September 21, 2017 | 5:25 am EDT Update
After missing the Knicks’ voluntary workouts, Porzingis, seemingly in no hurry to return, will be at Monday’s start of training camp for Media Day. He may or may not explain his shocking and unpopular decision to blow off an exit meeting with Jackson, Mills and Hornacek. According to an NBA source, Knicks brass was happy with his performance in Europe and fine with the timing of his New York return. (Hernangomez, whose Spanish squad won bronze, and Kuzminskas haven’t arrived to Tarrytown either; Euro training camps began in late July for the trio.)
Coach Nate McMillan said he has a starting lineup in mind heading into training camp, but wouldn’t reveal it. He did acknowledge, however, that Lance Stephenson likely will start the season as the sixth man. Stephenson likely will play starter minutes, but his versatility and energy makes him a logical candidate for playing off the bench. “I hope he can establish (that role),” McMillan said. “A sixth man is like a starter, and he can be a guy who can do a lot of things with that second group with his ability to handle the ball, score the ball. He’s an unselfish player.”
But after the trials of last season, Jackson is confident that after an off-season geared toward doing a better job of managing the chronic case of tendinitis, he is back to normal. “One hundred percent would always be great to feel, but this year I just want to be better than I was the day before,” Jackson said Wednesday at the practice facility in Auburn Hills.
The days of coaches looking at a player’s offseason workout regimen, skeptical of the work load and maybe the credentials of whatever personal guru was administering it, appear to be over. Just as teams’ medical staffs have grown accustomed to injured players seeking out second opinions from orthopedists of their choosing, so have they gotten used to cooperating with, and sometimes embracing, their guys’ trainers into a comprehensive, full-calendar fitness program. Now some of the trainers who work with NBA stars far away from the lights and the cameras may be stars. Rob McClanaghan, Tim Grover, Idan Ravin, Chris Johnson and several others have or have had devoted followings among the league’s biggest names. A facility in Santa Barbara, Calif., called Peak Performance Project – “P3” for short – is a Mecca for players seeking the latest and greatest in bio-mechanics and training techniques.
Scott Brooks, Wizards: “Being a former player, I kind of know all the tricks. One of the tricks is: ‘I lifted a lot of weight this summer and bulked up.’ That’s a trick. You didn’t ‘bulk up,’ you just gained weight. And your body fat percentage is higher. When a player starts the conversation with that, you know he’s not in shape. But we touch are players all summer, we text them – that’s the only way you can communicate with some, who never check their voice messages – but you know once guys come in. The guys we’ve had come in the last couple weeks, I see no problem with their conditioning. … People who always say ‘The old school was better,’ taking all of October to get into shape, that’s one place the old school wasn’t better. … Guys are in shape. It’s big business.”