Jeff Hornacek liked what he saw from rookie guard Frank Ntilikina during the Knicks’ loss to the Cavaliers on Monday.
During the first quarter, Ntilikina collided with James on his way up the floor after an alley-oop dunk by James. Ntilikina didn’t appear to be intimidated by James in the least, giving him a shove before Enes Kanter came to the rookie’s defense.
After the game, Hornacek liked that Ntilikina didn’t back down in the situation. The Knicks coach said it was “good” Ntilikina stood up to the best player in the game.
Jeff Hornacek on Frank Ntilikina bumping LeBron James tonight: “That’s good. A young kid (standing) up to the best player in the game.”
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 14, 2017
Nitilikina may be just 19 years old, but he showed on Monday he’s not going to be pushed around despite this being his first season in the NBA. That trait should endear Ntilikina to the Madison Square Garden faithful as he works on showing them the Knicks made the right choice selecting him No. 8 overall in this year’s draft.
Ntilikina finished Monday’s game with seven points, three rebounds, two assists, and six steals in 24 minutes.
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The stench of the Phil Jackson era continues to percolate through Madison Square Garden, even after his departure from the team this summer.
Appearing this week on “The Woj Pod,” ESPN’s Ian Begley revealed that New York Knicks players are still skeptical of head coach Jeff Hornacek for not standing up to Jackson and his demands that they run the triangle offense.
“You look at around the All-Star break,” said Begley, according to Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk. “They started running more triangle, and it was clearly Phil’s influence. So, players looked at that, and they saw Jeff as not having enough authority to kind of stand up and say, ‘Hey, Phil, I’m coaching the team. This is how I want to run the offense. This is what I want to do.’ I think if Jeff took that approach, he would have won this locker room over. But he didn’t, and I think that hurt him.
“So, that doesn’t go away – right? – just because Phil is not here,” Begley continued. “I think that impression, just from the few guys who shared it with me, I think is still there. I think Jeff has to show himself to be his own man this year, and I think every opportunity is there for him to do that. But he’s certainly under a microscope.”
The triangle was indeed a point of major contention among the Knicks last season, and it doesn’t appear that Jackson’s exit as team president in June smoothed things over any. As for Hornacek, he did have some notable spats with his players over the course of the year, so the 2017-18 campaign could end up becoming a referendum on him and his ability to lead the Knicks.
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Kristaps Porzingis may finally be going full unicorn next season.
According to a report by Ian Begley of ESPN on Thursday, the New York Knicks and head coach Jeff Hornacek want to push the pace in 2017-18 and would like for Porzingis to see more time at the center position.
The 22-year-old Porzingis has gotten most of his minutes at power forward in the first two years of his career, often playing beside a traditional center like Joakim Noah, Robin Lopez, or Willy Hernangomez. But as a 7-foot-3 menace who can post up, hit from deep, protect the rim effectively, and move well enough laterally to switch onto the perimeter, a stretch-five role may have always been Porzingis’ destiny, especially given the way the league has shifted.
The Knicks haven’t always had the best idea of how to utilize the Latvian, so this is certainly a very welcome development. And when you consider some of the gains he’s made this summer, it looks like the Porzingod is up for the task.
It had been widely assumed that Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit interview with the New York Knicks last season because of his poor relationship with Phil Jackson, but could head coach Jeff Hornacek have been the main reason? That depends on which report you believe.
On Tuesday, NBA reporter Peter Vecsey wrote that Porzingis skipped his exit meeting because he became disgusted with Hornacek’s coaching style, which at one point included telling Knicks big man Willy Hernangomez — a close friend of Porzingis — to “stop playing like a p—y.” But according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, that was not the motivation behind Porzingis’ decision to blow off the interview.
Berman was told by a source familiar with the situation that it is “doubtful” Hornacek was the reason Porzingis skipped the meeting. The reporter also notes that the two have been back on speaking terms since July after Hornacek said in May that Porzingis had not returned his text messages.
If Jackson wasn’t the sole reason Porzingis skipped the meeting, the Knicks obviously have to work on mending the relationship between their 22-year-old superstar and members of their staff. New team president Steve Mills says he has had good communication with Porzingis, but you could argue that it is more important for Porzingis and Hornacek to be on the same page.
Jackson’s departure should ease some of the tensions in New York, and the Knicks probably would have considered dealing Porzingis in a trade like this if things were really bad. Still, you have to wonder how Porzingis will feel if the team has another losing season.
Now that the New York Knicks have parted ways with Phil Jackson, Kristaps Porzingis’s future with the organization appears secure.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said Sunday that he had no reason to believe Porzingis would be traded before the start of next season.
Horancek thinks Kristaps Porzingis is no longer being discussed in trades: "We love KP and what he does so I don't see him going anywhere."
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 2, 2017
This is no surprise. Most of the problems Porzingis and the Knicks may have had with each other centered around Jackson, and even when Phil was in charge, there didn’t seem to be a lot of desire to aggressively shop him. Things will probably be smoothed over in training camp and life will go on, with Porzingis becoming the centerpiece of the team.
Kristaps Porzingis is not going anywhere, at least according to his coach.
New York Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said there is “no doubt” that Porzingis will still be with the team next season.
“We expect him back,” Hornacek said, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I think everything’s going to be just fine when we get back.”
Hornacek also downplayed Porzingis’s decision to skip his exit interview.
“Again, he decided not to come to the meeting,” Hornacek said. “It would’ve been a great opportunity to talk about what he sees, but we figure it’s a long summer. We’ll end up talking to him, and all that stuff coming into next year will be fine.”
Porzingis has been the subject of reported trade interest, but unsurprisingly, the Knicks are not looking to go that route just yet. They’ll hope they can get Porzingis to buy into their future before they even consider a move like that.
At 26-38 on the year and 12th in the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks have been forced to do some soul-searching. But fortunately, head coach Jeff Hornacek may have found his zen.
The Knicks defeated the Orlando Magic by the final of 113-105 on Monday in a game that saw Derrick Rose benched for the entire fourth quarter in favor of rookie guard Chasson Randle. Carmelo Anthony also sat out Monday’s game with knee soreness and was noticeably absent for an over nine-minute stretch in the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors the day before.
After the win over Orlando, Hornacek indicated a willingness to keep playing his younger guys over his veterans in certain situations.
“Some nights that’s going to happen,” said Hornacek, per Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “They enjoyed playing together. They moved the ball and didn’t try to do too much. The other guys stepped up.”
Anthony and Rose are two of the team’s three leading scorers this season (along with 21-year-old Kristaps Porzingis). But they do have a tendency to strangle ball movement and take the entire offense hostage as they jab step and go off the dribble. For Hornacek, who’s had his fair share of frustrations with the duo over the course of the year, a more invigorated youth movement could help him find some meaning in the final month of this lost season.
H/T NBA Reddit