Kristaps Porzingis is on the brink of being traded to the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks and Mavs are finishing a deal that would send Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, and Wesley Matthews to Dallas in exchange for Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Trey Burke.
Porzingis met with Knicks officials on Thursday to state his concerns over the franchise’s persistent losing and long-time dysfunction, according to ESPN. New York reportedly left with the impression that Porzingis preferred to be traded, and the Knicks worked quickly to accommodate him.
Porzingis hasn’t played this season as he recovers from a torn ACL that was suffered on Feb. 6, 2018. The Knicks currently have the worst winning percentage in the NBA at 10-40 overall on the season. Porzingis will be a restricted free agent in the summer.
The meeting this week between the Knicks and Porzingis isn’t the first time the 7’3 forward’s frustration with New York has been out in the open.
Porzingis didn’t like how the Knicks handled the end of the Carmelo Anthony era
Porzingis’ frustration began during his second season in 2016-17. Then-Knicks boss Phil Jackson spent the year publicly feuding with star Carmelo Anthony. Jackson wanted to move on from Anthony, but his efforts were complicated by Anthony’s no-trade clause.
When the 2016-17 season, Jackson told reporters he thought Anthony would be better off chasing a championship ring elsewhere.
“I think the direction with our team is that he would be better off somewhere else,” Jackson said according to ESPN’s Ian Begley.
Later that day, Porzingis skipped his season-ending exit interview.
Jackson put Porzingis on the trade block ahead of the 2017 draft
In response to skipping the exit interview, Jackson publicly said he was listening to trade offers for Porzingis with the goal of acquiring a top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Porzingis wasn’t traded, and the Knicks would go on to select guard Frank Ntilikina with their own pick. The organization would let Jackson go later in the offseason, but the relationship with Porzingis was frayed.
Porzingis tore his ACL
Porzingis was off to the best start of his career in the 2017-18 season, averaging 22.7 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three-point range on nearly five attempts per night through the first 48 games of the year.
Then disaster struck: Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee on Feb. 6, 2018 in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Porzingis hasn’t played since.
The Knicks didn’t sign Porzingis to a contract extension last summer
Porzingis was eligible for an extension last offseason after the completion of his third year in the league. The Knicks opted against doing it in part because not doing so created additional free agent cap space.
Waiting to offer Kristaps Porzingis an extension until the summer of 2019 gives NYK an additional $10 million in cap space for the coming offseason. They’d still need to shed some salary to have enough money to offer a max contract to a player with at least 7 years of service https://t.co/4v7fM4jdEx— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 15, 2018
Porzingis is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, and has already indicted to Dallas that he’ll sign the one-year qualifying offer in hopes of becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020.
The Knicks never stopped losing
Since drafting Porzingis in 2015, the Knicks never won more than 32 games. Porzingis has had four different head coaches during that time. Needless to say, New York never came close to sniffing the playoffs.
The Knicks’ figured to be in the tank race this season with Porzingis recovering from ACL surgery. At the moment, the Knicks have the worst record in the NBA. Even as stars like Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving have been tied to New York in various rumors, there remains no clear path to contention for the Knicks.
Porzingis hasn’t had a good relationship with Knicks brass since his rookie year. On Thursday, he finally got what he wanted: a fresh start with a new franchise in Dallas.