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Report: Knicks letting go Kristaps Porzingis’ favorite assistant coach

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There’s a rift between Knicks president Phil Jackson and Kristaps Porzingis.

Porzingis skipped his exit interview in reported protest of the team’s dysfunction. This sure feels like retaliation from Jackson.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

The New York Knicks are not renewing the contract of assistant coach Josh Longstaff, according to a team official.

Longstaff, 34, was well-respected in the Knicks’ locker room, so the decision will likely come as a surprise to players.

Players such as Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Ron Baker, Chasson Randle, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Marshall Plumlee credited Longstaff and fellow assistant Dave Bliss with helping them with individual development. He played the same role in the development of Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway.

Longstaff was the assistant coach who was closest to Porzingis.

It’s hard to evaluate assistant coaches from the outside, and Longstaff wasn’t hired by Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. There could be sound reasons to let Longstaff go.

But most of those players developed well under his tutelage. There’s plenty of circumstantial evidence he did his job well.

The Knicks can’t reasonably trade Porzingis, who’s one of the few bright spots on Jackson’s record. Without Porzingis, Jackson’s already-shoddy reputation as an executive would be completely shot.

So, this feels like a measured response by Jackson – a message that he can hurt Porzingis without resorting to dealing him from New York, where Porzingis says he wants to be. Follow orders, or your Knicks experience will become even worse.

Of course, that might not have been the Knicks’ intent when dropping Longstaff. But they’ll have to convince Porzingis if they want to repair their relationship with him.

Magic Johnson, Joel Embiid, Walt Frazier among on-stage lottery representatives

AP Photo/Nick Ut
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The Lakers have so much riding on tomorrow’s lottery. If they land a top-three pick, they keep it. Fall out of the top three, their first-rounder goes to the 76ers – and their 2019 first-rounder goes to the Magic. The odds are slightly against the Lakers, but it’s close to a coin flip.

Who better to ride out the high-stakes drama than the ever-smooth Magic Johnson?

The Lakers president is among the on-stage representatives. The full list released by the NBA:

  • Boston – Wyc Grousbeck
  • Charlotte – Rich Cho
  • Dallas – Michael Finley
  • Denver – Gary Harris
  • Detroit – Jeff Bower
  • Lakers – Magic Johnson
  • Miami – Alonzo Mourning
  • Minnesota – Andrew Wiggins
  • New Orleans – Alvin Gentry
  • New York – Walt Frazier
  • Orlando – Frank Vogel
  • Philadelphia – Joel Embiid
  • Phoenix – Devin Booker
  • Sacramento – Dave Joerger

It’s all a little silly. None of these people have any control over the lottery, which occurs beforehand backstage anyway.

But it’s always fun to watch them squirm and celebrate as the results are announced.

2017 NBA draft lottery odds, visualized

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The Celtics are the most likely team to land the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

They’re also more likely to select fourth.

The NBA will hold its annual lottery tomorrow, a process for assigning the top three picks in the upcoming draft. Non-playoff teams are assigned four-number combinations, the number of combinations weighted inversely by standings. Then, four of 14 ping-pong balls are randomly drawn. Whichever team has its combination drawn is assigned the first pick. The process is repeated for picks two and three, and every other team is then slotted after in reverse order of record.

But just how likely is each team to land each pick? The calculations are complicated by a few trades:

  • Celtics swap first-round picks with Nets
  • 76ers receive Lakers’ first-round pick if it falls outside top three
  • 76ers can swap first-round picks with Kings
  • Kings receive Pelicans’ first-round pick if it falls outside top three
  • Bulls receive Kings’ first-round pick if it falls outside top 10

Thankfully, a couple people smarter than me – Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren and director of basketball analytics David Sparks – determined the actual odds. I turned those into these hopefully handy charts.

Only picks that a team could possibly get are displayed. If a team has a “0.0%” chance listed for a certain pick, it means landing the pick is possible but the odds are less than 0.05% and rounded down.

Boston Celtics

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Phoenix Suns

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Los Angeles Lakers

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Philadelphia 76ers

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Orlando Magic

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Minnesota Timberwolves

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New York Knicks

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Sacramento Kings

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Dallas Mavericks

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New Orleans Pelicans

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Charlotte Hornets

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Detroit Pistons

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Denver Nuggets

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Miami Heat

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Chicago Bulls

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Report: Kings deny interest in Milos Teodosic

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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There was a report the Kings were interested in Milos Teodosic, which made sense considering Sacramento needs a point guard and Kings general manager and Teodosic share a Serbian connection.

David Pick (who initially reported Sacramento’s interest):

Divac on DeMarcus Cousins: “We’re not trading DeMarcus.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has now eliminated every other Western Conference team in playoffs

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Spurs-Rockets looked familiar (except in all the ways it wasn’t): Gregg Popovich beating Mike D’Antoni.

Popovich is 20-6 in games and 5-0 in series against D’Antoni. The San Antonio coach just has a way of stifling D’Antoni’s up-tempo spread offense when it matters most.

But this Popovich-D’Antoni matchup was different in one key way: D’Antoni coached the Rockets, not the Suns.

In fact, this was the first time Popovich ever faced Houston in a playoff series – and that allowed him to claim a trivial and impressive honor.

Jordan Howenstine of Spurs PR:

https://twitter.com/AirlessJordan/status/862858569112313856

This speaks to Popovich’s:

  • Excellence (only one other coach – the Heat’s Erik Spoelstra – has won 14 total playoff series at all)
  • Longevity (beating the Timberwolves back when they were playoff regulars and waiting for the Warriors to become playoff mainstays)
  • Luck (catching New Orleans in one of its seven playoff series)

Here’s Popovich’s playoff history against every Western Conference franchise:

Dallas Mavericks

2001 won second round, 4-1

2003 won conference finals, 4-2

2006 lost second round, 4-3

2009 lost first round, 4-1

2010 won first round, 4-2

2014 won first round, 4-3

Denver Nuggets

2005 won first round, 4-1

2007 won first round, 4-1

Golden State Warriors

2013 won second round, 4-2

Houston Rockets

2017 won second round, 4-2

Los Angeles Clippers

2012 won second round, 4-0

2015 lost first round, 4-3

Los Angeles Lakers

1999 won second round, 4-0

2001 lost conference finals, 4-0

2002 lost second round, 4-1

2003 won second round, 4-2

2004 lost second round, 4-2

2008 lost conference finals, 4-1

2013 won first round, 4-0

Memphis Grizzlies

2004 won first round, 4-0

2011 lost first round, 4-2

2013 won conference finals, 4-0

2016 won first round, 4-0

2017 won first round, 4-2

Minnesota Timberwolves

1999 won first round, 3-1

2001 won first round, 3-1

New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans)

2008 won second round, 4-3

Phoenix Suns

1998 won first round, 3-1

2000 lost first round, 3-1

2003 won first round, 4-2

2005 won conference finals, 4-1

2007 won second round, 4-2

2008 won first round, 4-1

2010 lost second round, 4-0

Portland Trail Blazers

1999 won conference finals, 4-0

2014 won second round, 4-1

Sacramento Kings

2006 won first round, 4-2

Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder

2002 won first round, 3-2

2005 won second round, 4-2

2012 lost conference finals, 4-2

2014 won conference finals, 4-2

2016 lost second round, 4-2

Utah Jazz

1998 lost second round, 4-1

2007 won conference finals, 4-1

2012 won first round, 4-0