The Knicks ousted Phil Jackson – who went out of his way to alienate Kristaps Porzingis – and promoted Steve Mills, who said he had a “hectic texting relationship” with the young big man. They exercised Porzingis’ 2018-19 team option. Porzingis said he wants to spend the rest of his career in New York.
So everything is now smooth between Porzingis and the Knicks?
Porzingis has emerged as a primary Cleveland target, but that’s a conversation that can occur only with Cleveland’s willingness to unburden the Knicks of the three years and $55 million left on Joakim Noah‘s contract. For now, the conversation is a nonstarter for the Knicks, league sources said.
For the right All-Star player, though — Irving or otherwise — multiple NBA teams are seriously questioning how emphatic of a “no” that will stay for New York. There continues to be distance between Porzingis and the organization, and how the Knicks truly value Porzingis’ future could become clearer once they’re together to begin the season.
I am shocked that a regime that paid Tim Hardaway Jr. $71 million over four years and Ron Baker $9 million over two years – and gave both player options! – hasn’t elicited complete confidence from Porzingis.
Porzingis still has two seasons before restricted free agency. There’s still plenty of time for this relationship to fully heal.
Porzingis is also more valuable than Irving. Noah, who carries highly negative value, could bridge the gap to the Cavaliers star. But I wouldn’t trade Porzingis and Noah for Irving. The Knicks are likely to be mediocre for the rest of Noah’s contract, anyway. Better just to ride that out and still have Porzingis at the end of the tunnel. There’s no such guarantee with Irving, who will become an unrestricted free agent in two years.
But it sounds as if the Knicks must still work to get Porzingis back fully on the same page.