Kurt Helin

porzingis

No rest for Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks’ rookie working to add weight, sharpen game

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Kristaps Porzingis impressed at Summer League in Las Vegas — he looked like he belonged among the top bigs such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor. Porzingis averaged just more than 10 touches a game at Summer League and was efficient, scoring 1.024 points per possession (better than Towns or Okafor). Porzingis showed a high basketball IQ, good passing skills, the ability to play inside, and his defense was better than advertised.

But he was also clearly a project — he’s very thin and very raw.

So he’s in New York now working on adding weight and sharpening his game. You still have to love his attitude in what he told Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“I’m in between happy and my normal calm,’’ Porzingis told The Post. “I’m not thinking: ‘I did good in summer league — now I’m going to do good in the NBA.’ Our training camp will start later and I have to prove myself once again, play as hard as I can and earn my minutes. That was just summer league — a few games to see how I compare to other rookies and get a taste of American basketball.’’

 

He took a little vacation back home to Latvia after Summer League but is now back working out at the Knicks facility.

“At home I was working out with my brother [Janis] a little bit, lifting weights, going to the gym, getting shots up, but I just wanted to relax a bit,’’ Porzingis said. “Once I’m here full time now, I can just concentrate on eating a lot, lifting a lot and getting stronger…

“I thought I would go home and rest, but it was all interviews, media stuff,’’ he said. “A lot of interest back home, too, kind of intense. Just the last few days I went to the beach.’’

 

Knicks fans shouldn’t expect too much out of Porzingis his rookie year — looking good at Summer League and looking good in an NBA game are two very different things. He’s got to add muscle, and that will take time. Plus just adjusting to the length and athleticism of NBA players, plus learning where he fits in the triangle, will be a process. 

But you can see the potential. Knicks coach Derek Fisher did.

“Just how it complements so many different players and situations,” Fisher said in Las Vegas. “I think defensively he complements guys because of his length and his rim protection. He’s pretty active and can guard multiple guys. I think offensively because of his ability to stretch the floor and do some things around the basket as well. I think he’s a player that fits with just about any lineup, no matter how you’re trying to play. So I think that versatility has been obvious during Summer League.”

Under Armour to be presenting sponsor of NBA Draft Combine, expand role within league

2015 NBA Finals - Game Three
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Under Armour got its foot in the door with the NBA.

The company has wanted to expand its role with the league — most notably it has a shoe deal with Stephen Curry — but weren’t a lot of opportunities, especially after Nike outbid everyone to take over making the official NBA jerseys and apparel starting in 2017 (Adidas does it now). Samsung is the naming sponsor for Summer League. What was left?

The NBA Draft Combine.

Which will be the Under Armour NBA Draft Combine starting in 2018, the league and Under Armour announced Monday. The company will be allowed to develop and market apparel based on the combine as part of this deal. Also, the shoe company will help market and grow the Jr. NBA, the league’s youth basketball program.

The NBA combine is not a huge marketing event (unlike the NFL version). However, now before guys get to put on an NBA jersey, they are going to put on Under Armour gear.

For the NBA, this is an opportunity to grow their youth program and introduce a new NBA Fit app, which will be tied in with Under Armour’s Connected Fitness devices and products.

“We’re proud to expand our partnership with the NBA and continue our shared commitment to help basketball players everywhere realize their potential, on and off the court,” Adam Peake, Executive Vice President of Under Armour said in a statement.  “The new elements of our partnership will allow Under Armour to leverage our leadership in athletic performance innovation and Connected Fitness to foster the worldwide growth of basketball.”

“Under Armour and the NBA share a commitment to basketball, fitness, and healthy living,” Emilio Collins, NBA Executive Vice President, Global Marketing Partnerships, said in a statement.  “Together we have a unique opportunity to teach the values of the game to millions of kids through the Jr. NBA program, and to give our fans the latest information on exercise and wellness through the NBA FIT app.”

It’s a good effort by Under Armour — there simply were not many options to get an expanded role with the NBA, and certainly not where they could make apparel. But they found one.

They got their foot farther in the door.

DeMar DeRozan dunks all over James Harden at Drew League (VIDEO)

James Harden, DeMar DeRozan
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The Drew League playoffs have been going on in Los Angeles and some NBA stars have rolled out for the fun, including LA natives James Harden and DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan got the best of this play, video via the fantastic Jared Zwerling. We can debate if Harden was dunked on here, he tries to block the pass, but his back is to the shot. Personally, I say he was still in the poster.

Here it is from another angle.

Harden’s revenge was that his team won the game and the Drew League title. Well, that and he’s got the better beard. And is about to get PAID.

 

Lakers to work out Bobby Brown, Toure Murry, others

Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks
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As you read this, the Lakers have 12 guaranteed contracts in place for the upcoming season. Then there are a couple non-guaranteed deals from guys who could, maybe even are likely to make the final roster in Tarik Black and Jabari Brown.

But Los Angeles is still looking for guys to get training camp invites and prove they belong in the final 14 (or 15, but most teams leave that last roster spot open for flexibility in trades or due to injury).

The Lakers are bringing in a few interesting names for workouts, reports Marc Stein of ESPN and Dave Pick.

A workout means just that — the Lakers are going to take a look at these guys and decide if they want to invite any of them to training camp in Hawaii. If these guys can get that far (certainly no guarantee, most will not), the Lakers will probably have 18 guys at camp (give or take a couple) and that number will be cut down to 14 or 15 when the season opens.

Meaning there is almost no chance any of these guys are on the opening day roster. But they are going to get their chance.

Michael Jordan says in his prime he could have beaten LeBron James at one-on-one “no question”

Miami Heat v Charlotte Bobcats - Game Four
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If you know even the slightest thing about Michael Jordan, you knew the answer before he said it.

Jordan was doing a Q&A at the Michael Jordan Flight School in Santa Barbara, CA, and was asked (and he repeated the question), “If I was in my prime, could I beat LeBron in a one-on-one game?” He called it an “ESPN question” and then, after a short pause, gave the answer everyone knew was coming:

“No question.”

He’s said this before. He said the same thing about Kobe Bryant. It wouldn’t matter if he were asked about Stephen Curry or Larry Bird or one of the Monstars from Space Jam, there is always only going to be one answer from Jordan — he is ultra competitive and he believes he is the best that ever was.source: AP

LeBron’s comment last time it came up: “I’ve thought about the matchup but no one will ever see it.”

Fans have thought about it, too — a ridiculous number think Jordan would win if they play right now. This is something people get in fights over. Obviously, we will never know the answer, but get on your bar stool and go ahead and debate it in the comments.

Jordan answers questions for about six minutes on this video about the biggest trash talkers he played against (Larry Bird), could the all-time Bulls beat the all-time Lakers (of course he thinks Bulls), and he said he’d take Dean Smith over Phil Jackson. But nothing he says is surprising or out of character. It’s just Jordan being Jordan.