The Knicks coach with whom Kristaps Porzingis was closest will not be back next season.
The team will not renew the contract of assistant Josh Longstaff, a Knicks official confirmed Sunday night. Longstaff worked closely with Porzingis as well as other Knicks players.
“We wish him well,” the official said.
The timing of this move, first reported by the Daily News, is curious considering what’s swirling between Porzingis and the Knicks.
Porzingis skipped his exit interview with president Phil Jackson and other team officials because of frustration over the direction of the franchise and the drama surrounding the team.
Jackson recently met with Porzingis’ brother Janis, who is one of his agents. Reportedly, that discussion did very little to change either side’s feelings.
The fact that Longstaff won’t return could be Jackson’s way of sending a message to Porzingis about who’s in charge. Jackson wouldn’t comment on Porzingis’ decision not to attend his end-of-season meeting when asked about it 10 days ago. Either way, Porzingis likely won’t be happy that Longstaff isn’t returning.
Longstaff went to Latvia last summer to work with Porzingis and attend his camp. He was the only Knicks coach there.
A holdover from Derek Fisher’s staff, Longstaff was popular in the locker room and respected by the players. Jeff Hornacek called Longstaff “sort of the leader of our player development.”
Longstaff, who climbed the ranks in Oklahoma City before joining the Knicks in 2014, spent much of his time developing the young players. He worked with Willy Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Ron Baker, Maurice Ndour, Chasson Randle and Marshall Plumlee this past season and Langston Galloway and Lance Thomas previously.
Dave Bliss, who also was brought in by Fisher, also was credited by the players for their improvement.
It’s unclear if the Knicks will replace Longstaff. Hornacek’s staff includes Kurt Rambis, Jerry Sichting, Corey Gaines and Howard Eisley.