Morning shootaround — Sept. 17


VIDEO: Recapping the 2015 FIBA EuroBasket quarterfinals

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Porzingis ready to prove Jackson wrong | Curry re-signs with Under Armour | Wolves’ Jones expects playoff push | Chandler may help Morris, Suns mend fences

No. 1: Jackson’s comments get Porzingis fired up — In forging his legend as a Hall of Fame coach, Phil Jackson was known as a master motivator of his players. As president of the New York Knicks today, Jackson perhaps went to that well again over the summer with some criticism of the physique of the team’s first-round pick, Kristaps Porzingis. The New York Daily News Stefan Bondy has more from Porzingis, who used Jackson’s mini-barb as motivation:

Kristaps Porzingis isn’t sure why Phil Jackson compared him to draft bust Shawn Bradley, but the rookie is motivated to change those doubts from the Knicks president.

Porzingis, speaking Wednesday at an event to unveil his sponsorship partnership with Shifman Mattress, acknowledged that Jackson’s public concern over his lanky body, “fired me up.” The rookie also understands that reaction was probably Jackson’s intention.

“Yeah I saw it. I don’t know what to say. I guess that’s what Phil does, gets us to work hard and fired up. That fired me up. I’m like, ‘I’m not Shawn Bradley,’ you know?” Porzingis said, responding to a recent interview on ESPN.com where Jackson wondered if the Latvian was “too tall for the NBA” like the awkward 7-6 Bradley. “I want to be better than Shawn Bradley obviously and be stronger than him,” Porzingis added, “but I’m a different player.”

Porzingis, who is roughly 7-2, has aggressively been trying to adapt his body to the NBA, consuming roughly 5,000 calories (including three steaks) per day in hopes of gaining 15 pounds. He’s four pounds short of his goal, and there’s an understanding that he’s built for power forward in the NBA, rather than banging in the paint with centers.

“For now, I’m a (power forward) for sure because of the defense. I’ve got to be able to hold those (centers). So that’s the main thing,” the 20-year-old said. “Once I get stronger, I’ll be able to play (center). Offensively, I can play both positions. At (center), I’ll be way quicker than the defender. So I’ll get stronger and gain more weight, if I want to play (center).”

With less than two weeks before training camp, Porzingis has been participating in two-a-day practices at the team facility and recovering in a hyperbaric chamber. He also mixes in two sessions in the weight room per day. Before that, he was playing one-on-one against Carmelo Anthony and, “just asking him about the moves.”


VIDEO: Kristaps Porzingis talks about getting ready for the 2015-16 season

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No. 2: Curry re-signs with Under Armour — Life is pretty good for Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. He’s fresh off winning his first Kia MVP and NBA championship and his Warriors seem more than ready to defend their spot as the league’s top dog. A little bit of good off-the-court news is always welcome in a situation like this and that’s exactly what Curry got as he has re-signed with Under Armour as a pitchman. ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell has more:

Under Armour locked up another piece of its future on Wednesday, as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry made a surprise appearance at the company’s annual investor day and pulled out a signed contract out of his back pocket that will keep him with the brand through the 2024 season.

Terms weren’t disclosed, but the company did say the new deal includes ownership in the company, which hit its all-time high stock price today.

“Stephen is a once-in-a-generation talent and has unprecedented influence on the game of basketball,” said Adam Peake, the company’s executive vice president of global marketing. “His work ethic, uncompromising self-belief, and commitment to the community are characteristics that make Stephen the perfect partner to ignite the growth of Under Armour in the sport of basketball and around the world. We are extremely proud to call Stephen family, and we are excited to write the next chapter of our shared story.”

Two years ago, Under Armour signed Curry after Nike failed to match a deal worth less than $4 million a year, which quickly became a bargain as Curry emerged as one of the best players in the league. Last year, in his first year in his signature shoe, the Curry One, he won the league MVP and his Warriors won the NBA title.

“Under Armour has felt like family since day one,” Curry said in a statement. “In the first two years of our partnership, we accomplished so much both on and off the court, and I’m looking forward to being part of the brand’s story for the rest of my playing career and beyond.”

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No. 3: Wolves rookie Jones pushing for playoffs — If you missed it earlier this week, our David Aldridge had a good look at the state of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the wake of coach Flip Saunders‘ excused absence from the team to treat cancer. Where Minnesota goes in 2015-16 is a big unknown given their young roster and that they are in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Still, as Michael Rand of the Star Tribune details, the Wolves have playoff aspirations despite all those challenges — or so says rookie guard Tyus Jones:

Timberwolves rookie point guard Tyus Jones was back at his old high school in Apple Valley on Wednesday for a motivational event called “The Harbor by Jostens,” during which he gave advice to students who in some cases are only a couple years younger than him. It was good stuff, and afterward he met with some assembled media members on a variety of subjects. I had a chance to ask him a couple things — specifically about his reaction to the recent news of Flip Saunders’ cancer diagnosis and his contact with the Wolves coach/president. Here is Jones response to that and a few other questions.

On Saunders: It hit me pretty hard just because you never want anyone to go through that, especially someone you’re close with. When I heard that news, it was definitely pretty sad. I reached out to Coach Saunders, just let him know I was praying for him and that I’m with him and that he’ll get through this. I’ve been in good contact with him and he’s fighting it. He’s in good spirits and he’ll definitely get through this and still be a part of this team and this organization in a big way like he has been. He’s doing good. I’m still praying for him and hoping he can knock this off quickly.

On his relationship with interim head coach Sam Mitchell: We’ve built a strong relationship and it will only continue to grow now with him stepping into the head coach role as the season gets started. He’s been around the gym every day just like I have. We’re just trying to build our relationship and go from there.

On the outlook this season for the Wolves: The goal is to make the playoffs this year. I think that’s been very understood. That’s our goal as a team. We have a great balance of young guys and veteran guys mixed with talent. When you’re going into a season, you have to have confidence and be willing to put in the work. That’s what we’re going to do. The goal is to make the playoffs and try to make a playoff run, try to turn things around from last year. It starts up in a couple of weeks and we’ll be ready to go.

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No. 4: Chandler may help Morris reacclimate to Suns — If you aren’t well versed in the Markieff Morris vs. Phoenix Suns drama, you haven’t been paying attention this offseason. If you are, you know that — in short — the relationship between the forward and the team is severely fractured (if not totally broken). New Suns center Tyson Chandler, though, can speak from experience about being in a similar situation after he was part of a failed trade in 2009 with New Orleans that saw him never actually leave the team. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has more from Chandler, who may be able to help Morris mend fences with Phoenix:

Chandler knows what it is like to come to work with ruffled feathers, having been traded from New Orleans to Oklahoma City in 2009 only to have the Thunder rescind the deal over turf toe.

“Our whole (New Orleans) organization was concerned how I was going to come back and would I lay down and all that kind of stuff,” said Chandler, who began voluntary workouts Monday with the Suns. “I let all of them know, in a meeting with the GM, that ‘I don’t play for you guys. I play for myself. I play for my family. And I play for other guys in that locker room.’ So it wasn’t difficult for me to come back and stand alongside my brothers because that’s who I play for.”

Chandler returned to the New Orleans locker room, declaring, “Y’all can’t get rid of me.” The team won the next seven games after the foiled trade.

Chandler has not been able to speak to Morris yet but he expects to do so soon. His message will focus on how Morris’ feelings toward General Manager Ryan McDonough, adviser and former President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and Managing Partner Robert Sarver should have no bearing on his play or relationship with teammates and coaches.

“It’s not about them,” Chandler said. “That’s no offense to Ryan, the GM, or the owner. Players play for players and the coaches. You’ve got a bond. Management has nothing to do with anything that goes on when you’re on the court. That’s just my thoughts. I’m not saying this for anything against Keef either. He’s a man and he has to go through his own process. But he can be special and I know he will. I feel like all this stuff will be forgotten once we kick off and we’re having success.”

“He’s a great player and I feel like he has a bright future,” Chandler said. “Sometimes, organizations and players go through hiccups like this. I think all of this can be worked out and I think it will be worked out. I think he’s going to have a bright future with the Phoenix Suns. I’m hoping he’s going to be on the court because I know there are some special things he can do with the type of player that he is.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Jordan Crawford has reportedly signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Chicago BullsRoy Hibbert is ready to rediscover his game with the Los Angeles Lakers … Pretty good breakdown of all the big men on Canada’s roster … How Nikola Mirotic may fit into the Chicago Bulls’ new-look offense … Brooklyn Nets rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may become the team’s first player to live in that borough

9 Comments

  1. KingdomMan says:

    Remember when Scott Skiles was fired by Chicago right before Christmas a few years back? He said that nobody should feel sorry him as he’s being paid millions to coach a kids game. I feel the same way about this Morris guy. Man up and honour your contract! He said he took a pay cut to stay with his brother in Phoenix which I can respect but that’s a problem 99.99999% of the rest of the planet would like to have. Besides, how much of a pay cut did they take? He ain’t THAT productive.

  2. Vincent says:

    shoulda kept gerald green instead.

  3. Jose says:

    For Him to be Happy: his NBA Journey wants also to be personal that is to play with his brother

  4. ROCKETS says:

    MARKEIFF COME TO HOUSTON.

  5. harriethehawk says:

    Why would Markeiff Morris listen to anything Boozer the Loozer hs to say?

  6. michael says:

    shawn bradley? really? way to boost the big fella’s basketball self-esteem there phil

  7. michael says:

    I’m sure you will see plenty of steph/under armour adds at your local store now mr. carey!!! Be nice riley those kicks your daddy was wearing during last year’s playofs were actually pretty cool looking especially the all blacks with yellow logo!!!

  8. Wayne Carey says:

    1. If people would actually that the time and look at Shawn Bradley’s stats and career they would see he wasn’t a total bust. Was regularly in the top 5 in Blocks and rebounded very well. People say he was a bust because of the high expectations that was placed on him, and he was always on a bad team. Also it didn’t help that the 76ers could of drafted Hardaway and traded him and got Chris Webber. Bradley should of gone back to BYU after his Mission for a year too.
    2. Under Armour is a great brand! But I will say I went to an Under Armour store right after the nba finals and they didn’t even have a picture of Stephan Curry or his shoes in the store – if he is the spokesman they should be promoting him up the ying yang!

  9. Riley Curry says:

    Geez Nike! You missed out on my Pops for less than $4 mil a year?! Now I’m stuck wearing ugly-@$$ Under Armour for the rest of his “playing career and beyond”! Smh!