This isn’t new news, we had heard before that Kristaps Porzingis didn’t want to land with the Philadelphia 76ers — heck, nobody did — so they couldn’t get a meeting with him before last June’s draft. This frost from agents is part of the reason GM Sam Hinkie was benched. The Sixers spun this as not being interested because Porzingis was more of a long-term project than their eventual pick at No. 3 Jahlil Okafor. There’s probably a little truth to that, too. But they never got a foot in the door with Porzingis.
As part of the launch of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports, Adrian Wojnarowski detailed how the Sixers tried to get a meeting with Porzingis and were shot down.
(Porzingis’ agent Andy) Miller didn’t make it easy for Philadelphia to draft Porzingis at No. 3. The Sixers wouldn’t be afforded Porzingis’ physical, nor get a private workout, nor even a face-to-face meeting. After most of the pro day executives cleared out of the gym in Vegas in mid-June, 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie lingered to meet with Miller. Hinkie stopped him in the lobby area and asked Miller about a chance to sit down and visit with Porzingis.
“You said that I would get a meeting with him here,” Hinkie told Miller.
“I said, ‘I’d try,’ and it’s not going to work out, Sam,” Miller responded.
An awkward silence lingered, the GM and agent, standing and staring. The Porzingis camp wanted no part of the Sixers’ situation at No 3. Miller couldn’t stop Philadelphia from drafting Porzingis, but he could limit the information they had to make a decision. And did. No physical. No meeting. No workout. The Sixers passed on Porzingis on draft night, clearing the way for the Knicks to select him.
That has worked out better than the Knicks had hoped — they know they had a player with great potential in the 7’3″ Latvian, but nobody expected him to play this well as a rookie. He’s performing better as an NBA starter than he did in the Spanish ABC league last season — his game has grown by leaps and bounds. Which portends well for the future in New York.
In New York Phil Jackson got a workout and an interview with Porzingis, plus a dinner. He got all the information he could want. (So did the Lakers, but they thought Porzingis too much of a project and chose D'Angelo Russell instead.) It still was a roll of the dice for New York — one that drew boos from Knicks fans at the draft — but it turned out to be a roll where Jackson hit the number. Now there is real hope in New York for the first time in a while.