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.