Kristaps Porzingis

Knicks Rumors: Blatt, Porzingis, Ntilikina

David Blatt’s connections to the Knicks front office could land the former Cavaliers head coach in New York during the upcoming season, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Blatt would like another NBA job and he’s close friends with team president Steve Mills and recently-hired front office executive Craig Robinson, both of whom were college teammates of Blatt’s, Isola points out. The Knicks’ schedule could also put current coach Jeff Hornacek on the hot seat before the All-Star break as they play 16 of 20 games on the road right after Christmas, including the Warriors and Spurs, Isola notes.

In other items regarding the Knicks:

  • The club should not give up Kristaps Porzingis in order to acquire disgruntled Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News argues. Porzingis is a unique player who should be considered an untouchable, a 7’3” big man who protects the rim and stretches the floor, Bondy notes. Porzingis is not even eligible to become a restricted free agent for another two seasons, and even shedding the contract of Carmelo Anthony or Joakim Noah isn’t worth giving him up, Bondy continues. If Irving wants to play in New York, he can sign with the franchise as a free agent in two years, Bondy adds. Currently, the Knicks regard any attempt by the Cavs to acquire Porzingis as a non-starter in trade talks involving Irving.
  • Frank Ntilikina has picked the brains of former NBA players in Europe and believes he’ll have to play more on instinct than he did overseas, he explained to Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times in an in-depth feature. Former Knick Mardy Collins and former Maverick Rodrigue Beaubois instructed him that talent and athleticism rule in the NBA, while the European game is more focused on basketball I.Q. and a cerebral approach. “They told me like when you go here, you don’t have to think too much, because I used to think a lot,” the Knicks lottery pick told Vorkunov. “I used to play the game as a chess game. So they told me when you go there, you just have to play your game and not think too much.” Ntilikina has been studying tapes of top NBA point guards in an effort to refine his game, Vorkunov adds.

Kyrie Irving Rumors: Spurs, Celtics, Porzingis

If the Cavaliers had received assurances from LeBron James that he intends to remain with the franchise beyond the 2017/18 season, their approach to a Kyrie Irving trade might be much different, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. While the Cavs certainly haven’t given up hope of James remaining in Cleveland, the franchise wants to use an Irving trade to protect itself against his possible departure — that means focusing on acquiring a young potential star, rather than targeting veteran help for LeBron.

Initially, the Cavs’ desire in an Irving trade was to acquire young players and picks that could help the team down the road and to get pieces that could help the club contend immediately. However, that kind of massive return may not be available for the star point guard, forcing the Cavaliers to choose one path or the other. And with LeBron unwilling to commit, the Cavs are leaning toward prioritizing long-term pieces over short-term help.

As Wojnarowski details, Josh Jackson (Suns), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), and even Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) are among the young players the Cavaliers have their eye on in trade talks. In his own piece on the situation in Cleveland, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders agrees that those four teams – Phoenix, Boston, Denver, and New York – are mentioned most frequently as trade partners, and continue to have discussions with the Cavs.

Here’s plenty more on the Irving situation:

  • According to both Wojnarowski and Kyler, teams around the NBA believe that the Cavaliers will ramp up trade talks and get more serious about moving Irving in September, with training camps approaching.
  • The Spurs have interest in Irving, but the fact that the Cavs are prioritizing young potential stars over veteran help means Cleveland doesn’t have much interest in the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, or Danny Green, says Wojnarowski.
  • Although the Cavaliers are intrigued by Tatum, the Celtics have yet to make an official offer for Irving and the two sides haven’t formally discussed this year’s No. 3 overall pick, according to Wojnarowski. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe adds (via Twitter) that Boston has remained in touch with the Cavs throughout the process.
  • The idea of including Porzingis in an Irving offer is currently a “non-starter” for the Knicks, per Wojnarowski. However, Woj adds there may still be some lingering tension between Porzingis and the franchise, and teams are wondering how emphatic the Knicks’ “no” really is — especially if the Cavaliers would be willing to take on Joakim Noah‘s contract.
  • Wojnarowski reports that the Bucks have shown interest in Irving. However, with Giannis Antetokounmpo obviously untouchable, Milwaukee may not have a young star who makes sense for the Cavs.
  • Although the Clippers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Irving, a league source tells Kyler that L.A. doesn’t appear to have the right combination of assets to appeal to the Cavs — a third team would be necessary, and even that may not be enough to make the Clips a serious contender for Irving.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Jackson, Smith Jr., Front Office Diversity

The Knicks recently exercised their team option to re-sign Kristaps Porzingis for 2018/19. However, if Phil Jackson were still calling the shots at Madison Square Garden, who’s to say what The Unicorn’s basketball future would look like, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype writes.

According to Peter Vecsey, who received the first and to-date only quote from Jackson after his departure from the Knicks, Jackson was legitimately interested in trading Porzingis.

Vecsey said:  “People knew, they probably wouldn’t have accepted, but Phil was angling to try and trade Porzingis for the No. 1 pick to Boston and he would have taken [Lonzo] Ball. That’s who he was after. In the end, people might really like that.”

Vecsey adds that when Jackson began embarrassing Porzingis, owner James Dolan knew Jackson was no longer a suitable executive for the team.

Here are some more notes regarding the Knicks:

  • Prior to this year’s NBA draft, Dennis Smith Jr. dined with former team president Jackson and was encouraged to eat an octopus tentacle, relays Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News. Although Smith reluctantly ate the exotic delicacy, the Knicks opted to draft Frank Ntilikina instead. Smith was selected by the Mavericks with the following pick. Smith was a standout performer at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League and has already inked a three-year endorsement deal with Under Armour.
  • Seventy years ago, the Knicks’ visionary coach Joe Lapchick pushed racial integration on a league that would merge with another to form the NBA three years later. Lapchick did so by fielding an all-black team that he pushed to have admitted to the league. Today, the Knicks are again at the vanguard of diversity, writes Harvey Araton of The New York Times. This time, New York is blazing trails in its front office, boasting the only African-American president-and-general-manager tandem in the NBA and proceeding to hire three more black front office executives in recent weeks.
  • For more news, notes, and rumors on the Knicks, be sure to check out their team page.

 

Knicks Exercise Kristaps Porzingis’ 2018/19 Option

In an unsurprising move, the Knicks have exercised their 2018/19 team option on Kristaps Porzingis. While the team has yet to formally announce the move, RealGM’s transactions log lists it, suggesting that it’s not official.

Porzingis is the first player on a rookie contract to have a team option exercised for the 2018/19 season. Teams around the NBA will have to make these decisions by October 31 on players entering the second or third seasons of their respective rookie contracts. Assuming a player has his option picked up – like Porzingis did – his rookie contract will be extended through at least 2019. If an ’18/19 option is declined, that player would be on track to reach unrestricted free agency next summer.

In Porzingis’ case, that 2018/19 option will count against the cap for $5,697,054, per Basketball Insiders. That year represents the fourth and final season of Porzingis’ rookie deal, so the Knicks will soon be faced with a decision on the young forward/center. He’ll be extension-eligible as of July 2018, and if he’s not extended, he’ll become a restricted free agent in July 2019.

Porzingis, who turned 22 last week, averaged 18.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 2.0 BPG with a .450/.357/.786 shooting line for the Knicks in 66 games last season. Although he was mentioned in some trade rumors in June, that talk has quieted since Phil Jackson‘s exit from the franchise, and the former fourth overall pick appears to have mended fences with the club after skipping his exit meeting. Porzingis is viewed as a core piece for the Knicks to build around going forward.

Kristaps Porzingis Talks Knicks, Carmelo, Future

Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t happy with the Knicks toward the end of last season, something that prompted him to skip his exit meeting. He had concerns about the team’s competitiveness and its lack of direction, but now, after an offseason of change, the big man has a different outlook on the organization.

“So far it’s been tough in New York, but my journey is only beginning and I hope to stay there my whole career, so as a city we can have some fun and win some games and do something big,” Porzingis said (via Shaun Powell of NBA.com). “For me, it’s now home.”

The Knicks endured another losing season during the 2016/17 campaign, which led to a shakeup in their front office. They replaced former team president Phil Jackson with Steve Mills and they’ve added Scott Perry to be the new GM. Porzingis appears to be giving the new regime a chance to turn things around.

“We’re going to have a lot of new guys,” the big man said. “Every year is almost like a new year. There will be a lot of changes. I’m going into the season hoping we have a group of guys who want to work hard and win. That’s what’s important.”

Porzingis would love to play alongside Carmelo Anthony for the third straight season, though the 22-year-old knows it’s beyond his control.

“There’s still so much for me to learn [from] him,” Porzingis said. “I would love to have him around and keep playing alongside him. But it is what it is. It’s a business. If it ends, well … I don’t know, it’s out of my hands. I’m really thankful for these couple of years I’ve been with him, just seeing how he works during the summer. “

Anthony, who has been the subject of trade rumors all offseason, is reportedly set on joining the Rockets. He hasn’t spoken to the team’s new front office yet, though he’s on good terms with Perry and plans to do so “when the time comes.”

While it doesn’t appear Anthony plans on staying with the Knicks as they embrace a new era, Porzingis wants to help the new regime bring a championship to the Big Apple.

“Look, I was so happy when I got drafted by New York,” Porzingis said. “I was never worried about the big stage or anything like that. I’ve always enjoyed that. I can envision [a championship someday] and see it. But we’re still a long way from there. As we get better, if we can all see that goal at the end and work towards it, anything can happen.”

Trade Between Cavs, Knicks Appears Increasingly Unlikely

The Cavaliers have been mentioned all offseason as a possible landing spot for Carmelo Anthony, and within the last few days, the Knicks were named among Kyrie Irving‘s preferred destinations. However, a trade between the Cavs and Knicks increasingly appears to be a long shot, according to reports.

As Ian Begley of ESPN writes, Anthony’s top choice continues to be the Rockets, and the star forward still expects the Knicks to find a way to get him at Houston. It’s possible Carmelo’s stance will change at some point, but he wields a no-trade clause and appears intent on waiving it for the Rockets rather than the Cavs, particularly if he wouldn’t have the opportunity to play with Irving in Cleveland.

According to Begley, the Knicks have no interest in including Kristaps Porzingis in any trade for Irving, so they’d likely need to include Anthony in a hypothetical Irving deal with the Cavs. Not having Carmelo’s approval is, of course, a major roadblock. But even with his go-ahead, it’s not clear if the two teams would be able to reach an agreement.

Begley suggests that some members of the Knicks’ front office would be willing to trade Anthony and multiple first-round picks for Irving, but the organization is not in full agreement on the idea of giving up multiple first-rounders in any trade.

Conversely, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops hears that the Cavs would be unwilling to move Irving for only Anthony and draft picks. Sources tell Amico that the Cavs may be removing themselves from the Carmelo sweepstakes in the wake of Irving’s trade request, since their trade objectives – and possibilities – have changed.

Even if the Knicks aren’t a viable trade partner for the Cavaliers, Cleveland should have no shortage of options for an Irving deal. Amico reports that at least seven teams have made “serious inquiries” on Irving, and Cleveland is making every effort to grant the point guard’s trade request. However, the Cavs are also in no rush to get something done, as they attempt to sniff out the best possible deal.

The Timberwolves are one of those teams exploring a possible Kyrie trade with “incredible seriousness,” says Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (via Twitter). However, Krawczynski remains unsure whether Minnesota would be open to including Andrew Wiggins in an offer for Irving.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Irving, Perry

The Knicks have come up as a possible landing spot for disgruntled Cavs guard Kyrie Irving but Fred Kerber of the New York Post wonders if the asking price for the All-Star may be a little too high.

The Knicks were one of four teams on Irving’s short list of preferred destinations but league sources say that New York is reluctant to part with young building blocks Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez.

Whether the franchise would actually let the inclusion of Hernangomez be a deal breaker or not, remains to be seen. Per one unnamed league executive, the Knicks would be wise to ultimately deal the Spanish big man if necessary but lumping Porzingis in with an outgoing package is another story.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Recently hired general manager Scott Perry has yet to meet his boss. Ian Begley of ESPN writes that the former Kings executive has yet to officially meet Knicks owner James Dolan.
  • As long as Kyrie Irving doesn’t go to the Warriors, Celtics forward Marcus Morris is happy. Per CSN New England, the recently acquired forward tweeted “Just don’t go to Golden State” shortly after news broke the the guard was looking to be traded.
  • For the third year in a row the Celtics may have a battle for their final roster spot, 16 players have guaranteed rosters for the 2017/18 season. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England breaks down how the roster looks after the addition of point guard Shane Larkin.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving‘s request to be traded is the latest story to rock the league during an eventful offseason. The news broke Friday, but Irving’s meeting with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert took place about two weeks ago, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.

The Cavs tried to keep it quiet so they could work on a deal without the distractions that are starting to happen now. Apparently some players learned about the news and started talking, which is how the trade request became public.

Pluto also speculates that Irving’s demand validates rumors last month that former Bulls star Jimmy Butler was warned by Cavaliers players not to push for a trade to Cleveland. They have a close friendship, so Irving may have told Butler that he was planning to leave the team. Butler was subsequently traded to the Timberwolves, one of the teams Irving included on his list of preferred destinations, along with the Spurs, Knicks and Heat.

There’s more today on the Irving trade front:

  • The Wolves have a strong interest in acquiring Irving, even though they just signed former Pacers point guard Jeff Teague, Pluto adds in the same story. Pluto believes the Cavs should ask for Andrew Wiggins, whom the Cavs made the overall No. 1 draft pick in 2014, as part of the deal. Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns are untouchable, but Wiggins will be a free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension before the October deadline.
  • The Knicks have offered Carmelo Anthony and a parcel of draft picks, adds Pluto, who says Cleveland should insist on Kristaps Porzingis. Other teams that have expressed interest include Sacramento, with rookie De’Aaron Fox as part of the offer, and Phoenix, with a package centered around Eric Bledsoe.
  • Pluto also notes that a trade would take away Irving’s opportunity to sign a super-max extension like the one John Wall just agreed to with the Wizards. The move could cost Irving between $50MM and $70MM.
  • Butler and Towns have done some recruiting work with Irving and have made it clear to Wolves management they would like to acquire him, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who first broke the story of Irving’s trade request. Windhorst believes Teague would likely be included in any Minnesota-Cleveland deal and notes that as a newly signed free agent he can’t be traded until December 15th.
  • The Spurs would be Irving’s first choice if he could pick a team, writes Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.
  • The Cavaliers had a deal on the table involving Irving before the draft, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The trade was put together by former GM David Griffin, but the Cavaliers didn’t pull the trigger because they didn’t know that Irving wanted to leave.

Knicks Notes: Hardaway, Porzingis, Draft, Perry

Knicks president Steve Mills had an aggressive plan that ultimately snared Tim Hardaway Jr., writes Newsday’s Al Iannazzone. Mills claims he reached out to Hardaway just after midnight on July 1. While Hardaway says that he didn’t hear from the Knicks until a few days into free agency, it is clear that Mills aggressively pursued the former Knick.

“We felt like there are not that many opportunities in free agency that you have the opportunity to go after a 25-year-old. We made the decision that if you want to pry a restricted free agent away from the incumbent team, you have to be aggressive. So we made a decision to be aggressive,” Mills said.

Reportedly, the Knicks brass believed that the Hawks would be willing to offer $45MM for four years, so Mills and company needed to be “aggressive” and offered $71MM over four years. Although Hardaway has started just 62 of 281 games in his career, Mills believes that he is a starting shooting guard in the NBA.

“As we look at the numbers, we believe Tim is a starting two-guard in this league. Our trajectory for him is to be a starting two- guard, the capability of being a starting two-guard for the rest of his career. And those guys average 16, 16.5 million dollars today. So that’s how we came to the decision,” the Knicks president said.

Here’s what else you should know regarding the Knicks:

  • Also in Iannazzone’s Newsday piece, Mills speaks to his relationship with team cornerstone, Kristaps Porzingis. “Kristaps and I have a hectic texting relationship. I continue to text Kristaps over the summer and he and I have spoken two or three times over the summer,” Mills said. Phil Jackson confirmed he was fielding trade offers for Porzingis around the draft, but since Jackson left the team, the Knicks have stated that they will build around the Latvian center.
  • By going young this season, the Knicks could score big in the 2018 NBA Draft, writes Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports Network. If Carmelo Anthony is dealt, the Knicks could enter full-scale rebuilding mode, possibly setting them up for the first overall pick in the next draft. Zagoria mentions Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba, Luka Doncic, and Marvin Bagley as potential targets if the Knicks were to land the top selection.
  • In a press conference, Mills spoke about new GM Scott Perry‘s role with the team, relays Steve Popper of USA Today. “I’m going to give Scott the room to make basketball decisions and make recommendations to me,” Mills said. “He’s going to have a chance to manage the coaching staff, manage the scouting staff, and make recommendations as to where we should go as a basketball organization. I think we’ll be partners in that in the sense that he’ll come to me with his recommendation and we’ll debate it back and forth. But at the end of the day, I’m giving him the room to make those decisions.” Mills also emphasized that the goal is for the Knicks to be a younger, more athletic team, while head coach Jeff Hornacek stressed hustle and defense as the lynchpins of the new team.
  • Mills said that, if he were in charge, he “would’ve selected Frank [Ntilikina] at that point in the draft myself,” per Marc Berman of The New York Post. Mills continued, “He’s a guy that fits in everything that we’re talking about right now. He’s a smart basketball player. He focuses defensively and his approach to the game, his work ethic, fit exactly in the direction that we want to take this team.”

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Ndour, Iguodala

The Knicks have changed their tone with regard to Kristaps Porzingis now that former president Phil Jackson is out of the picture. These days, head coach Jeff Hornacek is confident that the third-year forward will remain in New York, Ian Begley of ESPN writes.

I think it was out there that Phil was listening, but he wasn’t out shopping KP,” The Knicks bench boss clarifies. “We love KP and what he does, so I don’t see him going anywhere.”

We wrote yesterday about how the Knicks will look to prioritize the 21-year-old more in their offense, something that Jackson had been reluctant to do. They’ve also actually been in touch with the 7’3″ sharpshooter as well, a sign that tension between the two parties following Porzingis’ missed exit meeting is simmering now that his biggest critic is no longer involved.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Recently waived Maurice Ndour may be a victim of bad timing, Marc Berman of the New York Post suggests. The forward was a favorite of Phil Jackson‘s and was cut shortly after the organization and former president parted ways. The Knicks let Ndour go to free up cap space.
  • The Sixers have ample cap space and no reservations using it, something that Warriors forward Andre Iguodala may have used to his advantage in his own free agent negotiations. Rob Tornoe of the Inquirer suggests that on some occasion, agents leak meetings with Philly to drive up prices.
  • The time is now for Brett Brown to show what he’s capable of as a head coach, Bob Cooney of the Inquirer writes. Brown has done an impressive job of harnessing effort out of his limited roster in the past, now he has legitimate weapons at his disposal.
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