Dan Feldman

Phil Jackson on Kristaps Porzingis: ‘As we love this guy, we have to do what’s good for our club’


Phil Jackson is reportedly open to trading Kristaps Porzingis.

The Knicks president granted a rare public interview to defend the strategy.

Jackson on MSG Network, as transcribed by Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News:

“We’re getting calls. As much as we value Kristaps and what he’s done for us, when a guy doesn’t show up at an exit meeting, everybody starts speculating on the duration or his movability from a club,” Jackson said on MSG Network. “So we’ve been getting calls. We’re listening, but we’re not intrigued yet as this level. But as much as we love this guy, we have to do what’s good for our club.”

Jackson was asked specifically what is best for the club, and why he would be considering trading Porzingis, who is still only 21 years old.

“Future. What it brings,” Jackson replied. “Does it bring us two starters and draft pick or something that’s even beyond that? (That’s) something we have to look at as far as going down the road. We know what he is. He’s a unicorn, and he’s special.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a player over 25 years of coaching, maybe 30, not come into an exit meeting,” Jackson said. “So it’s not happened to me. I know it happens to other people and other players. And his brother and his agent have downplayed it. But still it’s a chance for a person to express themselves, and I had a real good relationship with Kristaps over the last two years.”

At face value, this is fine. Jackson runs the Knicks. He isn’t Porzingis’ agent.

There’d be nothing wrong with trading Porzingis for a king’s ransom. (Two starters and a draft pick is vague. There are trades that return two starters and a draft pick and be worth it. There are also trades that return two starters and a draft pick that would be awful for New York.)

But the tone is troubling. Jackson sounds overly concerned about Porzingis skipping his exit meeting. That doesn’t change the fact that Porzingis is a 21-year-old rising star under team control for several more years. He’s incredibly valuable and shouldn’t be traded willy-nilly – like for just a draft pick that becomes Josh Jackson.

The Vertical:

If that were all it took to get Porzingis, a deal would already be done. At least one team picking that high, probably at least three (Lakers at No. 2, Celtics at No. 3 and Suns at No. 4), would be jumping all over that offer.

It’ll certainly take more to get Porzingis. How much more?

That’s the open question that will determine whether Jackson merely comes across as delusion or actually is delusional.

Report: Wizards trade No. 52 pick to Pelicans for Tim Frazier

AP Photo/Max Becherer

The Wizards got outscored by 4.4 points per 100 possessions last season – 9.3 in the playoffs – when John Wall sat.

Washington might have found a solution to its woes at backup point guard for a cheap price.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:

Tim Frazier is a competent point guard who can penetrate and pass. Though just 6-foot-1, he competes defensively and on the glass – a nice bonus.

He’s due $2 million next season in the final year of his contract, which is cheap for the 26-year-old’s production. But the Wizards are in danger of entering luxury-tax territory by re-signing Otto Porter. They likely would have made a salary-clearing move anyway, but Frazier adds a tighter squeeze.

Still, this is a clear sign to Wall, who’s mulling a designated-veteran-player contract extension and called Washington’s bench the team’s “downfall.” The Wizards are committed to building a better supporting cast around him.

It’s a curious move for the Pelicans, whose priority should be re-signing point guard Jrue Holiday.

If they re-sign Holiday, they won’t have any cap room, anyway. So ,clearing Frazier’s salary accomplishes little. Even if they plan to use the mid-level exception on another point guard, Frazier would have been a good third point guard (and is paid like one).

If they don’t re-sign Holiday, I’d want Frazier on the roster as a floor for the starting point guard. New Orleans would have modest cap space without Holiday to pursue an outside replacement, and shedding Frazier could make the difference. But the Pelicans could have always traded Frazier if that situation arose. The No. 52 pick wouldn’t sway me to preemptively move him.

Report: Langston Galloway opting out of Kings contract

Harry How/Getty Images

Langston Galloway parlayed the strong start to his NBA career with the Knicks into a contract, quite lucrative for someone who went undrafted just two years prior, with his hometown Pelicans.

But he was a throw-in in the DeMarcus Cousins trade and finished the year toiling for the Kings.

Now, rather than lock into a $5,434,000 salary for next season, he’s hitting the open market.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:

The Kings can make Galloway a restricted free agent by extending him a $6.5 million qualifying offer. They might rather just let him become unrestricted and open additional cap space.

I wonder whether he banked on the qualifying offer as his salary floor. Perhaps, like many before him, he just wants to escape “basketball hell,” even at a financial cost.

Galloway is a 3-and-D combo guard who can play either backcourt position on both ends of the floor. He’s better at shooting guard offensively and point guard defensively, so it’s a tricky fit to maximize him. But plenty of teams could use him one way or another.

At 25, Galloway is in his prime earning years. It seems someone should value him as a rotation player.

Report: Nick Young opts out of Lakers contract

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Nick Young outlasted D'Angelo Russell with the Lakers.

By only one day, though.

After Russell was traded to the Nets, Young – the other character in the video scandal – is opting out.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

Young was in line to earn $5,668,667 next season if he opted in.

He’ll likely get more on his next contract. Young is coming off a resurgent/career year, where he shot 40% on 3-pointers and actually tried defensively.

But he still has a reputation for not being serious enough to contribute to a winning culture. One focused year on a bad team won’t erase that. Young is also 32, an age where decline becomes a serious concern. Simply, teams might not trust Young to duplicate his last season. It’s far from guaranteed he recoups his option-year salary.

By opting out, Young also risks leaving Los Angeles, a place he seemed to enjoy playing. Maybe that experience had run its course for him. If not, remember, new Lakers president Magic Johnson never chose him. Maybe Johnson appreciates Young and wants to re-sign him, but that’d be coincidence. Young’s incumbent status with the team isn’t an indicator.

Report: Kawhi Leonard still has his braids

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Spurs are on the move, convincing Pau Gasol to opt out and reportedly expressing a willingness to trade Danny Green in an apparent pursuit of Chris Paul.

One thing not going anywhere: Contrary to photographic evidence, Kawhi Leonard‘s braids.

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

San Antonio might look quite different next season, but least Leonard’s hair won’t.