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.
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.