Kurt Rambis

Knicks Notes: Beasley, Anthony, Rambis, Jack, Triangle

The Knicks unveiled one of their latest signings, journeyman Michael Beasley, during a press conference at their Westchester training facility on Tuesday. Beasley, a former second overall pick from the 2008 draft class, is confident as he joins his fifth team in six seasons, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Beasley, 28, averaged 9.4 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 56 games (six starts) with the Bucks last season. It was Beasley’s first season playing more than 55 games since his 2012/13 campaign with the Suns. Beasley feels that if Carmelo Anthony stays, and the rest of the team performs up to expectations, the Knicks can be a “five, six seed” in the Eastern Conference.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and myself — those are four guys that can score 25 points per game,’’ Beasley said. “Then you add in Lance Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn, Joakim Noah — let’s not forget about that All-Star,” Beasley said. “It’s up to us to put it together just like it was up to them last year. Whatever happened last year is what happened. But I’m here now, and I’m going to do everything I can to get everyone on the same page, even if that page is beating me up every day in practice.”

As we wait to see whether Beasley and the Knicks can deliver on his optimistic forecast, here are a few more Knicks notes:

  • In a separate story, Berman of the New York Post, dubbing Beasley as a possible Anthony replacement, notes that Knicks assistant coach Kurt Rambis played a role in bringing Beasley to New York. Beasley played under Rambis in Minnesota, and he confirmed that his former coach “had a lot to do” with him joining the Knicks, per ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter link).
  • After missing most of the last two seasons, 13-year veteran Jarrett Jack signed a deal with the Knicks last week. As Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes that the veteran likes the Knicks’ 2017 first-round pick, Frank Ntilikina. “He’s a solid kid, man,” Jack said. “Really, really can play. Really long arms, really active defensively. Great size. Just looking forward to giving him all the game that I’ve gotten over these 13 years.”
  • Berman of The New York Post writes that early indications are that the triangle offense may be a thing of the past, as expected after Phil Jackson‘s departure. The aforementioned Jack, who spoke to reporters about his experience at voluntary workouts, said that coach Jeff Hornacek has not mentioned the offensive scheme once.
  • Whether Anthony stays or traded elsewhere, his Knicks future is a no-win situation, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes.

Porzingis To Spend Summer In Latvia; Anthony May Resist Trade

Kristaps Porzingis, who made a statement about the Knicks organization by skipping his exit interview Friday, plans to spend most of the summer in his native Latvia, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Porzingis’ move was seen as a protest against the “unprofessionalism and routine chaos” that he has encountered during his two seasons with the team, Wojnarowski writes, noting that he may not return to the United States until just before the start of camp.

His stance appears to represent the prevalent feeling in the locker room. Many players are saying privately that they don’t want to be involved in summer tutoring sessions in the triangle offense that are planned at the Knicks’ practice facility. Wojnarowski describes the atmosphere as an “open rebellion” against team president Phil Jackson’s philosophy.

It also appears that Jackson’s statements on Friday urging Carmelo Anthony to accept a trade this summer have backfired. Wojnarowski writes that the Knicks plan to reopen trade talks before the draft in June, but Anthony has become more determined to spend two more years in New York and try to outlast Jackson. With the Knicks picking up Jackson’s option this week, both he and Anthony have two seasons left on their current contracts.

Jackson’s press conference was the latest addition to the chaos that has left Porzingis disillusioned. He developed a good working relationship with coach Derek Fisher as a rookie, Wojnarowski writes, but Fisher was fired midway through last season, partly because of a dispute with Jackson over the triangle and the best way to use Porzingis in the offense.

Jackson appointed Kurt Rambis as interim head coach and wanted to give him the job permanently, but opposition inside and outside the organization forced him to hire someone else. He chose Jeff Hornacek, who had recently been fired by the Suns and had little leverage to oppose the triangle or force out Rambis, who remains as an assistant.

Reaction To Phil Jackson’s Press Conference

Feedback continues to pour in from Phil Jackson’s press conference on Friday, and almost all of it is negative. The Knicks president covered numerous topics in his first meeting with reporters since training camp, including the future of coach Jeff Hornacek, Derrick Rose‘s desire to stay with the team and whether Kristaps Porzingis is ready to be a franchise player. But the headlines revolved around the ongoing Carmelo Anthony dispute, with Jackson saying Anthony would be happier elsewhere.

Here’s a sampling of reaction from the media:

  • Jackson is undermining Hornacek by announcing plans to do more “mentoring” next season, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Jackson suggested that he would rather still be coaching than handling front office duties and blames a vacation he took for the team falling apart. He also defended his triangle offense and insisted that any failures were caused by resistance from players “at the top,” which sounds like another swipe at Anthony.
  • Jackson is blaming everyone but himself for the Knicks’ failures, charges Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Jackson “emerged from his ivory tower,” Bontemps writes, and insulted Anthony, undercut Hornacek and alienated Porzingis, who skipped his exit interview on Friday. Bontemps also blasts Knicks owner James Dolan, who had a chance to cut ties with Jackson this week, but instead picked up his option for two more years.
  • Jackson’s remarks toward Hornacek means the coach will be on a “short leash” starting next season, claims Marc Berman of The New York Post. Hornacek will be on the second year of a three-year contract and will be sharing control of the team with Jackson and assistant coach Kurt Rambis, another triangle advocate who served as interim coach before Hornacek was hired. Jackson cited “some disconnect at times with this team” at the press conference, and Berman states that discontent grew in the locker room as the season soured.
  • The Knicks’ offseason may turn out to be worse than the regular season, suggests Al Iannazzone of Newsday. In 49 minutes, he writes, Jackson managed to lower Anthony’s trade value and scare off any prominent free agents who may have been considering New York. Iannazzone sums up Jackson’s strategy as making sure the triangle is emphasized and turning over the roster one more time.

Atlantic Notes: Rambis, Atkinson, Whitehead, Olynyk

A day after taking over as the Knicks‘ defensive coordinator, Kurt Rambis told Marc Berman of The New York Post that the team’s roster shakeup is part of the problem. New York has given up more than 100 points in every game this season, so head coach Jeff Hornacek appointed Rambis on Tuesday to solve the problem. “We got 10 new guys, so everything is a work in progress,’’ Rambis said. “If we had everybody healthy and everybody here and playing, it still was going to be a process and take some time. Just simple terminology. It may be the same defensive action, but everyone calls it something different. So it’s just getting everyone knowing the same terminology and play calls, so everybody’s on the same page. Everybody’s got to be on the string. It takes all five guys to stop a pick-and-roll situation in this league. Everyone’s got to be communicating well. Right now we’re not connected.’’

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Kenny Atkinson’s motion offense is making a difference for the Nets, according to NetsDaily. Through its first seven games, Brooklyn has increased its pace of play more than any other team and is leading the league with 333 passes per game. Per 48 minutes, the Nets are averaging 6.2 more possessions each game than they did a year ago. Atkinson has also placed a greater emphasis on shooting 3-pointers, and the Nets are now taking 39.5% of their shots from long distance, compared to 21.8% last season.
  • Nets rookie point guard Isaiah Whitehead was diagnosed with a concussion, the team announced today. Whitehead will go through the NBA’s concussion protocols and will be sidelined until his symptoms are gone. Losing Whitehead was part of the reason that the Nets re-signed Yogi Ferrell this afternoon.
  • Celtics center Kelly Olynyk is seeing his first action of the season in tonight’s game with the Wizards, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNMidAtlantic. This is the first time on the court since last year’s playoffs for Olynyk, who underwent surgery on his right shoulder in May. “He’s a good player,” coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s helped us win in the past. He brings a skillset on offense and an understanding on defense that will benefit us.” Boston has been shorthanded in the front court with Al Horford recovering from a concussion and Jae Crowder out for at least another week with a sprained ankle.

New York Notes: Rambis, Randle, Foye, Nets

As we passed along earlier today, Knicks president Phil Jackson is reportedly unhappy with the team’s offense, which hasn’t incorporated many elements of the triangle. While Jackson and some of the Knicks players appear to be at odds over the triangle, it’s the team’s defense that has been the real problem — New York ranks dead last in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions, and hasn’t held any of its opponents under 102 points in a game so far. We’ve got some details on how the Knicks plan to tackle that area of concern, along with some other notes out of New York:

  • The Knicks have put assistant coach – and former interim head coach – Kurt Rambis in charge of their defense, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter links). According to Stein, the club’s assistants weren’t assigned any specific areas of emphasis to start the season, but have asked Rambis to focus on defense after a troublesome start.
  • Point guard Chasson Randle was “all but assured” of a regular-season roster spot with the Knicks, but a fractured orbital bone last month led to his preseason release. Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a closer look at the current situation for Randle, who says he has contemplated playing overseas but still hopes to return to the Knicks when he’s healthy.
  • Summer signee Randy Foye received a modest one-year contract from the Nets and wasn’t necessarily viewed as a significant addition. However, with Jeremy Lin and Greivis Vasquez sidelined, Brooklyn will be very happy to see Foye return from a hamstring injury and make his Nets debut, writes Howie Kussoy of The New York Post. “It just gives us some stability, some leadership, defense and I think it’s gonna help us [and] help our young guys,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said on Monday. “He looked good in practice. [It’s] welcome news.”

Rambis Suggested Hornacek As Knicks’ Head Coach

Knicks president Phil Jackson says interim coach Kurt Rambis first suggested hiring Jeff Hornacek as the team’s head coach, according to Charley Rosen of TodaysFastBreak.com. In the latest installment of “The Phil Jackson Chronicles,” Jackson states that Rambis and Hornacek had a working relationship that began when they both played for the Suns.

“It was Kurt Rambis who first suggested Jeff,” Jackson recalled. “They had played together in Phoenix for several seasons so Kurt had a good read on Jeff. The Suns’ coach was Cotton Fitzsimmons who had been an assistant at Kansas State under Tex Winter. So Cotton knew the triangle, ran pieces of it and believed in system basketball. It was there that Jeff teamed up with Kevin Johnson in a two-guard offense, which is how the triangle is formatted.”

Jackson had been impressed by the job Hornacek did in his two and a half years as head coach in Phoenix. In mid-May, Jackson held a six-hour meeting with Hornacek in Los Angeles, diagramming plays and discussing offensive and defensive philosophies.

“I liked the way he saw the whole game and how every part was interrelated,” Jackson said. “Jeff also said that he believes in visualization, that a shooter should visualize the ball going through the hoop every time he shoots. I could easily visualize him coaching the Knicks, and I was sold.”

Jackson and Hornacek flew back to New York for a private dinner with GM Steve Mills, but the media learned about the meeting and reported Hornacek’s hiring well before it occurred. Jackson says he wishes that hadn’t happened because the story broke before he could inform the other candidates who interviewed for the job.

Knicks Expected To Retain Kurt Rambis As Assistant

The Knicks are currently in negotiations with Kurt Rambis on a new contract that would give the former interim head coach a spot on Jeff Hornacek‘s staff in New York, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.com. The deal hasn’t been finalized yet, but it sounds as if both sides are comfortable moving forward with Rambis as a Knicks assistant.

Rambis, who was considered for the Knicks’ head coaching vacancy, ultimately lost out on the position to Hornacek, raising some doubts about his future with the franchise. However, sources tells Begley that Hornacek has signed off on making Rambis a part of his staff. Rambis had one year remaining on his previous contract with New York, but the two sides have decided to work out a new agreement.

While Phil Jackson, who publicly endorsed Rambis’ inclusion on the Knicks’ coaching staff earlier this week, was believed to be pushing for his former Lakers assistant to stick around, Hornacek was given the authority to make the final calls on his assistants, and is on board with the plan. “Nothing is being forced down Jeff’s neck,” one source tells Begley.

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, Hornacek and Rambis, who were teammates as players with the Suns, have a long-standing friendship, with each coach having considered the other for a spot on his staff in the past — Rambis offered Hornacek a job with the Timberwolves, while Hornacek discussed bringing Rambis onto his staff in Phoenix.

Hornacek is also expected to add former Suns assistant Jerry Sichting to his staff in New York, says Begley.

Atlantic Rumors: Rambis, DeRozan, Karasev, C’s

New Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek has said he’ll have final say on his assistant coaches, but it certainly sounds as if Phil Jackson expects to see former interim coach Kurt Rambis on Hornacek’s staff, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details.

“Kurt fits, he fits in a number of ways,” Jackson told SNY.tv during a Knicks event in Chelsea. “He was a teammate of Jeff’s in Phoenix at one point in their careers. He’s also a team guy. He has a great idea of what we’re trying to get accomplished and I think he can help Jeff feel his way through this club and find a best way for them to play.”

In addition to speaking positively about Rambis, Jackson noted that while his Knicks don’t currently have a draft pick, “we think subsequently we might” (link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post). That comes as no surprise, considering multiple reports have indicated New York is pushing hard to land a pick in a trade.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • As Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders explains, Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan earned $850K in incentives in 2015/16 based on his free throw attempts, assists per game, and Toronto reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Now that certain bonuses in his contract are considered “likely,” DeRozan’s cap number for his player option next season has increased to $10.35MM. However, that point ultimately figures to be moot, since DeRozan will turn down his option by next Wednesday’s deadline.
  • NetsDaily.com (Twitter link) is hearing from an overseas source that Sergey Karasev is expected to return to Russia to play for his father Vasily Karasev in St. Petersburg. The coach of the year in the Russian league, Vasily was adamant last month that his son won’t be back with the Nets next season.
  • Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge believes it’s “still too early” to get a real sense of how the trade market during the draft might play out, writes Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com. However, that doesn’t stop ESPN’s Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton (Insider link) from exploring potential trade options for Boston’s No. 3 overall pick and the team’s other seven selections.
  • Meanwhile, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the team has “seven or eight guys” targeted as potential options at No. 3, assuming Boston keeps the pick. Petraglia has the details and the quotes at WEEI.com.

Knicks Notes: Hornacek, Rambis, Porzingis

The Knicks officially introduced Jeff Hornacek as their new coach today, with team president Phil Jackson telling reporters that he found the demeanor and leadership qualities he was seeking in the former Suns coach, Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press relays. “That a comfort zone was possible, and I think the basketball knowledge that he has and the familiarity he has playing basketball are things that attracted us together,” Jackson said. “This is a coach who can teach and also has an idea of what kind of practice he wants to run and how he wants to do business.

Hornacek acknowledged the team currently lacks the personnel required to sustain his up-tempo system, adding that he hopes his style of play will attract free agents to New York, Mahoney notes. “My hope is now that I’m here that we can get some of those players to come in here and if you want to win, what better place to win than New York,” Hornacek said. “So to me it’s a great opportunity and the excitement level, I know we can do great things.

Here’s more out of the Big Apple:

  • The new head coach was initially surprised when Jackson contacted him regarding the position, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com notes (ESPN Now link). Hornacek said he hadn’t talked a lot with Jackson previously and expected first conversation with him to last maybe an hour or two, but their initial chat ended up being closer to six hours in duration, the scribe adds.
  • Jackson told reporters that former interim coach Kurt Rambis was under serious consideration for the head coaching post, adding that Rambis may remain with the team as an assistant under Hornacek, Ian Begley of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Hornacek expressed his excitement at the prospect of coaching Kristaps Porzingis, adding that the big man has the potential to be a superstar in the NBA, Youngmisuk and Begley relay in a separate piece. “His ceiling -– wow,” Hornacek said regarding Porzingis. “I don’t want to put pressure on the kid but let’s face it: At that size, and his skills, and his abilities, why can’t he be a top-five player in this league? Why can’t he be the best player in this league? He’ll continue to grow over these years. He’s 20 years old. He’s got a lot of things he’ll learn just from experience and I’m sure five-to-six years from now you’ll be saying, ‘Look how good this kid is.’ He’s already good.

Knicks Hire Jeff Hornacek

Tim Fuller / USA TODAY Sports Images

Tim Fuller / USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 2, 10:04am: The Knicks have officially confirmed the hiring of Hornacek as their new head coach (Twitter link).

JUNE 1, 10:50pm: The pact will pay Hornacek $15MM over three seasons, Ian Begley of ESPN.com confirms.

2:17pm: Nearly two weeks after first being offered the team’s head coaching job, Hornacek has reached an agreement on a three-year contract with the Knicks, sources tell Wojnarowski. A news conference to formally announce the hiring is expected to happen later this week.

MAY 19, 4:35pm: The Knicks have formally offered the job to Hornacek and the two sides are engaged in contract discussions regarding the length of the deal and annual salary, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (Twitter links).

MAY 18, 7:15pm: A source close to Hornacek confirms that negotiations are still ongoing and nothing has been finalized, tweets Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Jackson has apparently decided to hire Hornacek, Isola adds, but no contract is in place (Twitter link). Berman describes the process as “mutual interest,” but in the “very, very early stages.” (Twitter link).

6:43pm: Jeff Hornacek will be the next coach of the New York Knicks, tweets Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Hornacek, who was fired by the Suns in February, became a candidate late in the process after team president Phil Jackson reportedly pushed to keep interim coach Kurt Rambis.

Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt and recently fired Pacers coach Frank Vogel were believed to be the other finalists for the position. The Knicks didn’t contact Hornacek about the job until three weeks after the search began, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post.

The deal is not fully complete, Beck cautions, though a source tells him it’s “as close as humanly possible.” (Twitter link). Barring any last-minute complications, a formal announcement is expected soon.

Hornacek doesn’t fit the profile that would be expected of a Jackson coach. He’s not part of Jackson’s coaching lineage and he has never run the triangle. The hiring suggests that Jackson’s influence with owner James Dolan might be waning.

Hornacek comes to New York with a 101-112 career coaching record that he compiled in two and a half seasons in Phoenix. His only other coaching experience came in three years as an assistant in Utah. He had also talked to the Rockets about their head coaching position and was considered to be a candidate for the openings in Memphis and Orlando. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported this week that the Warriors had “strong interest” in hiring Hornacek as a lead assistant.

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