Kristaps Porzingis

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Thomas, Poeltl

Second-year big man Kristaps Porzingis knew early on that the Knicks weren’t going to be a competitive team this season, citing a lack of chemistry and teamwork. Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote about the sophomore’s troubling realization as the franchise finds itself staring at a 27-42 record.

I think it was pretty easy to tell from the inside that we’re not that good of a team,” Porzingis said of the Knicks. “We can win games based on our talent, but it’s not going to last long. [We needed] more work, attention to details, to keep growing as a team. A good team needs time to play together.”

The forward, whose averaged 18.0 points per game across 58 contests so far this season, acknowledged that the transition process can be difficult and that the Knicks did add several fresh faces like starting point guard Derrick Rose, but it was a disappointing year nonetheless.

Of course, we all expected big things out of this year, but from the beginning it didn’t feel like — I felt we’d make big runs, but we weren’t there at that level where we wanted to be,” Porzingis said. “We can see now we’re not where we want it to be.”

  • After a two-game hiatus, guard Isaiah Thomas is back in action for the Celtics, Chris Forsberg of ESPN tweets. The All-Star had been nursing a knee bruise. The 29.2 point-per-game scorer returns as the C’s sit 2.5 games back of the Cavaliers for the top seed in the East.
  • Though sparsely used for the majority of his rookie campaign, first-year big man Jakob Poeltl is earning the trust of Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “Every time you put him in, he does something positive,” Casey said. “There’s that trust, not only with myself but with his teammates. He’s doing positive things, he plays with physicality.” Poeltl has averaged 16.8 minutes per game in his last five contests.
  • Pressed to talk about the city of Los Angeles, Carmelo Anthony told the New York Post’s Marc Berman that he thinks L.A. is a relaxing place and that his family feels comfortable there. He also said, “Nah, don’t start, I haven’t thought about it,” though, so take it for what it’s worth. “I try not to think about it,” Anthony told the reporter. “Especially now when I’m still playing with the New York Knicks.

New York Notes: Hornacek, Porzingis, Goodwin, Lopez

This season hasn’t turned out the way the Knicks had hoped, but coach Jeff Hornacek doesn’t think anyone will be fired because of it, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. New York thought it had built a playoff contender by trading for Derrick Rose and signing Joakim Noah over the summer, but the Knicks have crashed to 12th place in the East with a 27-41 record. “We’re all going through this,” Hornacek said. “Every single guy, every single coach, every part of management, everybody’s to blame. We’re all in it together. I don’t think there’s been any other talk of anything, so we try to do the best we can.”

There’s more tonight from New York City:

  • Kristaps Porzingis will miss at least one game with a left thigh bruise that he suffered Tuesday, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Porzingis will be held out of Thursday’s game with the Nets and will be re-evaluated before a three-game road trip that starts Monday. “We’ll see — whenever he’s ready to play,’’ said Hornacek, who remains upset that Porzingis said the Knicks are in “confusion from top to bottom” after a loss on Sunday. Porzingis refused to expand on that statement today, telling reporters, “I made those comments after the game and I spoke my mind. That’s not something I really want to keep talking about.”
  • Archie Goodwin joined the Nets for practice today after signing a 10-day contract this morning, relays Cory Wright of NBA.com. Goodwin is eager to resume his NBA career after playing three games with the Pelicans earlier this season. Coach Kenny Atkinson said Goodwin won’t play tomorrow against the Knicks, but could see time Friday or Sunday. “He’s the profile we’re looking for, young, talent, hasn’t found his footing in the league yet,” Atkinson added.
  • The Nets considered signing Goodwin earlier in the season after he was waived by New Orleans, tweets NetsDaily.com.
  • Brook Lopez, now in his ninth season with the Nets, was so sure that he was being traded two years ago that he had a friend get his luggage ready, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. Lopez believed he was headed to the Thunder in a 2015 deadline deal. Kerber examines how Lopez has adjusted his game to become an effective 3-point threat.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Hornacek, Jackson, Holiday

Kristaps Porzingis plans on working out with Dirk Nowitzki over the offseason, Marc Berman of the Post reports. While Mark Cuban initially wasn’t thrilled with the idea, the Mavs owner came to his senses, saying “It was all in fun. It’s up to Dirk.’’

Porzingis, meanwhile, intends to take advantage of an opportunity to learn from an all-time great.

“I’m sure it will help me out and improve my game, hopefully, unless Mark Cuban says no,’’ Porzingis said. “Dirk is a guy who can really help my game. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to work with him, a few days to get on the court with him and pick his brain.”

More from The Mecca…

  • In an interview with Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, Justin Holiday reiterated his desire to play alongside his brother (and fellow free agent-to-be) Jrue Holiday. “That’s something we’ve talked about, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it more when the season is over.”
  • According to a report from Frank Isola of the Daily News, Phil Jackson may consider firing Jeff Hornacek after the season. Isola takes Jackson to task for being indifferent to the team’s dour mood, as well as being overly fixated on running the triangle offense. “Maybe Jackson’s plan is to be more hands-on knowing that Hornacek will not stand in his way. Under this arrangement Phil’s coaching the team without being on the bench. And it would be a recipe for an even bigger disaster,” Isola writes.
  • The Knicks must focus on Porzingis’ development amid their chaotic season, Steve Popper of The Record writes. “I think this year is a really good experience for me,” Porzingis said. “It’s a tough year. It’s a tough everything. There’s a quote like, a smooth sea never, you know what I mean about the sea? Google it. Basically if the sea is smooth you’re never going to become a great sailor. That’s how I always take it – as a challenge.”

Knicks Notes: Jennings, Griffin, Hornacek, Porzingis

Brandon Jennings is still taking shots at the Knicks, even though he’s now in a Wizards uniform, relays Keely Diven of CSNMidAtlantic. After his first game for Washington on Friday, Jennings told reporters the change has been beneficial. “I’m in the same position I was in New York,” he said, “but just in a better system for me personally and with a team that actually plays together.” Jennings was never shy about criticizing the Knicks while he played there, perhaps surprised to see the inner turmoil in the organization after signing a one-year deal worth more than $4.8MM last summer. Jennings agreed to a buyout with New York and signed with the Wizards on Wednesday. He will be an unrestricted free agent again in July.

There’s more out of New York:

  • Cavaliers GM David Griffin said the team agreed to take J.R. Smith from the Knicks in a 2015 trade involving Iman Shumpert so it wouldn’t have to surrender a first-round pick, tweets Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Griffin recounted the deal Saturday at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Smith and Shumpert both became contributors during the Cavs’ two trips to the NBA Finals, while the Knicks received Lance Thomas, Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk and a 2019 second-rounder.
  • Coach Jeff Hornacek says defensive lapses, not the triangle offense, are behind the Knicks’ difficulties in closing out games, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Several players have been pointing fingers at the triangle, with Carmelo Anthony saying after Friday’s loss to the Sixers that other teams adjust during the games, but the Knicks don’t. “When we get down, especially in fourth quarters, we want to run something that’s part of a system,” Hornacek said. “The triangle aspects is one of the systems that you can run that hopefully they can’t double, hopefully they can’t switch. It at least gets you organized in a set.”
  • Phil Jackson’s attempts to trade Anthony and Derrick Rose before the deadline are evidence that the Knicks will eventually revolve around Kristaps Porzingis, Iannazzone writes in a separate story. He suggests that Porzingis should be made the focus of the offense now, even if it means fewer touches for Anthony.

Carmelo Anthony: Tanking A “Terrible Way To Think”

The Knicks may be hard-pressed to make the postseason- FiveThirtyEight currently gives them a 2% chance of making the playoffs- but Carmelo Anthony doesn’t think that gives the team license to tank. Speaking to Laura Albanese of Newsday, Anthony said the Knicks shouldn’t focus on moving up in the draft lottery.

“As a player, you always disagree with that,” Anthony said, when asked if the Knicks should give up on the playoffs. “We’re the ones that are out there and playing and trying to win basketball games. I think it’s easier from the outside looking in, from a fan perspective, to say, OK, just tank, just lose games. I don’t know how you do that as a player.

I don’t know how you go into a game and say, ‘Today we’re going to try to lose this game or these next 15, 20 games. We’re going to figure out ways to lose and tank the season and start thinking about draft picks.’ That’s a terrible way to think and I don’t think any player in any sport should be thinking that.”

Anthony provides an interesting sentiment on the prospect of tanking from the player’s perspective. Clearly, producing sub-par lineups takes an emotional strain on highly competitive athletes. Unfortunately for Anthony, the Knicks appear content to make decisions without his input. According to Fred Kerber of the New York Post, Anthony wasn’t notified before Brandon Jennings was waived; a move detrimental to the team’s already fleeting playoff chances. What’s more, the team could always opt to sit Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis down the stretch, as Frank Isola of the Daily News alluded to in a recent column.

Anthony, who last made a postseason appearance in 2012/13, admitted he missed competing in the playoffs.

It’s something that I’ve gotten used to throughout my career,” Anthony told Albanese. “Just being there and giving myself a shot of at least seeing what can happen in the playoffs. I miss it. I miss it a lot. It’s something that I think about.”

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Jackson, Rose, Porzingis

Carmelo Anthony wants another face-to-face meeting with Knicks president Phil Jackson after the season, according to Fred Kerber of The New York Post. Anthony is seeking clarity on his future in New York after the team reportedly discussed trading him to the Celtics, Cavaliers or Clippers before last week’s deadline. Any of those deals would have required Anthony to waive his no-trade clause.

Anthony wants to address the rest of this season before discussing his next move. “I don’t think right now,” he said. “Right now we’ve got to sit down and kind of finish these games and go back down to the drawing board after this season.”

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Anthony wasn’t notified before Brandon Jennings was waived on Monday, but said he understands not being part of every personnel decision, Kerber relays in the same piece. Jennings had requested the move and agreed to a buyout so he could join a contender. He signed with the Wizards earlier today. “As players we don’t really know what happens behind closed doors unless they bring it to us,” Anthony said. “That wasn’t something that they brought to us.”
  • Derrick Rose‘s desire to play for a winner will affect his decisions in free agency this summer, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Rose plans to address that topic with Knicks management during his exit meeting. “We had extremely high expectations for this team,” Rose said. “The reality is, I can’t get mad at it. If anything it’s a learning experience. I have to learn from it.’’ Rose can sign an extension with New York before the start of free agency July 1st, but the team has been disappointed with his performance since last summer’s trade with Chicago and may not want to make a long-term commitment.
  • Coach Jeff Hornacek has incorporated Jackson’s triangle offense more frequently as the season wears on, and big man Kristaps Porzingis believes that’s the right approach, Berman writes in a separate story. “We should’ve been playing it from the beginning of the season,’’ Porzingis said. “We’re a little behind. I don’t know when we can finally start using it properly and making an impact.”

Knicks Notes: Rose, Jennings, Randle, Ndour

The Knicks appear to be done with buyouts after parting ways with Brandon Jennings today. While there was some speculation about Derrick Rose being cut by the club, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN suggests the Knicks probably won’t complete any more buyouts unless “a player they like becomes available.” (Twitter link)

Despite Jeff Hornacek‘s words to the contrary, the Knicks appear to be in full-on tank mode at this point. Sporting a 24-35 record, the Knicks are four games behind Detroit for the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference.

More from The Garden…

  • Hornacek has been a fan of Chasson Randle‘s game, Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times writes. The Knicks always viewed Jennings as a stopgap, Vorkunov writes, whose absence will now allow Randle to receive NBA minutes over the next several weeks. “We loved Chasson, his ability, how he can play,” Hornacek said. “He’s a smart player, knows how to play the game, shoot the ball. Chasson can play.”
  • Frank Isola of the Daily News commended the team for cutting Jennings, as Brandon “was never going to be a part of the Knicks future.” Jennings wasn’t happy with the Knicks, as he’d begun to lose minutes to rookie Ron Baker. Isola speculates the reason Jennings was released before Sasha Vujacic was Vujacic’s willingness to run the triangle offense. Additionally, the Knicks attempted to trade Jennings prior to the deadline, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, but no team was interested in giving up an asset for him.
  • Isola is skeptical that the Knicks will cut Rose (link above). The Knicks still view themselves as a playoff-caliber team, and waiving Rose would be an admission of a “colossal mistake” from Phil Jackson. Had the Knicks dealt Rose for Ricky Rubio, Isola observes, Jackson essentially would have traded Rose, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez for Rubio. Isola suggested the team look to the future; “acquiring as many lottery balls as possible” rather than playing for the eighth seed. Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis‘ minutes should be limited, and Ndour appears to be a release candidate.
  • In trade deadline negotiations, the Timberwolves wanted Mindaugas Kuzminskas in addition to Rose, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com. The Knicks and Wolves couldn’t get on the same page for a deadline swap, as we’d previously heard the Knicks insist Minnesota include Nemanja Bjelica alongside Rubio.

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Rose, Porzingis, Jackson

Carmelo Anthony is unsure of the Knicks‘ direction after standing pat at the trade deadline. “I think they were kind of planning on the trade deadline, whether they were trying to make moves,” Anthony said. “I think that was one plan. Now they’ve got to get back to the drawing board and come up with another plan about the future of this team.”

Anthony’s frustration is understandable. Team president Phil Jackson extensively discussed the prospect of shopping Anthony, despite ‘Melo’s no-trade clause. While Anthony wasn’t mentioned in trade rumors throughout the deadline, the team was apparently rebuffed by Minnesota on a Ricky Rubio-for-Derrick Rose swap. Anthony claimed he “kind of knew” he wouldn’t be dealt in the days leading up to the deadline, and spoke for his teammates in criticizing the front office’s lack of transparency.

“Yeah, I mean, nobody likes to be in limbo,” Anthony said. “We all want to know kind of what’s going on, especially when it’s involving you. I think there’s other players who feel the same way, that they want to be involved — not involved, but at least up to date with what’s going on.”

More from the Mecca…

  • Kristaps Porzingis will be out several days with an ankle injury, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). Porzingis made an early exit from Thursday’s loss to the Cavs, and appears likely to miss match-ups against the Sixers and Raptors.
  • Frank Isola of the Daily News relayed a troubling report that Phil Jackson was difficult to contact leading up to the deadline. Isola commended Jackson for not dealing a first round pick, but chastised his inactivity on the trade market. Through three seasons as team president, Isola notes, Jackson’s only deadline acquisition has been Alexey Shved.
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post echoes Isola’s sentiments, claiming Jackson “overplayed his hand” throughout negotiations for Rubio. According to Berman, the Knicks insisted Minnesota include either a draft pick of Nemanja Bjelica along with Rubio in a trade for Rose. Now 12 games under .500, the Knicks’ “win-now-with-Rose experiment” has been doomed, Berman writes.
  • By the conclusion of the trade deadline Thursday, coach Jeff Hornacek received a text stating “we’re sticking with what we have,” from Jackson. The team’s deadline inactivity is the latest development in a “disappointing and chaotic season,” David Waldstein of the New York Times writes. While Rose is on an expiring contract, there appears to be “little momentum” for the Knicks to re-sign him, Walstein notes.

Hoops Links: Lowry, Embiid, Antetokounmpo, Porzingis, Nicholson

On Sundays, we link to some of the very best work from around the basketball blogosphere. Do you have a link to a great basketball blog post – either your own or someone else’s – that you want to see featured on Hoops Rumors? Send it to us at [email protected]. Here’s this week’s rundown:

Atlantic Notes: Jackson, Okafor, Atkinson, Ibaka, Porzingis

Knicks legend Willis Reed had an interesting take on the team’s leadership woes. The Hall of Famer suggested Phil Jackson take the helm as head coach, replacing Jeff Hornacek. 

“Unfortunately for us as Knicks fans, if Phil Jackson had been coaching all year, we would’ve won more games,’’ Reed told Marc Berman of The New York Post. “His toughness and ability to make guys concentrate, that’s what I loved about him as a coach. He got guys to play harder and smarter…He’s got a history with Kobe, Jordan and Shaquille and made them champions.”

Reed was critical of Jackson’s inability to find a suitable head coach during his run as Knicks president, citing Mike Woodson, Derek Fisher, Kurt Rambis, and Hornacek as disappointments. Jackson’s most recent season as a head coach came with the Lakers in 2010/11, in which L.A. finished with a 57-25 record.

More from the Atlantic…

  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN discussed Jahlil Okafor in a recent mailbag, calling the Pelicans the best fit for the former #3 overall pick. In the event that Okafor isn’t traded at the deadline, however, Pelton named the Bucks as a potential landing spot over the offseason. Milwaukee big man Greg Monroe may opt out of his contract, making Okafor a logical candidate to slide into his role.
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post handed out individual grades to the 9-47 Nets. Kenny Atkinson received a B-, as the rookie head coach has done a good job of keeping his players focused despite their gaudy record. GM Sean Marks was given a C+, largely due to his inability to capitalize on Yogi Ferrell‘s potential, and wasting $4MM on Greivis Vasquez.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave props to the Celtics, saying Brad Stevens‘ squad is well-positioned for the future. “Because of the young talent, because of the coach [Brad Stevens] and because of the draft picks that they have coming up. They could end up with the number one pick in the draft, which is remarkable,” Kerr said. “Boston’s in a great place. I have a lot of respect for Brad and Danny [Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations] for what they’ve done and obviously, Isaiah Thomas. They’ve been a great story this year.”
  • According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Raptors received assurances that Serge Ibaka would re-sign after the season. Ibaka, who has yet to make his team debut, will be expected to help lift Toronto out of their recent funk- entering the All-Star break having dropped six of their last 10. As Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders points out, if Toronto doesn’t retain Ibaka over the offseason, their cap space can expand to $21.2MM.
  • Kristaps Porzingis has struggled to get on the same page as Derrick Rose, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “We’re still trying to find that connection between us, where we know exactly where the guy’s going to be,’’ Porzingis said. “We have to get a really good feel for each other. That doesn’t happen overnight. We’re still trying to work on that.’’ An anonymous NBA source added fuel to the fire, observing “I don’t think Derrick is helping Porzingis’s growth, with his head down going to the basket, not really looking for him.’’
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