Much of the [Knicks’ early success] credit belongs to Jeff Hornacek, who is demonstrating his capabilities as a coach when freed from triangle shackles and the obligations of building a system around Carmelo Anthony’s 35 minutes per game. In a matter of one month, Hornacek went from the hot seat to orchestrating a start worthy of Coach of the Year consideration. “He just has more freedom,” Porzingis said. “He’s running the stuff he wants to run and what he sees for us. And you can tell he’s more comfortable. He’s not balancing between different things. So that’s a good thing. We also feel confidence from that. They’re 100-percent confident in what they’re doing. We also feel that. Players always feel that. And there’s a difference between last year and this year.”
Hornacek was set up to fail by Phil Jackson, just like his predecessor, Derek Fisher. The idea that an executive could force a coach to run the triangle was folly. For the first time Monday, Porzingis acknowledged it undermined Hornacek in the locker room. "He was maybe forced to run a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Do this, do that. And that's when you can tell. As a player, you feel that. And when things are not going well, there are a lot of players who are saying, 'Why are we doing this?'" Porzingis said. "When you believe in something — even if you're not doing well — sooner or later those things start to work out."
Marc Berman: Kristaps: Says has "great relationship" with Hornacek, doesn't "know where it's coming from."
Barbara Barker: "I'm coming in with a fresh mind.The past is the past. " Kristaps Porzingis. pic.twitter.com/jiBGld9JEC
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."
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."
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 23, 2021 | 4:49 am EDT Update
The Sixers would be best served if Simmons and Paul rethink their plans, though Simmons “is clearly aware of sanctions available to the organization to fine and suspend him, including withholding of salary,” according to Wojnarowski. An NBA source said Wednesday that Simmons initially asked for a trade at the draft combine in Chicago “right after” the end of the 2020-21 season. The Game 7 home loss to the Hawks occurred on June 20, with the combine running from June 21-27.
Simmons has apparently already received $8.25 million of his 2021-22 salary, with another $8.25 million due if he’s on the roster Oct. 1. The Sixers aren’t saying what they plan to do or if they must make that payment when, barring a dramatic shift, Simmons follows through with his holdout, according to the source.
Rather than increasing Simmons’ value in a trade, the Sixers’ preference is for Simmons to report and play this season in Philadelphia, according to an NBA source. Rivers said the same thing Wednesday: “We would love to have Ben back.”
Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson: 76ers retiring Kobe Bryant’s Lower Merion No. 33 like Heat retired MJ’s No. 23 ‘interesting idea’ @ScottONeil tells @BallySports: “That’s something that @dmorey & @DocRivers & Elton will weigh on for sure. That’s something that Chris Heck the President of 76ers will weigh on.”
September 23, 2021 | 2:02 am EDT Update
The Warriors recently connected Wiggins with an Oakland doctor who understands issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy, sources said. The doctor explained the suffering and deaths she has witnessed in patients who contracted the coronavirus, sources said, but Wiggins remains unmoved in his decision against vaccination.
San Francisco requires full vaccination to be allowed indoors for entertainment, including large events like NBA games at 18,000-seat Chase Center. New York City is the only other NBA market currently facing such restrictions. League sources believe the NBA will grant Wiggins a religious exemption, but San Francisco has the power to override it inside the city.