Author: Brett Pollakoff

New York Knicks Draft Picks Press Conference

Phil Jackson says scout told him it was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to draft Kristaps Porzingis


The Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, and plenty of fans were less than pleased with New York’s chosen direction.

Carmelo Anthony was reportedly among those decrying the pick, and it seems as though most Knicks fans would have preferred a household name from the college ranks rather than an international prospect whom the masses have seen play exclusively via grainy YouTube clips.

Phil Jackson, however, is charged with doing what’s best for the long-term health of the franchise in his role as president of basketball operations. And he trusted a long-time adviser’s somewhat strong opinion before making this critical selection.

From Ohm Youngmisuk of

“When someone says to me [that] this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I have to be alert,” Jackson said of what Knicks basketball adviser Clarence Gaines Jr. told him and how Porzingis eventually became a Knick. “And [I have to] consider that after he’s been in this business for as long as he has, I think he has as good of an eye as he has on talent.”

Quite frankly, those who are dismissing what Porzingis may bring to the professional level at this early stage are being jingoistic at best, and racist at worst.

It’s foolish and ignorant to equate Porzingis with someone like Darko Milicic just because they both played overseas before becoming high-lottery picks. Each player should be judged on his own merit, and Porzingis has a unique skill set and demeanor that could very well help him succeed in the NBA, where his European counterparts may have failed in the past.

One interesting thing to note where Porzingis is concerned is his strong grasp of the English language. He’s fluent in American English with barely a hint of an accent, and while that shouldn’t matter in terms of how people perceive him as a basketball player, once Knicks fans hear him in interviews and see what he’s able to provide offensively, those boos should turn to cheers far sooner than is perhaps being expected.

Report: Brook Lopez declines player option with Nets, becomes unrestricted free agent

Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez had a player option on his contract with the Nets to remain with the team on a deal that would have paid him in excess of $16.7 million for next season.

“Had” is the operative word, because Lopez has declined the final year of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

After Brook Lopez opted out of contract today, the Nets remain a strong frontrunner to re-sign him, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Lopez has dealt with significant injuries in two of his last four seasons, so declining a one-year deal for a longer, more lucrative one that provides some long-term financial security makes plenty of sense.

Should he be interested in pursuing other opportunities, plenty of teams would come calling. When healthy, Lopez is a more-than-solid big man option, especially offensively. He averaged 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in 29.2 minutes per game in Brooklyn last season.

Report: Rift exists between DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul; Jordan to visit with Lakers, Mavs, Bucks, Knicks in free agency

DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul

DeAndre Jordan led the league in rebounding and field goal percentage last season, and was a key component of a Clippers starting lineup that was good enough to lead the league in offensive efficiency.

Jordan anchored the defense, too, and his two-way skill set (free throws aside) is what makes him so valuable in Los Angeles.

He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while Doc Rivers has made it clear that the Clippers will offer him the five-year max contract that no one else can to re-sign, Jordan has made it known that he’ll look around in free agency, just to see if a better situation may catch his eye.

Now, we may have an indication as to the reason why.

From Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The season ended with Rivers denying reports Jordan and Chris Paul had a beef with each other.

But other NBA officials not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said there indeed is a rift between Jordan and Paul.

The officials said Jordan wants to be more involved in the offense and wants to be an All-Star, and he’s not sure whether those things can happen on the Clippers with All-Stars Paul and Blake Griffin.

Paul is one of the game’s most fiery competitors, on par with Kobe Bryant in terms of his on-court intensity and his ability to push teammates to extremes behind the scenes.

This is a quality you want in one of your team’s leaders as a fan, but as a teammate who doesn’t possess quite that same level of intensity, the constant grind can wear thin over the 82-game regular season.

That may be one reason Jordan is considering his options, which are expected to include meetings with the Lakers, Mavericks, Knicks and Bucks once the July 1 free agency period is upon us. But he can make the most money by re-upping in Los Angeles, if he believes he can co-exist with Paul for the foreseeable future.

Lakers’ selection of D’Angelo Russell with No. 2 pick in NBA Draft causes chaos for Sixers, Knicks

2015 NBA Draft

NEW YORK — In the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, the expectation was that Karl-Anthony Towns would go number one overall to the Timberwolves, and that Jahlil Okafor was too talented for the Lakers to pass up at two.

But even if Okafor does eventually evolve into the once in a generation post player that some project, L.A. is in the business of attempting to win now. And with its eyes on landing someone like LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love in free agency, or a disgruntled talent like DeMarcus Cousins in trade from a dysfunctional organization, that bevy of big man options was enough to send the Lakers looking in another direction.

D’Angelo Russell got the call, a 6’5″ point guard who can shoot the three and has as good a chance as anyone in this class of becoming a real star. And once he did, that threw a fairly large wrench into the plans of the Sixers at three, and the domino effect could have been strong enough to remove some very real options the Knicks may have had at four.

“I didn’t know at all, man,” Russell said, when asked if he had any advance notice that he’d be heading to Los Angeles. “I’m still in shock.”

That might be too strong a word to describe the feeling in the war room of the Philadelphia 76ers, but they had to at least be a little bit surprised. Having Okafor still on the board made the choice for Sam Hinkie and company easy, because taking the best available player, regardless of need, is the team’s currently prevailing philosophy.

But the rebuilding Sixers now have a logjam of talented frontcourt players, all of whom would seem to need a healthy dose of minutes in order to speed their development. Nerlens Noel averaged 30.8 minutes per game last season, and Okafor would like to see in the neighborhood of the same. But there’s Joel Embiid to consider, provided the setback he’s experienced with his foot injury doesn’t force him to miss some or all of a second consecutive season.

“Joel Embiid texted me last night and said, ‘See you in Philly,'” Okafor said. “He kind of jinxed me.”

Okafor has said all along that he wasn’t concerned with whether or not he might fall from one of the top two spots on draft night, and reiterated that stance after his fate became known.

“I wasn’t shocked,” Okafor said of ending up with the Sixers. “I knew I was going to be going to the NBA tonight. I was going to be a top-five pick no matter what happened, so I wasn’t shocked.”

Philadelphia needed to grab a guard here, after dealing a reigning Rookie of the Year in Michael Carter-Williams in part because he simply couldn’t shoot. With a seemingly sure thing in Russell now gone, however, and with Emmanuel Mudiay perhaps feeling like too big of a risk, the Sixers are now forced to try to make it work with three potentially franchise-changing big men, perhaps all at the same time.

“It’s not my job to figure it out,” Okafor said. “I’ll just go there and work as hard as I can.”

Similar words were spoken by Kristaps Porzingis, the international seven-footer with the sweet shooting stroke who was mercilessly booed after being selected by the Knicks.

“I mean, a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me, but I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans,” Porzingis said. “For me it’s an honor to be a part of this organization, and I just can’t wait to let the season start and just get to work.”

Porzingis may vey well have ended up in New York because of L.A.’s unexpected choice. Phil Jackson told reporters that he had offers from other teams, but they were all contingent on how the first three picks played out. Had Okafor been gone as had been projected, the Sixers may very well have gone with Porzingis at three if they believed he was the best player left on the board — a possibility which had been previously reported, and one which could have unlocked all kinds of attractive offers for the Knicks.

The result, instead, is chaos in Philadelphia, and uncertainty in New York — all thanks to D’Angelo Russell landing in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis No. 4 in NBA Draft, and fans in attendance were not at all pleased (VIDEO)


NEW YORK — The players selected with the first three picks of the NBA Draft were the ones expected, even if D’Angelo Russell overtook Jahlil Okafor, and ended up going to the Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick.

Karl-Anthony Towns went one to the Timberwolves, which meant that with the early lack of surprises, the Knicks should have had a pretty solid plan as to which way they’d go with the fourth overall selection already in place.

But things remain fluid on draft night, so New York listened to offers to trade down.

Phil Jackson told reporters that he had conversations with other teams, but that any potential offers were contingent on how the first three picks played out.

Since nothing concrete transpired, the Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis at four — and despite the fact that more than one scout has projected him to be the best player in this draft class once all is said and done, the Knicks fans in attendance at Barclays Center were, somewhat predictably, less than pleased.

“I mean, a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me,” Porzingis said afterward. “But I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans.

“There’s nothing I can do,” he continued. “I was happy about it. I want to be a part of this organization, and I know the fans are a little harsh sometimes, but that’s how they are here in New York, and I’m ready for it.”