Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

The story behind Kristaps Porzingis‘ exit from the Big Apple has taken yet another twist.

New York Knicks president Steve Mills said Porzingis gave the front office an ultimatum before he was acquired by the Dallas Mavericks in a seven-player blockbuster deal prior to the trade deadline.

“(Porzingis) walked into my office – and (general manager Scott Perry) was sitting there with me – and point blank said to us, ‘I don’t want to be here. I’m not going to re-sign with the Knicks and I’m going to give you seven days to trade me or I’m going back to Europe,'” Mills said at a fan forum event Wednesday.

Mills said he had trade offers for Porzingis dating back to September and thus was able to act quickly once the big man made his intentions known.

“Fortunately for us … we had a number of deals lined up,” Mills said. “We just started a trade call as soon as he walked out of the office.”

Shortly after the deal, Porzingis posted cryptic messages on social media that were seemingly related to his departure from the club.

Porzingis was reportedly the subject of an NYPD investigation in March after a woman told police that the 23-year-old raped her in his hotel room in February 2018. The All-Star denied the allegations through his lawyer.

Just two months later, the Latvian native was reportedly assaulted at a club in Europe. A video surfaced showing a bloodied Porzingis after an apparent altercation. The Mavericks said they’re investigating the matter.

Porzingis missed the entire 2018-19 season to recover from a torn left ACL.

The New Orleans Pelicans are in prime position for a quick rebuild – with or without Anthony Davis – after landing the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Recently hired Pelicans executive David Griffin is optimistic that the club can retain Davis despite his trade demand and believes New Orleans can be transformed into an attractive destination for marquee free agents.

“(Davis and I will) probably sit together in Los Angeles at some point around the draft workouts that take place there,” Griffin said Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett. ” … And we’re very optimistic from previous conversations with Rich Paul, his agent, and with all of the people here that know Anthony and know what he’s about. We’re very confident that we have a compelling situation for him here.

“And if winning is what he is indeed all about, which we have every reason to believe, we feel confident that we can create – and are creating – the right environment for Anthony and frankly, for high-caliber players of all types to want to be a part of. This is something that we hope creates an energy that recruits itself, and Anthony would just be one step in that process.”

The Pelicans have already made strides in attempting to create a winner in Louisiana, hiring Griffin, a former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager, as their vice president and adding well-respected Brooklyn Nets executive Trajan Langdon as their new GM.

With the front office secured and Alvin Gentry preparing for his fifth season as head coach, the organization is turning its attention to the draft. Rumors surfaced last week that Zion Williamson could opt to return to college for another year, but Griffin insisted this year’s top prospects are on board with the Pelicans’ project.

“I’m certain that’s a false narrative relative to the players that could potentially be the No. 1 pick,” Griffin said. “We’ve sat with multiple players that we’re looking at for that first pick. In fact, in the case of Zion Williamson, Alvin Gentry and I sat with he and his parents the night of the lottery. … And Alvin and I were also together in interviewing Ja Morant in Chicago as well.

“And I think because we sat with those kids, who are both incredible human beings and all about all the right things, we know unequivocally that either one of them would be thrilled to join us in New Orleans.”

The Pelicans have reached the playoffs only once since Gentry took over as head coach in 2016 and twice since drafting Davis first overall in 2012.

Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer wants Drake to tone it down.

The Canadian rapper became a talking point during Games 3 and 4 in Toronto, making his presence felt on the sidelines as he teased Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo for a missed free throw and even gave Raptors head coach Nick Nurse a quick shoulder rub during the fourth quarter.

Budenholzer feels Drake is too involved in the action and should be told to dial it back.

“There’s certainly no place for fans – or whatever Drake is for the Raptors – on the court,” Budenholzer said Wednesday during a conference call, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “There’s boundaries and lines for a reason.”

Drake was named a global ambassador for the Raptors in 2013 and frequently sits courtside at home games. He’s partnered with the organization on a number of projects, including the rebranding of the team’s practice facility in March.

Budenholzer isn’t the only person who’s unhappy with Drake. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel compiled some reactions from Bucks fans fed up with the rapper following the Game 4 loss, and the founder of the agency that represents Antetokounmpo called Drake’s displays “disrespectful.”

Nurse, for his part, downplayed Drake’s massage.

“It’s not a distraction to me,” the Raptors coach said Wednesday, according to James Herbert of CBS Sports. “I didn’t even know I got the shoulder rub last night until somebody showed me a picture of it today.

“I didn’t even feel it. I was so locked into the game.”

Bucks fans should get a reprieve from the superfan Thursday when Milwaukee hosts Toronto for Game 5.

The Portland Trail Blazers extended head coach Terry Stotts’ contract just one day after the team was eliminated in the Western Conference finals, general manager Neil Olshey announced Tuesday, according to NBC Sports’ Jamie Hudson.

The Blazers were swept by the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in their first trip to the conference finals since 2000.

Portland has reached the playoffs in six straight years and last missed the postseason in Stotts’ debut campaign with the franchise. The team has a combined 325-249 record in seven seasons under the 61-year-old.

Last year, the Blazers fell flat against the sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans in the first round, getting swept despite owning home-court advantage.

The announcement of Stotts’ extension comes shortly after reports suggesting the Blazers are interested in giving superstar point guard Damian Lillard a four-year, $191-million super-max extension to remain the face of the organization.

Damian Lillard will become eligible for a super-max contract extension this summer if he’s named to one of the All-NBA teams, and the Portland Trail Blazers are anticipated to oblige him.

The two sides are expected to come to terms over the summer on a four-year, $191-million super-max contract extension, league sources told Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.

The point guard is likely a lock for an All-NBA nod after averaging 25.8 points and 6.9 assists in the regular season. Lillard, who turns 29 this summer, has two years and about $62 million remaining on his existing contract.

By his own account, LeBron James was stunned by Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation as Los Angeles Lakers president on April 9. Now, almost two months later, it seems James was pleased with Johnson’s now-infamous TV appearance on Monday, in which he eviscerated the Lakers and GM Rob Pelinka.

A source close to LeBron told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk that James thought Johnson “did well” during his appearance on ESPN’s “First Take.”

Among other things, Johnson accused Pelinka of stabbing him in the back and questioned team owner Jeanie Buss’s management skills. One figure he did not criticize was James, whom Johnson signed as a free agent last summer.

“I respect LeBron for what he just said,” Johnson said during Monday’s appearance after ESPN played a clip from James’ show “The Shop,” where LeBron wished Magic had notified him of his resignation beforehand.

“I love LeBron, I love his family … but sometimes as a man, you have to make decisions based on your well-being. And I made that decision.”

James spent Monday on the sidelines of the Lakers’ news conference in which Pelinka introduced Frank Vogel as the team’s new head coach. James didn’t speak to media, but Vogel said the two have talked, saying, “I’m looking forward to getting started with him.”

The soap opera plot is thickening in La La land.

Hours after Magic Johnson slammed his former Los Angeles Lakers colleague Rob Pelinka in an ESPN interview, Pelinka was on a podium Monday introducing Frank Vogel as the team’s new head coach.

The general manager expressed shock at Johnson’s claim that Pelinka’s backstabbing contributed to the former president’s resignation last month.

“Truly, it’s saddening and disheartening to think he believes things that are a misperception,” Pelinka told reporters. “I think all of us in life have been through things where maybe there’s third-party whispers or he said, she said things that aren’t true.”

On ESPN’s “First Take” Monday, Johnson said that while working for the Lakers, he heard accounts of Pelinka bad mouthing him.

“People around the Lakers’ office were telling me, ‘Rob was saying things,'” he said. 

Johnson also said people warned him about Pelinka. 

“When I took the job, you know how many agents called me, and said, ‘You got to watch out for him?'” he added.

Johnson’s assertions confused Pelinka, who said he just spoke to Magic two days ago.

“I have talked to him several times since he decided to step away, we’ve had many joyful conversations,” he said. “In fact, two days ago we were reliving the (draft) combine and the fourth pick, talking about the great future this franchise has, so things are surprising to hear, and disheartening. But I look forward to the opportunity to talk with him and sit down and work through them.”

Pelinka hadn’t logged any NBA front-office experience when he was hired as Lakers GM under Johnson in 2017. He was previously a high-powered agent for players such as Kobe Bryant and James Harden.