Ian Begley: ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy was asked on a conference call about the Knicks this season and if he thought Kristaps Porzingis was ready to take the next step forward in his career: “I think the Knicks obviously have declared what they want to do, which is rebuild, and so much is going to be — this season is going to be about Porzingis and Hernangomez, their development, and Frank’s ability to learn the NBA quickly at a difficult position and get him significant minutes to grow. This is a great opportunity for Porzingis. Hopefully he can remain healthy. I did not think he made the jump that everyone expected last year. There was a lot of commotion and noise last year that surrounded the Knicks that didn’t have anything to do with winning or development, so this year hopefully it’s a calmer environment, but he’s got to take responsibility and accountability for doing what great players do, which is produce every night and unite your team through your effort and unselfishness.”
August 2, 2021 | 1:19 am EDT Update
“It looks like [Kawhi] is expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but sources informed me that he will listen to other teams.” @ChrisBHaynes on Kawhi Leonard’s free agency
Sources tell cleveland.com the Cavs are no longer expected to pursue Los Angeles Lakers free agent guard Alex Caruso or Indiana Pacers pesky reserve TJ McConnell — both of whom will garner interest from several suitors and could command the full mid-level exception, which starts around $9.5 million.
That means the Cavs need to set their sights elsewhere. Sources say they are considering splitting the exception among two players, depending on the target, but would use the full MLE on the right fit. Indiana sharpshooter Doug McDermott will get consideration, sources say. But that will be a battle. Shooters get paid in this league. A source suggested the Cavs would likely have to go an extra guaranteed year to boost their appeal. Let’s call that the “Cleveland tax.”
Alec Burks is another possibility. The Cavs like him and would be interested in a reunion, a source says. Burks played about half a season with the Cavs in 2018-19 before getting sent to Sacramento in a three-team trade that netted Cleveland a first-round-pick.
The 26-year-old “Greek Freak” sat next to the gleaming NBA championship trophy, along with his NBA Finals MVP award and his brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, 29, who also plays for the Bucks. “We had to go through a long process (to bring the trophy to Greece),” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “We don’t know how many days we will stay, but we will take it with us to the places we grew up, to Sepolia and Zografou.”
Antetokounmpo added that part of his desire to win is “because I’m a people pleaser. I want to win for (son) Liam, my mother, my family, my friends, for Greece. “I might win the next title next year, or three years from now. But even if I never win another title in my life, I will still be OK, because that will have been God’s plan.”
August 2, 2021 | 12:45 am EDT Update
Tommy Beer: Stephen A. Smith, on @SiriusXMNBA , says that although Dame Lillard has not yet demanded a trade, Smith knows “for a fact” that if Dame were to be traded, New York “would be his number 1 destination,” adding “I’m telling you what I know. I’m not guessing.”