exciting and endless. This points to an opportunistic approach for the Knicks to take on draft night. They may take chances on young prospects with very high ceilings. “Risk is currently the new safe” for the New York Knicks thanks to Leon Rose and “World Wide Wes.”

Kira Lewis, Isaac Okoro, Devin Vassell, Precious Achiuwa, Patrick Williams, Immanuel Quickley, and Tyrese Maxey, amongst others, are prospects suitable for the current Knick player developmental staff to hone into potential stars for the future of Knick basketball. A potential late first-round candidate to keep an eye on as a pure upside pick is the 6’10” 7’0″ wingspan 200 lbs Jaden McDaniels out of Washington University in Seattle, Washington.

November 18th will be a very interesting draft date due to so many scenarios involving all NBA teams in the lottery as well as salary cap implications. My advice, have your popcorn ready that night.

Knicks Draft Watch: John Calipari views Tyrese Maxey as smaller version of Jamal Murray

In the 2016 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks missed out on a big-time scoring guard from the University of Kentucky, the leading producer of NBA stars.

The Knicks’ lottery pick that year was earlier sent to the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade. The Nuggets used the Knicks’ original pick (seventh overall) to select former Wildcat Jamal Murray.

Murray, as it turned out, is the real deal and he quickly became one of the league’s rising stars. The Denver Nuggets guard’s sensational play in the NBA Bubble has left team executives who passed on him scratching their heads.

This year, another big-time scorer under John Calipari’s program has entered the NBA Draft. One-and-done freshman Tyrese Maxey could be the answer to the Knicks’ backcourt riddle with his dynamic scoring and moxie.

“I’m trying to tell everybody when you look at Tyrese, he’s a smaller version, but he’s still 6’2”, of Jamal Murray who is 6’5”. They both have that lower release. Everybody said Jamal would never get it off,” Calipari told Empire Sports Media during his Zoom call with select media on Monday.

Murray though came into the Draft as a projected top-five Lottery pick but somehow slipped a couple of notches down because of doubts whether he was athletic enough to thrive in the league.

He proved all the skeptics wrong as his game and his low released shot translated well in the NBA.

Maxey isn’t viewed as highly as Murray was. Most boards have Maxey as a late lottery pick in a Draft that has become as unpredictable as it hasn’t been in recent years. Aside from his apparent lack of size (6’1″ without shoes and with only 6’6″ wingspan), Maxey is facing the same questions Murray had in 2016.

“Jamal played with Tyler Ulis so [people] said, is he a point guard? They’re point guards. We’re teaching them to play with the ball and without the ball. And now it becomes: do they make game-winning shots? Are they that guy? Tyrese is,” said Calipari.

With the NBA heading into positionless basketball, Calipari believes Maxey’s switchability as a combo guard could work well to his advantage. He has the skills and speed to run the point and he has the moxie and court smarts to play off the ball.

Maxey proved early on that he has the chops of Calipari’s typical dynamic guard when he dropped 26 points in his college debut at the Madison Square Garden against Michigan State.

He went on to average 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game before the college season was cut short. He shot 42.7% from the field, 29.2% from three, and 83.3% from the stripes.

It wasn’t fancy particularly his shooting percentage from deep but the eye test suggests his impact on the game was way bigger than those numbers. Another reason for that, Calipari explained, is because Maxey played within the system just like the way Murray, and earlier, Devin Booker did that made them somewhat underrated ahead of the Draft. 

While Maxey is two inches shorter than those two former Kentucky guards, he possesses the same characteristics that make him such an intriguing prospect with a high ceiling.

Calipari pointed those out but also acknowledged the area where Maxey should focus on to reach his ceiling.

“Tyrese, physically, athletically and you know he’s a guy who’s blocking shots, rebounding the ball, has played dribble-drive and a downhill runner his whole life,” Calipari said. “He has to be more consistent with his shooting so did Jamal. But they played similar (roles) here.”

While it’s a pity that Maxey was robbed of the opportunity to show more of his wares on the big stage when the SEC and NCAA were scrapped, his body of work from high school, AAU to Team USA would be enough to tell you he’s got a chance to be special.

Before he went to Kentucky, he teamed up with Draft classmate Cole Anthony in the Team USA that obliterated the 2018 FIBA U18 Americas Championship.

Maxey averaged 8.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists against 0.5 turnovers, and 1.3 steals in 18 minutes. Anthony, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, averaged 14.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists against 2.7 turnovers, and 1.2 steals in 21 minutes.

During his short-lived stay at Kentucky, Maxey was on a tear late in the season, scoring 20 or more points five times before the stoppage.

“There are gonna be people who’ll pass on Tyrese that will regret liked how they passed on PJ (Washington) like how they passed on Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), Jamal (Murray) and we can keep going,” Calipari said. “He’s gonna be that (type of player).”

Mike Schmitz, ESPN’s resident NBA Draft Analyst, shared the same view with Calipari when he appeared on Sports Center with Scott Van Pelt last week.

“He didn’t have eye-popping numbers at Kentucky. He was under 50 percent from 2, under 30 percent from 3, but you have to play a role there. You have to fit in. Coach Cal does a tremendous job of forcing these guys to buy into a role. It’s about winning for the team and you sacrifice there and that’s exactly what Maxey did,” Schmitz said.

But the one thing that stuck out on Schmitz is that Maxey is a big-time scorer.

“This kid is a bucket. I saw him at the high school level, I saw him with USA Basketball, and I think he’s a perfect fit in today’s NBA. You can try to poke holes in him. You can try to say, ‘He’s a 6-3 combo guard. He’s a scorer or he’s out of control.’ But it’s worked pretty well for Tyler Herro, for Jamal Murray, for Devin Booker.”

That type of dynamic scoring has been sorely lacking on the Knicks backcourt for the longest time now.

Calipari didn’t go into specifics about the Knicks’ interest in Maxey. But a  highly-placed source in Kentucky said that Calipari has been constantly talking to the Knicks.

During the course of Calipari’s interview, the well-decorated coach revealed that his travel was limited by the pandemic but noted that his only out-of-town trip so far was to New Jersey.

Knicks’ team president Leon Rose is from Cherry Hills, New Jersey while his good friend and senior advisor William “World Wide Wes” Wesley hails from Camden, New Jersey.

Calipari has strong ties with the Knicks front office, and more so with his former top deputy and key recruiter Kenny Payne who is now one of Tom Thibodeau’s assistant coaches.

Maxey should be available by the time the Knicks would pick at No. 8 based on most Mock Drafts. But he’s also a trade-down candidate as reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post.

NBA Draft analyst Matt Babcock of Babcock Hoops, meanwhile, views Maxey in a different light.

“I see (Tyrese) Maxey being a solid complementary role player at the next level, whereas (Jamal) Murray is a dynamic player and one of the NBA’s rising young stars,” Babcock told Empire Sports Media. “Murray is just in an entirely different category altogether.”

Babcock Hoops has Maxey at No. 28 in their Mock Draft. It’s going to be a big surprise if Maxey gets picked inside the Top 10.

“I do not think the Knicks should consider Maxey with the 8th pick. It would be too high in the draft for him, in my opinion. I actually think Maxey would be a more appropriate option for the Knicks with the 27th pick, if he were there, of course,” Babcock said.

Maxey has shades of Murray in his game. But there are also glaring questions that he must address.

Only time will tell if Maxey can hold up to Murray’s comparisons.

But as Murray’s game became bigger and louder in the recent NBA Bubble, it’s hard to imagine that this new front office given their link to Kentucky and Calipari would pass up on the opportunity to get a player of the same caliber.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks: Could Rebuilding Through The Draft Be Overrated?

New York Knicks

Rebuilding the New York Knicks through the NBA Draft with the use of acquired draft picks was a foreign thought process until General Manager Scott Perry joined former President Steve Mills in the front office. An unfortunate situation occurred for the Knicks in the hiring of former coach David Fizdale. Steve Mills lied to the Knick fan base by giving the impression of building through the draft if the Knicks whiff on the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sweepstakes. Instead of Steve Mills following through with his word, he went on to sign Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Marcus Morris, Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington, and Reggie Bullock. The roster was a poor fit and the New York Knicks went on to have another disastrous season in which some of the young talent (Kevin Knox & Dennis Smith Jr.) actually regressed. Steve Mills believed he built a playoff team. David Fizdale got fired early December 2019 during the midst of a losing streak. Steve Mills got fired two days before the NBA Trade Deadline.

James Dolan hired a well connected former NBA Agent Leon Rose as President of the New York Knicks. Leon Rose made multiple hires in order to round out the Knick front office. One significant hire, Leon Rose made was that of Wesley Williams, also known as “World Wide Wes”. Wesley Williams is known as the most connected man in basketball period. With the new-look front office taking shape, many believe building through the draft would once again become a foreign thought process.

There are teams in the NBA that patiently built through the draft successfully. There are also teams who built their roster with a combination of great drafting, free agency, and great international scouting. Therefore, some are starting to believe that building through the draft is overrated due to the unlimited avenues of finding legit basketball talent.

However, trading draft picks at the drop of a dime is something the Knicks will hopefully stop doing. Give young talent time to blossom instead of trading picks for old veterans who will retire very soon.

Overall, a rebuild must be well balanced in terms of drafting talent, signing strong veterans in free agency, overall scouting, and good trades. The Knicks seem to have put specialized personnel within their front office positions respectively. Cohesion in the front office and thorough scouting with a balanced rebuild through drafting, free agency, international scouting, and G-League would be a major step in the right direction internally. Basketball minds making decisions is a plus for any organization.

New York Knicks: The Hiring Of One Executive Leaves Polarizing Effect

New York Knicks, James Dolan

On June 24th, 2020, the New York Knicks announced Wesley Williams as their new executive vice president/senior basketball adviser. Wesley, who’s a longtime friend of Knicks president Leon Rose and former consultant at Creative Arts Agency, is known for his relationships with star players around the NBA. He also previously worked with top coaching candidate Tom Thibodeau while at Creative Arts Agency.

The Knicks hiring of William Wesley, also known as “World Wide Wes” as the next Executive Vice President, has garnered hot and cold reactions. Two opposite kinds of reactions and the lack of a lukewarm reception of the hiring makes one wonder the real reason for the hiring of William Wesley, leaving such a polarizing effect amongst certain former players and media.

Stephon Marbury’s reaction towards the hiring of the new Knicks Executive Vice President was of disbelief along with anger, and the reaction also seemed personal. Marbury expressed displeasure as a Knick fan; however, he never fully expressed in detail on why he felt the way he expressed about the hire.

Former Knick Rasheed Wallace didn’t sound too optimistic about the Leon Rose and William Wesley hire either. Wallace mentioned possibilities of other agents getting revenge on Leon Rose by spurning opportunities of current NBA stars and potential stars making their way to the Knicks via free agency. Wallace claimed the reason this could happen is due to the possibility of Leon Rose or William Wesley spurning or doing no favors for other agents while in their former positions. Could their past come back to bite them? That remains to be seen.

Wallace said the following on CBS Sports Radio:

“I mean damn, it’s been getting worse. We all think it can’t be no [worse], they’re going to hit rock bottom, but they keep going lower and lower. I’m just a little confused by it all, if you ask me. It’s one thing to have a former agent and agency coming in and giving you their input here and there, but to hire them full time, you’re taking on a lot. Because now, unfortunately [James] Dolan’s taking on their baggage.”