Jeff Hornacek didn’t do this. None of the Knicks brass had done it either up to this point.
David Fizdale and his wife flew to Latvia and meet with the face of the franchise, Kristaps Porzingis, on his turf. That shows a level of commitment Porzingis and his team of advisors are going to respect.
Fizdale wanted to show Porzingis clips of what Kevin Knox was doing in Summer League and how the two could play off of and with each other. However, the trip was more than that, this was about building a coach/player relationship necessary to make the Knicks elite. Fizdale talked about it in an interview with Latvian television, transcribed by Ian Begley of ESPN.
“The NBA is a small world and you kinda know people from afar. But this trip is more about getting to know him intimately. Know his family, know where he’s from, kinda get to see what made him ‘Kristaps,'” Fizdale said in an interview with Latvian television network LSM….
“We’ve talked about his rehab. We’ve talked about how we want to play, our style of play. Talked a lot about the culture that we’re building. We wanna make sure that he comes back strong and healthy (from his ACL surgery) and we don’t want to rush it. We’ve had some really good conversations,” Fizdale said. “We talked about the kids we drafted (Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson). I’ve tried to make sure that he’s — we’ve been in communication on every decision that we’ve made.”
These are the kinds of little steps that are going to pay off… in a couple of seasons. The Knicks are right to take this slow and not rush Porzingis back this season in a misguided attempt to make the playoffs. If he misses the entire season, that is not a tragedy. My guess is we see something more like when Paul George returned from his grizzly Team USA leg injury, where he played six games at the end of a season just to get his legs under him again (maybe KP plays closer to 15-20, but don’t expect a number that will change the course of the Knicks’ season).
Meanwhile, Porzingis is putting in the work this summer.