Kristaps Porzingis is a smart guy, surrounded by people who get it — his agent Andy Miller, his brother (an agent also with Miller) who played ball in Europe and has been around the block with teams good and bad. Team Porzingis has been a smart, steady voice for his little bro.
Team Porzingis may have been a little surprised by the backlash, and how big a story it became, when he skipped his exit interview and went home to Latvia. However, the message they wanted to send about the need to change the culture of the Knicks was not lost.
Porzingis’ brother Janis spoke with Ian Begley of ESPN and tried to make clear what they are hoping to see.
“Kris wants to stay in New York; he feels at home there. There is no question about it. The only thing he wants is for the Knicks to create an environment where he can develop and grow as a player and win,” Janis Porzingis said in an interview with ESPN. “If he were traded, he would play out his contract and head into free agency, where he can choose his own destiny.”
The second part of that quote is moot, the Knicks are not trading Porzingis. Yes, teams reached out to them about a deal after the exit interview thing, but that went as well as me reaching out to Zoe Saldana about a date. (In a fantasy basketball world we could come up with trades the Knicks would make, but the reality is that Anthony Davis or Karl-Anthony Towns and that ilk are not getting moved, and that’s what it would take.)
Porzingis is right to be frustrated with the dysfunction of the Knicks organization and the constant switching of directions — they’re a triangle team, then they’re going to play Hornacek’s style with some triangle elements, they’re going to build around Porzingis then sign Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah (the latter to a horrid deal), and now they’re triangle again. The top-down corporate culture, or lack thereof, is what held the Knicks back for more than a decade. And it all starts above Jackson.
Eventually the threat of losing KP will give the big man power in the organization to push for changes (see Chris Paul with the Clippers among many examples over the years), but for now he’s just got to send messages. And he did that well.