Kristaps Porzingis

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.”

Knicks Notes: Coaching Search, O’Quinn, Noah

The Knicks aren’t afraid to take their time as they look for their next coach, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Today was Mark Jackson‘s turn to interview with team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry in Los Angeles, one day after Jerry Stackhouse. News broke tonight that TNT analyst Kenny Smith will be interviewed Friday. Sessions are also scheduled for David Fizdale, Mike Woodson and David Blatt, and Isola states that more candidates could emerge.

Fizdale had an interview today with the Suns and seems to have emerged as the most popular coach on the market. He has a connection with James Jones, a former Heat player who now works in the Phoenix front office and is reportedly a strong advocate for Fizdale. The Knicks are attracted to Fizdale because he has experience with a winning organization in Miami and he has a strong connection to LeBron James, whom the Knicks haven’t given up hope of someday acquiring, Isola adds.

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Jackson’s aversion to analytics may doom his chances with the Knicks, writes Gary Peterson of The San Jose Mercury News. Jackson had a reputation as an old-school coach with the Warriors and was often dismissive of modern techniques. “The [Golden State] analytics staff encountered more resistance than they anticipated,” said Erik Malinowski, author of a book on the building of the Warriors.
  • Backup center Kyle O’Quinn isn’t ready to make a decision on his player option, relays Jordan Lauterbach of Newsday. O’Quinn, who recently changed agents, will earn $4.26MM if he decides to opt in for next season. “I came into the season, I don’t want to say without a role, but knowing that anything can happen,” he said. “Whether it be trade talks or things like that, I think I handled it well by putting myself in a solid position where I could display what I could do.”
  • The Knicks should resist the temptation to stretch Joakim Noah‘s contract over the next five seasons, advises Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks points to Deron Williams in Brooklyn and Josh Smith in Detroit as instances where teams have regretted compromising their long-term flexibility. Marks also recommends delaying an extension for Kristaps Porzingis to create more cap room for next summer.

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Noah, Raptors, Celtics

Kristaps Porzingis won’t have an active role in the Knicks‘ search for a new coach, relays Ian Begley of ESPN. The injured Latvian star made that clear before meeting today with team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry, telling reporters, “That’s [management’s] job.” The next coach will be the fourth for Porzingis in his four years with the franchise.

“The situation is what it is. I’m sure the front office, they will make the right decisions and build something that can go a long way,” Porzingis said. “I think they will make the right decisions, so we have to trust them.”

Despite the dysfunction, Porzingis added that he wants his long-term future to be in New York. He is eligible for five-year extension worth about $157MM, although the Knicks may wait until next summer to maximize cap room and see how he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered in February. Porzingis said he is focused on rehabbing the injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined until at least December, and his contract situation won’t affect when he plans to return.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Whether Joakim Noah returns to the Knicks next season remains uncertain, but Perry might have dropped a clue this week, according to Chris Iseman of The GM didn’t include the veteran center when he broke the news to players about Jeff Hornacek‘s firing. Noah, who finished the season on an extended leave of absence, still has two years and $37.8MM remaining on the huge contract he signed in 2016. If the team decides to use the stretch provision on September 1 or later, it could open up an additional $12MM in cap space for next summer. Perry said the issue will be examined this offseason.
  • The Raptors are reaping the benefits of remaining patient three seasons ago, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. After being swept by the Wizards in a 2015 playoff series, team president Masai Ujiri elected to keep the core of the team — Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas — and to retain coach Dwane Casey. The Raptors have remained among the best teams in the East and enter this year’s playoffs as a No. 1 seed. “Everybody is trying to flip the switch on everything,” Casey said. “But Masai had patience, saw what’s coming and stuck with it.”
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens is planning a tighter rotation for the playoffs, relays Tom Westerholm of MassLive. That means reduced playing time for Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele, but Westerholm expects Semi Ojeleye to get minutes because he can match up defensively with Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

And-Ones: Extension Candidates, BIG3, Sports Betting

With the NBA postseason set to tip off this weekend an equally intriguing offseason draws nearer. Recently, Keith Smith of RealGM took a nice, long look at the upcoming batch of players eligible to sign rookie contract extensions after July 1.

While some players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker are no-brainers for rich contract extensions, other players like Kristaps Porzingis and Myles Turner are intriguing cases.

Porzingis, Smith writes, could be a candidate for a conditional contract extension similar to the one Joel Embiid signed last summer. Turner, meanwhile, proved himself a worthy NBA starter early in his career but has dealt with injury setbacks of his own in the time since.

A number of the top lottery picks in the 2015 draft class aren’t likely to sign significant extensions, if they’re even eligible to do so at all. Two of the top five picks – Jahlil Okafor and Mario Hezonja – didn’t even have the fourth-year of their rookie deals picked up.

For a breakdown of all 30 first-round picks, how they fared through their first three seasons in the NBA and whether or not you can expect them to hit the restricted market in 2019, be sure to check out Smith’s full piece.

There’s more from around the NBA.

  • With discussion over the legalization of sports betting a hot topic these days, the NBA Player’s Association has issued a statement, urging consideration for players’ rights ahead of any consequent negotiations over associated fees. Ben Fawkes of ESPN has the latest about the pressing issue while Chris Crouse of Hoops Rumors confirms that the NBA is open to having the union involved.
  • The BIG3 held its offseason draft last night in preparation for the league’s second season set to begin on June 22. Andre Owens, an international journeyman who played sparingly with the Jazz and Pacers over a decade ago was the first overall pick. Notable NBA alums, including Jason Maxiell, Quentin Richardson, the original Mike James and Bonzi Wells were also taken over the course of three rounds. Josh Peters of USA Today has a full breakdown of the draft.
  • The NBA draft order is set, ahead of the May 15th lottery that is. We broke down what happened when a series of tiebreakers decided the fates of 12 impacted teams.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Hornacek, Perry, Dotson

Kristaps Porzingis‘ brief appearance at Saturday’s game for Lavtian Heritage Night provided a reminder of how valuable he is to the Knicks, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. New York is 6-26 without Porzingis, who isn’t expected to return from a torn ACL until November or December. The Knicks are a different team without his ability to space the floor on offense and protect the rim on defense

The organization faces a difficult decision this summer about whether to offer Porzingis a $150MM extension or to wait another year and deal with him as a restricted free agent. Bondy writes that there are advantages to delaying the offer and seeing how Porzingis heals while maximizing 2019 cap space, but securing a long-term commitment as quickly as possibly would provide peace of mind and fend off any resentment that Porzingis might have left over after skipping his exit interview last year.

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • The Knicks’ intentions with coach Jeff Hornacek should be clear in a few days, Bondy tweets. This year’s exit interviews with players are set for Thursday, but he notes that coaches who are going to be fired typically don’t get to participate.
  • Resolving the coaching situation is just part of the agenda for Scott Perry in his first full offseason as Knicks GM, states Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Perry also needs to find a small forward, resolve the situations at point guard and center, improve the team’s athleticism and find ways to develop younger players. Iannazzone suggests that Troy Williams might be a long-term answer at small forward, or the Knicks may try to get Villanova’s Mikal Bridges in the draft.
  • Damyean Dotson set a few team milestones with his 30-point, 11-rebound performance Friday night, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. He was the first Knicks rookie guard to reach those numbers in the same game in 54 years and the first rookie in the organization to do so off the bench since the league began keeping track of starts in 1970/71. A second-round pick, Dotson has spent much of his first season in the G League. “We had a lot of guys at that position. That makes it tough. He’s done a good job of bouncing back and forth from the G- League. He gets good reps there and that’s what we use that for,” Hornacek said. “He practices every day with the guys and that’s going to make him a better player. I think that it has.”

Latest On Knicks’ Head Coaching Situation

The feeling around the NBA is that Jeff Hornacek won’t return as the Knicks’ head coach for the 2018/19 season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, people around the league view Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson as a pair of potential top targets for the Knicks if they seek out a new coach.

Hornacek’s spot on the hot seat is nothing new — since the Knicks fell out of playoff contention earlier this season, rumors have swirled about the possibility of a head coaching change in New York. Rivers and Jackson have even been mentioned as possible candidates before, including by Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News and Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Still, Hornacek’s hold on his job appears more precarious than ever over the last week, according to Berman, who points to a handful of recent incidents to illustrate that Knicks veterans probably don’t expect to be playing for the current head coach much longer. As Berman observes, Hornacek handing Tim Hardaway Jr. the clipboard during one timeout and Trey Burke waving off Hornacek’s attempts to call another timeout were both unusual moments that took place during Monday’s loss to the Hornets.

Additionally, Kyle O’Quinn screamed profanities at his head coach during Friday’s game in New York, and a confrontation between Hornacek and veteran center Joakim Noah earlier this season ultimately led to Noah’s dismissal from the team. According to Berman, big man Kristaps Porzingis also “cursed out” Hornacek during a practice late last season, not long before Porzingis skipped his exit meeting.

The Knicks are expected to wait until after the regular season to make any announcements regarding their coaching situation, but at this point, Hornacek’s days in the position appear numbered.

Knicks Notes: Mudiay, Porzingis, Jackson, Knox

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek pulled struggling point guard Emmanuel Mudiay from Friday night’s game against the Timberwolves, citing his performance. In Mudiay’s place, Hornacek tried an all point guard backcourt with Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina, which worked out well.

Earlier this week, Hornacek said he was hesitant to pull Mudiay from the starting lineup, despite his struggles since the All-Star break. While no permanent decision has been made, the Hornacek liked how the Burke and Ntilikina lineup played, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

“We haven’t thought about that game yet,’’ Hornacek said. “I liked what those two guys [Burke and Ntilikina] did tonight. Emmanuel may not have had it tonight, but we’ll see.’’

Mudiay admitted that sitting for the most of the game was surprising but he was happy to see his teammates play well.

“Yeah [I was surprised], but at the same time I wasn’t going to be a sore loser about it,’’ Mudiay said. “I was going to cheer my teammates on. Frank, Trey and Tim had it going. We got back in the game after starting out a little slow.”

Check out more Knicks notes below:

  • In a separate story, Berman caught up with Dr. Carlon Colker, who is working with injured big man Kristaps Porzingis, said the 7’3″ Latvian will be better than ever once he returns. “He’ll be better than ever. He’s going to blow people away,” Colker said. “If you’re around people who know what they’re doing, it’s not the end of the world. It’s the end of the world if you have the wrong people around you.”
  • Berman also caught up with Knicks veteran Jarrett Jack, who feels that his former coach with the Warriors, Mark Jackson, deserves to be considered for any head coaching role. Jackson’s name has come up as a possibility for the Knicks if the team decides to move on from Hornacek. “I do believe and I am surprised he hasn’t been back in the league,’’ Jack said. “I think one thing you judge people on is the body of work in front of them. If you look at the body of work — what he did three years there — I think he matches up with any coach anywhere. I’m not saying you should hire him here, but he should be considered for any job. I think he’s got the wherewithal to execute no matter what the situation.”
  • Hornacek told reporters earlier this week that small forward is a position of need for the Knicks this offseason. With that said, sources within the organization view Kentucky’s Kevin Knox as a potential draft target, ESPN’s Ian Begley tweets.

Injury Notes: Curry, Leonard, Porzingis, George

The Warriors will hold Stephen Curry out of action for another week while he recovers from a “tweaked” right ankle, the team announced in a tweet. Curry is making progress with his rehab, according to the Warriors, and will be re-evaluated March 20. That means he will miss at least four more games. Curry has been sidelined since Thursday when he hurt the ankle while being fouled on a layup attempt against the Spurs.

There’s more injury-related news from around the NBA:

  • Kawhi Leonard hasn’t received medical clearance to start playing again, relays Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich remains in daily contact with Leonard and says the team is being careful not to bring him back before he’s fully ready. “He’s got to be cleared by his medical staff that he’s seeing. And until he gets cleared, we can’t make a decision on when he’s coming back,” Popovich said. “So once he gets cleared, then he and I can sit down and talk and see what we think about an appropriate time to come back. But that clearance has to be obtained first.” An earlier report indicated that Leonard might play tomorrow, but San Antonio has ruled that out.
  • Kristaps Porzingis was “shocked” when doctors told him he had torn his left ACL, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Making his first public comments since the injury, the Knicks forward vowed to return to his All-Star level, but isn’t sure when he might start playing again. “I can’t give you anything,’’ Porzingis said. “I have no idea. You should ask the doctor, maybe. And he would tell you something. And myself, I’m just going day by day really, and we’ll see where is the comeback at. There is no timetable for now. It’s pretty far off to put a timetable out there.’’
  • Paul George left last night’s game with a groin injury, but doesn’t expect to miss any time, according to Royce Young of ESPN. George will be re-evaluated today before the Thunder decide whether he can play Friday.
  • X-rays were negative on Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis, who left Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia with a sprained left ankle. He will undergo an MRI when the team returns home.
  • The Lakers are listing Kyle Kuzma as questionable for tonight’s game after he sprained his right ankle Tuesday, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. X-rays taken last night were negative.
  • Larry Nance Jr. left Tuesday’s game early after he tweaked his right hamstring, relays ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). The Cavaliers center said he’s “absolutely fine” and plans to play tomorrow in Portland.

Knicks Notes: Beasley, Hardaway, Porzingis, Hornacek

Michael Beasley has carried an off-the-court reputation that outweighs his on-court NBA career but he seems to have found a niche with the Knicks. ESPN’s Ian Begley profiled the eccentric former second overall pick, whose personality and performance have become a favorite with his teammates.

Beasley wanted to prove himself so badly this offseason, he left $10MM in guaranteed money from a Chinese basketball team to accept a one-year, $2.1MM deal with the Knicks.

“Yeah, I want a lot of [money]. But I want to prove that I’m the best. The ball will tell you who the best players are, not the contracts, not the media,” Beasley said.

Everyone from childhood friend Kevin Durant to Knicks general manager Scott Perry to opposing coaches speaks glowingly of Beasley and his scoring ability. Conversely, his former and current teammates describe a fun and quirky — sometimes misunderstood — player who memorizes phone numbers and wears wristwatches on his ankle.

“He spends a majority of his time talking to his kids on the phone. He’s a good dude,” Knicks guard Courtney Lee said. “He gets a reputation from stuff that happened in the past, and it still follows him to this day. But he’s not that guy that everybody perceives him to be.”

Check out other Knicks news and notes below:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. took one step closer to immortality earlier this season when Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo jumped over him for a posterizing dunk. The Bucks started selling a shirt of the dunk and Hardaway is ready to move on from the moment, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “That’s back in the past,’’ Hardaway said. “We’re moving on.’’
  • Bucks forward Jabari Parker has suffered a torn ACL twice in his career and he offered up some words of advice to Knicks superstar Kristaps Porzingis, Berman writes in a separate story.  “For himself, to think about his journey, think about who he is and not thinking about comparisons and looking far outside what’s out of his control,’’ Parker said. “Because then you face doubt on top of the doubt you face with yourself. You never want to seek outside advice for either your confidence or your doubt. I want him to stay in tune, taking it real slow and try to train his body to push himself forward.’’
  • Head coach Jeff Hornacek addressed the NBA’s recent warning to the Bulls about purposely tanking this season. Hornacek said there is a difference between purposely losing and analyzing the current roster, Berman writes. “There’s a difference between tanking and trying to look at the future,’’ Hornacek said. “And we made trades to bring these guys in. We brought Trey in from the G-League and Emmanuel from another team. That’s a totally separate thought process. We’re seeing if they can play for us.’’

Knicks Notes: Williams, Jack, Dotson, Porzingis

Troy Williams, who was given a second 10-day contract by the Knicks earlier today, might have an expanded role as the team focuses on youth for the rest of the season, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Williams has been productive in his first four games with New York, averaging 8.0 points and 2.5 rebounds, including an 11-point performance Friday against the Clippers.

“I will say he’s played well for us,’’ coach Jeff Hornacek said. “It’s that activity. His athleticism. I think length, he covers ground.”

Williams will have another week and a half to audition for a contract that covers the rest of the season or maybe longer. He described his first 10-day deal with the Rockets last season as “nerve-wracking,” but wasn’t as concerned about being re-signed this time around.

There’s more news tonight out of New York:

  • Jarrett Jack may have already played his final game for the Knicks, but Hornacek sees a future for him after his playing days are over, Berman relays in a separate story. Jack’s agent wasn’t able to find an interested playoff team for a possible buyout before Thursday’s deadline to be eligible for the postseason with another organization. After starting 56 games, Jack has become a victim of the youth movement, but he may have a future in coaching. “Whatever I’m going to do after basketball is whatever I’m passionate about,” Jack said. “Basketball is one of those passions. I know coaching and coming up with strategies and doing this day to day, it’s a lot more difficult than people think. If I was able to get in that line of work and I was passionate about it and learned the craft and was confident with it, I would probably give it a shot.”
  • Frank Ntilikina‘s increased playing time at shooting guard has caused several teams to identify rookie Damyean Dotson as a possible trade target, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. A second-round pick last summer, Dotson has appeared in just 30 games and c ould be stuck behind Tim Hardaway Jr. and Ntilikina on the long-range depth chart.
  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes Kristaps Porzingis‘ ACL injury will affect the Knicks on the free agent market, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Porzingis is projected to be sidelined through December, which could make players think twice about coming to New York this summer. “An ACL is not a death sentence anymore,” Rivers said. “Most guys come back and they’re healthy and they’re fine. But he was having an All-Star season. He’s also a guy that I don’t know if you want to call him a pied piper but he brings other people. The better he plays the more people want to play with him. Not having him and not knowing when he’ll be back that hurts more than just this year. To me that’s where that injury hurts them the most.”