Tag: Sacramento Kings

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson says Knicks need to be competitive before big-name free agents will consider them as a destination


The Knicks didn’t make any splashes this offseason in free agency, at least in terms of adding a big-name talent to the roster.

But the moves they did make are the kind that can build a foundation.

This summer was Phil Jackson’s first chance to make a real impact in re-shaping the New York roster, a process that begun at last season’s trade deadline when he jettisoned multiple players and essentially tanked the remainder of the season to get a high lottery pick in this summer’s draft.

In free agency, the Knicks focused on adding lesser pieces, rather than chasing guys who would be unlikely to sign. And as Phil Jackson explained, that was the necessary path to take when looking to rebuild almost from scratch.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com:

Team president Phil Jackson believes the New York Knicks must prove they can be a winning franchise before they can be considered a destination for the NBA’s premier free agents.

“We need to win, be a competitive team,” Jackson said Monday at the Las Vegas Summer League in his first public comments since the Knicks signed center Robin Lopez, shooting guard Arron Afflalo, and forwards Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn in free agency. “I think we showed agents and players around the league a serious nature of what we’re trying to accomplish. People who know basketball will recognize that, and we’ll have people who want to come here.” …

“We made a defensive attempt in free agency to really kind of solidify our team and give ourselves a basis from which we can work from,” Jackson said. “I think everything went according to how we thought it would go. There were some long shots out there that we took, but the reality was, we wanted what we got.

The Lakers might want to pay attention here.

The reality in today’s NBA is that All-Star caliber players are no longer willing to sign up to play in large markets like New York or Los Angeles simply because they’re desirable cities in which to live. Winning matters, especially when the money can be similar at so many different destinations.

This will become even more true in advance of the 2016-17 season, when the salary cap will spike upwards of 30 percent, and literally every team will have money to spend.

Jackson has done a good job making the necessary moves that can provide a significant increase to the team’s win total from last season. And if things go as expected, that will go a long way in making New York an exciting place for free agents to realistically consider — possibly as soon as next summer.

News, Notes from Summer League Monday: Lakers fans boo their team


LAS VEGAS — Monday in Las Vegas and nothing has slowed down — this is Vegas, baby. 

There was a full slate of games at the NBA Summer League, and the effort was still there, with players trying to make teams, impress scouts, and put on a show. Here is some of what we saw (notes are from Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin).

• Lakers fans again filled the Thomas & Mack to see their young stars, but this time they booed them after a brutal first quarter — the Lakers had more turnovers than points (seven to five) and shot 2-of-17, trailing the Knicks by 15 after one. The Lakers got back into it and made it interesting in the end, but their Summer League team largely remains the Jordan Clarkson show. (KH)

The Lakers have potential but a long way to go, look for more on the Lakers tomorrow on PBT.

• Kings coach George Karl spoke with the media Monday and in between questions about if he and DeMarcus Cousins were going to hang out at Tao together in Vegas (or at least talk), he was asked about how former King Derrick Williams was going to fit with the Knicks, where he signed this summer.

“Derrick’s a young player, I don’t think people realize he’s only 24-years-old and I think he has a tremendous upside of learning,” Karl said. “I think he’s been caught between a four and three as what he is, but the triangle could be good for him. He has explosive athletic talent, he’s big, strong, he can run, he can score. We liked him, we would have liked him back on our roster, but it didn’t work out.” (KH)

• Speaking of young talent on the Knicks, I loved what I saw from Jerian Grant, the Knicks draft pick out of Notre Dame. He is a fantastic passer, he’s smart with the ball in transition, he’s got impressive court vision, plus he is patient with the ball. He is a leader on the court. He’s not going to be a star, but he can give the Knicks quality minutes this year. (KH)

• As for Kristaps Porzingis, he lived up to the scouting report — both good and bad. At times he looked raw, unsure of himself, and like the game was moving a little fast for him. Then he’d make a play — like putting the ball on the floor when a defender closed out on his corner three, driving to about 6 feet, drawing the foul and banking in the shot — where you also see the potential. He made some good passes and smart plays. He’s a project, but there is a world of potential there. (KH)

• George Karl also talked about the Kings’ No. 6 pick, Willie Cauley-Stein:

“Willie is a young athlete who could use a few days where our veterans are going to tell him how to play and what he’s got to do.” (KH)

• Things you will love in the regular season: The shimmy inRondae Hollis-Jefferson’s free throw stroke. (KH)

• There was a game-tying shot worth seeing from Cleveland’s Sir Dominic Pointer Monday (the defense on this play is vintage Summer League).

• Seth Curry has never been able to stick in theNBA, but put him in the free-flowing (read: like pick-up) games of Summer League and he can fill it up. Like a relative of his, he can use his dribble to create space, and he gets his shot off quickly. Monday he put up 20 points on the Nets, showed three-point range and he had a 53 true shooting percentage. (KH)

• One Nets’ note, Austin Hollins may be the coach’s son but he belongs. At the Summer League level, not sure beyond that, but the guy should get paid to play somewhere overseas. He had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting on Monday against the Pelicans. (KH)

Rajon Rondo on coming to Sacramento: “I just love to prove people wrong”

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game Two

LAS VEGAS — It didn’t end well for Rajon Rondo in Dallas. Finally, the organization had him just start to stay away from the rest of the team — in the middle of a playoff series.

Monday was a new day. Rondo was onboard a charter plane that brought the heart of the Kings on the court — Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, Marco Belinelli and others — as well as GM Vlade Divac to Las Vegas to watch just drafted rookie Willie Cauley-Stein. It was very public team bonding (to be followed by some not so public bonding through the night in Vegas).

Rondo likes what he sees in Sacramento.

“I’m excited that everybody’s doubting us,” Rondo said. “All the negative things that are going toward Sacramento as far as me coming — and the Cousins and George Karl thing — I think there’s been a lot of naysayers, a lot of doubters my entire career. And I just love to prove people wrong.”

Rondo was in a very positive space Monday. He told PBT his right knee — which had the ACL surgery — is good, and he can’t even really tell which leg had the surgery anymore.

He was even positive about his experience with the Mavericks, where he was traded last season from Boston.

“It was a learning experience,” Rondo said. “It was a great experience I had. I met one of my best friends now in Monta Ellis, I wouldn’t have met Monta if I hadn’t been traded there. Dirk (Nowitzki) is one of the funniest guys I’ve met. I gained a lot of great relationships….

“I can’t say enough about that organization, it was a great organization. (Mark) Cuban from day one was very honest with me.”

It’s one thing to have a challenge-the-narrative, everything is cool moment in Vegas in July.  It’s another to carry all this positivity into the season — and then forge relationships that work amongst a lot of strong-willed people.

Karl has coached some great point guards — and strong willed ones — in his career, guys like Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups. Rondo will be another one of those.

“He’s going to challenge us as coaches, because I think he knows the game and he’ll have some things, we’ll probably some give and take on,” Karl said. “But this kid’s an All-Star, he’s a triple-double machine when he’s playing well. He likes to lead teams, he leads teams with a spirit that has some toughness to it.

“He’s a pass-first point guard, which I think is important. In the end, he and Darren (Collison) really excite me. We’re going to have two guys who can take control of the team, play together, and keep the pace of the game where we can play with a lot of freedom and creativity, and also play without turnovers….

“I think he wants to lead our team, but he also wants to be a part of the decision making. That can be somewhat combustable, but that also can work at a high level.”

Rondo said he and Karl have talked a little about the role he will play.

“I think the point guard is extremely important in George’s system,” Rondo said. “George and I always have to be on the same page, and if we communicate every day, we will be….

“Things happen in life, you learn from them, you go on. But to have the opportunity to be somewhere you want to be, and they welcome you as well, I think it’s a great fit. So far. We haven’t played any games, coach Karl hasn’t kicked me out of any practices yet, so we will see how it goes.”

It all sounds good. On paper in July. And if everything comes together for the Kings, they have the talent to surprise a lot of people in the West. But most people will be watching this team expecting the train wreck.

Rondo will have to prove everyone wrong again.


George Karl on DeMarcus Cousins: “We’ve got a lot of time to get back on the same page”

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings

LAS VEGAS — That’s it right there. George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins finally met and shook hands.

That Vine is also the extent of the meeting. It didn’t last long.

But Kings’ coach George Karl — who Cousins has tweeted is a snake in the grass (via emoji) after it was reported Karl was pushing to trade Cousins — sounded like a veteran coach who is not worried about repairing that relationship, or what is said in July.

“We’ve got a lot of time to get back on the same page,” Karl said just after the Kings played in Las Vegas Monday. “Summer talk is summer drama. I’ve always thought it’s hype, and so much of it is untrue. I’m not going to get into it, but Cuz and I have to work together to get back together. And I think we will.”

Cousins has power here. His biggest supporter is the owner, and when Cousins walked in the arena Sunday with GM Vlade Divac he got a standing ovation from Kings fans. Karl realizes that this is a relationship he has to make work. He emphasized what he has before, that it is about commitment.

“All our guys are hungry for winning, but Cuz is our best player, most talented kid,” Karl said. “We need him to feel like there’s a commitment from both sides. He to us and us to him.”

Karl has a locker room of strong-willed players he needs to navigate this year — Rajon Rondo, Cousins, and Rudy Gay among them. But he noted that in the past he has coached Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Allen Iverson, and Chauncey Billups. And he likes the challenge Rondo will provide.

“He’s a very basketball high IQ guy,” Karl said. “He’s going to challenge us as coaches, because I think he knows the game and he’ll have some things, we’ll probably some give and take on. But this kid’s an All-Star, he’s a triple-double machine when he’s playing well. He likes to lead teams, he leads teams with a spirit that has some toughness to it.

“He’s a pass-first point guard, which I think is important. In the end, he and Darren (Collison) really excite me. We’re going to have two guys who can take control of the team, play together, and keep the pace of the game where we can play with a lot of freedom and creativity, and also play without turnovers…

“I think it’s going to be fun coaching (Rondo). I think he wants to lead our team, but he also wants to be a part of the decision making. That can be somewhat combustible, but that also can work at a high level.”

That may sum up the Kings this year. It’s a combustible combination, but if they come together they could surprise a lot of people.

We’ll see how good Karl is at chemistry. But that grade is not handed out in July.

News, Notes from a Summer League Sunday: Kings fans are going to love Willie Cauley-Stein


LAS VEGAS — The PBT team is in Sin City for NBA Summer League and it is an ever-growing event — two games going on at a time, coaches and GMs chatting, guys nobody really knows making a name for themselves, and plenty of just random sightings and happenings.

Here’s some of what you missed by not being in Las Vegas before the thermometer hit 100. (Notes come from Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin.)

• Kings fans, you should be happy, there’s a lot to like with Willie Cauley-Stein. He’s a bit raw, but you can see real potential. With his length, he’s disruptive in the paint. But he not just long and athletic, he anticipates well on defense, he plays a pretty smart game on that end. Plus he just hustles. On one play he had a block on one end, then sprinted to the other end and kept Nikola Jokic off his spot in the post. He doesn’t have much range on offense (and his post ups are not things of beauty), but he uses that athleticism to finish fairly well at the rim and had 15 points on 13 shots. (KH)

• When DeMarcus Cousins walked in the arena (with GM Vlade Divac) to watch the Kings play, the healthy number of Kings fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation. George Karl should note where the fan allegiances lie. (KH)

• Former No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet is playing for the D-League Select squad in this year’s Summer League, and he unlocked the ultra-rare “get ejected from a Summer League game” achievement. (SH)

• After his outstanding Bulls Summer League debut on Saturday, Bobby Portis had a letdown in Sunday’s loss to the Raptors. He shot 1-for-10 from the field and generally looked overmatched. “I’m not worried about Bobby,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said afterwards. “He’s 6-foot-10 and has an outstanding motor.” With a loaded frontcourt, the Bulls can afford to bring Portis along slowly, but there have been flashes of his versatility at times in Summer League. (SH)

• Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay skipped college to play a year in China professionally. Would he recommend that for other players?

“That’s on your parents, man,” Mudiay said. He added it really depends on the guy and what they want to accomplish, where they are as a person and with their family. “It helped me, it benefitted me as a player, but for a big man it’s probably different,” adding that Europe may be better for bigs than China.

Be sure to check out PBT tomorrow for more from Mudiay. (KH)

• Check out the Spurs’ Jonathan Simmons putting on a show.

• Among those looking impressive for Denver was second-round pick Nikola Jokic, who had 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks in 23 minutes. He showed some shooting range out to the three-point line and he moved well for a big man. He’s someone to keep an eye on, he needs to develop, but he is interesting. (KH)

• Celtics first-round pick and point guard Terry Rozier knows how to attack and he put up an impressive line — 22 points on 9 shots. He got to the line 13 times and knocked down 12. He also dished out five assists. (KH)