J.R. Smith’s “delinquent behavior,” Iman Shumpert’s “big personality” that was “difficult for most of the other guys to deal with” and Sam Dalembert’s sleeping during pregame meetings were part of the reason Phil Jackson turned them into ex-Knicks last season.
The Knicks president made his candid comments in January to basketball writer Charley Rosen, who was an assistant with Jackson when he coached the CBA’s Albany Patroons. Rosen met with Jackson once a month as he chronicled the Knicks’ 17-65 season. The series is running on ESPN.com, which posted part 4 of the series Monday (July 20).
Jackson also foreshadowed the trades of Tim Hardaway Jr., who he described as “surprisingly inconsistent”, and Pablo Prigioni and the Knicks’ cutting ties with Andrea Bargnani. Turning to the draft, he wondered aloud if Jahlil Okafor would be able to live up to expectations and expressed admiration for guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
ESPN’s Ian Begley reported an unnamed agent called Jackson’s criticism of traded players “a classless move.” (July 20).
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As the Knicks were getting their collective first look at the likes of Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant during NBA Summer League last week in Las Vegas, a familiar face returned to strut his stuff.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
Thanasis Antetokounmpo donned a Knicks jersey for the second straight summer. After being selected by New York in the second round of last year’s NBA Draft, the forward spent last season with the Westchester Knicks after the NBA club held off on signing him.
But now, following a season in the D-League, the pressure is on. Though New York would perhaps like to keep tabs on the prospect closer to home as he continues to develop, Antetokounmpo has already been garnering more lucrative offers to go overseas next season instead. The question remains: should the Knicks sign him now or allow him play international ball instead?
The team holds Antetokounmpo’s NBA draft rights, so even if he chooses to go overseas, he’ll be bound to sign with the Knicks whenever he returns to play in The Association. New York obviously won’t have the luxury of helping him develop in their system if he flocks abroad.
The Knicks were hoping that the 23-year-old would prove he’s ready to make the jump to the NBA in Summer League, but that didn’t exactly turn out to be the case. While Antetokounmpo is truly a gifted athletic freak, he also plays with reckless abandon on both ends of the court.
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New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher told the New York Post that No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis reminds him of his former teammate Pau Gasol.
The biggest similarity, Fisher said, is the two big men’s character.
“I’m very reluctant to throw around a lot of comparisons before a guy has played a [preseason] game,’’ Fisher told the Post.
“But I would say the similarities are the character, that Pau’s an amazing person and Kristaps is the same type of guy in terms of a good teammate, good guy to be around, enjoys working hard and really wants to be the best … We’re very fortunate from that standing. His career will take care of itself because of those reasons.’’
Gasol, a 7-footer from Spain, was the quintessential big man in Phil Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers teams from 2008 through 2013 that captured back-to-back NBA championships in 2009 and 2010. On those teams, Gasol played center and — at times — power forward alongside Andrew Bynum.
In the triangle, Gasol fit well because of his ability to not only score but distribute the rock. In addition to being an All-Star that averaged 18.9 and 18.3 points per game in those championship seasons, respectively, Gasol consistently averaged more than three assists per game.
Porzingis’ scouting report leading into the 2015 NBA Draft suggested the 7-foot-3 big man out of Latvia could run the floor well and be a pick-and-pop stretch 4. He’s skilled offensively and can create his own shot, but also has some areas he’ll need to improve upon.
Gasol and Porzingis will never be the same exact player, hence Fisher making the comparison between the two foreign talents based on their character as opposed to their games on the court.
Gasol was a strong post player with a great mid-range jumper and was unselfish with the basketball, particularly once he moved to Los Angeles to team up with Kobe and win a handful of titles.
Porzingis, on the other hand, probably will make a living in a different sort of way. Based on the scouting reports and some early action in the NBA Summer League, the Knicks’ No. 1 draft pick is going to be an athletic scorer, one that can run the court well, throw down and also make shots anywhere from inside the paint to beyond the arc.
There has been no indication Porzingis is going to be the distributor that Gasol has been, but then again, we haven’t given him the ability to prove us wrong. He has not played in the triangle offense, so we don’t know just how high his ceiling can be.
More promising is Fisher’s comments about his intangibles because Gasol is one of the most well-regarded players in the NBA and among the best to ever hail from overseas. Thus far, to hear about a great work ethic and determination is as good as it gets.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
Such a comparison is obviously a bit premature at this point, but not unreasonable for a number four overall pick.
A ceiling as high as a player of Gasol’s caliber is what a team like the Knicks should see in a draft pick that means so much. Seeing some of Gasol in Porzingis obviously gives people an idea of why New York selected the big man. Fisher’s assertion provides hope of what could be.
Porzingis had a fantastic Summer League showing, arguably better than most could have imagined and/or expected. Defensively, he was able to muscle up against the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Julius Randle, and James Michael McAdoo. More impressively, he made it look good. Porzingis knows how how to use his length and pester opposing scorers with his long arms. At 7’3″, not leaving his feet is key to not committing fouls. He understands that well.
Offensively, he displayed a bit of versatility. Early on, he attacked opposing defenders and went to the basket. He drew fouls effectively. As the week progressed, Porzingis appeared to know how and when to adjust his game based on the matchup that presented itself. In turn, he shot relatively well from around the perimeter. If one thing was for sure, it’s that he didn’t lack any confidence at all.
It’s important to keep in mind that things should be taken with a grain of salt during Summer League. After all, a player of Porzingis’ speculated caliber should be able to dominate against fellow NBA youngsters and other fringe players. Making more of an adjustment and competing against the best the league has to offer in just a few short months may prove to be more of a transition.
But in Las Vegas, a Gasol comparison (or ceiling, rather) wasn’t out of the question following his first impression.
The Sacramento Kings could not match the New York Knicks’ two-year, $10 million offer to forward Derrick Williams earlier this month.
But it’s not because the team didn’t want to.
Kings coach George Karl was a fan of Williams, who averaged 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in just under 20 minutes per game in Sacramento last season. However, the price tag the Knicks put on Williams was out of the Kings’ range, according to the New York Post.
“It was more of fitting the finances and making the finances work,’’ Karl told the Post. “There are other pieces we wanted and we couldn’t have enough money for him.’’
“Derrick is a young player — people don’t understand he’s 24. I think he has a tremendous upside of learning. I think he’s caught between a 4 and a 3, but the triangle can be good for him. He has explosive athletic talent. He’s big, strong, can run and score. We liked him. We would’ve liked him back on our roster.’’
Williams, the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, has certainly failed to live up to the billing of his draft selection. But at 24 years old, he’s going to continue to warrant second and third chances from coaches and general managers across the NBA.
At 6-foot-8, Williams may find that the triangle works for him. That remains to be seen. But after the Knicks failed to lure any more notable names to New York, Phil Jackson had to take a bit of a gamble, and he did on Williams.
A source told The Post that Karl felt that Williams had a low basketball IQ, which doesn’t bode very well for Williams’ chances of thriving in the triangle offense. However, if Jackson met with Williams and decided to dish out $10 million to the forward, then I’d have to believe that the Zen Master had to have some sort of confidence that Williams could be a fit.
Williams will be splitting time — likely at both power forward — with No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis as well as Carmelo Anthony, as Melo and Williams will likely both see action at the No. 3 and 4 spots.
Porzingis struggles in summer loss, may sit Friday
Kristaps Porzingis was held to 12 points and the Knicks shot 21.7 percent from the floor as Golden State routed New York 76-54 in a Las Vegas summer league game Thursday.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher said he might sit Porzingis (3-for-10 from the floor) in Friday’s game, which will be the Knicks’ fifth in six days.
Jerian Grant led the Knicks with 14 points. Langston Galloway (11 points) shot a team-best 4-for-10 in the Knicks first loss after three wins in Vegas. Box score here.
Alas, Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson are on the same page.
Just days after it was reported that the New York Knicks superstar and the team president had not spoken since the start of free agency on July 1, the New York Post reported Knicks officials had been in contact with Anthony recently to gauge his feelings on the offseason.
According to the report, Anthony made it clear he “trusts Phil” and downplayed any rumors that he was unhappy with the Knicks’ free-agent additions.
The Knicks went 17-65 in 2014-15 and missed the playoffs. Anthony missed a bulk of the year due to injury and reportedly said he would waive his no-trade clause if Jackson couldn’t assemble a contender.
Oh, the drama.
Have Phil and ‘Melo spoken? Have they texted? This is all getting a lot of play and not for a good reason. The team president and top player should be in communication, but this is just trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.
There’s good reason to believe Anthony is not thrilled with the additions of Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo instead of DeAndre Jordan or LaMarcus Aldridge, but at the same time, the Knicks are seemingly better than the cast they trotted out for most of last season.
The tune could swiftly change if the play on the court suffers for much of the upcoming season. Coming off a 17-win campaign last year, it shouldn’t be too hard to make some strides. Otherwise, it will be fair to start ramping up the questions and rumors if ‘Melo is unhappy and wants out of New York.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
Players aren’t General Managers. Whereas franchises want to sometimes appease their superstars, it’s not up to stars to dictate who they play with. Such a concept (or a clear separation of roles) has been lost on the NBA in recent years.
It’s up to Phil Jackson to put together a competitive team. This wasn’t expected to be a single year turnaround, but even so, he made smart moves this offseason. He signed quality role players to intelligent and reasonable contracts. While he hasn’t been able to reel in a second superstar just yet, Jackson has certainly seemingly assembled a decent enough supporting cast for Anthony.
If Anthony isn’t able to lead this team and at least ensure they compete for a lower playoff seed (which should be relatively in the Eastern Conference), perhaps the blame should be more so placed on his shoulders. What does it say about Anthony as a leader and a dominant offensive player, if he isn’t able to compete with the team as constructed?
Jackson’s job isn’t finished by any means, but the building blocks have been put in place. The thirteen-time NBA champion has said that the Knicks will need to create a winning culture if they truly want to attract even more desirable players in the future.
If they can’t do so, Anthony may have to look in the mirror, instead of Jackson.
Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton discuss the Summer League so far, including the impressive play of Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant. Plus, the guys debate what Melo’s pivotal moment has been in a Knicks uniform, and his relationship with president Phil Jackson.
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