The Knicks announced Kristaps Porzingis requested a trade. That was an usual revelation in the official release about the deal with the Mavericks last January. Later, Knicks president Steve Mills said Porzingis threatened to return to Europe if not traded.
Still, there had been some pushback about whether Porzingis actually requested a trade.
Today, Porzingis confirmed he did.
- Reporter: “You had the trade request, right?”
- Porzingis: [nodding] “Yeah”
Porzingis had good reason for wanting to leave New York. The Knicks have been poorly run for many years.
However, they didn’t have to trade him. Porzingis was heading toward restricted free agency. New York could’ve dared Porzingis to take the qualifying offer or sign overseas. Those would’ve been incredibly risky moves for a player coming off a torn ACL. If he signed outside the NBA, the Knicks could’ve retained matching rights whenever he tried to return. As upset as he was with New York, re-signing long-term (with whichever team had him) was always the most likely outcome last summer.
But the Knicks found an offer they liked from Dallas. A big consideration was clearing cap space. That largely went to waste with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard signing elsewhere. At least New York also got a couple extra first-round picks.
Without landing a big free agent with that cap space, it’s hard to judge the Knicks favorably for this trade. Still, they deserve a little extra benefit of the doubt or dealing with the difficult situation of a star requesting a trade.
Where they deserve no benefit of the doubt: Creating an environment a star asked to leave.