clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How Kristaps Porzingis chose the Knicks as much as they chose him

New, comments

Fate is a Knicks fan for once!

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Wojnarowski needed some star power to launch his new site, The Vertical, and we all know there is only one NBA feature subject with that kind of juice: our own Kristaps Porzingis.

We already know the story of the Knicks-Kristaps pre-draft courtship from New York's perspective -- Clarence Gaines brought up Kristaps as a potential No. 1 overall pick, Phil Jackson probably still would have drafted Jahlil Okafor over him -- but we haven't heard as much from the Porzingis camp. As it turns out, Kristaps was more interested in the Knicks than they were in him.

Team Porzingis -- his family, along with agent Andy Miller -- made two massive decisions over the past two years which ended up steering him to New York:

Decision #1: They turned away the Magic in 2014

Per Woj, the Latvian mafia had a deal worked out with Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan, who would select Kristaps with the No. 10 pick in the 2014 draft, then keep him in Spain for one more season.

"Rob had a thorough, comprehensive plan," Miller told The Vertical. "He had invested as much, or more time, into Kristaps as anyone in the league. He really studied him. They had a plan for supplemental training, development. It wasn't just, 'Let's just draft him and see what happens.' This was a plan. Kristaps knew the plan and just wasn't ready."

Damn you, Magic! Of course, the absurdly mature Kristaps had a more sensible plan in mind:

It never did sway Porzingis. He had a vision of his future, a plan of how he imagined it would play out, and that didn't include making the leap to the NBA only because a team had a willingness to choose him in the lottery. Porzingis told his brother Janis and Miller: Next year, I'll be ready. Not yet.

"To me, when I came to the NBA, I wanted to be ready," Porzingis told The Vertical. "How your career starts matters in the NBA, it matters. I needed to play against grown men another year in Spain. The lottery, that didn't matter to me. Being ready, that mattered to me."

Good gravy is this kid wise beyond his years. You see it in just about everything he does, both on and off the court. If Kristaps had had the patience of your average teen baller, he'd be in Orlando right now.

Decision #2: They stood up to The Process

Even without the benefit of hindsight, Kristaps seemed like such a perfect match for Sam Hinkie's Philadelphia 76ers at the No. 3 spot in the draft. He was a floor-spacing big who could run the floor -- a far better complement for Nerlens Noel than the player they selected, Okafor. He was billed as a project ... Hinkie loves projects! It was fate!

Well the Porzingis family and Andy Miller did everything they could to thwart the hand of fate:

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.

That's colder than a milkshake in a Latvian snowstorm. And it worked! The Sixers passed on Porzingis, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years we Knicks fans have obsessed over the cruel twists of fate that have haunted the franchise in previous drafts (I'm not even gonna bring it up, but y'all know the one I'm thinking about right now). Now we have our own draft success story -- a magnificent ballet of good luck, good scouting and agent intervention. Praise be to Andy Miller! Praise be to the Porzingis family! Glory to Kristaps forever!