With Kristaps Porzingis at odds with ownership, the Knicks made a questionable decision to part ways with popular development coach and Porzingis favorite, Joshua Longstaff. The 34-year-old had traveled to Latvia to work with Porzingis last summer and was expected to do the same this year, in addition to possibly holding down an assistant coaching role with the Latvian national team.
Curiously, the Knicks have decided to retain assistant coach Dave Bliss, sources tell Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Both Bliss and Longstaff were brought in under former head coach Derek Fisher and now, Bliss is the final holdover from Fisher’s staff. Coincidentally, during a recent chat with USA Today, Porzingis spoke of his satisfaction with both coaches.
“I’m happy for the coaches that we have, the development coaches. They’re doing an unbelievable job with us, the young guys, working really hard. Josh [Longstaff], Dave [Bliss] — those are my guys,’’ Porzingis said. “I’m getting better. It’s great to have coaches like that.”
Now, one of those coaches is gone and Bliss remains, almost as symbol of the Knicks’ dwindling relationship with their franchise star. Team president Phil Jackson has indicated his preference for superstar Carmelo Anthony to waive his no-trade clause; the same day Jackson initially made his stance on Anthony public, Porzingis elected to skip his exit interview with the team.
A recent meeting between Porzingis’ representation (older brother Janis Porzingis) and Jackson reportedly did little to resolve the apparent issues, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Janis has indicated his brother wants to remain in New York but he also wants to win.
In his first two NBA seasons, Porzingis has been a force; he increased his scoring from 14.3 to 18.1 PPG last season despite battling several nagging injuries. The 7’3″ forward has shown himself to be a potent shooter, scorer, and defender — a lethal triumvirate of skills that makes him a building block for the team.
This leaves several things to be considered: Did the Knicks make the wrong decision to fire Porzingis’ favorite coach amid their own issues with the Latvian forward? Should the team have let Bliss go as well or was keeping him a compromise? Have the last few months caused irreparable damage to the Knicks-Porzingis relationship?
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