According to former NBA TV analyst Peter Vecsey, Knicks star F Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit interview last season because of head coach Jeff Hornacek, not Phil Jackson.
In his article published Tuesday night, Vescey explains how Hornacek dealt with how Porzingis acted on and off the court last season.
"Porzingis' swagger swelled in direct proportion to his mounting stature with the Knicks and within the NBA," Vescey wrote. "He resented being singled out for criticism and acted out accordingly. He developed an annoying habit, for example, of parking in spots at the team's practice facility designated for management."
"By then, utter alienation already had occured."
Instead of confronting Porzingis on the court, Hornacek went through the Latvian's best friend in F Willy Hernangomez.
"Willy Hernangomez is Porzingis' best friend on the Knicks," Vescey reported. "Mindlessly, Hornacek got Hernangomez alone one dreadful day and conveyed to him what he should've to Porzingis face-to-face: "Tell your guy to stop playing like a pu--y!"
It was because of this that Porzingis halted communication with his coach. The two reportedly got back on speaking terms just recently, but only by text message.
Though Jackson may not have been the sole reason for Porzingis to skip his interview, their relationship wasn't the best. Jackson was worried about his star's conditioning and health, and was curious as to what he was going to do in the offseason. Porzingis wouldn't tell him his plan.
"Contention definitely existed between Porzingis and Jackson. As far as I know, though their relationship wasn't loosely malignant," Vescey wrote. "It centered on Kristaps' refusal to provide information pertaining to his off-season medical and strength-training regimen. He missed 16 games, six more than his rookie season. Jackson had grown increasingly concerned the promising franchise player was wearing down from recurring tactical body rubs."
Because Porzingis kept his plans under wraps and skipped his interview, Jackson became too concerned with his health. In turn, Jackson began to explore trade opportunities.
"In the wake of Porzingis' insolent exodus, his complete lack of cooperation to communicate with Jackson concerning his conditioning, the Zen Hen decorously explored trade options and perfunctorily pondered offers, much to James Dolan's distress," Vescey wrote.
Dolan decided to release Jackson of his duties after the NBA Draft occurred. However, Hornacek still remains head coach of the Knicks.
Jake Brown | Twitter |
The Knicks could really start their own soap opera right now with how this offseason has played out.
The owner doesn't want to have any control of the team. The ex-President Phil Jackson stirred up controversy and discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis and was let go. Carmelo Anthony wants to be traded. Now, we hear that Porzingis skipped his exit interview because of head coach Jeff Hornacek.
Listen, I don't think Hornacek was a great hire for this team in the first place. There were better options for the Knicks to go to. He doesn't seem to know how to handle his star players. He should be helping the 22-year-old big man become better, and not going through his best friend teammate Willy Hernangomez. This isn't telephone.
You have to remember that Porzingis was 21 years old last season and just in his second year in this country, let alone the NBA.
Being the cornerstone of a franchise is New York City isn't easy. Trying to pick up a strong work ethic from Anthony, who wants to be traded, isn't necessarily going to make his growth in the NBA much easier. Hornacek is going to need to sit down with Porzingis one-on-one and get this thing ironed out.
If this carries on into the regular season, HBO might as well bring the camera crew into practice, because this will become far better than Hard Knocks. They can even rename it Hard Knicks.