When a struggling franchise strikes gold the way the Knicks did with Kristaps Porzingis, the goal should be to give him all the space he needs to improve while bolstering the roster around him.
That's the conventional wisdom.
This summer, the Knicks didn’t treat him like the young star they’ve been looking for for years—instead, they alienated him from the franchise and even tried to trade him.
In the meantime, the 21-year old Latvian has showed out for his national team, played for Team World at the NBA Africa game, worked on his game, and has gotten stronger. Just like we wanted him to!
Let’s take a look at KP’s summer ‘17.
Look, I know he was almost traded and the Knicks treated him like shit, but can we all just imagine, for one moment, a world where the Giants have Odell Beckham Jr. on one side and KP on the other side. Like, look at this:
Alright, enough joking around. The Giants already drafted a tight end...we need KP for other purposes in this city.
Kristaps’ summer started off with an absence. He missed his exit interview and had Knick fans everywhere feeling rather uneasy.
Still, we just thought it was all about the direction of the franchise. No one would have even thought for one second that his roster spot was the least bit tenuous.
Welp, it was.
Phil Jackson reportedly put KP on the trade block which prompted essentially every NBA franchise to inquire about him. It was horrifying, and for a while, seemed very real.
Then, the draft happened. The Knicks went extra young and project-y with international man of mystery Frank Ntilikina. Any one of the top point guards in the draft would have been fine, but the Jackson decided to go with the high-upside and long-armed, but also very mysterious and raw Frenchman. The move seemed to be to fit KP’s timeline especially well; while the 18-year old Ntilikina develops, he can build chemistry with KP and Willy Hernangomez in hopes of putting together a “Big 3” in New York.
Still, the Knicks remained open to entertaining trade offers for KP.
KP’s missed exit interview had Phil feeling a little ornery, and he made the knee-jerk decision of trying to do away with him. That was dumb, but apparently he had some support from his boy Charley Rosen.
But Porzingis’ response was the best.
Not long after, that, however, Phil Jackson was relieved of his duties as Knicks team president and the entire fanbase breathed the biggest sigh of relief since this shot went in. Or something like that.
The relationship was seemed to be mended after that. Jeff Hornacek appeared more prepared than he had ever been to hand the keys to the offence over to KP. This was probably the best piece of news this summer.
Since then, KP has kept a relatively low profile. It has been reported that the Cavaliers would only take Kristaps in exchange for Kyrie Irving, but that doesn’t seem to be an avenue the Knicks are willing to explore. There are also reports that KP is still less than satisfied with the direction of the franchise—but with Phil gone, with Kristaps becoming the new face of the franchise and with the prospects of being part of a new young lineup, Knicks fans can hope that their star will feel better about a future in New York.
And then, like, he showed us why trading him would have been entirely absurd. The NBA Africa game was the first instance.
Then he played for his national team and looked, um, good.
Also, he’s apparently jacked now. And the ladies have noticed.
KP crashing a bachelorette party in Latvia is a big-time move. pic.twitter.com/zaot2zyQQL— Thomas Duffy (@TJDhoops) August 12, 2017
So yeah, he scared us with some emojis and there were some worrisome rumours about him all summer. Nothing we shouldn't have expected or been prepared for. These are the Knicks!
For now he isn’t going anywhere, which is cool. Hopefully the distractions didn’t impede his progress during the offseason. By the looks of his most recent showings, I’d say they didn’t.