New York Knicks

Community Shootaround: Knicks’ Coaching Decisions

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?

Share your thoughts on the Knicks’ moves below!

Knicks Target Tucker, Cunningham, Simmons

The Knicks are putting together their free agent shopping list with an eye toward players who can contribute on offense and defense, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

One of those players is Raptors small forward P.J. Tucker, who previously played for coach Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix. Hornacek describes Tucker as an intense defender and a leader in the locker room. He could also give the Knicks a 3-point threat, shooting 35.7 from long distance this season, including 40% after a midseason trade to Toronto.

Another target is Pelicans small forward Dante Cunningham, who was the top 3-point shooter in New Orleans this year at 39.2%. Cunningham is also a solid defender and helped the Pels to a 13-8 record when he played at least 28 minutes per game.

Spurs forward Jonathon Simmons has fans in the Knicks organization, but he will be in demand around the league. Simmons is a restricted free agent, so San Antonio can match any offer he receives.

New York will enter free agency with about $19MM to spend, although that number could change significantly if efforts to trade Carmelo Anthony are successful. In addition to adding talent this summer, the Knicks are hoping to retain shooting guard Justin Holiday, who played all 82 games and averaged 7.7 points per night in his first year with the team.

The Knicks may also reopen trade talks for Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, Begley adds. New York and Minnesota discussed a deal involving Rubio at the trade deadline, and Knicks officials might still be interested.

New York will be looking for more players in the mold of Courtney Lee, who was their lone success among last summer’s major moves. Lee, who is signed for three more seasons, believes the Knicks worked out many of their problems late in the season and are headed in the right direction. He also defended center Joakim Noah, who became a lightning rod for criticism after signing a four-year, $72MM contract.

“Joakim had a lot of injuries that people weren’t aware of during the season,” Lee said. “I know how tough he is and how prideful he is and I’m looking forward to him coming back 100 percent healthy and doing what he does for us on the court. I know he will come back strong and help lead for us.”

Draft Notes: Kanter, Bucks, Swanigan

Kerem Kanter has withdrawn from the draft, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. Kanter, who is the younger brother of NBA player Enes Kanter, graduated from Green Bay and will play for Xavier this year.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

Knicks Part Ways With Assistant Coach Josh Longstaff

Despite the fact that the Knicks’ relationship with Kristaps Porzingis is already tenuous, the organization chose not to renew the contract of an assistant coach that he’s particularly close with, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes.

The second-year big man had bonded with Josh Longstaff through his first two years in the league, the pair even training overseas together last summer.

The Knicks didn’t specify why they decided to part ways with the 34-year-old player development specialist, one of several holdovers from Derek Fisher‘s coaching staff prior to the 2016/17 campaign, but the decision is curious. Per Bondy, the Knicks are said to be moving forward with a heavy focus on the triangle all throughout the organization.

Knicks fans have already seen their front office clash with the 7’2″ budding star this offseason. Porzingis ditched his exit meeting with the team last month to head back to his native Latvia. Just this week, team president Phil Jackson and Porzingis’ brother supposedly connected to discuss the apparently strained relationship but the sit down isn’t said to have been very effective.

All told, the move is the latest questionable one out of a front office that has spent the better part of the past year denigrating Carmelo Anthony, though a top-down effort to more seriously implement the triangle may put things in perspective.

Rumored to be a candidate to fill the vacancy is former Knick Pablo Prigioni. The 40-year-old played in Europe this season but served with the Knicks for three seasons ending in 2014/15.

Celtics More Willing To Do Anthony Deal?; More Workouts Set

Boston will have up to $30MM in cap space, which Ainge would like to use on Jazz free agent Gordon Hayward. If he stays in Utah, the Celtics will have to consider other options, which could include Anthony. Berman says the Knicks would want Jae Crowder as the centerpiece of a deal, along with one of Boston’s two first-rounders in 2018. A signed-and-traded Jonas Jerebko might have to be included to make the salaries line up, but Boston has the cap space to handle most of Anthony’s $31MM price, including his trade kicker.

  • Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan has a workout scheduled with the Knicks on Wednesday, Berman notes in the same story. The sophomore big man, who was named Big 10 Player of the Year, is projected as a second-round pick, and New York has the 44th and 58th selections. Iowa State point guard Monte Morris interviewed with the Knicks at the draft combine and will work out for the team June 8th.

Phil Jackson Recently Met With Kristaps Porzingis’ Camp

Team president Phil Jackson recently met with Kristaps Porzingis‘ brother and the two sides discussed the the power forward’s issues with the club, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News reports. A Knicks‘ source tells Bondy that the sit down didn’t accomplish very much as Phil Jackson remained “steadfast” in his ways.

Jackson remains focused on installing and running the triangle. He’s aimed to tailor the teams’ workouts and training sessions around the offense, sources tell Bondy.

What specifics the two sides discussed is not clear, but Porzingis’ camp has previously called for New York to “create an environment where he can develop and grow as a player and win.”

Porzingis has two years remaining on his deal and in the summer of 2019, he can become a restricted free agent. At that point, the team will be able to match any offer. If Porzingis badly wants out, the quickest route to secure a place on a new franchise without a trade is playing out the final two years of his deal, then signing a qualifying offer during the 2019 offseason. That would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020.

Porzingis has said he wants to remain in New York, but with the aforementioned conditions. The team has some time to repair the relationship and build a winning team, though as we’ve seen with the Carmelo Anthony saga, ongoing Knicks’ turmoil isn’t guaranteed to get better with time.

Jackson only has two seasons remaining on his deal. I’d speculate that he’ll make it through his current agreement, but he won’t see another deal in the 2019 offseason unless Kristaps Porzingis is happy with the state of the franchise. By that time, we’ll likely have more data on the triangle offense in our current pace-and-space culture and it should be clear whether or not the system has a place in the league.

 

Draft Notes: Fox, Ntilikina, Chartouny

De’Aaron Fox was eyeing Sacramento as a destination even before the Kings moved up in the lottery, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com tweets. The Kings need a long-term option at the point guard position and Fox could be the answer when they pick at No. 5. Howard-Cooper notes that Fox is friends with center Willie Cauley-Stein.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hears that the Knicks, Mavericks, Sixers and Kings are the franchises which spent the most time scouting Frank Ntilikina in France over the past month. Ntilikina is the 10th best prospect in the draft, according to Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony.
  • Joseph Chartouny will withdraw from the draft and return to Fordham next season, sources tell Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The point guard scored 11.9 points and dished out 4.6 assists during his sophomore campaign at the university.
  • While it appears the Ball family may get their dream outcome of Lonzo Ball playing for the Lakers, Adi Joseph of USA Today lays out four scenarios that could hurt LaVar Ball‘s master plan.

Prigioni Flagged As Possible Assistant Coach; Monk Could Fit Triangle

According to Nets guard Jeremy Lin, a total of five of his former teammates across stints with the Knicks, Rockets and Hornets asked him if Brooklyn would be willing to make a trade for them, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes.

  • The Knicks are said to be interested in hiring former point guard Pablo Prigioni as an assistant coach, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays.
  • The Knicks will hope that Malik Monk is available to the at the No. 8 spot in next summer’s NBA Draft, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. College basketball analyst Wally Szczerbiak sees him as a good fit as a playmaker in Phil Jackson‘s triangle offense.

Draft Notes: Smith Jr., Kapita, Motley

Dennis Smith Jr. is drawing interest from several lottery teams, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog reports. The Knicks, Sixers, Wolves, and Kings have all reached out to the point guard to set up a workout. Smith is projected to be one of the top point guards taken on June 22 with Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony ranking him as the fourth-best player at the position and seventh-best player overall.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

Lance Thomas Hopes Carmelo, Knicks Can Work It Out

Knicks president Phil Jackson has made it clear that his preference is to move Carmelo Anthony to another team this offseason, but if it were up to Lance Thomas, Anthony would be staying in New York. As Marc Berman of The New York Post writes, Thomas called Carmelo one of his “best friends” and a great teammate.

“I love him here,” Thomas said. “I love him as a teammate, love him as a competitor, love him as a person. Everything else is out of my control, but his approach has always been great. He’s an amazing professional. I’m not going to comment on what’s happening with him and the [Knicks] and trade rumors. I just know I love him as a teammate. I want it to work out.”

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