Kristaps Porzingis

Leonard Trade Rumors: Lakers, Kings, Knicks, Celtics, Odds

It would be a tight squeeze financially but the Lakers could conceivably acquire Kawhi Leonard in a trade and sign both LeBron James and Paul George as free agents, according to Kevin Pelton of Leonard’s desire to be traded from the Spurs, with Los Angeles being his preferred destination, was made public on Friday. The trade would have to be completed before any free agent signings and the Spurs would have to be willing to take back Luol Deng‘s bad contract, Pelton continues. A package of either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma might be enough to entice the Spurs to do that, though a third team might be needed in order to match up salaries. The Lakers could then sign James and George, and fill out the roster using their room mid-level exception along with veterans agreeing to minimum contracts, Pelton adds.

In other notes involving Leonard trade chatter:

  • The Kings could be a darkhorse to land Leonard, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Sacramento is desperately seeking a star-level talent and is willing to part with the No. 2 pick in the draft to get one, according to Mannix.
  • The Knicks would have to part with Kristaps Porzingis to have any chance of securing Leonard, Marc Berman of the New York Post speculates. The only other major assets the Knicks possess are their lottery pick (No. 9 overall), their potential lottery pick in 2020 and last year’s lottery selection, point guard Frank Ntilikina. But the Knicks could only trade one of those picks under CBA rules and they’d also have to give up another big salary to make the trade work, Berman notes.
  • The Celtics are expected to express interest in Leonard in their quest to land superstars, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports. However, a league source told Himmelsbach that the timing of the leak might actually be a negotiating ploy to secure a five-year, $219MM maximum extension from the Spurs.
  • The Lakers are the heavy favorites to land Leonard, according to the Bovada Sportsbook as relayed by Adam Zagoria of the New York Times (Twitter link). The Lakers are less than even money at 5-7 to have Leonard in their opening-night lineup. The Celtics are rated at 15-4, a little less than 4-1, to acquire Leonard. The Sixers and Spurs are next as 5-1 proposition, followed by the Cavaliers and Clippers at 10-1.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, No. 9 Pick, Coaches, Workouts

Since being hired by the Knicks earlier this month, new head coach David Fizdale has talked repeatedly about making it a priority to connect with his new star, Kristaps Porzingis. On Thursday, Porzingis finally reciprocated some of Fizdale’s love, tweeting that he had a “great conversation” on the phone with Fizdale, and is “excited” about the hiring.

As Ian Begley writes at, Porzingis’ tweet isn’t a whole lot to go on, but it looks like a positive sign for the relationship between the big man and the Knicks’ new head coach. Porzingis didn’t always have the rosiest relationship with former head coach Jeff Hornacek, and skipped his exit meeting with Knicks brass – including Steve Mills – in 2017, so it’s important to get him on board with the franchise’s direction as he becomes extension-eligible for the first time this offseason.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While it’s possible that the nation’s leading scorer, Trae Young, could still be on the board when the Knicks pick at No. 9, they should resist the urge to draft him, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from sources that the club has “a genuine yen” for the Oklahoma guard.
  • In addition to being linked to Young, the Knicks are also believed to have interest in Miami guard Lonnie Walker. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype passes along a report connecting Walker to the Knicks, and confirms separately with a source that New York is “very interested” in the Hurricanes freshman.
  • Three Knicks assistants who were with the team last season – Jerry Sichting, Corey Gaines, and Dave Bliss – won’t be back next season as new coach David Fizdale reshapes the staff, per Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.
  • Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez and Michigan’s Charles Matthews had pre-draft workouts with the Knicks, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter links), who cites their respective Instagram accounts.

Knicks Notes: Smart, Porzingis, Delany, Draft

Grizzlies assistant Keith Smart is expected to become a top assistant on David Fizdale’s staff with the Knicks, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. Smart was an assistant with Fizdale for two years in Miami and came to Memphis with him when he was hired as head coach in 2016.

Smart, who appeared in just two NBA games as a player, began his coaching career in 2000. He has also been an assistant with the Cavaliers, Warriors and Kings and eventually became head coach of all three franchises, compiling a 93-170 career record.

J.B. Bickerstaff, who recently had his interim tag removed by the Grizzlies, has started interviewing potential replacements in anticipation of Smart’s departure, according to Begley.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Fizdale met Friday with Janis Porzingis, the older brother and agent for Kristaps Porzingis, relays Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Fizdale is hoping to travel to Latvia this summer to talk with the Knicks’ star, who is currently rehabbing his left knee in Spain. Fizdale is working to repair a damaged relationship, Isola adds, as Porzingis has been losing faith in the front office, the Knicks’ medical staff and former coach Jeff Hornacek. In Friday’s meeting, Fizdale reportedly addressed his issues with Marc Gasol in Memphis and a reputation that he doesn’t deal well with foreign-born players.
  • Pat Delany, who also worked with Fizdale in Miami, could be another addition to the coaching staff, Isola adds. Delany has been with the Hornets the past four seasons.
  • Small forward is an obvious position of need for the Knicks, but they plan to approach the ninth pick in this year’s draft with a best-player-available philosophy, writes Chris Iseman of Wing players Miles Bridges and Kevin Knox met with the Knicks during the draft combine, but so did point guards Collin Sexton and Trae Young, even though New York drafted Frank Ntilikina in the first round last year. “There’s no secret that we can use help on the wing,” GM Scott Perry said. “But at the end of the day I think we’re still in that talent-acquisition mode. If that happens to be at No. 9 a wing player, great. If we feel the most talented guy clearly is at another position then we got to look at that direction as well.”

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.

Knicks Notes: No. 9 Pick, Bridges, Porzingis

The Knicks stayed put at No. 9 after Tuesday night’s lottery, but general manager Scott Perry isn’t ruling out the possibility of landing a potential star in next month’s draft. Despite not having a top-three pick, Perry pointed to last year’s 13th overall pick Donovan Mitchell as a prime example of how impact players can slip into the second half of the lottery, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“You never know. You look around and Utah had good success where they were,” Perry said. “A lot of times in the draft everybody has to be careful. A lot of it is fit, too. Some guys may get drafted in a particular place where it’s not a great fit initially or it is a great fit. … I think that’s the important thing for us — finding the personality whose game is the closest fit to how we want to play and what we want to be.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges have frequently been mentioned as potential Knicks targets, given the team’s need for a wing. As Berman relays, Perry offered his first comments on the pair of Bridges on Tuesday: “We’re going to dive into both of those guys as we move forward. Both are very good basketball players who put themselves in position to be in consideration by a number of teams in the lottery. I can’t wait to meet both of those young guys to really get a feel for who they are and how they may and may not fit.”
  • Perry said the Knicks were happy to get a new head coach in place before the 2018 draft combine got underway. David Fizdale will participate in the club’s interviews with prospects in Chicago this week. “I think it’s extremely important to have the coach in house because the more we spend time with David and the more he gets a chance to spend with these guys we bring in to work out and see what players may or may not fit with how he’s going to coach the team and his personality,” Perry said, according to Berman.
  • Berman reported on Tuesday night that the Knicks would only seriously consider drafting a point guard at No. 9 if they felt their target was an “unquestioned upgrade” over their current options. Perry essentially confirmed as much when asked directly about the possibility, per Berman: “It would only make sense if you feel that guard is far and away better than what you have on the roster. And we haven’t been able to make that determination yet.”
  • Perry said the Knicks will have a better idea of Kristaps Porzingis‘ return date by August, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Meanwhile, Berman hears from multiple sources that Porzingis has actually been doing much of his ACL rehab work with Real Madrid in Spain, rather than in his home country of Latvia as previously believed.

Knicks Notes: Roster Composition, Porzingis, Riley

Recently appointed head coach David Fizdale plans to make the most of what could otherwise be considered a logjam of guards on the Knicks’ roster, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes.

Roll them out there. Put them out there together,” Fizdale said. “It’s about speed, skill, aggressiveness, attack, playmaking. All of these guards have that ability. So I see a lot of versatility in there. I see a lot of combinations with them on the floor [for the Knicks] together.”

Given that there’s no shortage of ball carriers on the roster, Knicks president Steve Mills says that the club will ideally target a wing player in the upcoming June draft.

There’s more out of New York this evening:

  • The Knicks reached out to Heat president Pat Riley prior to hiring David Fizdale, Marc Berman of The New York Post. Riley, a former Knicks coach himself, has a polarizing history with the franchise, but was a strong reference for Fizdale, a former Heat assistant.
  • Prior to hiring Fizdale, the Knicks also reached out to Villanova head coach Jay Wright regarding the vacancy. Zach Braziller of The New York Post has the details on why the reigning national champion had no desire to leave his current situation.
  • Analyst Walt Frazier doesn’t foresee Kristaps Porzingis returning to the lineup for the Knicks this year, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The former franchise great, who currently works for MSG Network, explains that Porzingis’ recovery time has him set to return in January or February, at which point the team will likely be out of the playoff picture.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Hernandez, Mudiay, Kanter

Building a productive relationship with Kristaps Porzingis and devising a plan for his three point guards are among the questions facing new Knicks coach David Fizdale, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Fizdale plans to travel to Latvia in the near future to meet with his franchise player, who is rehabbing his knee injury there.

Juggling the minutes of Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke will be a challenge for the ex-Grizzlies coach, Berman continues. Learning from his mistakes in Memphis, particularly in the way he dealt with veteran center Marc Gasol, is another thing Fizdale must do in order to be a success in New York, Berman adds.

In other Knicks-related news:

  • Former Magic assistant coach Jay Hernandez is a name to watch as Fizdale selects his staff, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. He has a solid reputation in player development and player relationships after working with several NBA players as a trainer, Scotto adds.
  • Mudiay said the coaching change has energized the team, as he told Berman in a separate story. “Nobody has played with him yet over here except Troy Williams. But I’m not the only one excited. Everyone else is, too,’’ he said. Mudiay believes Fizdale, a point guard during his playing days, can help with his development.
  • Center Enes Kanter, who exchanged barbs with LeBron James this season, playfully challenged the Cavaliers superstar to sign with the Knicks during a Twitter Q&A session, Ian Begley of ESPN relays. “You really want to be king of New York? Come and prove it. I’ll see you July 1st, brother,” Kanter said in the Twitter video. James is expected to opt out of his contract this summer but the Knicks are an extreme long shot, considering their salary-cap issues and their rebuilding status.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Lee, Porzingis

With David Fizdale being welcomed as the next coach of the Knicks, Marc Berman of The New York Post examines what went wrong for him in Memphis. Fizdale, who inherited a perennial playoff team, took the Grizzlies to the postseason last year before being fired after 19 games this season with a 7-12 record.

Former NBA player Brevin Knight, who serves as a broadcaster in Memphis, suggests that Fizdale tried to infuse too much of an uptempo approach into a veteran team that was comfortable with its “grit and grind” philosophy.

“It’s hard to give a true assessment of him as a bench coach because he was trying to change a culture when he came to Memphis,’’ Knight said. “It wasn’t just him running his offense. It was almost a hybrid of what he would’ve liked to have done — coupled with guys who were comfortable and accustomed to doing something else for so long.’’

Fizdale also had a long-running feud with center Marc Gasol, which raises concerns about how he might relate to Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis. Knight said Fizdale had a “learning experience” in Memphis about coaching international players after years with the Heat where LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh served as team leaders.

There’s more news today out of New York:

  • Knicks guard Courtney Lee, who remains close to some of his former Grizzlies teammates and has heard the inside story of Fizdale’s time there, is ecstatic about his new coach, relays Al Iannazzone of Newsday“Even in his time in Memphis, you can tell he was focused on a team or getting better — whether it was holding your best player accountable or your worst player accountable,” Lee said. “He wasn’t afraid to be confrontational and get his message across. So that’s a quality I like about him.”
  • Fizdale’s plan to travel to Latvia to meet with Porzingis is the latest sign that the Knicks are committed to building the franchise around their young star, notes Ian Begley of ESPN. The rift between Porzingis and the organization that caused him to skip his exit meeting last year hasn’t been fully repaired, Begley adds. Porzinigis is eligible for a five-year, $157 million extension this summer, but it’s uncertain whether the Knicks are willing to commit to that while he’s recovering from a torn ACL.
  • It’s now up to Fizdale to end the cycle of coaching changes in New York, writes Mike Lupica of The New York Daily News. The Knicks have employed 11 coaches in the past 14 years, he adds, and nearly all have left with damaged reputations.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Fizdale, Smart, Porzingis, Raptors

Markelle Fultz has been relegated to bench duty for the Sixers‘ past four postseason games as T.J. McConnell has taken over the point guard position. Fultz, the first overall pick in last year’s draft, missed most of the regular season due to a shoulder ailment that impacted his ability to shoot.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Fultz’s significant time missed and the Sixers’ preference for stability is the reason for his lack of playing time. After all, Fultz missed 68 games in his rookie year and then had just 10 games regular season games to get back into a groove. Head coach Brett Brown said the team is being cautious with Fultz and will continue to do so.

“To say he’s dead and buried, that’s not true,” he said. “But I got a decision to make, and I’ve made a decision. That doesn’t mean it’s etched in stone.  It’s always something that you review and I think about. And the care for Markelle Fultz and his future is always on my mind.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • During the draft process last year, the Celtics worked out Fultz and he said himself that Boston felt like home. Fast forward nearly a year, Fultz is riding the bench in the postseason while Jayson Tatum, the third overall pick, is thriving for the Celtics, per the Associated Press.
  • David Fizdale is joining the Knicks as the team’s next head coach and now the focus will be on the rest of his staff. Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that NCAA champion Keith Smart, who was an assistant coach in Miami and a part of Fizdale’s staff in Memphis, will likely join the Knicks as an assistant.
  • Fizdale’s ability to succeed in New York will hinge on his ability to win over Kristaps Porzingis, the team’s injured star who is rehabbing from a torn ACL, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report writes.
  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun looks at the Raptors‘ future after a bleak start to the team’s Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Cavaliers.

James Dolan Talks Porzingis, Jackson, Hornacek

Kristaps Porzingis‘ recovery timeline following his ACL surgery remains somewhat unclear, but he almost certainly won’t be ready to start the 2018/19 season, and his absence could extend far beyond opening night. Speaking to Larry Brooks of The New York Post, Knicks owner James Dolan admitted that he still doesn’t have a clear idea of when Porzingis might be ready to return.

“I’ve been told everything from December to him being out for the season, so I don’t know what to expect on that,” Dolan said. “But we can’t just sit on our ass while he’s away. We need to develop a team and then integrate him into it when he comes back.”

With the Knicks facing a big offseason that will see them name a new head coach and make the necessary roster moves to move forward in their rebuilding process, Dolan spoke to Brooks about a number of topics. While he touched on the team’s plan going forward, the Knicks owner also revisited the past, discussing a pair of former Knicks employees in Phil Jackson and Jeff Hornacek.

Here are a few of the most notable comments from Dolan:

On hiring – and eventually firing – Jackson as president of basketball operations:

“The entire market wanted to me to hire him and when I did, the entire market said it was a great move. The only thing was, everyone said that I shouldn’t interfere with him. Three years later, everyone wanted to know when I was going to do something about Phil. The same people who told me not to interfere wanted me to interfere. But that’s OK. I just think that Phil underestimated the job.”

On why Hornacek was fired:

“I think Hornacek had the same kind of issue that Phil did in that he didn’t grasp how different the players are now in the way they think and deal with management and the coaches. I think he was way behind on that. But I think Jeff is a good coach and he’ll do well when he’s hired by another team.”

On the Knicks’ current coaching search:

“The coaching search for the Knicks is similar in a lot of ways to the (NHL’s New York) Rangers. I think the teams are in similar spots. We’re looking for people to develop players and to create a winning team. We have our lists of candidates, but the lists are still open.”