The Magic were determined to land Kristaps Porzingis in the 2014 draft and GM Rob Hennigan promised to take him with the No. 10 pick if he stayed in the draft that year, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Instead, he withdrew, and as he prepared for the 2015 draft, the Magic realized he wouldn’t slip past fourth, even though the Knicks had talks about swapping the No. 4 pick for a wing player and another first-rounder up until the day of the draft, Wojnarowski adds.
“Rob had a thorough, comprehensive plan,” Miller said to Wojnarowski. “He had invested as much, or more time, into Kristaps as anyone in the league. He really studied him. They had a plan for supplemental training, development. It wasn’t just, ‘Let’s just draft him and see what happens.’ This was a plan. Kristaps knew the plan and just wasn’t ready.”
Porzingis would have had the Magic’s blessing to remain overseas for a year had they drafted him in 2014, but as the 2015 draft approached, Porzingis’ camp wanted him to end up with the Knicks, as the Yahoo scribe details. Agent Andy Miller withheld him from working out or taking a physical for the Sixers, who had pick No. 3, Wojnarowski notes. The Magic wound up drafting Mario Hezonja with the fifth pick. See more from the Southeast Division.
- Pat Riley said LeBron James never asked him to fire Erik Spoelstra, as previously rumored, as Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald relays, rounding up comments the Heat team president made Thursday. Riley also said he’s proud of Dwyane Wade for “how he has come back and changed the narrative about himself and worked on his body,” Skolnick notes. Wade hits free agency again this summer.
- A third straight loss that dropped the Wizards to 20-24 prompted a players-only meeting Thursday, as J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic details. Jared Dudley, referring to himself as the spokesperson for the team, implicated the coaching staff in his comments following the meeting, as well as a return to a lineup featuring both Marcin Gortat and soon-to-be free agent Nene, who’s been marginalized most of this season. “The flow has been terrible for us these last couple games. That’s something that players and coaches have to do a better job,” Dudley said. “At times it’s good to play Nene and Gortat together. … What team are we trying to be here? We can’t keep coming into this locker room talking about inconsistency because April 15 [when the regular season ends] we’ll all be back at the crib.”
- Hennigan last week cited the youthfulness of the Magic roster for the team’s struggles of late, but the team’s players said before the season that wouldn’t be an excuse, observes Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. The Magic, tied with the Wizards at 20-24, have evoked memories of last season’s 25-57 disappointment as they’ve lost 11 of their last 12 games, and it indicates little progress under new coach Scott Skiles, who faces a challenge to turn the season around, Schmitz writes.