It appeared Porzingis was showing he and the Knicks weren’t on the same page.
More circumstantial evidence to that effect…
Rumblings I heard at the G League Showcase were they’re not going to let him play. They’re going to hold him out. Throw this in the rumor column, people, not the sources-say column. There are rumblings that they’re not going to allow him to play, even if he’s ready, and this is among the potential sources of tension with Kristaps Porzingis.
Sometimes, a player needs a team to protect him from himself. Porzingis is incredibly competitive, and he surely wants to play. The Knicks might have the better perspective to prioritize his long-term future – which is better for Porzingis anyway.
But if Porzingis becomes ready to play before the season ends, he should play. Even just a few games could give him a head start in acclimating back to NBA pace, a la Paul George in 2015. A rusty Porzingis won’t interfere with New York’s tanking. The Knicks can’t keep him in bubble wrap forever.
That’s only if he’s clearly ready, though. If it’s a gray area, caution is the right approach. There’s no guarantee he’ll be fully recovered, though he’s progressing.
Of course, this might matter most because Porzingis will be a free agent this summer. Holding his restricted rights, the Knicks have a lot of leverage.
But they’ve also tested his patience – with not extending his contract, with Phil Jackson, with Jeff Hornacek. Could this put Porzingis toward a drastic step like signing a shorter offer sheet elsewhere or even accepting the low-paying qualifying offer to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020?
I doubt it. Few players bypass their first major payday.
Still, until Porzingis signs long-term, there continues to be rumblings that not all is well between him and New York.