ORLANDO — Knicks GM Scott Perry would not discuss Kristaps Porzingis’ looming contract extension eligibility or the ominous comments from the Latvian’s older brother.
Like his colleague Steve Mills, Perry dubbed the conversation premature. But he did mention that Porzingis is currently “happy” with the Knicks.
“I don’t really want to talk about that right now. We’re looking forward and ahead,” Perry said. “The time to talk about contract extensions, that’s far. We’re living in today. KP is playing some very good basketball right now. He’s playing well and happy with this team. We’ll deal with all that stuff later. But no comment in terms of what was said (by Porzingis’ older brother, Janis) because I really don’t know what he meant.”
In an interview with a Latvian magazine, Janis indicated that Kristaps would leave the Knicks — and the extra money on the table — if the team doesn’t keep him happy. Kristaps said the excerpts of the interview — which were translated by Eurohoops.net — were “taken out of context.”
Kristaps is eligible for a five-year extension this summer worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $ 150 million. Only the Knicks can make that offer.
HARDAWAY’S NOT CALF BAD
Tim Hardaway Jr. fought through a calf injury Wednesday while recording the first double-double of his career in the 112-99 loss to the Magic. The guard said he first felt the pain in Tuesday’s win over the Hornets, and utilized a “calf warmer” on the bench in Orlando.
Kristaps Porzingis is ‘happy’ and playing well, and that’s all GM Scott Perry is concerned with.
(Frank Franklin II/AP)
“Nagging a little bit here and there, but overall I feel fine. I’m fighting through it,” he said.
Hardaway Jr. is averaging 21.7 points in his last seven games while shooting 47 percent. On Wednesday without an injured Porzingis, he scored 26 points with a career-high 11 rebounds.
One of the many knocks on Phil Jackson’s tenure was his aloofness and lack of personal relationships. Communication was not his strong suit.
In that respect, Scott Perry is the Zen Master’s antithesis. His personable nature — which begets important connections — is a quality detected by his former player Bismack Biyombo.
“You want to make sure you play for somebody who cares about you as a person. I think when somebody cares about you as a person it gives you a drive to go out there and fight for him. It’s the same with the coaches, it’s the same with the players. When the players care for each other, they’re always going to play to win for each other,” Biyombo, who signed with the Magic when Perry was the assistant GM, told the Daily News. “When the coach cares about the players — that’s why when players go to San Antonio they always succeed. Because Popovich cares about the person more than anything else. It’s the same with Scott and he’s done a helluva job just looking at the way the Knicks have carried themselves.”
Wednesday’s game against the Magic was also a reunion for three of the Knicks staff members, including Perry, who was fired by Orlando six months ago after five years of a largely unsuccessful rebuild. Perry brought two other executives with him — Michael Arcieri (director of basketball strategy) and Harold Ellis (director of player personnel).
DON’T NOAH YET
Perry didn’t tip his hand on his plans to trim the roster once Joakim Noah returns from his PED suspension. The Knicks will have to create a spot — either via trade or waive — before their game against the Cavs on Monday.
“Whatever the best basketball deal we can find we can do, so if that is a trade then so be it,” Perry said. “If not, if it’s not a trade and we have to waive somebody then we’ll make that decision at that time and move forward from there.”
Ramon Sessions and Mindaugas Kuzminskas are two expendable players, but they don’t hold much trade value.