New York Knicks

Knicks Notes: Noah, Porzingis, Kobe, Livingston

Joakim Noah, who signed a four-year, $72MM deal last offseason, underwent rotator cuff surgery on Wednesday, Al Iannazzone of Newsday relays. Noah was suspended by the league for taking a banned substance at the end of this season. He was able to serve eight of his 20 games since he was deemed healthy enough to play toward the end of the 2016/17 campaign. He’ll serve the remaining 12 games of the suspension once he’s recovered from his left shoulder surgery and ruled healthy enough to play. The Knicks didn’t give a timetable for his return, but coach Jeff Hornacek previously said the rehab process should take approximately five months.

Team president Phil Jackson remains hopeful that Noah can return from his injury and live up to his current contract. “We talked a lot about, ‘Can you get yourself back into this condition? Hamstrings, hamstrings, hamstrings,” Jackson said earlier this month. “‘Eventually it ended up being the knee that was creating ultimately other problems. So we hope going forward – he expresses great dedication in getting back to what he was and who he is as a basketball player. So I have to trust him in that.”

Here’s more from the city that never sleeps:

  • Kristaps Porzingis may be frustrated with the Knicks‘ organization, but that doesn’t extend to assistant coach Joshua Longstaff, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Longstaff will join Porzingis in Latvia this summer and Bondy hears that the big man wants Longstaff to be an assistant coach for the Latvian National Team. New York previously offered to approve Porzingis’ participation in the European Championships if the Latvian team allowed the assistant to be on its staff.
  • Can Jackson and Carmelo Anthony coexist in New York after a season of turmoil? Kobe Bryant believes there’s a chance the two parties can, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Michael [Jordan] had his rough times with him as well. The history is you get through rough times after you win a good amount of championships. We certainly had our rocky times, but we still stuck to it, we figured out our way through it and came out better because of it. I think the most important thing is sticking to it, being patient. Sometimes things work out. Sometimes they don’t,” Bryant said.
  • Shaun Livingston, who will be a free agent this offseason, is a longtime favorite of Phil Jackson and could be a reasonable target for the Knicks to go after this summer, Keith P. Smith of RealGM writes. Smith argues that Livingston would be a good fit in the triangle offense.

Knicks Sending Assistant To Latvian National Team

The Knicks have worked out a compromise with Kristaps Porzingis regarding his desire to represent Latvia in the European Championships, according to international basketball writer David Pick (Twitter links).

New York’s front office offered to approve Porzingis’ participation provided that assistant coach Joshua Longstaff is permitted to join the national team to work with the second-year big man. Longstaff, who has been with the Knicks since 2014, will remain in Latvia throughout the tournament, which runs from August 31st to September 17th.

Porzingis doesn’t need approval from the Knicks to participate in international play, so the move is largely symbolic. Still it’s a change in philosophy from the organization, which previously advised him to skip the competition. Injuries are the main concern as Porzingis missed 16 games this season with a left Achilles issue and back problems.

The Knicks were originally surprised to learn that Porzingis was planning to be part of Eurobasket. He skipped his exit interview with team president Phil Jackson in a protest over the ongoing chaos surrounding the team and has had little contact with the organization since the season ended.

The Latest On Kristaps Porzingis And The Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis wants to remain in New York, but he places winning above location on his list of preferences, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “Absolutely, I want to stay here all my career,’’ Porzingis said. “But the thing I want most of all is winning. When the time comes, I will seriously start to think about it. Right now I just try to do my best.”

The big man was asked if he would consider another franchise when he is eligible for free agency if that organization gave him a better chance to win. He responded by saying it was a possibility, as ESPN.com relays. The 21-year-old has two years remaining on his rookie contract.

Porzingis is currently in Latvia and he’ll remain there for most of the summer. He spent time there last season as well and Mubarak Malik, who is the Knicks’ director of performance, visited the big man to provide him with a training program. Other members of the organization also spent time with Porzingis abroad last summer, but it’s unclear if the team will take the same approach this year, as Ian Begley of ESPN.com reports (ESPN Now link).

The Knicks haven’t spoken to Porzingis since he blew off his exit meeting with Phil Jackson. The big man reportedly was upset with the organizational chaos and that was the reason he stood Jackson up.

Porzingis announced today that he will play for his the Latvian national team in the European championships, something the Knicks had previously recommended him not to do. It appears that he didn’t inform the NBA club of his plans prior to making the announcement. “Kristaps is in a position to decide for himself on playing for the national side,” his brother Janis Porzingis said. By rule, NBA teams are not allowed to dictate participation in international events, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. However, many franchises have conversations with its players and make its position known.

One of New York’s concerns with Porzingis playing for his country’s team is the risk of injury. Porzingis’ camp did attempt to alleviate the organization’s concern. “In terms of insurance, we have agreed with the Latvian Basketball Association for the covering of the required amount,” Janis Porzingis said. “I cannot disclose the amount.”

The former No. 4 overall pick promises to report to the Knicks training camp in September, but until then, his focus is on his national team. “My third season is still far away,” He said. “The main thing is to put in a lot of work during the summer to be ready, first for national team, then for next season. The European championships ends before the official NBA camp starts, so I have enough time to turn back to New York. I’ll be there on time.”

Carmelo-To-Celtics An Offseason Possibility?

In the days and weeks leading up to the trade deadline, reports indicated that the Celtics weren’t overly enamored with the idea of acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post though, the Celtics coaching staff was in favor of making such a deal. GM Danny Ainge, however, had “too many reservations,” per Berman.

One of Ainge’s primary concerns, according to Berman, was that trading for Anthony would compromise the Celtics’ projected salary cap room for the summer. The Post’s report isn’t the first to suggest that the ability to have free agency flexibility is important for Ainge — it was believed to be one roadblock for a major deadline trade. If the Celtics remain well under the cap, they could attempt to land a top free agent – such as Gordon Hayward – and then would still have the ability to make a big splash on the trade market after using their cap space.

Berman suggests that revisiting an Anthony trade is one possibility for the Celtics in July, and there’s some logic to that idea — an early exit from the playoffs is more likely to spur action for Ainge and the C’s this summer, and the acquisition price for Anthony wouldn’t be as high as it would be for players like Jimmy Butler and Paul George, given Carmelo’s contract situation.

According to Berman, the Knicks would have interest in Jae Crowder in any talks with the Celtics. Reports in February about the Celtics’ inquiries on Butler and George suggested that Boston would likely have to include multiple players from the Crowder/Marcus Smart/Avery Bradley/Jaylen Brown group, along with at least one Nets draft pick, to make a deal with either Chicago or Indiana. I’d expect those Brooklyn picks to be off the table in any Anthony trade talks, and the Celtics may also be reluctant to give up multiple productive rotation players.

In any case, it’s somewhat premature to get into what a potential Anthony trade would look like, as there’s no guarantee Ainge will change his position. The Knicks clearly have interest in moving the veteran forward and would probably love to bring Boston back to the negotiating table, but it will likely just be one of many options considered by the Celtics this summer.

Kristaps Porzingis Wants To Remain With Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis blew off an end-of-season meeting with team president Phil Jackson, but that does not mean he wants to be traded, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.

“Of course,” Porzingis said when asked if he wants to remain a Knick. “I love New York. I love New York.”

The team never received an explanation on why the big man decided to skip his scheduled meeting, a source tells Berman. The scribe hears that Porzingis is upset with how the organization has been run–especially the team’s dealings with his mentor, Carmelo Anthony. The 21-year-old declined to go into why he missed the meeting when asked on Wednesday.

“It’s not the right moment to comment on anything [about it],” he said. “I don’t want to say anything.’’

Last week, Porzingis said that he wants the franchise to have a clear direction. “No one’s comfortable with losing,” Porzingis said. “If it means going in the right direction and doing the right thing, let’s do that. But just having no idea the direction, then it’s not going to work out. The direction has to be clear what we want to do.”

During Jackson’s Good Friday press conference, he said that no one on the team is untouchable, which includes Porzingis. Berman notes that the Knicks will be hard-pressed to find equal value for the big man in a trade, adding the 21-year-old has a chance to become a star.

A source tells Berman that Jackson doesn’t feel good about Porzingis rebelling. “It wasn’t right,” said one individual close to Jackson. “But Phil went through this with Kobe [Bryant] and Andrew [Bynum], when they were still young but started to sprout their opinions and rebelled. It worked for Kobe. Hopefully this will make Kristaps better in the long run.”

Porzingis vows to “live in the gym” this summer, though he’ll spend most of it abroad. He leaves for Latvia on Thursday.

NBA Execs Talk Carmelo Anthony Situation

It was an eventful long weekend in New York, as Phil Jackson used his Good Friday press conference to espouse the belief that Carmelo Anthony would probably “be better off somewhere else” where he can contend for a title. The players’ union objected to Jackson’s blunt – and public – assessment of the situation, while the Knicks president’s comments may inspire Anthony to dig his heels in this summer.

One frequent criticism of Jackson’s handling of the Anthony situation has been that publicly expressing a desire to move on from the star forward won’t exactly increase his trade value around the league. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News investigated that topic, speaking to a handful of NBA executives about Carmelo’s current stock, and found that the Knicks may have trouble finding a taker for Anthony, even if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.

“If he were willing to keep altering his style of play, you might say yes,” one GM said of trading for Anthony. “At his best, when he was four or five years younger, you could win if you built the team to fit what he does. [The Knicks] had some good teams, people forget. But at this point, at his age, it is not possible unless he becomes more of a role player — a stretch four; a second or third option. But then you’re paying $25MM per year for a role player, and how does that help you?”

While other executives are more sympathetic toward Anthony’s situation and still like him as a player, his exorbitant salary for the next two seasons – which would include a 15% trade kicker if he were dealt – is a sticking point for many execs.

“I like Carmelo, I think he takes a bad rap,” an Eastern Conference exec tells Deveney. “He doesn’t get in trouble, he has put up with a lot from that organization and I think a lot of guys would have lashed out by now. Give him credit for that. But anyone who brings him in has to ask, does he make your team better, looking at everything including his (cap) number? In most cases, that’s going to be no.”

As for which teams might be matches for the Knicks in a Carmelo trade, most executives who spoke to Deveney proposed the same few clubs we’ve heard in previous Anthony rumors. The Cavaliers are viewed as more of a long shot, with most execs suggesting that the Clippers remain the best bet — particularly if L.A. has another early playoff exit and wants to shake things up. One Western Conference executive also pointed out that Anthony’s no-trade clause will likely help keep his trade cost down for any team acquiring him.

“If he waives the no-trade, you know he is going to be OK with coming (to his new team),” the exec said. “He is not going against his will. And look at it, everyone has the Knicks over a barrel. They’re just desperate to move the guy. You are not going to have to give up much of anything to get him, just make the salaries match.”

For all the latest updates related to Anthony, be sure to keep an eye on our rumors page for him.

New York Notes: Knicks, Holiday, Nets

Justin Holiday said last month that he’d love to find a way to play on the same team as his brother Jrue Holiday next season, and both players are eligible for free agency this summer, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the Knicks may be an ideal landing spot for the duo, since Justin is the sort of effective two-way player the club wants to retain, and New York will also be in the market for a point guard like Jrue if Derrick Rose doesn’t return.

With the Holiday brothers not competing in the playoffs, Justin Holiday tells The Post that they plan to “take some time off” and eventually will talk about their plans for the future. Given how dysfunctional the Knicks have been this season, it remains to be seen whether the elder Holiday will make an enthusiastic pitch to younger brother Jrue on behalf of the franchise.

Here’s more from out of New York on the Knicks and Nets:

  • Phil Jackson the coach is undermining Phil Jackson the team president, in the view of George Willis of The New York Post. As Willis details, Jackson’s comments on Friday made it sounds as if he intends to micromanage the club more in 2017/18, which probably doesn’t thrill Jeff Hornacek and likely won’t address the problems that ail the Knicks.
  • While 2016/17 was a disaster, there are ways for Jackson to fix the Knicks‘ roster, or at least take steps toward patching the holes, Berman writes in a piece for The New York Post. Berman examines potential defensive-minded free agent targets for the Knicks, as well as draft options for the club.
  • The Nets will use the draft, the trade market, and free agency to attempt to upgrade their roster this season, but head coach Kenny Atkinson and the team will also do all they can to find ways to improve the players already on the roster, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “We’re obsessed with that as a staff, one through 15: How can we get those guys better?” Atkinson said. “I’m sure I have a wish list that’s Utopian, but where we are we have to keep taking a lot of pride in developing the players we have. … To me, that’s your wish list: Get these guys better that are on your roster.”

Pistons Committed To Keeping Caldwell-Pope

The Pistons plan to match any offer that restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope receives, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

The organization is prepared to give the fourth-year shooting guard a maximum deal if that’s what it takes to keep him in Detroit, Ellis adds, with several sources saying he is an important part of the team’s future.

Caldwell-Pope averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season, but his numbers declined after the All-Star break. Ellis states that the Pistons may have viewed the situation differently if they were confident that Stanley Johnson was ready to become a starter, but they believe keeping Caldwell-Pope is vital and they wouldn’t be able to get an adequate replacement because of their cap situation.

Ellis touches on several other Pistons-related matters:

  • Trade talks involving Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson will continue this offseason. Ellis states that the organization is becoming impatient with Drummond, with coach/executive Stan Van Gundy saying in Friday’s press conference that he needs a “sense of urgency to elevate his game.” Jackson’s drop in production stemmed from left knee tendinitis that plagued him throughout the season, and Ellis claims the only available replacement who might be an upgrade is the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe.
  • The Pistons believe they have enough young players and future first-rounders to acquire a star this offseason. There were rumors that Drummond was offered to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins before he was sent to New Orleans, and a source told Ellis the Pistons contacted the Pacers about Paul George but never got close to a deal. George has another season left before he can opt out, and Detroit might be interested in taking the chance that it can re-sign him, but only if the price in a trade comes down. Other targets could include Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony.
  • Although the Pistons might benefit from a franchise-altering move, Van Gundy said smaller deals are more realistic. “There’s a couple things we’d like to do and make us a little bit better, but I don’t think we’re broken” he said. “Getting our point guard situation back to where it was or even better is more than feasible and corrects a great deal of the problems we’re talking about. Our roster is pretty good from there.”

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.

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