Dan Feldman

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 25:  Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks reacts during the game against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on December 25, 2016 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Report: Scout says Knicks overstressing Kristaps Porzingis’ growing body

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Kristaps Porzingis has missed the Knicks’ last three games.

In the New York spotlight, that invites urgent reaction.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

With Kristaps Porzingis developing Achilles soreness last week, one NBA scout with European connections believes Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek is overextending the 21-year-old Latvian, saying, “It’s worrisome.’’

“He’s just turned 21,’’ said the NBA scout, who has worked for multiple teams. “They’re draining Kristaps, putting more minutes on him than anyone. Physically he grew in the offseason. It’s a tremendous amount of strain on new material — ligaments, tendons, knee joints for a big guy. It’s unbelievable stress on his body.’’

“At this stage, they’re asking for it,’’ the scout said. “They’re shooting themselves in the foot. The problem is Jeff has to win and has to go with everything he’s got to win.’’

Does this scout have specific insight into Porzingis’ health? Or is the scout just making assumptions from afar? The possibility of the former makes this intriguing, though there’s no evidence provided of that – just his position inside the league.

Porzingis is averaging 34.8 minutes per game, up from 28.4 last season, when he hit a wall late in the year. Maybe this is too much too soon. Karl-Anthony Towns is the only other player so young playing so many minutes per game this season, and Towns, also a second-year player, entered the NBA more physically developed.

But Giannis Antetokounmpo and Andrew Wiggins also did it last season, and both were also growing into their bodies. Antetokounmpo is having a breakout year, and Wiggins remains healthy.

There’s no catch-all formula that applies to every player.

Porzingis is particularly tricky, because he’s already the Knicks’ best player on a team – with Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee – built to win on Carmelo Anthony‘s timeline. This isn’t a Hornacek thing. Teams win by using their best players more.

Hornacek is showing concern for Porzingis’ health. At least that’s the favorable reading of Hornacek refusing to play Porzingis at center – Porzingis’ best position, but also the one that takes the greatest physical toll.

The Knicks should be mindful of long-term injury to their franchise player. But they should also be mindful of winning, and a heavy load for Porzingis is their best chance of accomplishing that. I don’t envy them having to find the right balance.

Andre Roberson gets Patrick Beverley on chase-down block, wags finger (video)

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Thunder wing Andre Roberson is pushing for an All-Defensive team, and this block of Patrick Beverly – a player Roberson could be competing with if he qualifies at guard – will help his case.

He’ll just have to pay Dikembe Mutombo royalties for that finger wag.

Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge dunk on Nikola Jokic (videos)

San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge, right, drives to the rim as Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic, of Serbia, defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Denver. The Spurs won 127-99. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Nikola is a very nice player, but he’s not much of a rim protector.

LaMarcus Aldridge took advantage:

Then, Kawhi Leonard had his turn in the Spurs’ 127-99 win over the Nuggets last night:

George Karl: One owner called his coach during games to promote tanking

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 28:  Head coach George Karl of the Sacramento Kings stands on the side of the court during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on December 28, 2015 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver has repeatedly denied tanking occurs in his league, even saying, “If there was any indication whatsoever that players or coaches somehow were not doing their absolute most to win a game, we would be all over that. But I don’t believe for a second that’s what’s going on.”

Does tanking happen in the NBA?

It depends on your definition.

If a coach rests his top players and would have used them if there weren’t incentive to finish with a worse record, is that tanking? If a coach gives larger roles to unproven young players to a degree he wouldn’t if there weren’t incentive to finish with a worse record, is that tanking? If a coach experiments with weird lineups he wouldn’t use if there weren’t incentive to finish with a worse record, is that tanking? If players see all this chaos and mail in their effort, is that tanking?

What about this?

Former Kings/Nuggets/Bucks/Sonics/Warriors/Cavaliers coach George Karl in “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection:”

Don’t believe it when teams say they don’t lose on purpose to improve their draft position. It happens every year. I know of a Western Conference owner who called his coach during games to remind him to keep an end-of-season losing streak alive.

Bryan Colangelo admitted to tanking while Raptors general manager. The owner Karl mentions was clearly tanking.

But there’s no evidence the coach followed through, and Silver’s definition refers to only coaches and players. So, I guess everything is OK.

Report: George Karl described Kings owner Vivek Ranadive as overachieving immigrant who believes instincts are infallible

George Karl
AP
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George Karl reportedly removed the most of the Kings portion from his new book after he and Sacramento, which fired him as coach, reached a contract settlement.

But some of his thoughts on the Kings – including owner Vivek Ranadive and star DeMarcus Cousins – are leaking.

Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports 1140:

Only one NBA owner earned his fortune through basketball – Michael Jordan. And Jordan struggled running a team for years precisely because he thought his instincts were infallible. Even Jordan’s on-court excellence didn’t directly translate to management and ownership. Jordan had to learn how to do his new job.

This is a problem with so many rich people, that they believe their (or their family’s) success in a particular field at a particular time prepares them to thrive in every situation. It’s something nearly all, or maybe even all, NBA owners deal with, whether they know it or not.

That Karl links it to the Indian-born Ranadive being an immigrant is off-putting, at best. It also shouldn’t be tremendously surprising given that Karl judged Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith based on stereotypes before even meeting them.

To be fair, perhaps Karl’s statements would look different in context – and maybe we’ll eventually find out.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

Though an early draft detailing Karl’s brief tenure with the Kings was released to several outlets, the book includes less than two pages about his experiences in Sacramento. His plan is to dissect his troubled relationship with DeMarcus Cousins, his disappointment in general manager Vlade Divac, and his outright disdain for principal owner Vivek Ranadive in an updated version when his contract expires.

If that happens, bet that those who worked with Karl on the Kings will react similarly to the former Nuggets who lashed out at their old coach .

Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee:

Karl’s issues with DeMarcus Cousins were well documented, but what many didn’t see was how the rest of the players and others in the organization were irked by Karl or how his perceived arrogance made team employees feel he was belittling them.

Players bonded with assistant coaches, but the chasm between the roster and Karl was evident.

Karl’s candor with the media rankled players, especially when they believed Karl was loose with the facts. Never mind Rudy Gay being upset with being called overweight, how do you think the training staff that worked with him reacted to hearing that, feeling Gay was not overweight?

Singling out quiet players who were reluctant to fire back was another concern, such as comparing former King Derrick Williams to a vending machine.

“Why does he have to be such a (jerk)?” one player asked after hearing some of Karl’s comments last season.