Porzingis, however, does stand by his decision to return to Latvia and workout on his own. “It was important that I disconnected from everything,” he added. “I was working on my game and resting my mind. I kept working hard this summer to put myself in this position. I’m coming in with a fresh mind. I don’t want to carry anything from the previous season.”
There is also the matter of reports, including several from the Daily News that Porzingis' relationship with Jeff Hornacek is on thin ice. Porzingis, who spoke to The News after he was spotted at a midtown eatery Sunday afternoon, declined to address the circumstances behind blowing off his end of the season meeting with Jackson, Hornacek and Steve Mills. The 22-year-old forward would only say, "Honestly, I would love for this year to be a new start. All I'm looking for is a fresh start and not to talk about that anymore."
Q: Is Kristaps Porzingis ready to be “The Man”? Hornacek: I think back at Kobe Bryant, and we played them in the playoffs, and big part of the game, and he must have been a rookie, and he came down and took two shots from the elbow, kind of turnaround, typical Kobe Bryant, but he was young. He shot two air balls, and we win the game. But from that point on, you said: “OK, that kid’s gonna be good,” because he had no qualms about taking that shot. And that’s the development that KP is probably ready to go into, and to be that. I would never put that on a guy at this point to say, “Hey, you’re ‘The Guy.’ ” But you want him to have opportunities to grow into that.
“KP and I have a good relationship,” Hornacek said. “I’m not going to comment on any reports that say otherwise. We texted with him all summer. We followed him through Euro basket. We’re very happy with his conditioning, the way he played out there, the way he took on the role of leader for that Latvian team. I think he’s excited to get back. We’re excited to get back at it.”
According to a report by Peter Vecsey, Hornacek rode Porzingis hard last season and their feud culminated in explosive fashion. Willy Hernangomez is Porzingis’ best friend on the team, and at one point, Hornacek reportedly cornered the Spanish big man and told him to tell Porzingis to stop “stop playing like a pu**y.” That led Porzingis to skip out on his exit interview and basically shut down any relationship with his head coach. Vecsey does note that he’s heard Porzingis and Hornacek are back on speaking terms, either through text or through Hernangomez. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Hornacek's relationship with Porzingis isn't great, despite what the coach now says. And it certainly didn't improve once Porzingis' favorite assistant coach, Josh Longstaff, was fired.
September 17, 2021 | 3:28 pm EDT Update
After securing the arrival of Mario Hezonja, Russian team UNICS Kazan will announce soon the signing of former NBA guard OJ Mayo.
UNICS Kazan is adding one more marquee name to its roster with O.J.Mayo having a one-year deal with the Russian club. While there’s no signed contract yet, that seems to be more a formality delayed by bureaucratic reasons.
Ramona Shelburne: For those who like fun real estate details. The Sterlings still own the Clippers current practice facility in Playa Vista. Ballmer said he has an option to buy it in 2024, but he’s not sure yet what he’ll do because their new complex in Inglewood is scheduled to open same year.
The Austin Spurs today announced that the team has named Petar Božić head coach, making him the eighth head coach in franchise history. In addition, David Pilipovich, Nick Saenz and Jesse Childs have been named assistant coaches on his staff, joining Kenny Trevino who enters his second season as an assistant.
September 17, 2021 | 2:45 pm EDT Update
What’s the message the veterans are giving you about the last two years? Rick Carlisle: They were disappointed with how things have gone. We’ve got to work at developing a style of play so we can maximize what we have here. Exactly what that means as far as number of wins or the playoffs, I don’t know. I’m reluctant to get into that kind of stuff, because sometimes you can set goals that are too low.
How have you evolved as a coach since you were here before? Rick Carlisle: Going from Detroit to here, they were different types of teams, and going to Dallas—the Dallas team was way different than any team I had coached before. It was much more of an outside-shooting team … so it was an amazing experience and education how to work with that kind of group. And then the game has changed an awful lot in the last 13 years, particularly in the last five. Because of the pace, the skill level, the 3-point shot, everything. In two years there, we set offensive records on points per possessions, and then this last year Brooklyn beat both. These records are going to keep falling because of the skill level.
How has the talent level progressed in the NBA? Rick Carlisle: The game has evolved to where the skill of shooting is so decisively important. If you can’t shoot, it’s very hard to be a high-level player in today’s game. The next phase of NBA basketball is going to be the centers shooting 3’s and driving the ball and making plays. Guys like [Kristaps] Porzingis are already doing it. Guys like Anthony Davis are already doing it. We’ve got [Domantas] Sabonis, who is a playmaking big, who’s working on his long-range shooting. That opens up so many possibilities for any player in this league.