Will the Knicks draft Porzingis?

There is much speculation who the New York Knicks will draft at the four spot.  While the Knicks have been mum on the subject, speculation is pointing more and more to a 7’1″ (and growing) 19-year old kid out of Latvia.  Kristaps Porzingis seemingly has much more upside than downside.

“The kid can flat-out shoot,” a Western Conference executive said. “Now he’s really, really thin, but he’s athletic. A 7-footer who can step out and hit three’s is something.”

The Knicks new President, Phil Jackson has been fielding speculation that they may trade the pick if PG D’Angelo Russell was already gone.

“We’re listening,’’ Jackson said at a press conference. “We’re not soliciting so much, but we are listening.’’

Jackson, known for taking more established players, did mention by name Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky out of Wisconsin and Kentucky Junior Willy Cauley-Stein.

“Philly sits ahead of us,’’ Jackson said. “They’ve been an outlier on draft day. We don’t know what they’re going to do. It looks like their needs are guards because of the stockpile of big guys. But we don’t know if that’s what they’ll do. They have a penchant for doing things not according to scale.’’

The 2015 NBA Draft is scheduled June 25th.

Season Tickets are available now for the upcoming 2015/16 NBA Season.  Get yours today!

Scott O’Neil Leaving Post as President of Madison Square Garden Sports

The news was announced Wednesday afternoon in separate statements from O’Neil and the Garden. The reasons for O’Neil’s departure were not immediately clear, but it appears he is not leaving for another job. Neither statement offered any specifics.

O’Neil, 42, had a tenuous relationship with James L. Dolan, the Garden chairman — a fact that was well known among people with ties to both men. Young, ambitious and driven, O’Neil was constantly pushing to expand his influence in the daily operations of the Knicks and the Rangers, as well as on the business side, creating some tension with Dolan.

Still, O’Neil was well regarded around the league, and he generated millions in new revenue for the Garden, securing major partnerships with JP MorganChase, Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, among others.

O’Neil’s departure comes just as the Knicks are facing a new challenge for fans and corporate dollars in their home market, with the Nets moving to Brooklyn this fall. The need for a strong, creative voice on the business side has perhaps never been greater.

The search for O’Neil’s successor will begin immediately, according to the Garden’s statement.

“We are grateful for Scott’s years of service and his many contributions to the company, and wish him the very best of luck as he moves forward,” the statement said. “We are fortunate to have a talented team in place at MSG Sports who will continue to build on the company’s successes while we undertake a search for a new president of MSG Sports.”

The Garden issued its statement about 30 minutes after The Daily News first reported that O’Neil intended to step down. A Garden spokesman said the company would have no further comment. O’Neil did not respond to messages but issued his own prepared statement.

“My time at the World’s Most Famous Arena has been nothing short of incredible, and I am proud of our results,” O’Neil said. He gave no hints about his future, saying only, “I could not be more excited about the process of discovering what lies ahead.”

Hired for his business acumen, O’Neil gradually increased his involvement in the Knicks’ personnel decisions, often to the annoyance of the basketball operations staff. O’Neil was in the room for the Knicks’ presentation to LeBron James in 2010, and he was involved in the trade talks for Carmelo Anthony in 2011. O’Neil also has deep ties to Creative Artists Agency, which represents Anthony, Coach Mike Woodson and two members of the front office.

The Garden is now searching for its third president in nine years. Steve Mills held the title from 2003 to 2008, presiding over a tumultuous Knicks era that included five straight losing seasons and a sexual-harassment lawsuit — aimed at Thomas — that cost the Garden $11.5 million in a settlement. Mills, who had hired Thomas, was reassigned in July 2008 to make room for O’Neil. Mills left the Garden the next spring.

Before joining the Knicks, O’Neil spent seven years with the N.B.A., serving as senior vice president for team marketing and business operations from 2004 to 2008. He was named one of the top 40 sports executives under age 40 by Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Advertising Age.

Knicks Say Draft Pick Iman Shumpert Has Answered Their Questions

The Knicks explained Friday why they passed on a strong rebounder like Kenneth Faried (Morehead State) and an adept defender in Chris Singleton (Florida State) and revealed how impressed they were with Shumpert’s private workout June 9.

“His workout was one of the best we’ve ever had here,” Coach Mike D’Antoni said at Shumpert’s introductory news conference. “When we were here, all the coaches, some of the scouts and the front office all kind of turned together at the same time and said, ‘Wow, this is pretty good.’ From Day 1, we were pretty sold on him.”

Shumpert’s defensive athleticism, sorely needed on a team that was among the worst defensively in the league last season, was his known asset. Shumpert has a 42-inch vertical leap and a 6-foot-10 wingspan. His shooting, however, was regarded as something of a question mark.

But Shumpert, who averaged 17.3 points and 3.5 assists last season, helped dispel that notion during the workout. The Knicks said they believed that his shot was smooth and that his scoring ability had been undersold. The 6-5 Shumpert can play at either guard spot, too, adding needed depth.

“He gives us an ability that whoever is playing well can play,” said D’Antoni, who envisioned a variety of combinations with Shumpert, point guard Chauncey Billups and shooting guard Landry Fields, or all three together. “If he’s one of those guys, then we’ll find a spot for him, definitely.”

Shumpert seemed at ease in front of the cameras, wearing a gray suit, a striped blue tie and a flat-brimmed Knicks cap. He had planned to do an internship as a sports broadcaster this summer, but decided to keep his name in the draft.

Shumpert, who said he was a little more than a year from graduating, hopes to complete his studies in science, technology and culture.

His mother, L’Tanya, has served as a professor of art and design at institutions near Chicago, including Harper College and Columbia College.

But Shumpert’s current education will include emphasizing his defensive presence. He said he learned to be tough on defense while playing with his older brothers in pick-up games in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park. He does not plan to change now.

“Definitely, you need to play defense,” he said. “Those other guys are veteran guys. They’re scoring the ball; the way they’re scoring the ball, sometimes you can’t score the ball and play defense all the time. But I’m the young guy with the legs, so I’ve come to play some defense.”

By the time the Knicks selected Shumpert, the best shooters and big men had been taken, and so those needs will have to be addressed in free agency.

Walsh, who is stepping down as president June 30, sat to the side Friday and watched Shumpert engage the news media. He did not speak with reporters.

Shumpert’s presence should provide the Knicks with different looks to complement the team’s All-Stars, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Billups. Shumpert could also eventually become the replacement for Billups, who will be 35 next season.

“The coach, the history, the city, being able to learn from those veteran guys, Chauncey Billups, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo — that opportunity doesn’t come every day,” Shumpert said, grinning widely. “For me to be in this position, I’m all smiles.”