Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey discusses the acquisition of Maurice Harkless, the new direction of the franchise and more. Harkless talks about this fresh start in Portland, how he complements their team and more.
Afflalo Explains Why He Joined Knicks
The New York Knicks may not have landed a star player this offseason, missing out on players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol and Greg Monroe among others.
However, they were able to make some quality additions, adding veterans Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn as well as rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant.
The team is hoping that this influx of talent can lead a playoff berth after finishing last season with a 17-65 record (the second-worst mark in the NBA).
Basketball Insiders caught up with O’Quinn to talk about joining the Knicks earlier this offseason, and we had the chance to chat with Afflalo in Las Vegas while he supports New York’s summer league team.
Afflalo, who inked a two-year deal worth $16 million and a player option for year two, is thrilled to join New York this season.
“I’m excited, man,” Afflalo said about his change of scenery with the Knicks. “I think it’s a great opportunity, individually and from a team standpoint. You can’t ask for more than to play in a city where the competitive spirit is extremely high and they want to win, so I’m looking forward to it.”
When asked why he chose the Knicks over his other suitors, Afflalo rattled off reasons.
“It was just the fan base, the environment, the chance to play with Carmelo [Anthony] again, the chance to play with other great players, the mutual interest from the coaching staff and [front office], and the culture they’re trying to build,” Afflalo said. “I just thought it was a good fit for me.”
Speaking of fit, Afflalo thinks he’ll do well playing in the Triangle Offense under head coach Derek Fisher.
“I’ll fit well,” Afflalo said. “I’m pretty versatile with my game, being able to post up or shoot threes to create small pockets of space or get my teammates some shots. I think I’ll fit fine.”
Last season, Afflalo averaged 13.3 points during his stints with the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers. The year before (in a full season with the Orlando Magic), he was asked to be an offensive focal point and did very well, averaging 18.2 points in 73 games. Over the course of his eight-year career, he has averaged 11.4 points.
When asked how good this Knicks team can be after missing on big-name players in free agency, he said it’s on this group of players to come together and help this franchise right the ship.
“I don’t know [how good we’ll be], but it’s up to us,” Afflalo said. “It comes down to how hard we compete, how we defend and how we play together. Trying to prematurely determine how great we’ll be is not, in my opinion, the smartest thing to do. But I feel like we’ll be okay. That’s the plan. We’ll see.”
While in Las Vegas, Afflalo has gotten the chance to be around Porzingis and watch him play. Through three games, Porzingis has averaged 10 points (on 60 percent shooting from the field) as well as two blocks. Afflalo has been very impressed with the 19-year-old.
“He’s good, man. He’s tall, active, a lot of energy and works hard, so I think he’s going play really, really well this year.”
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