If you thought it was a joke that the Knicks were considering trading their future star Kristaps Porzingis, rub the coal out of your eyes and pay attention.
Knicks president Phil Jackson is making calls to teams about a Porzingis trade, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Facebook Live. New York is looking to receive a top-4 pick and an established starter in return for the versatile 7-footer.
Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Boston and Phoenix hold picks No. 1 through 4, in that order, in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
The report comes one day after Wojnarowski tweeted there was a “frenzy of interest” growing around Porzingis.
Jackson did not deny the possibility of dealing Porzingis in an interview with MSG Networks’ Al Trautwig, though he did suggest the Knicks are receiving calls rather than making them. Jackson said that Porzingis’ decision to skip out on the end-of-the-season interview played a part in his availability on the trade market.
“As much as we value Kristaps and what he’s done for us, when a guy doesn’t show up at an exit meeting, everyone starts speculating on the duration or his movability from a club,” Jackson said. “So we’ve been getting calls and we’re listening but we’re not intrigued yet, at this level.
“As much as we love this guy, we have to do what’s best for our club.”
The Knicks drafted Porzingis fourth-overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. He placed second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns before averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game for the Knicks in his sophomore season.
But Porzingis became frustrated with the direction of the franchise amid midseason turbulence that contributed to a 31-51 record, with the Knicks missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The Knicks hired Jeff Hornacek and ran his pace and space offense early on, then switched to Jackson’s Triangle Offense at the All-Star break.
Jackson also publicly bashed Carmelo Anthony, saying the perennial All-Star would be better off somewhere else during his exit media session — a sentiment he doubled-down on on Thursday. The franchise’s cold shoulder toward Anthony, a star player who’d taken Porzingis under his wing, rubbed the young star the wrong way. He skipped his exit interview with Jackson, and the Knicks have had minimal contact with him since.
Phil Jackson on Carmelo Anthony: "We haven't been successful and it might be time for him to find an opportunity somewhere else."— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) June 22, 2017
For Jackson, trading Porzingis could be death by public opinion. The Knicks have an 80-166 record since The Zen Master took the helm as team president 3 years ago, and his transaction history leaves much to be desired. Jackson demolished the roster, reconstructed it and bulldozed it again. His lowlight included trading J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cavaliers for a pair of conditional 2nd-round picks.
When it couldn’t get any worse, he gave Joakim Noah a four-year, $72 million contract.
Now, Jackson is primed to undo his only saving grace, which was drafting Porzingis in 2015. And if the trade goes through and doesn’t pan out, it could be curtains for both Jackson and the Knicks’ future.