Atlantic Notes: Fizdale, Porzingis, Eisley, Stevens

David Fizdale becoming the Knicks’ head coach means he will need to cultivate a strong relationship with the team’s Latvian All-Star, Kristaps Porzingis. While Porzingis is recovering from a torn ACL, and is not expected till Christmas at the earliest, he will nonetheless be the key piece the Knicks will build around.

Speaking to reporters, including Marc Berman of the New York Post, from the draft combine in Chicago, Fizdale said he plans on visiting Porzingis multiple times in his native Latvia. The former Grizzlies coach added that he hopes to establish a solid relationship with the former Skills Champion.

“Multiple times maybe over the course of the summer. I want him to feel something different,” Fizdale said. “I want him to feel something that when he comes back here, it’s going to be special for him. He’s walking back into a culture and environment that’s set up for winning. That’s my biggest goal this summer, is to really bond with him and connect with him and get insight from him.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:
  • In a separate story, Berman notes that assistant coach Howard Eisley, who is in Chicago representing the Knicks, is likely to be retained as part of Fizdale’s staff. We noted last week that Eisley may be one of the few coaches from ex-head coach Jeff Hornacek’s staff to be retained. Also, Nick Van Exel, who was rumored to be New York-bound, will remain with the Grizzlies.
  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is highly regarded around the league, especially by his players and front office. Nick Schwartz of USA TODAY Sports examines whether or not Stevens may be getting too much credit, thus discounting the effort of the players and organization for the Celtics’ success.
  • Stevens’ coaching and the front office aside, the players’ performance on the court, especially in the midst of numerous injuries, has catapulted the Celtics to the brink of the NBA Finals. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston examines the biggest winners during the Celtics’ improbable run.
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