Knicks team president Phil Jackson mentioned six draft prospects that he liked in a late-March interview with confidant Charlie Rosen, posted today on ESPN.com, but none of them were Kristaps Porzingis, the Latvian power forward whom the Knicks selected No. 4 overall. Scout Clarence Gaines was perhaps the most influential advocate for Porzingis within the organization, though dropping to the fourth spot in the order because of poor lottery luck no doubt played a major role in New York’s choice. Jackson signaled to Rosen that he preferred the more NBA-ready Jahlil Okafor to Karl-Anthony Towns, but both were off the board by the time the Knicks picked. See more from Jackson amid the latest Atlantic Division news here:
- Jackson had praise for Alexey Shved, Lance Thomas and Andrea Bargnani but lost affection for Quincy Acy‘s play, as Rosen details. The Knicks boss also had criticism for Jason Smith‘s reaction to coming off the bench. All five were free agents this summer, but only Thomas re-signed with the Knicks.
- The Zen Master indicated that he saw Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan as the prime movers of free agency this summer as far as the Knicks were concerned, but he didn’t mention LaMarcus Aldridge. Of course, Aldridge at that point seemed like a safe bet to re-sign with the Trail Blazers. He instead signed with the Spurs after he and the Knicks mutually decided to cancel a meeting. Jordan met with the Knicks but re-signed with the Clippers, and Gasol didn’t meet with any other teams before signing his new deal with the Grizzlies.
- The Sixers said on July 11th that Joel Embiid would have a bone graft surgery within seven to 10 days, but the Philadelphia organization has since made no mention of any surgery for the big man and a team source tells Jake Fischer of SI Now that the Sixers don’t plan any statement this week (Twitter link). The No. 3 pick from 2014 is likely to miss a second consecutive season this year, and an October 31st deadline looms for a decision on his team option of more than $4.826MM for 2016/17.
- Amin Elhassan and Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com, in an Insider-only piece, debate the paths by which the Celtics can acquire championship-level talent. Boston will have cap flexibility to go after a maximum-salary free agent next summer, but even though the trade market for stars isn’t hot now, that can change and offer the C’s an easier route than free agency would.