Ian Begley: Knicks president Steve Mills said the club was impressed by what it learned on and off the court about Kevin Knox during his group workout. He said NYK was impressed by Knox being willing to compete in a group workout.
“Life is what life is,’’ Bradley said when asked if Jackson didn’t have enough time with the Knicks. “Three years and he had a five-year contract. They decided to make a change. You move on. His spirits are great. He’s finally getting his body in shape. He loves L.A., loves San Francisco where a lot of his grandchildren are. He still talks to people in the game. “Right now he is under contract for the Knicks. [A return] is not in the cards now. After that, who knows?”
Jackson’s record as president (80-166 in three full seasons) should not hurt Jackson’s legacy as a great, Bradley said. “He’s not just a legend,’’ Bradley said. “The record speaks for itself. He’s the most successful coach in the history of basketball. He did it in two places with three different groups of people. When somebody else has that many rings (13 total, 11 as a coach), you can talk about them if they’re better. He had a remarkable run as coach — a clear idea how the game should be played. And he was able to convince three sets of players that this was the way to play.”
Sources: Knicks president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and director of scouting Kristian Petesic are at the Excel agency's Pro Day in NYC where Villanova's Mikal Bridges and other players who have signed with the agency are working out. All NBA teams likely have representation at the Excel Pro Day. But it's potentially noteworthy that Mills, Perry and Petesic were on hand to watch Bridges and other Excel players because many in the organization see Bridges as a potential option for New York, which has the ninth overall selection in the draft.
Almost a Knick? West strongly shot down the notion, which was in circulation earlier this season, that the Knicks made a run at hiring him as a front-office consultant before the Clippers did. "No truth whatsoever," West said. But he did surprise me a bit by revealing that he fully expected to land with the Knicks in the 1960 draft. The Lakers had the No. 2 overall pick and selected West before the Knicks were forced to settle for Darrall Imhoff at No. 3. Referring to the intense fan interest and media scrutiny in New York, West said: "I always thought that would be an interesting place to be."
Ian Begley: Knicks GM Scott Perry, speaking on ESPN’s NBA Draft Combine show, reiterates that the club plans to take the best player available with the ninth pick. Perry says if that player ends up being a wing, which is an area of need, “so be it.”
Knicks GM Scott Perry on the team's ability to land an impact player in the draft: "I am confident we will be able to find a prospect who can help our team regardless of where we pick, as well as our scouting staff's ability to maximize our draft position," Perry said in a Q & A released by the Knicks ahead of Tuesday's lottery.
"Each Draft is unique in terms of the level of contributions from that particular class and group of players. We know that franchise players are extremely hard to come by. With that said, each draft features a healthy number of players who are capable of contributing to winning teams either as starters or in important rotational roles. Our goal is to draft players who fit our plan and our culture, and develop them to the best of our ability as we become a sustainable, winning franchise." The Knicks finished with the 9th-worst record in the NBA and have a 6.1 percent chance of getting a top-3 pick during Tuesday's draft lottery.
Tuesday, with general manager Scott Perry on the Chicago dais, the Knicks find out where they select in June’s draft. They didn’t move up last May, and odds are they stick with the ninth pick. And if they pass on point guards Collin Sexton and Trae Young, it will demonstrate a resolution to Ntilikina as their long-term future. The Knicks need a small forward. “I would caution just a little bit is that it all depends on who’s available when we get ready to select and how we have them tiered,’’ Perry said on ESPN Radio. “If there’s someone down there at a position you think you’re more strong at, but the player is clearly a better talent than the position of need, then you have that question: Do you go ahead and take the greater talent and then you utilize trades and free agency to bolster the position you need help, being small forward?”
According to sources, Ntilikina’s skill as a pure point guard is something Mills and Perry have debated. Mills was part of the Phil Jackson braintrust that drafted Ntilikina eighth — ostensibly as a perfect Euro fit for the triangle offense that has been disbanded. According to a source, Mills was adamant Ntilkina being untouchable at Feb. 8’s trade deadline. But Perry, concerned about Ntilikina’s penetrating prowess, pushed to add Mudiay.
Mike Vorkunov: GM Scott Perry doesn't want to narrow Knicks to drafting a wing (on ESPN Radio): "We’re going to be very open… We’re in the talent acquisition mode so we’ve got to get the highest level of talent that we can onto our roster and we’ll figure out the positions when we get there.”
Woodson also noted while with the Knicks he used a lot of two point-guard fronts — which is in vogue — with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. “I had one of the great isolation players in the game in [Carmelo Anthony], so I’m going to try to get my best player some shots,’’ Woodson said of his isolationist rep. “But do the homework and look at the numbers on 3-pointers attempted and made.” Woodson said he had “a great meeting’’ with Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry. “Everyone’s just waiting,’’ Woodson said.
The Knicks are searching far and wide for their next coach. Team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry have done interviews on the East Coast and the West Coast and will meet with former Cavaliers coach David Blatt this week in Europe. While they’re overseas, they’re expected to scout some European players, including Slovenian guard Luka Doncic, who is projected to be a high lottery pick.
Knicks GM Scott Perry is planning to pair the European trip with a scouting side-trip, sources said. The Perry-Blatt meeting will be telltale to Blatt's candidacy. Blatt has a strong history and relationship with Knicks president Steve Mills, and Mills has been an advocate for Blatt to become Knicks head coach when he worked with Phil Jackson and now Perry.
Diamond Leung: Stephen A Smith to Adam Silver on supporting Mark Jackson bc Knicks need a spokesperson: "I like Steve Mills & Scott Perry but they need a voice that speaks to the media every day & it can't be one of the players & we both know it'll never be James Dolan."
Reddit user: What should the Knicks do to not suck forever? Daryl Morey: There is a common denominator to all their issues...
Ian Begley: Kristaps Porzingis was asked about having 4 NYK coaches in 4 seasons. "The situation is what it is. I’m sure the front office, they will make the right decisions. And to build something that can go a long way. I think they will make the right decisions so we have to trust them.”
Mike Vorkunov: Does Kristaps Porzingis want stability after 3 coaches in 3 years? “The situation is what it is. I’m sure that the front office will make the right decisions and to build something that can go a long ways. I think they’ll make the right decisions and we have to trust them."
Mike Vorkunov: Van Gundy: "I love coaching. I love what I do now." He talks around the Knicks job. Of James Dolan, he says: "I think the misconception of my time there was that Mr. Dolan wasn't good to work for." Says Dolan gave the team the resources to win when he was there.
Adam Zagoria: Perry and Mills say they've been in constant contact with Kristaps Porzingis through his ACL injury. "He's in great spirits about how the rehab is going and about his prospects of coming back, so we feel good about that as well." - Mills @SNYtv @theknicksblog
Adam Zagoria: Scott Perry not closing the door on a Joakim Noah return: "We won't take any of those options off the table. " Said he didn't call Jo to notify him about coaching change.
Al Iannazzone: Another thing being by Knicks officials said is they want a coach who connect with today’s players. Communication was apparently a factor in firing Hornacek.
Mike Vorkunov: "I don't think it was a complete shock to Jeff. We actually had a meeting with Jeff 2 weeks ago to review where we started the beginning of the season." -- Steve Mills, on firing Hornacek late last night.
Adam Zagoria: Scott Perry says #Knicks have already begun to get calls on the job: "This morning we started getting calls. We have not talked to the official candidates yet but we've gotten calls from their representatives."
Ian Begley: On the draft, Perry says internally NYK may feel they have a need at certain positions over others but adds that they are in a ‘talent acquisition' phase which might mean they lean toward taking the best player available. Understandably, he wasn't giving definitive answer here
Al Iannazzone: Perry said no timetable is being put on naming a coach. They’re not saying before draft combine, etc. they’re going to do their due diligence
Alan Hahn: “Jim (Dolan) has given us the room to be patient....and that hasn’t been common in the past here.” - Steve Mills #Knicks
Mike Vorkunov: Scott Perry: "When you're talking about building a winning team that is sustainable, patience is required… There are no quick fixes… I know that has been tried a number of times here in the past." Says he and Mills will remain disciplined in team-building. #knicks
Jeff Hornacek said that lineup decisions are made by he and his coaching staff without influence from management. "All we ever talked about was get all these guys some minutes," Hornacek said of of his conversations with management about dividing playing time among young players like Trey Burke, Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and others. Hornacek said the only directive from management was, "Play guys who are playing well, trying to find them all some minutes and get them experience and get them in games." Hornacek recently inserted Trey Burke into the starting lineup in place of Emmanuel Mudiay.
In another bizarre episode Monday, after Kemba Walker tied it with 17 seconds left in regulation, Burke, feeling the hot hand, waved off Hornacek’s attempt to call a timeout. Burke then waved off the playcall — an attempt by Luke Kornet to set a pick — and ultimately botched the possession with a last-ditch, buzzer-beating airball. As Hornacek’s Knicks stint winds down to perhaps its final seven games, players may be displaying a level of rebellion that could be expected when led by a coach they know may not be back next season. The feeling around the league is Hornacek won’t be brought back by Steve Mills and Scott Perry and that the club may target Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson.
The offseason will be important for the Knicks, and for Craig Robinson to implement his vision and plan to transform their players. Hired last August to be the Knicks vice president of player development and G League operations, Robinson said he really “didn’t get going until training camp” and that “the bulk of the development is done by then.” That was Robinson’s way of saying give it time before you judge him and his work.
Robinson wouldn’t reveal specifics or give “the special sauce” of his developmental approach that he called “innovative” and “transformative.” But Robinson has little doubt it will work if the players put in the work. “What you’ll see when they come back next year there will have been some growth,” Robinson said. “Without deciding what that will be, look at every aspect of their development. Look at ballhandling, the strength and conditioning, look at shooting, looking at medical, his ability to play more minutes. That’s how you’ll be able to tell what he’s doing is working. It won’t be just because he’s making more shots. It’s a holistic approach. You’ll see our players getting better in the quantitative stuff in making shots and being able to play longer. But I think you’ll also see confidence and basketball IQ and able to handle different situations better.”
Stefan Bondy: Steve Francis, in Player’s Tribune, summing up stint in NY: “It’s definitely not worth talking about those Knicks years. ...It was a mess, man. It takes you 5 minutes of being in the locker room before you realize: Nope. No wins here. You can tell in a minute. It’s a culture.”
Ian Begley: Enes Kanter: “The Knicks are paying me money to win games, to go out there and compete and to try to win every game. The Knicks are not paying me to tank.” A reminder that management, not players, enact tanking. I’m sure teammates/coaches appreciate Kanter’s sentiment here
Enes Kanter, whose acquisition just before training camp was at least part of the reason Noah was completely cut out of the rotation, said he's been in contact with his teammate and, "I guess he's doing good. He's just working out somewhere. "Jo' is a good guy. I like him as a person on the court, off the court, he was really nice to me. He helped me a lot and just, we talk a lot with him. Like I said again, I've got no problem with anybody on this team. That's the front office again, I'm just a player for the Knicks."
With his team vying for a playoff spot despite trading off Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, Doc Rivers has done one of his best coaching jobs and still has strong supporters among the top people in the Clippers’ front office. If he stays on as coach, that could ruin the Knicks’ plans. There is a growing sentiment within New York’s hierarchy to hire Rivers, a former Knicks player, to replace Jeff Hornacek. Sources say Hornacek’s days in New York could be over once the season ends. It hasn’t been all of his fault, but he was brought to the Garden by former team president Phil Jackson and not the current regime headed by Steve Mills.
Jeff Hornacek's contract is up after the 2018-19 season, and Perry has said that he and Mills will evaluate Hornacek -- and all other aspects of the organization -- after the season. Hornacek was hired by former Knicks president Phil Jackson, so it certainly wouldn't be a surprise if Hornacek is let go by the club's new management after this season. [...] Some players have privately grumbled about Hornacek's rotations, according to sources familiar with the matter, but Hornacek was given the freedom to run his own offense and was handed an imbalanced roster and tasked with trying to fight for a playoff spot while developing young players.
Marc Berman: As we've already reported, Knicks GM Scott Perry still has his eye on his former first-round lottery pick, Elfrid Payton of Orlando.
Following Sunday's loss to the lowly Atlanta Hawks, the Knicks are 23-31, and sit four games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 8 seed in the East. It looks like the Knicks will miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season dating to their 2013 loss to the Indiana Pacers in the second round. "I would definitely try to just acquire as many as assets for the future as I could," longtime NBA agent Keith Glass told SNY.tv in reference to the Knicks. The Knicks are treating the trade deadline with an "opportunistic" approach, one source familiar with their way of thinking said.
As Knicks brass eyes the future, there’s one striking attribute the club would like to accomplish: Get more athletic. Whether that can be achieved at Feb. 8’s trade deadline is still unclear. The attempts next week to alleviate their glut at center could accomplish that mission.
According to multiple sources, Phil Jackson’s three-and-a-half-year reign included orders to his scouts to look for players who would make good, cerebral fits in the triangle — with the notion that athleticism is not a major priority. In fact, there’s a notorious remark Jackson uttered that backs that claim. “We keep insisting upon the type of players we want,’’ Jackson said at his season-ending press conference last year. “Behind the scenes, we are interested in developing and turning away from just, say: ‘This guy can jump out of the gym, this guy can do a triple-double game or dunk the ball.’ That is not what we are interested in. We are interested in skill players that know how to play together in team form.”
The New York Knicks and center Joakim Noah seem to be at an impasse that may be unrepairable. Noah and Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek were reported to have gotten into a very heated exchange that ended up with Noah being sent home. A league source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking suggested New York may be open to giving up their first-round pick this year to offload Noah without needing to buy him out or carry a monster cap hit. The prevailing thought was the Knicks wouldn’t be bad enough to land one of the gems of the draft class, and with so much youth on the roster now, a one year hit to jettison Noah seems to be at least under consideration.
Kristaps Porzingis, unlike the front office, isn't so concerned about long-term assets. He wants the Knicks to be buyers at the trade deadline in hopes of boosting a push to his first postseason. "Playoff experience for myself, individually, would be huge at this point in my career — the sooner the better," he said. "And for most of the guys. Most of the guys haven't felt that playoff experience that everybody talks about — that the guys talk about that have been there."
While Porzingis said his preference is to upgrade, he has little interest in being involved in the process. "I think they know I want to be in the playoffs and that's the only thing on my mind," said Porzingis, who is eligible for a $150 million contract extension this upcoming summer. "I'm not going to go in there and be like, 'No, we're tanking.' Then there's no reason to play. That's the only thing I'm focused on. What I need to do on the court to play better, make my team win."
Luka Doncic is the perfect versatile wing Knicks president Steve Mills craves. The 18-year-old is averaging 15 points in 23 minutes. “I played with him — he’s really a talented guy,’’ Willy Hernangomez said after a rare 18-minute outing in Golden State on Tuesday. “I think people in The States don’t understand how difficult it is to play in European League when you’re 19 years old and playing against 30-year-olds and be the best. Most of the players in college won’t do as well as he is doing in Europe. For him, he’s a top three in the draft this year. He’s my friend. I have a great relationship with him.” “He’s a 2, 3, he can play point guard and he’s really smart, talented,’’ Hernangomez said. “He can shoot. He will really improve because he’s a kid. If you know Petrovic, he was amazing. He’s kind of a player like him. All the European guys in the NBA are excited for him to play here.’’
As speculation about Jeff Hornacek’s job security ramps up, the coach said that he shouldn’t be judged on the team’s recent skid because these growing pains were part of a plan dictated by the front office. Jeff Hornacek also believes he has the backing of GM Scott Perry and president Steve Mills, despite being inherited by them as Phil Jackson’s hire. “We were talking about rebuilding and we got off to a good start because we had a lot of home games,” Hornacek said. “Scott and Steve, everybody’s still on the same page of trying to get our young guys opportunities. We’re still trying to win games. We still want to establish an identity where defensively we’re going to get after it all the time and we’re building toward that. It’s great to have their support.”
“You always want to win. We know it’s a process that we kind of got to grow into,” Hornacek said. "Players want to win every game. Coaches want to win every game. Management wants to win every game. But you also have to keep that big picture in mind and always think about are we making strides. Or are we just trying to win games and the strides stop? We always have to keep that in mind.”
The first Frank Ntilikina-Dennis Smith showdown is in one week, Sunday in Dallas. As LeBron James so eloquently pointed out, Knicks president Phil Jackson bypassed Smith at No. 8 for Ntilikina, who is excelling most on defense. “Me and Frank are actually cool,’’ Smith told The Post on Friday in New Orleans. “At the draft — I’ve been playing with a lot of those draft guys since middle school — but I probably talked to Frank more than anybody else other than Markelle Fultz, then at the rookie photo shoot, too. Frank and I are cool.” “We’re going to go out there and compete,’’ Smith added of the showdown. “I wouldn’t expect anything else from him. No beef between me and Frank.”
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."
Stefan Bondy: Knicks have to do something about their center situation by the deadline. They have four centers taking up roughly 40 percent of the cap space. In the last two games Hornacek had them all on the bench in the fourth quarter because, like the rest of the NBA, he went small.
Here’s the issue. The Kings brought in Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter during the offseason and still have Garrett Temple on the roster. These are respected vets who can play. These are vets brought in to help a young team, and according to sources, were brought in with the promise of a team aiming to be playoff competitive. But that promise was made to them by Scott Perry, who since left Sacramento and now makes personnel decisions for the New York Knicks. So the direction of the franchise has shifted since Perry left. An organization that brought in veterans aiming to win now is aiming to lose. Not surprisingly, Hill isn’t happy, according to multiple sources And the other veterans can’t be too happy, either. So the Kings have a mess on their hands. I’ve always liked Hill’s game, but when he signed in Sacramento, I questioned the prudence of the Kings bringing him on board when they just drafted De’Aaron Fox, the quicksilver point guard from Kentucky.
Scott Perry on Jeff Hornacek’s performance: “I think Jeff is doing a very solid job for this team, getting an opportunity to add to the culture. He and I communicate on a daily basis. We have a strong relationship. I’m looking forward for him to continue to push these guys in the manner we want them pushed, continue to grow as a defensive team, grow our competitive edge.”
In the wake of the damage done by Phil Jackson on the Knicks franchise though, Scott Perry has picked up the pieces and after 24 games insisted he is not interested in tanking to facilitate a rebuild. “I think it’s very important if you’re playing meaningful basketball late into the season, just for again, the culture which you’re trying to build here,” Perry said. “I would also say wherever we end up in the draft, whether it’s on the playoffs side or the lottery side, whatever, I have extreme confidence in our scouting staff and our front office staff that we’re going to add some talented players to the mix here. But I just believe that it’s important to compete hard, do the very best that you can and then organically let that happen. The amount of wins and losses come out of that versus trying to put your team in a position not to win. I don’t think that’s healthy for any culture. I think if you try to, quote-unquote, institutionalize losing if you will, that’s hard to get out of your building. You may never get that out of your building. We just want to do the very best we can and we’ll live with the results.”
They’ve done it with a new administration led by president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry. They were not team owner James Dolan’s first choice. Dolan had one of his most trusted allies, entertainment executive Irving Azoff, talk to Jerry West to see if the NBA legend wanted to take over for Jackson last June, league sources with knowledge of the discussions told Sporting News.
Azoff brought Dolan and Jackson together in 2014, but in this instance, West told Azoff that the time wasn’t right to come to New York. Instead he opted to settle into an advisory role to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.
Courtney Lee is averaging career highs in points, rebounds and assists. The Knicks swingman has been asked a handful of times this season why he seems a different, more active, more consistent player in his second season in New York. And though he didn’t want to diss former president Phil Jackson, Lee explained his production is up because he no longer is maneuvering inside an old-fashioned, intricate offense. “You want me to say it point-blank and clear,’’ Lee said when asked Wednesday about his metamorphosis. “We’re not running the triangle. We’re running a different offense that’s more fast-paced. And it’s more suitable for my style of play.”
Enes Kanter was warned by the Knicks and may even hear from the league about openly telling a teammate to fight the opponent. “The front office told me I cannot say stuff like that,” Kanter confessed Tuesday following practice. “It’s a learning process. This is my second language. When I say fight it means compete, play hard, compete. You get a tech; you get a tech. They told me I cannot say stuff like that. I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry NBA, my fault.”
The Knicks were still worried they would strike out on another free agent. The Hawks could have matched the offer with Hardaway a restricted free agent. Atlanta passed and the Knicks got shredded for overpaying a player they traded away in 2015 and who had never been a full-time starter. “There was that concern,’’ Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said of the Hawks’ matching. “Tim had started to turn the corner in terms of being a great player. He finished last season having a very, very good second half. We knew that was the beginning. I don’t think there was concern bringing him back. Mills did a great job of figuring out how to get him and what it might take. There was concern Atlanta might match it. When they didn’t, we were very happy.’’
Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave a thoughtful assessment of the failed Phil Jackson presidential regime, feeling the Zen Master was due bad luck after his record-setting “11 Rings” coaching career, when everything went right. “I felt bad for the way things ended,” Kerr said. “I think Phil did some good things here. Drafting [Kristaps] Porzingis and hiring Jeff Hornacek. I think [Frank] Ntilikina looks like a good player. It feels like they’re on a good path right now.”
Ian Begley: Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who is close with Phil Jackson, was asked about Jackson’s tenure in New York. “I felt bad for the way things ended,” Kerr said. He believes Jackson did some good things in NY and the Knicks are on “a good path now.” Full quote: pic.twitter.com/bSr8AlI1JC
The feud between James Dolan and Charles Oakley continues into the courtroom. After Oakley was forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden last February, the Knicks owner responded by briefly banning him from Madison Square Garden, and mentioning Oakley has a drinking problem. Oakley responded to Dolan by bringing him to court for a defamation suit. He says what took place at the Knicks game in February was an unnecessary use of force on the part of Dolan, and MSG, along with calling him an alcoholic. Dolan's attorneys are now filing a request to have the suit dismissed.
Dolan's defense is that Oakley's behavior at MSG that night required removal. He claims that Oakley took his seat and began insulting security. Amy Dash, a CBS Sports Legal Analyst, broke down the suit in detail on her website. In the three page letter to the court, Dolan's attorneys accuse Oakley of having, "a long, documented history of altercations with law enforcement and security personnel" and called the February 8, 2017 incident at MSG, where Oakley clashed with MSG guards and was hauled out of the Garden screaming during a Clippers game, just the latest example of his "recidivist behavior." Comparing him to a repeat offender, Dolan's attorneys directed the court to another lawsuit filed in 2011 between Oakley and the Aria Resort and Casino which details, "prior incidents in which Oakley cursed, punched, kicked, and bit security guards trying to restrain him and threw a bystander's camera into a hotel pool; punched a guard in the face; and sent a hotel employee to the hospital by throwing dice at his face."
“We know that is looming,’’ Perry said before the Knicks’ 112-99 loss to the Magic. “We’re going to have to address the roster. We’ve been working through the process for a few weeks. By Sunday at 5 p.m., there’ll be a resolution one way or another. Whether it’s a trade or waive an individual.’’
Knicks general manager Scott Perry wouldn’t address Kristaps Porzingis’ brother/agent’s comments to a Latvian magazine about Porzingis’ future with the team. Janis Porzingis made it seem that it was no slam dunk that Kristaps would sign an extension next summer. “I don’t really want to talk about that right now,” Perry said Wednesday night. “We’re looking forward and ahead. The time to talk about contract extensions, that’s far. We’re living in today. KP is playing some very good basketball right now. He’s playing well and he’s happy with this team. We’ll deal with all that stuff later. But no comment in terms of what was said because I really don’t know.”
Marc Berman: For second straight game, Billups hanging with Perry-Mills. Source said Perry showing his buddy ropes. They were close in Detroit.
Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit interview to prompt change in the Knicks since Carmelo Anthony never did it himself. And when it comes to Porzingis signing a long-term extension, the Latvian is in no rush and expects to be treated like a superstar. Both those nuggets were revealed by Porzingis’ older brother and agent, Janis, who spoke recently with Latvian website Sportcentrs.
“(Skipping the exit interview) wasn’t an emotional decision,” Janis said, according to a translation from Eurohoops.net. “It wasn’t a spontaneous action. We had been thinking about it for a long time and it was considered an honest, well-thought decision we came up with together. It was a logical next step for us, without which we would’ve been in one situation, but now after we did it – we are in another.”
Janis seemed to find it contradictory that Kristaps was labeled unprofessional while Anthony was lauded for the way he handled last season. “It’s interesting how many people who are even somehow involved in all of this, have criticized it afterward as something so unprofessional!! Just look at Melo, how he is handling things,” Janis said. “And I’m thinking, 'wait a minute.' In reality, if he for once decided to fight for something, we wouldn’t be in this situation and Kristaps wouldn’t be forced to take all the damage on himself. It wasn’t done for some personal interest or ambitions or dislike for someone, it was for the sake of overall peace. It should have been a task for the team’s leaders, but Melo and people around him never tried to change anything.”
Knicks president Steve Mills said point guard Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez are keepers. He also dampened speculation about Jeff Hornacek’s immediate future, saying he’s not being judged by a won-loss record, though the Brooklyn victory was a sign the coach was on the right track. “Jeff, Scott [Perry] and I are in this together,” Mills said Sunday.
Regarding his recent conversations with Hornacek, Mills said: “We told him to focus on getting the team better and finding ways to reduce the turnovers and make sure we’re improving defensively. That’s what our goal was. We didn’t focus on the record. Our focus is how we’re improving over the course of the season. If we do all the things from a defensive standpoint, wins will come out of that. I do believe it’s getting better.” And improvement is what Mills wants to see.
Sources said the Suns asked for a combo of Ntilikina and Hernangomez. Mills doesn’t want to part with either. Mills said Hornacek did the right thing in making Hernangomez “earn’’ his minutes. “This is part of Willy’s development,’’ Mills said. “He’s a guy who’s going to be with us the next three years and we have a lot of time to work with him, and he’s going to be part of who we are.”
Though Mills was GM and scouted Ntilikina in France, the final decision on drafting Ntilikina was Jackson’s, with his trusted adviser Clarence Gaines Jr., with the triangle partly in mind. “We’re committed to him and his development,’’ Mills said. “What we’re trying to do with this team, it centers around guys like Frank, Kristaps Porzingis, draft picks moving forward.”
Shane Larkin is now in the Celtics’ rotation, playing 8 minutes per game, averaging five points and two assists. “He’s a great coach — obviously a great basketball mind,’’ Larkin told The Post of Jackson, who was fired after the draft. “Coach or GM, you have to have a great basketball mind. How many rings does he have? He could’ve been a great GM. Maybe he just had a few bad acquisitions. He had great ideas on what he wanted to do with the team. It didn’t work out, but that doesn’t change what he did — still a great coach. If he wants to come back and do it again, I’m sure someone would give him another opportunity and it might work somewhere else.’’
Larkin is now in the Celtics’ rotation, playing 8 minutes per game, averaging five points and two assists. He’s become a quick study under Kyrie Irving and faces the Knicks on Tuesday at TD Garden. “He’s a great coach — obviously a great basketball mind,’’ Larkin told The Post of Jackson, who was fired after the draft. “Coach or GM, you have to have a great basketball mind. How many rings does he have? He could’ve been a great GM. Maybe he just had a few bad acquisitions. He had great ideas on what he wanted to do with the team. It didn’t work out, but that doesn’t change what he did — still a great coach. “If he wants to come back and do it again, I’m sure someone would give him another opportunity and it might work somewhere else.’’
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."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Jim Dolan made the decision to hire him, and Phil (Jackson) told him what it was going to be, which was, and I don't think Dolan understood what he meant, which was 'I'm bringing a system and a philosophy, this core of belief about how're going to play. We're gonna play with the triangle, and that's gonna be an organizational mandate." And in Phil's mind, you talk with people around him, Phil somehow believed that the triangle would survive him in New York, that he would leave someday but they would continuing running the triangle, that the Knicks would be a triangle organization.
Adrian Wojnarowski: "I've heard some horror stories about Phil in presentation situations with players, unprepared, disorganized. And sometimes he'd have Steve Mills there, who'd try to redirect them, but I know a couple of players who walked out of meetings in a couple different free-agent scenarios and saying ‘Wow, that was Phil Jackson. That's not how I imagined hed'd be."
Adrian Wojnarowski: I heard some horror stories about Phil in presentation situations with players – unprepared, just disorganized. And sometimes, he’d have Steve Mills in there, who’d try to re-direct him. But I know of a couple players who walked out of meetings in a couple different free-agent scenarios and, “Wow, that was Phil Jackson? That’s now how I imagined he’d be.”
“I truly believe that teams that I’ve been a part of throughout my career,” Perry said, “I’ve just seen how important veteran players can be to younger players just from a mentoring standpoint, for setting the right example on and off the court for guys, being a sounding board for young guys because this is going to be a first for many young people on our team playing 82 games, what’s that like. It’s going to challenge their confidence, it’s going to challenge their physical bodies. To have enough guys in the locker room that had that experience before is very helpful for them to help them grow and help them push through adversity and obstacles.
New Knicks general manager Scott Perry said he believes the team’s fans will be satisfied with any result this season if they witness a franchise “establishing a direction” and fighting every game. “Fans in general respect teams who compete and fight hard every night,’’ Perry said in a pregame meeting with the traveling beat writers before the Knicks faced the Wizards in their second preseason game. “I think fans will respect that. We’ll see where that takes us. Nobody has a crystal ball, what that’s going to mean for results this year. Let that play out.
“The big thing is this team competing, playing hard, playing together, trying to defend every night. If we can do that, they can live with the results. The fans will at least see the proper direction we’re headed. That’s going to be key — establishing direction where we’re headed as an organization.’’
September 26, 2021 | 6:15 am EDT Update
“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tells Rolling Stone. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”
Irving, who serves as a vice president on the executive committee of the players’ union, recently started following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims that “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan.” This Moderna microchip misinformation campaign has spread across multiple NBA locker rooms and group chats, according to several of the dozen-plus current players, Hall-of-Famers, league executives, arena workers and virologists interviewed for this story over the past week.
When asked directly about Irving’s vaccination status — or his plans to change it — multiple people familiar with his thinking declined to answer directly. But one confidant and family member floated to Rolling Stone the idea of anti-vaxx players skipping home games to dodge the New York City ordinance… or at least threatening to protest them, until the NBA changes its ways.
“There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way,” says Kyrie’s aunt, Tyki Irving, who runs the seven-time All-Star’s family foundation and is one of the few people in his regular circle of advisors. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you. There can be some sort of formula where the NBA and the players can come to some sort of agreement.”
A spokeswoman for Irving declined to respond to a list of questions regarding his vaccination and playing status, and Irving did not immediately respond to a message from Rolling Stone. But as teams return to pre-season training camps next week, fifty to sixty NBA players have yet to receive a single vaccine dose, league sources tell RS. Most are considered merely reluctant skeptics. Some of the holdouts, however, amount to their own shadow roster of anti-vaxxers mounting a behind-the-scenes resistance to Covid protocols — and the truth.
Isaac considers un-vaxxed players to be vilified and bullied, and he thinks “it’s an injustice” to automatically make heroes out of vaccinated celebrities. He rejects the NBA’s proposal for a vaccine mandate and social distancing for players like him during team travel: “You can play on the same court. We can touch the same ball. We can bump chests. We can do all those things on the court. And then when it comes to being on the bus, we have to be in different parts of the bus? To me, it doesn’t seem logically consistent. “If you are vaccinated, in other places you still have to wear the mask regardless. It’s like, ‘OK, then what is the mask necessarily for?’” Isaac continues. “And if Kyrie says that from his position of his executive power in the NBPA, then kudos to him.”
Enes Kanter — the veteran center, devout Muslim and outspoken liberal — senses a creep of the religious right upon his workplace, which just happens to involve players like Isaac sweating all over him and yelling in his face: “If a guy’s not getting vaccinated because of his religion, I feel like we are in a time where the religion and science has to go to together,” he tells RS. “I’ve talked to a lot of religious guys — I’m like: ‘It saves people’s lives, so what is more important than that?’”
In their sit-down interview back in August, Durant and Green rehashed the incident and how it ultimately affected KD’s decision to leave the Warriors. Surprisingly, KD claimed it wasn’t the beef itself that pushed him away, but the way Steve Kerr, Bob Myers and the front office handled things. “It wasn’t the argument,” the former Warriors star said. “It was the way that everybody … Steve Kerr acted like it didn’t happen. Bob Myers tried to just discipline you and think that would put a mask over everything. I really felt that was such a big situation for us as a group, the first time we went through something like that. We had to get that s— all out.”