Just when you think the Knicks offseason is about to flush the forgettable 2016-17 season down the toilet where it belongs, more crap floats back to the top.
According a post on former New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey’s Patreon page (via the Post), Kristaps Porzingis’ infamous skipped exit meeting may have been due to a spat with head coach Jeff Hornacek, not then-head honcho Phil Jackson:
...an incident between Porzingis, his buddy Willy Hernangomez and the head coach triggered ill feelings.
According to the report, Hornacek rode Porzingis hard last season, culminating when Hornacek told Hernangomez to tell Porzingis to “stop playing like a p—y.” Porzingis was offended, and it led to missing the exit interview and hurting his relationship with the first-year coach.
The Post story also cited Vecsey that KP “wondered why Hornacek never got on Anthony,” but Vecsey has denied that. I’ll fully admit to not being a Peter Vecsey Patreon subscriber, so I’m going to take him at his word there.
There’s two sides to this whole deal. On one side, Hornacek isn’t totally wrong. Porzingis does need to play tougher (which probably has a lot to do with his still-developing 22-year-old 7’ 3” frame). He sets weak screens a lot and doesn’t rebound particularly well for a guy of his size. Both of those things are presumably being worked on with Kristaps’ well-documented focus on building core strength this offseason. On top of which, KP was dealing with a pesky Achilles injury from the end of December until, presumably, the end of the season. Either way, there’s a case to be made that Porzingis needs to play tougher to reach his full potential.
But on the other side, can you really blame Porzingis for being mad, if Hornacek actually went about things in the way that Vecsey said?
Hornacek using Hernangomez as his middle man to tell Porzingis that he wants him to play harder reminds me of being a middle-schooler and telling your friend to tell Jenny’s friend to tell Jenny that you like her because you’re just too damn afraid to tell her yourself. This also kind of falls in line with previous reports of Hornacek not exactly being a “players’ coach.”
At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out going into training camp and then into the new season. With Steve Mills and Scott Perry at the helm now, will Hornacek have a short leash? Will the new regime ultimately put their Latvian centerpiece ahead of their head coach? Find out next time on “All My Knicks Children!”