This article would probably be sufficient if I just wrote “Ugh” with about 5,000 Hs, but alas, I will report the news to you fine readers of P&T.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, breaker of major NBA news, broke some rather unfortunate major NBA news today:
Reporting with @ZachLowe and @RamonaShelburne: In meeting with management today, Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis expressed his concern with the losing, franchise direction and an uncertainty that a culture is developing that will enable sustainable organizational success.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Porzingis wants to play for a winner in New York, but is searching for clarity on his future role with the team and Knicks direction. Porzingis -- out with an ACL injury --- can be a restricted free agent this summer. https://t.co/JtZzQ02FCI— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Things got a little more grizzly in Woj’s full story on the matter:
Porzingis, sidelined for nearly a year with an ACL injury, can become a restricted free agent this summer. Increasing tensions on both sides could culminate with the Knicks initiating trade talks prior to Thursday’s trade deadline or in the offseason to move Porzingis out of New York, league sources said.
Porzingis has wanted to play for a winner with the Knicks, but he has been searching for clarity on his future role with the team and the franchise’s direction. His name has been connected to trade talks in both the Phil Jackson and Scott Perry regimes.
And then, of course, there’s the true Woj projectile thrown in right at the end:
Kristaps Porzingis left the Knicks with the impression that he prefers to be traded, league sources tell @ramonashelburne and me. Knicks are expected to commence discussions on moving him ahead of next Thursday's deadline.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Ok, so that’s a little bit to unpack.
First off, Kristaps had to know the Knicks were going to be bad without him, right? Is this a sign that maybe he believes they’re holding him back from playing, despite him thinking his knee is healthy enough to play? It’s been almost exactly 12 months since KP tore his ACL, and that’s usually around the maximum recovery time for that injury.
As far as “clarity on his future role,” that really just creates more questions than it answers. The Knicks have been consistently touting Porzingis as a key piece to their future success since all the way back in the offseason and training camp. There was this from David Fizdale...
“We have Kristaps in the wings,’’ Fizdale said before the New York Knicks’ 117-91 blowout loss Wednesday night. “That’s one thing a little different than what Brett [Brown, Sixers coach] went through. They were trying to figure out all those young guys. With Kristaps sitting in the wings, that could fast-track us a little more.”
And this from Scott Perry...
Scott Perry on if it's a risk letting Porzingis become free agent:— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) October 16, 2018
"I’m not going to get into predicting anything about the future. I would just reiterate that I think as a group and we have a shared goal of making the Knicks a very good basketball team going into the long term.”
And then there’s arguably the most emphatic quote on KP from El Presidente himself, Steve Mills:
“I think we would like him to play and hope that he plays as soon as he’s comfortable playing,” Mills said. “One thing we’d like him to get on the court, we’d love to see him play, but we also acknowledge that he is a really, really important part of the long-term future of this franchise. And the one thing we’re not going to do is take any real risk with a -year-old player in his position.
“The most important thing for us is to have Kristaps on the court when he feels comfortable being on the court and we feel comfortable that he should be out there. That’s more important than any timetable this season, some point in the summer.
The most important thing is that we know that we’ve got this guy in a place that he feels comfortable on the floor and we feel comfortable in his ability to be a part of what we’re doing long term. That’s more important than anything else we can lay out.”
So color me confused by that part.
The most concerning part, however, is the trade nonsense. The idea of Kristaps forcing his way out of New York on a week’s notice, in the final year of his rookie deal, is just absurd. Hopefully that’s not something that the front office even entertains. That Porzingis has been “connected to trade talks in both the Phil Jackson and Scott Perry regimes” is also news to me, since any “reports” that have linked Porzingis to being traded this season have merely been speculative, non-sourced articles about who/what the Knicks could potentially offer to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis.
So before you get freaked out, just remember this:
— KP is a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning the Knicks can match any offer that another team sends his way. He can also get far and away the most money by re-signing with the Knicks.
— If KP decides he wants out, but the Knicks don’t want to play along, no other team can offer him a contract less than two years long to pry him away, which the Knicks could just match:
Luckily, offer sheets must be for at least two years (excluding option years), so if Knicks don’t offer max 1+1, KP can’t take it. So figure he needs to sign at least 2 years to avoid giving up money to leave as UFA. Can always just force trade as disgruntled player https://t.co/0Gv7FJEv4g— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 31, 2019
— Finally, if Porzingis wanted to be SUPER petty about the whole thing, he could sign a one-year qualifying offer with the Knicks worth a mere $4.5 million to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. The chances of that happening are slim to none.
So, basically, Porzingis has little to no leverage here. To say that the Knicks are in a position of power in this situation is putting it lightly, unless Porzingis is really prepared to sacrifice about $150 million in the name of getting out of New York.
Either way, buckle up and get ready for the shitshow. The trade deadline’s this time next week and it’s about to be a hell of a ride, one way or another.
UPDATE (3:16 p.m.):
The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors are among many teams expected to pursue Kristaps Porzingis in a trade, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Ah, yes, nothing would be more fun than seeing KP suit up for a division rival. We’ll keep updating as the Woj bombs keep flowing!