In less than a year, Kristaps Porzingis went from the anointed savior of the Knicks franchise to being traded to the Dallas Mavericks to make way for whatever and whoever is next. It was a turn of events that shocked and angered much of the Knicks fan base.
After the trade went down, the spin machines got busy. The Knicks said that Porzingis requested to be moved, and while there was some push back about that from KP’s camp there was no question he had his frustrations with the Knicks and might have looked around as a restricted free agent. Why did he want out? Did he not trust management? Or was it something else… like who the Knicks are reportedly targeting as a free agent? One Kevin Durant.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe floated that last theory on his podcast Friday:
“I don’t think he was psyched about playing with Durant. I don’t know how directly that was verbalized to the Knicks, but I’m confident that it wasn’t something that was his Plan A, he wanted to be the face of the franchise.”
That apparently was not said to the Knicks.
Expect push back from Porzingis’ camp on this.
There is a whole lot of speculation in this rumor, starting with the Knicks being able to land Durant (even though most sources I talk to around the league see that as the most likely outcome this summer). KD’s star would have been brighter than Porzingis’, but in New York there is plenty of spotlight to go around. Was sharing the stage really an issue?
Porzingis’ frustrations likely had many layers and cannot be defined by Durant alone. If he didn’t trust ownership and management, can you really blame him? We’ll never really know how much of a factor Durant was — or, was not — in that mix.
Where Porzingis landed, he and Luka Doncic are the face of the Mavericks going forward. Mark Cuban and Dallas bet big on them. The question now for Porzingis is was that a good gamble?
Celtics rookie Grant Williams on 3-pointers in his first 20 games: 0-for-25.
Nobody else has ever started a season that cold.
Of everyone else to attempt at least 25 3-pointers in their first 20 games, nobody made fewer than two. Of everyone else to miss all their 3-pointers in their first 20 games, nobody attempted more than 17.
Finally, Williams made a 3-pointer in Boston’s win over the Cavaliers yesterday.
Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, via NBC Sports Boston:
We were calling him Ben Simmons for the longest. But he knocked one down, and knocked them down, too. So, shoutout to both of those guys.
Yes, 76ers guard Ben Simmons barely shoots, let alone makes, 3-pointers. But it seems as if Brown realized mid-answer he shouldn’t provide bulletin-board material to a rival.
Simmons has gotten called a coward numerous times by people in Boston due to his refusal to shoot 3s. Becoming the butt of the joke with fellow NBA players? That’s something else entirely.
We’ll see how Simmons responds, but many around him – including Philadelphia coach Brett Brown – have been urging him to hoist more 3s. It’s hard to see this inspiring Simmons to actually change his game.
In 2017, Paul George told the Pacers he planned to leave in free agency the following year. It wasn’t a trade request, but George knew his message would likely prompt Indiana to deal him. He wanted out.
George said he preferred the Spurs. (Or was it the Lakers?) The Pacers dealt him to the Thunder.
Now with the Clippers, George returned to Indiana and got booed.
George, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
“You know, someday I’ll do a tell-all and tell the leading events of how I left Indiana,” George said. “And I promise you, I’m not the one to boo.”
“… I’m not gonna share the teaser,” George later added. “… I like being the villain. I’m here two nights out of the year. The people they should boo is here a lot longer than I am.”
Maybe George felt he got wronged. Maybe George actually got wronged.
But fans generally side with their favorite team over a star player who chose to leave.
It’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances where Pacers fans would boo someone other than George for his exit. My hunch: His grievances are significant to him but wouldn’t persuade Indiana fans. Still, I’m at least curious about his full story.
LeBron James became a villain by leaving the Cavaliers for the Heat on The Decision in 2010. He arrived in Miami promising “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” championships.
By the end of his first season with the Heat, he was beaten down. The Mavericks topped Miami in the NBA Finals, winning the last three games of the series. While Miami blew its 2-1 lead, LeBron averaged 15.3 points and 4.7 turnovers per game. He shot 2-for-12 on 3-pointers and 4-for-10 on free throws.
After Game 6, he callously mocked his critics:
“All the people that were rooting for me to fail… at the end of the day, tomorrow they have to wake up and have the same life that (they had) before they woke up today,” James said. “They got the same personal problems they had today. And I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things I want to do.”
LeBron emerged from his funk and led the Heat to consecutive titles. He returned to Cleveland and won another title there. He’s now with the Lakers leading another championship pursuit.
He plays well. He plays smartly. He plays with joy. He often rises to the biggest occasions.
LeBron probably had to go through a setback like the 2011 Finals to sharpen his mental edge. But it’s incredible how far he has come from the defeated player who left that series against Dallas.
The Athletic – quoting at least three unnamed players – reported the Cavaliers are rebelling against John Beilein’s collegiate coaching style.
Cleveland big Tristan Thompson, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:
“Y’all better find them names ‘cause I’ll pull up on ‘em right now,” Thompson said. “You can’t do that s—.
“At the end of the day if you’re going to build a culture and a family, you can’t have that Chatty Patty s— going on. That s— is whack to me. Everyone’s got to look in the mirror, there’s only so much coach can do and there’s only so much we can do. Do we have the best roster in the NBA? No. But we’re going to go out there and compete every night. Guys got to look in the mirror. So I hope whoever reported that was just bulls——g and blamed it on a player.”
That’s quite the rhetoric from Thompson. I wonder whether he has the same energy in the locker room.
Thompson confronting his teammates would certainly raise the stakes. And make no mistake: His teammates are among the unnamed sources. The report not only specifically cited players, it said “Veterans and younger players, from all corners of the roster” are having issues with Beilein.
Even if he supports his coach, that’s a lot for Thompson to take on.
But if he’s looking for a place to start, I have a guess.