ESPN Ranks Kristaps Porzingis 5th Among Rookies

Kristaps_PorzingisThe Knicks made a lot of free agent acquisitions this summer, but the draft may provide the biggest potential for the upcoming season. Kristaps Porzingis was drafted by the Knicks this year, and ESPN ranked the Latvian 5th on their rookie impact list.

Fans unsure of Porzingis saw flashes of brilliance during the Las Vegas Summer League. There is some greatness in him that the Knicks are hoping will transition to the NBA. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton believes that Porzingis will be the 5th most productive rookie in the 2015 – 2016 season.

Kristaps played in the ACB league last season in Spain where he impressed the Knicks. During his time in Vegas this summer, he averaged 18.4 points and 3.1 blocks in 36 minutes of play. Rebounds were a little underwhelming with just 5.7 rebounds during 36 minutes of play. There were only four rookies ahead of him in the ranking with names fans already know, such as Frank Kaminsky and Karl-Anthony Tows. D-Angelo Russel and Delon Wright were the two other players above Kristaps in the rankings.

Surprisingly, Porzingis ranked ahead of Jahlil Okafor in the rankings, which was one of the Knicks’s desired picks this year. Using statistical analysis, it looks like drafting the young Latvian may have been the best choice for the struggling Knicks. Adding much-needed offense to the struggling Knicks, there is a lot of pressure on the rookie. Experts believe he’ll provide an immediate impact for the team.

Porzingis is currently traveling back to New York to begin training with the team. The young player posted to his Twitter account, stating that he is happy to start a new chapter in his life with the Knicks.

There is a lot of pressure on Porzingis playing in one of the most demanding sport’s cities in the world.

Carmelo Anthony Helped Arron Afflalo Land Role With Knicks

Carmelo_Anthony_Nov_2013The Knicks are built around star Carmelo Anthony. Last month when the Knicks signed Arron Afflalo, it came as no surprise to fans. Phil Jackson wants his star player to have fun with the Knicks, see them back into the playoffs and in contention for the championship. One way to push Melo is to bring in the one person he played with the most in his career: Arron Afflalo.

Afflalo states that the bond he has with Melo is the reason why he arrived in New York.

Before coming to the Knicks, Anthony played with Afflalo in Denver for nearly two seasons. Afflalo stated on Wednesday that the Knicks used Carmelo Anthony as a reference when being considered. Anthony’s opinion on Afflalo is what helped him land a 2-year, $16 million dollar contract in New York.

Many experts believe that the Knicks’s organization values Anthony’s opinion, but there is doubt in Afflalo’s claim that Anthony helped him earn a spot on the roster. Phil Jackson announced last month that he hasn’t spoken to Melo since free agency began, leading many to believe that the Knicks were going after Afflalo with or without the recommendation of Anthony.

The pair played a full season with the Nuggets together, winning 53 games and losing in the first round of the playoffs. Afflalo at the time was more of a defensive player and has since transitioned into more of an offensive threat than he was when the two first played together.

Afflalo stated that he thinks his improvements over the last year will make him and Anthony twice as effective as they once were and reaffirms that he is happy to join the Knicks. Phil Jackson showed interest in Afflalo during the trade deadline last season, so it’s no surprise that the team acquired him this offseason.

 

Rumor Mill: Knicks Trying to Sign Norris Cole

Norris ColeThe Knicks are not done with this year’s free agency. The team is currently one of the teams aggressively pursuing free-agent guard Norris Cole. The 76ers are also pursuing Cole, who is deemed one of the best available players on the market.

A restricted free agent, Cole is in his fifth season in the league and currently plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. Traded during the 2014 – 2015 to the team, Cole played for the Miami Heat for three full seasons. Being a restricted free agent, the Pelicans have the right to match any offer given to Cole during free agency.

Cole played 47 games with the Heat last year, averaging 6.3 points a game with 38.6% shooting. His numbers drastically improved after becoming a Pelican. During his 28 games with the team, Cole put up 9.9 points a game with a 44.4% shooting average.

An impressive player, Cole would help the Knicks’s backcourt.

It’s unlikely that the Knicks will land Cole, but if they did, it would mean that the team has to make room for him by removing one of the team’s veterans, such as Langston Galloway. Cole is definitely one of the best players still available, but he is expected to resign with the Pelicans and is said to just be testing the market to determine his value.

J.R. Smith is another player on the market that has yet to be resigned by the Cleveland Cavaliers after walking away from the final year of his contract. Smith had a salary of $6.4 million next year and thought he would get a better deal in the summer.

While Smith may be off the Knick’s radar, he put up 12.7 points per game with 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Smith wants a starting role with a team, and that is something the Cavaliers can’t guarantee.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Knicks Finalizing Partially-Guaranteed Contract

Thanasis AntetokounmpoThanasis Antetokounmpo is a 6’7”, 215-pound small forward from Athens, Greece. Selected by the Knicks in the 2014 NBA draft, Antetokounmpo went on to play for the Westchester Knicks. Playing 47 games with the team, he averages 13.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

Impressed with his performance, the Knicks are finalizing a 2-year deal with Antetokounmpo. The deal is said to be a partially guaranteed contract that will allow Antetokounmpo to grow with the team and attempt to earn a spot on this year’s roster. Fans are surprised by the deal after the team signed Kevin Seraphin to the team, among other players.

There are also rumors that the Knicks are interested in Norris Cole.

Antetokounmpo’s agent was firm when talking about the potential star’s future. According to the agent, Antetokounmpo did not want to play in the D-League again this year and is ready to play solid minutes in the NBA this season. While reports state that he is not a full rotation player just yet, this gives him a chance to show his athleticism and energy to the Knicks.

The 23-year old is also brother to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis, just 20 years old, has been playing for the Milwaukee Bucks for the past 2 seasons and made the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2014.

Thanasis is looking to impress the Knicks this year as his brother did with the Bucks.

Currently, the Knicks have 15 players on the roster, with Antetokounmpo and Langston Galloway both on partially-guaranteed deals. Galloway is expected to crack the roster this year, while the Knicks are hoping that Antetokounmpo is a star in the making, much like his bother.

Antetokounmpo is competing for the final spot on the roster and he will have to perform well during summer camp to crack the lineup.

Walt Frazier is ‘Sure’ Carmelo Anthony Isn’t Happy with Knicks Offseason

320px-Walt_frazierKnicks legend turned commentator Walt “Clyde” Frazier suspects that Carmelo Anthony isn’t too happy with the Knicks offseason. In a candid comment, Clyde stated that he’s sure “Melo wasn’t happy” and that “his future is now”.

Clyde went on to state how this is a pivotal season for Anthony and that he’s not getting any younger. This season will really determine how Melo will fit into the team’s plans and where he will go from here. He speculates that Anthony may consider leaving New York. After all, it will take a few years for the Knicks to make the playoffs, and Carmelo Anthony’s “days are numbered”.

The Knicks rebuild looks solid, and the team managed to better itself without leveraging its future. However, none of the team’s moves improved Carmelo Anthony’s chances of securing a title while he’s still at the top of his game. Melo just turned 31 last May and is coming off knee surgery. Experts say his window of opportunity is closing at a rapid rate.

With the rebuild, things will be better for the team. The question is: how much better? At some point, Anthony will get frustrated. He had his time in the sun, and he played in the city he was born in. But it never really made any logical sense for Carmelo Anthony to re-sign with the New York Knicks. Anthony should have seized the opportunity to win by going to Chicago. Phil Jackson should have had the foresight to realize that the road to contention would be a long one. However, Anthony decided to settle for the higher paycheck and comfort, while the Knicks saw an opportunity to sell more tickets and jerseys.

It’s clear to see that Anthony and the Knicks have clashing priorities, and it’s inevitable that it will become an issue eventually.

Walt frazier” by Jeramey Jannene from Milwaukee, WI, United States of America – Walt Frazier. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Kevin Seraphin Reportedly Joins Knicks as Final Offseason Piece

800px-Kevin_Seraphin_WizardsIf the reports are true, 25-year-old Kevin Seraphin will serve as the final offseason piece for the Knicks. Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops broke the news, claiming that the team signed Seraphin to a $2.8 million, one-year deal.”

The French Guiana player will likely serve as the primary back up for Robin Lopez, a free agent acquisition.

The 6’10” player was a first-round pick in 2010 for the Bulls, and spent the first five years of his career with the Wizards after being dealt on draft night. In Washington, he averaged 3.7 rebounds, 6.4 points and 0.8 blocks.

Last year, Seraphin played 79 games, a career high for the player. He averaged 3.6 rebounds, 6.6 points and about 15.5 minutes per game. One of the highlights from the last year was his last game when he filled in for Marcin Gortat. During that game, Seraphin posted 8 rebounds and 13 points in just 28 minutes of Game 6.

Seraphin signed a one-year qualifying offer from the Wizards for $3.9 million last summer. However, he reportedly was looking for a bigger role that would allow him to showcase his talents. According to reports, the Mavericks and Lakers were also involved with Seraphin. He’s a big backup, and a fantastic offensive rebounder, according to Amin Elhassan of ESPN Insider. As a defensive rebounder, he’s below average, but he’s an average defensive player.

The Knicks offseason appears to be complete with the addition of Seraphin, Derrick Williams, Aaron Afflalo and Lopez. The team also traded Kyle O’Quinn and drafted Kristaps Porzingis, a 7’3” prospect from Latvia, and Jerian Grant, former Notre Dame star.

The Knicks now have 14 solid players, all with guaranteed contracts – once the details of Sasha Vujacic are clear. The only remaining question is whether Langsten Galloway’s deal will be guaranteed.

Kevin Seraphin Wizards” by Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA – Kevin Seraphin. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Phil Jackson Discusses the Future of the Knicks

800px-Phil_Jackson_3_croppedFree agency was a bust for the New York Knicks. The team is not built for a long season, and many doubt that the additions to the team can help the Knicks excel into the playoffs. Phil Jackson talked to the media earlier this week to discuss how the Knicks can attract big-named players to the team.

Jackson states that winning is the only way to lure in high-profile players.

The team is open to a mid-season trade, and the first player’s name that is mentioned is Jose Calderon. The point guard has a disappointing year, with injuries and inconsistency causing doubt on Calderon’s future with the team. Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant can help with offense, but Jackson did not indicate which of the three is favored at this point.

Galloway’s future with the team is in doubt after the team only offered him a partially-guaranteed contract. Jackson made it clear that he likes the young point guard, but Galloway still has a lot to prove to gain a permanent place on the roster.

The future of Galloway rests on the performance of both Calderon and Grant. If either of the two players can handle the position, we might see Galloway traded in the future. Calderon, the veteran of the group, was rumored to be on the trading block all last season, but he is confident that after his spur of injuries and a healthy recovery, he will be able to hold onto a starting position with the team.

Knicks fans know that the team is in a serious rebuild, and Jackson will be aggressive in trying to improve the team. Rumors are swirling that Carlos Boozer is a likely option for the Knicks. The team president also made a statement that the Knicks will pursue both Kevin Durant and Mike Conley next season.

Phil Jackson 3 cropped” by Phil_Jackson_3.jpg: Keith Allison from Baltimore, USAderivative work: Chris! my talkPhil_Jackson_3.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Knicks Coach Hints that Okafor Would Have Been Team’s No. 1 Pick

Jahlil_Okafor_2015_Summer_LeagueJahlil Okafor is a massive center that is 6’11” and 271 pounds. Drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, Okafor was drafted third in this year’s draft, right out of the reach of the Knicks who had the 4th overall pick.

It was always rumored that the Knicks would’ve drafted Karl-Anthony Towns first overall if the team won the NBA draft lottery. Phil Jackson put an end to this rumor yesterday after stating that the team would have preferred Jahlil Okafor instead of Towns. The reasoning was that Towns was always in foul trouble, despite being the better defender of the two.

Towns’ core strength was also a concern for Jackson.

The Knicks felt that Okafor would be ready to crack the NBA lineup sooner and have a greater impact for the team immediately. While Jackson feels Towns will have a slow start in the NBA, he did state that Towns will be the bigger star in 5 years.

Ultimately ending up with Kristaps Porzingis, many fans thought the team would have chosen Emmanuel Mudiay of Dallas over the Latvian. Jackson broke his silence about Mudiay, stating that he is “very talented and a team player.”

The team president complimented Mudiay for choosing to play for a year in China as a pro before going to SMU. Jackson stated that it shows that Mudiay has his priorities in order trying to help his family that was in need of money at the time.

Jackson did not mention Porzingis or why the team chose the 7’2” forward over Mudiay. The Latvian is a concern for fans that have not been able to see him play in the states. Rumor has it that Jackson invited Porzingis to a private workout and liked his work ethic so much that he decided he would be the team’s 2015 draft pick.

Jahlil Okafor 2015 Summer League” by EdAIMG_2162. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Kristaps Porzingis A High-Risk, High-Reward Draft Pick

Kristaps_Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis offers Knick fans a glimmer of hope after a season of loss after loss. Knick fans hoped that after a failed season, the team would get the top pick in the draft falling short by winning one more game than the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team that landed the top pick in the league.

The final week of the season led to the Knicks beating Orlando and Atlanta losing the top pick.

Drawing the fourth pick during the draft, the Knicks were left with Kristaps Porzingis. Kristaps is an unknown Latvian player that is viewed as a high-risk, high-reward draft pick. Phil Jackson of the Knicks met with the young Latvian before the draft for a private workout and the Knicks had already decided that their future would be built with Porzingis in the lineup.

Draft day was followed with boos from the fans and backlash across social media networks for the team drafting an unknown player to a team that lives in one of the most demanding sport’s cities in the world: New York.

A smart young player, Porzingis is a relatively unknown player that has been praised by basketball greats saying that he has all the “tools” to be great, but they don’t fit quite yet. Even basketball great James Worthy states that the upside of the Latvian is too great to ignore. Some compare the prospect to Dirk Nowitzki, but more agile and tougher to defend.

The Knicks made a lot of moves this summer to allow the potential star to play with the team but not have to carry the weight of the franchise. The team acquired Derrick Williams, Robin Lopez and Kyle O’Quinn to help with the rebuild. Porzingis will be expected to play 20 – 25 minutes a night offering sparks of offense and learning from the team as he refines his natural skills.

Sasha Vujacic Joins NY Knicks Training Camp

220px-SashaVujacicSasha Vujacic, former Lakers shooting guard, has signed a free agent contract with the NY Knicks this summer. Vujacic is one of Phil Jackson’s former players, and hasn’t played full-time in the NBA since 2011. The Slovenian player spent the last season playing in Spain, then Istanbul and Turkey.

Vujacic spent the majority of the last four seasons playing overseas. That stint was briefly interrupted when he signed a 10-day contract with the Clippers and appeared in two games in 2014. He’s now training in Los Angeles where he once played for the Lakers. Here, he took home two rings with Jackson and Derek Fisher, a former teammate who now serves as the Knicks coach. Vujacic was traded to the Nets in the 2010-2011 season.

While nothing is set in stone as of yet, Vujacic is expected to get a veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. The pact is still being worked out, but sources say that it’s mostly guaranteed. Vujacic spent six seasons in a bench role with the Lakers, and played only 56 games for the Nets.

The signing of Vujacic is great news for the team. The player is a career 37% 3-point marksman, and knows the triangle offense well. If he can play some defense in camp, Vujacic stands a chance now that Ricky Ledo and the Knicks have gone their separate ways.

The Knicks have nearly 17 players guaranteed for camp, including Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Thus far, there are 13 guarantees. Antetokounmpo and Vujacic may very well be fighting each other for the last guard opening.
In addition, the team is finalizing its training camp deals for two rookie free agents: Darion Atkins and Wesley Saunders. Neither have been drafted. The deal with Atkins is expected to be announced next week. The 6’8” player boasts a 7’2” wingspan, and was approached by the Knicks after he helped the Spurs win the summer league title.