Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (April 15) -- Kristaps Porzingis skips exit meeting with New York Knicks

NBA.com Staff

Porzingis skips exit meetings | Drummond needs urgency | Magic didn’t heed Skiles’ warning | Doc says Paul shouldn’t carry burden alone | Fire, ferocity fuel Green

No. 1: Porzingis skips exit meetings — While Knicks president Phil Jackson was using his end of season press conference to try to sweep Carmelo Anthony out of town, the future of the franchise was expressing his displeasure with the state of affairs by missing his exit interview, says Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Porzingis was outspoken about the club’s “confusion’’ during the season and skipped the meeting because of dysfunction that could lead Carmelo Anthony to be traded this summer.

According to a source, Porzingis was disappointed throughout the season with how the franchise is being run. Porzingis still has two years left on his rookie contract.

On Wednesday, when the Knicks finished their season with a 31-51 record, Porzingis didn’t sound like he wanted to hear the term “rebuilding.’’

“No one’s comfortable with losing,’’ he said. “If it means going in the right direction and doing the right thing, let’s do that. But just having no idea the direction, then it’s not going to work out. The direction has to be clear what we want to do.”

No. 2: Drummond needs urgency — President and head coach Stan Van Gundy says the Pistons need more tweaks than an overall, but suggested that center Andre Drummond could benefit from a “sense of urgency.” Rod Beard of the Detroit News had the rundown:

There’s a certain element that it’s Van Gundy’s roster and though he’s in the dual role of president and coach, he doesn’t feel like he’s letting his allegiance to players he’s acquired and kept shade his assessment of their performance and production.

That starts with Drummond, who took a step back from his All-Star season, with the well-known free-throw issues and questions about his motivation and drive. It’s an ongoing process in getting Drummond to improve, but one that Van Gundy isn’t willing just to give up on.

The next step needs to come from Drummond trying to become an elite player, commensurate with his max salary.

“He needs to have a sense of urgency to elevate his game,” Van Gundy said. “He’s been in the league five years and he’s still young — he hasn’t turned 24 — so he has time. He’s a very talented guy and he’s been one of the elite rebounders in the league.

“He’s got some great things to work with but there’s more there; the sky’s the limit for him. He’s got a chance to be really good to great, but he needs to do some work to get there.”

No. 3: Magic didn’t heed Skiles’ warning — When Scott Skiles walked out as head coach of the Magic after just one season, most observers chalked it up to Skiles’ famous temperment. But now Magic team president Alex Martins admits to Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel that he should have listened to Skiles about the “soft” culture created by GM Rob Hennigan, who was fired after five non-productive years:

From talking to people close to the situation and listening to Martin’s public comments, it appears Skiles felt Hennigan and Perry coddled players and undermined the coaching staff’s ability to instill accountability. Skiles is a no-nonsense basketball lifer who didn’t like the work ethic of his young players or the culture created by the inexperienced Hennigan.

“The culture is the atmosphere and the expectations you set up around your basketball team,” Martins explained on our Open Mike radio show Friday. “How are those expectations communicated? How are you holding everybody accountable? What is the true message about the level of commitment we expect? … What do we expect from them [players] day in and day out?

“The teams that have won — whether it’s Cleveland or Golden State — have successful cultures. It’s palpable. You can feel it. When you walk into their organization everyday [in Cleveland or Golden State] you have Cavalier pride, you have Warrior pride. There was not that level of Magic pride in our basketball operation. Our culture was lacking. There wasn’t a structure to our culture and our basketball administration is responsible for that.”

Martins acknowledged that the loose, lethargic culture Hennigan created was among Skiles’ many concerns and hinted that if Skiles had stuck around he might have gotten his way. Maybe Skiles would still be here and Hennigan wouldn’t.

No. 4: Doc says Paul shouldn’t carry the burden alone — Clippers boss Doc Rivers is tired of hearing how it’s Chris Paul’s job to finally take his team deep into the playoffs. The burden should be on the entire team, Rivers told Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:

Paul, in ways it doesn’t for the team’s other stars, is dogged by the stigma of never having reached the Western Conference finals.

“I don’t think it should be Chris’ job to get us (past) the second round,” said Doc Rivers, who was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for April, as well. “It should be Blake (Griffin’s) job, and Doc’s job and J.J. (Redick’s) job. If one guy thinks that they’re going to do it, it’s not going to happen. This is not boxing.”

The Clippers do, however, keep getting knocked out.

No. 5: Fire and ferocity fuel Green — Draymond Green is fiery and ferocious and frustrating, even to his own teammates at times. But Warriors GM Bob Myers told our own Shaun Powell that he’s the flame that lights the Warriors’ fuse:

“There needs to be someone on each team who has an edge, a non-stop pursuit to win. Those people are some of the most successful people in sports. Sometimes they wear you out a little bit because it’s a constant drive. But you want more guys like that than those with the nonchalant attitude. Give me the guy that has too much passion and pride any day of the week. Draymond doesn’t know any other way to play basketball, except full throttle.

“Do those people sometimes exhaust you? Yeah, but again I have a great affinity for Draymond, to know he’s out there every night, giving what he has. That’s more than most people do every day at work. Most people show up and they do, well, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The rare breed shows up with that kind of effort Draymond brings every time. The guy wins.”

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