Kristaps Porzingis

Injury Updates: Porzingis, Booker, Cousins, Neto

Kristaps Porzingis offered an update on his condition at the Knicks‘ Media Day, but there’s still no timetable for him to start playing again, relays the Associated Press.

Porzingis has been doing some light running, but not sprinting, as he continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in February. The Knicks are being cautious with the rehab process and don’t want him to return to action until they are sure he is fully ready.

Porzingis adds that he isn’t concerned about getting a contract extension done quickly. He will have to wait until next summer for an extension if a deal isn’t reached before the start of the season.

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Devin Booker got sutures removed from his right hand last week and is using a splint during workouts, Suns GM Ryan McDonough said today, per Gina Mizell of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team is still hoping Booker can be ready for opening night.
  • The Warriors plan to re-evaluate free agent addition DeMarcus Cousins again in four weeks, tweets Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Team president Bob Myers is happy with the progress Cousins has made, saying, “We won’t rush him. But we also won’t hold him back.”
  • Jazz guard Raul Neto has been diagnosed with a right hamstring injury and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to a tweet from the team.
  • Hawks guard Justin Anderson is still recovering from surgery in late June to address recurring tibial stress syndrome in his left leg and won’t be ready for the start of training camp, the team announced on its website. Dewayne Dedmon will also be held out as he recovers from an avulsion fracture in his left ankle. He is in his second week of weight-bearing rehab work. Daniel Hamilton is taking a non-surgical approach to a torn rotator cuff and his progress will be reviewed in a week. Jeremy Lin has recovered from the ruptured patella tendon that caused him to miss nearly all of last season and will start camp with limited restrictions. Rookie Omari Spellman has soft tissue inflammation in his left shin and will be held out for the next seven to 10 days.

Knicks Unlikely To Extend Kristaps Porzingis This Year

The Knicks have until October 15 to sign Kristaps Porzingis to a long-term extension, but the team isn’t planning to complete a deal at this point, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. While the Knicks feel good about how Porzingis’ rehab from his ACL tear is progressing, the club’s hope is to re-sign him when he reaches restricted free agency in 2019, rather than extending him now, Berman notes.

Waiting until next offseason would allow New York to carry about $10MM in extra cap room into the summer, which could come in handy as the team explores the free agent market. The club will have the right of first refusal on Porzingis as an RFA, so he won’t be able to walk unless New York lets him go.

If the Knicks wait until next year to lock up Porzingis, they could still offer him the same contract – up to five years and an estimated $158MM – and would avoid making him a designated rookie scale player, further maximizing their roster flexibility. Still, the approach isn’t without its risks.

[RELATED: Extension Candidate: Kristaps Porzingis]

Porzingis hasn’t always seen eye to eye with Knicks decision-makers, and while the tension between him and the organization occurred when Phil Jackson and Jeff Hornacek were running the show, the current management group won’t want to risk alienating its potential franchise player.

Additionally, if Porzingis reaches restricted free agency, there’s nothing stopping him from turning down a long-term offer from the Knicks. He could theoretically sign a shorter-term offer sheet with another team or accept his qualifying offer — he’d still end up a Knick in either of those scenarios, but he’d be on track to become an unrestricted free agent sooner.

Still, the Knicks sound confident that the risks involved in waiting on a Porzingis deal should be worth the reward, given their relationship with the young big man.

“Our philosophy is that we’re going to stay connected with [the Porzingis camp],” GM Scott Perry said this week. “It’s a long-term thing. Obviously you mentioned the point of the cap space in July. But we just feel like we’re in a real good space with him, as well as he is with us. And we’re going to do the right thing by him and this organization.”

“He’ll never feel like he’s not a cornerstone part of what we’re trying to do here,” president of basketball operations Steve Mills added. “He understands that. We make that crystal clear to him and his representation.”

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Fizdale, Butler, Noah

During a meeting with the media today, Knicks GM Scott Perry declined to comment on his strategy for negotiating an extension with Kristaps Porzingis , tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. Porzingis is eligible for a five-year, $157MM extension now, but New York could save about $10MM in cap space by waiting to get the deal done next summer. That money could prove to be important for a team that plans to be a major player in the 2019 free agent market.

Team president Steve Mills told the media that Porzingis knows he’s a cornerstone of the franchise, regardless of when extension talks are held, Begley notes. Porzingis, who suffered a torn ACL in February, is meeting with team doctors this week to discuss a realistic timetable for his return.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Despite the injury to Porzingis and a lackluster summer of free agency, the Knicks plan to remain as competitive as possible this year, coach David Fizdale added (Twitter link). He said the first thing Perry and Mills told him in his interview is that they would never intentionally tank a season.
  • When asked about a possible trade for Jimmy Butler, Mills reiterated his commitment to not skipping steps in the development process (Twitter link). That means the Knicks aren’t likely to pull the trigger on a big deal now when they have the cap room to offer a max contract next summer. Butler included the Knicks on the list of preferred locations he gave to the Timberwolves.
  • Perry said the front office is hoping to reach a “resolution” soon with veteran center Joakim Noah, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post. The team is talking to Noah’s representatives in hopes of working out a deal to part ways. The Knicks reportedly plan to use the stretch provision on the final year of Noah’s contract if trade or buyout talks prove unsuccessful.

Latest On Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis spent much of the summer in Spain rehabbing as he recovers from a torn ACL, but he has remained in close contact with the Knicks.

“KP is engaged — we’re in a good place with him,” team president Steve Mills said of the former No. 4 overall pick during a recent “town hall” forum with season-ticket holders (via Marc Berman of The New York Post).

Mills was asked if having Porzingis sit out for the entire season was the best course of action for the team to take with its top player.

“Our goal is not to do anything that jeopardizes KP’s future as being one of the foundational pieces of this team,” Mills said. “…. We’ll have some medical evaluations of him this week, and we’ll start to develop [what] the right plan is for him, his plan to come back. But we’re not going to do anything that jeopardizes the future of this franchise. We’re going to be consistent and stay true to that.”

The Knicks can offer Porzingis an extension worth approximately $158MM over five years prior to the start of the 2018/19 season. It’s unlikely he’ll receive such as offer, as the team plans to preserve its cap space in hopes of luring at least one max player. Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker are among the players who will be unrestricted free agents after the season.

New York will be able to go over the cap to sign Porzingis to a new deal next summer.

Extension Candidate: Kristaps Porzingis

Twenty-three players became eligible for rookie scale extensions when the 2018/19 NBA league year began in July. One of those 23, Devin Booker, quickly finalized a new deal with the Suns, leaving 22 other players who could sign rookie scale extensions before the October 15 deadline. In the weeks leading up to that deadline, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the strongest candidates for new contracts.

Our examination of this year’s candidates for rookie scale extensions continues today with Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis. Let’s dive in…

Why the Knicks should give him an extension:

Porzingis’ unique skill-set, which helped earn him his Unicorn nickname, is also his strongest argument in favor of a lucrative long-term deal. There simply aren’t any other NBA players – now or in the history of the league – who stand 7’3″ but still possess the athleticism and outside shooting ability (.395 3PT%) of Porzingis.

In his first three NBA seasons, Porzingis just kept getting better, increasing his PPG from 14.3 to 18.1 to 22.7. He has also developed into one of the league’s best shot-blockers, establishing a new career high with 2.4 BPG in 2017/18.

While his play has yet to translate to much team success for the Knicks, Porzingis’ on/off-court numbers reveal his value to the team — New York was noticeably better both offensively and defensively when the Latvian big man was on the court (+0.1 net rating) in 2017/18 than when he sat (-7.0 net rating).

Porzingis is still just 23 years old and there’s a sense that he still has plenty of potential yet to be unlocked. New head coach David Fizdale could be the man for the job — reportedly, he and Porzingis have hit it off already, which is a positive sign for the franchise after the young star didn’t always see eye-to-eye with former head coach Jeff Hornacek.

Why the Knicks should avoid an extension:

The 2017/18 season was Porzingis’ best as a pro, but it was also his briefest — a torn ACL ended his year after just 48 games, and he’s not expected to be ready to play at the start of the 2018/19 campaign.

While it’s probably unfair to say Porzingis is injury-prone, he has never played more than 72 games in a season, and many players who stand 7’3″ or taller have battled leg injuries throughout their NBA careers. ACL tears are no joke, so even if New York expects Porzingis to make a full recovery, the team should be wary of making a massive investment in him while he’s still rehabbing the injury.

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Atlantic Rumors: Fizdale, Leonard, Dukan, Kurucs

New Knicks coach David Fizdale has told Kristaps Porzingis to set lofty goals for himself and the franchise player appreciates getting pushed. In a WNBC TV interview that was relayed by Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, Fizdale said that he wants Porzingis, who is rehabbing from a torn ACL, to embrace the status that comes with being the team’s star. “He likes the challenge of me saying ‘I want him to be the MVP’ and ‘I want him to be the Defensive Player of the Year.’ That’s real competitors they want that and I’m going right at it with him. I want him to look at himself that way,” Fizdale said.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics made the right decision by holding onto Jayson Tatum rather than dealing him to the Spurs to Kawhi Leonard, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston opines. Boston would likely have needed to give up Tatum to land Leonard with no assurances that Leonard would stay beyond the upcoming season, Blakely continues. With Leonard’s questionable health and the Celtics already considered the Eastern Conference favorite, it didn’t make sense for Boston to roll the dice, Blakely adds.
  • New York’s G League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, has acquired former Kings forward Duje Dukan, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets. Dukan was chosen by the Wizards’ new G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, in the expansion draft on Wednesday. Dukan has also played for the G League affiliates of the Kings, Bulls and Pacers.
  • Buyout issues caused Nets forward Rodions Kurucs to slide in the draft, according to a post. Kurucs’ Euro team, FC Barcelona, reportedly priced his buyout at $5MM until late last season and NBA teams can’t pay more than $700K toward an international player’s buyout. Buyout talks also prevented Kurucs from playing in the summer league. Kurucs, the 40th overall pick, signed a four-year, $7MM contract with Brooklyn.

Atlantic Notes: Noah, Porzingis, Atkinson, Crawford

As we relayed earlier this week, the Knicks are expected to part ways with oft-injured center Joakim Noah before the start of training camp. If the Knicks fail to find a trading partner, the team is expected to use the stretch provision after September 1. Noah, 33, still has two years and $37.8MM left on his deal.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News examined both the good and bad sides of the Knicks parting ways with Noah this offseason. It would likely avoid a major headache and possible players’ union issue if the Knicks refuse to play Noah. Bondy reiterates that the deadline to solve the Noah issue is not September 1 but rather next summer when New York intends to pursue top free agents.

The Nets dealing Timofey Mozgov‘s lucrative multiyear contract for an expiring deal is one example of a team leveraging an albatross deal into future cap space. The Knicks’ best choice would be to hold onto Noah and look for trades instead of stretching his contract, Bondy writes.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • In the same story, Bondy looked at the pros and cons of the Knicks extending Kristaps Porzingis this offseason. On one hand, New York should lock up its best player since Patrick Ewing amid an unstable environment, with Porzingis set to play for the fourth coach of his career in 2018/19. Conversely, the Knicks plan to make use of their cap room in 2019, and extending the Latvian now would eat into that space — the team could simply let him hit restricted free agency and then negotiate or match any offer.
  • Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson denied the franchise has contemplated tanking in order to secure more favorable draft positioning, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Instead, Atkinson says the goal is to play as well as possible so Brooklyn becomes a desirable free agency destination. “We talk about internal improvement, we talk about player development, we talk about culture,” Atkinson said. “Tanking is not a word we use. It’s just not in our [vocabulary]. I don’t think the fans in New York want to see that.”
  • Following an injury to rookie Zhaire Smith, the Sixers may be in the market for wing depth, and veteran sharpshooter Jamal Crawford could fit the bill. In a recent appearance on Brandon Robinson’s Scoop B Podcast, Crawford spoke glowingly of Philadelphia and what playing there would mean to him (via Amico Hoops). “I like their city. I like how into it they are about basketball. I like their knowledge of basketball, how passionate they are. I’ve always loved coach Brett Brown,” Crawford said.

Atlantic Rumors: Lessort, Fizdale, Ojeleye, LeVert

Sixers’ draft-and-stash prospect Mathias Lessort has signed a two-year deal with Spain’s Unicaja Malaga, according to The 6’9” Lessort, 22, played in Serbia last season for Red Star Belgrade and averaged 8.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 30 games. Lessort was the 50th overall pick in 2017.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks’ brass is thrilled over coach David Fizdale’s five-day visit with star player Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. The front office has been impressed by Fizdale’s ability to connect with the young players, Berman continues. No one in the Knicks’ front office visited Porzingis in Europe last summer and there were lingering concerns about his feelings toward the organization after his fallout with previous team president Phil Jackson, Berman adds.
  • Celtics swingman Semi Ojeleye is focused on becoming a more consistent offensive threat, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders writes. “Definitely knocking down open shots,” Ojeleye said of his offseason focus. “Just gotta do a better job being consistent with that. Then offensively, I think making more plays.” Ojeleye was an afterthought in the Celtics’ attack last season, even though he appeared in 73 games as a rookie. He averaged 2.7 PPG in 15.8 MPG while shooting 34.6% from the field and 32% from long range.
  • Nets guard Caris LeVert has received little attention this offseason but he could be poised for a breakout season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post opines. LeVert averaged 13.8 PPG on 46.5% shooting, including 44.1% on 3-point tries, heading into the New Year last season before minor injuries piled up. LeVert generated more trade interest before the February deadline and prior to this year’s draft than any other Brooklyn player, Lewis continues, but the organization chose to hold onto him. “For me it’s just staying healthy and continue to maximize my potential. I’m not really worried about anybody else but myself, honestly,” LeVert told Lewis.

Atlantic Rumors: DeRozan, Casey, Lowry, Fizdale, Bird

The former Raptors’ leading scorer and head coach are mad at team president Masai Ujiri, Josh Lewenberg of TSN reports. DeRozan publicly criticized Ujiri on social media after being traded to the Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard blockbuster, feeling that Ujiri misled him during a summer-league conversation. DeRozan said during USA Basketball minicamp that he’s not interested in reconciling with Ujiri. “No reason to have a relationship,” he said. “I’m done. I’m done. It’s just done for me, from my end.” Dwane Casey, now the Pistons’ head coach after getting fired by the Raptors after the season, also has lingering issues with Ujiri, according to Lewenberg. They haven’t spoken since the firing and Casey still feels plenty of resentment toward Ujiri, Lewenberg adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • DeRozan’s former backcourt partner, Kyle Lowry, doesn’t sound thrilled about the trade, according to Lewenberg. Lowry claims he has no relationship with Leonard and has yet to speak with him. Lowry was evasive when asked specifically about the trade. (Twitter links).
  • New Knicks coach David Fizdale met with star player Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia and appears to be building a strong relationship with the rehabbing power forward, Ian Begley of ESPN writes. Fizdale said he’s trying to keep Porzingis in the loop as he works his way back from knee surgery. “We’ve talked about his rehab. We’ve talked about how we want to play, our style of play,” Fizdale told Begley. “Talked a lot about the culture that we’re building. We want to make sure that he comes back strong and healthy and we don’t want to rush it. … I’ve tried to make sure that he’s – we’ve been in communication on every decision that we’ve made.”
  • The Celtics’ signing of Jabari Bird is an example of how two-way contracts should work, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Bird played for Boston on a two-way contract last season after getting drafted in the second round. The 6’6” swingman showed enough development to earn a spot on the 15-man roster, getting signed to a two-year contract this week.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Fizdale, Porzingis, Knox

A disagreement over pre-draft strategy has resulted in an agent change for Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Robinson has signed with John Spencer, a former Knicks scout, after leaving Raymond Brothers.

Robinson was drafted at No. 36, but believed he had a chance to be taken late in the first round, which would have provided more guaranteed money. Robinson’s representatives pulled him out of the draft combine the day before it started, and he blames that decision for his slide on draft night. The Lakers were looking at him with their 25th pick and may have taken him at No. 39 had he still been available, a source tells Berman.

Robinson signed with the Knicks last week, getting a $6.4MM deal over four seasons that includes team options after the second and third year. Robinson, who dropped out of Western Kentucky and hasn’t played in 14 months, may have changed the Knicks’ plans for him with an impressive summer league performance, Berman adds. The organization originally had him ticketed for the G League, but will now consider keeping him on the NBA squad.

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • David Fizdale will travel to Latvia next week to meet with Kristaps Porzingis, Berman writes in a separate story. The first meeting between the new coach and his injured star will include a lot of film study. “It’s going to be a big part of the next step to show him the big picture,’’ Fizdale said. “How I want to utilize him, coach him, start building a relationship with him, a bond with him, a connection with him.”
  • First-round pick Kevin Knox is already dreaming about being on the court with Porzingis, Berman adds in the same piece. Both players can shoot from outside, and the Knicks view them as an effective combination to spread the floor in Fizdale’s offense. “I see they will complement each other very well,’’ Fizdale said. “That’s not a bad pick-and-roll to run — a KK-Porzingis pick-and-roll.’’
  • The Knicks weren’t major players in this year’s free agency, but things are shaping up great for next summer, notes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving, two potential 2019 targets, both turned down extension offers, and Kevin Durant has an option after one year.