In a season that was predestined to feature many losses, a mid-winter flurry of headlines worrying whether Kristaps Porzingis might look to leave the New York Knicks is not surprising, but the latest batch of alarming news stories related to Porzingis’ future are filled with speculation and should be taken with an entire shaker of salt.
It all started last week, when Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News — a reporter who brings a healthy dose of skepticism to his coverage of the Knicks — posted a story looking at the multiple possibilities that exist with regards to the Porzingis situation. He took a not-so-illogical leap, writing that while Porzingis has said on multiple occasions that he wants to spend his entire career with the Knicks, there’s no guarantee that everything will fall into place perfectly.
Porzingis’ free agency does not have to be the foregone conclusion the Knicks are selling to you. He has options. https://t.co/7T6SieotXb— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) January 2, 2019
For instance, he noted that the Knicks declined to offer Porzingis an extension when they could have last year, and cited anonymously sourced rumors that when they do finally look to re-sign him they’ll look to include provisions that would protect the team in the event Porzingis misses games, à la those featured in the contract of Joel Embiid.
Further, Bondy reported that the general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks, is “high on Porzingis,” and he wasn’t talking about a drug named after the Unicorn. According to Bondy, Marks could look to sign Porzingis to an offer sheet, which the Knicks would then have to match (they would).
Bondy’s report was quickly picked up by the masses who live on the internet, and it wasn’t long before other outlets started offering their own takes on the idea that Porzingis might be skeptical about the Knicks current rebuilding process.
SB Nation’s very own Tom Ziller, an all-around basketball guru whose takes are typically very even handed, wrote about the latest Porzingis fracas in one of his patented NBA newsletters, and while his actual story was level headed, the following Tweet he posted was not:
Those who saw only the Tweet probably panicked, but anyone who clicked through and read Ziller’s piece were given a much-needed dose of reality. While Ziller admitted that Bondy “knows much more about what’s going on in the Knicks’ collective heads than I or most of us,” he also detailed that the most likely scenario, by far, is that the Knicks will ultimately sign Porzingis to a max deal when his current contract is up. Then, if the Knicks continue to be terrible for the duration of that contract, Porzingis could look to take his talents elsewhere.
Well, yeah. If the Knicks continue to suck for years after Porzingis re-signs, and he believes it is the fault of the organization as opposed to his own play, then there’s a chance he’d be interested in trying his luck on another team. That’ not exactly breaking news, but again, we’re in the midst of a lost year and it’s hunting season for clicks.
A few other outlets picked up the original Bondy story and repainted it in their own words, only with no new reporting. They even discussed the situation on ESPN’s The Jump, only Chauncey Billups (Once A Knick, Always A Knick) poured a delicious, overflowing bucket of ice water on the fire by explaining that the current Knicks front office seems to be trying to build a team the right way, adding that there doesn’t seem to be any real indication that Porzingis has a desire to leave.
Then, just when we were all getting some distance from the Porzinguessing game, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor decided to jump into the fray. In a story posted on Tuesday and titled “Five NBA Pre-Agents That Teams Are Keeping Their Eyes On,” O’Connor explained that teams are “wondering what will happen with Porzingis.” He named the San Antonio Spurs as one franchise that has “significant interest” in Porzingis, citing “league front office sources.” That being said, the story admitted that the Spurs could have difficulty clearing the necessary cap space to make a run at Porzingis.
The Anthony Davis drama serves as a reminder that stars stuck in volatile situations are flight risks. Here are five blossoming stars who could help make their teams into contenders, but their front offices have work to do. @ringer @ringernba https://t.co/gbncCYfGM7— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 8, 2019
As is customary, O’Connor also painted both worst and best case scenarios to help Knicks fans fall further into insanity.
When it comes to actual, on the record statements, everyone involved has said all the right things. James Dolan maintains that he’s staying out of making any basketball-related decisions. Scott Perry and Steve Mills say that Porzingis is progressing and that he’ll be re-evaluated next month. David Fizdale says that in Porzingis, the Knicks have a “monster waiting in the wings.” Porzingis, meanwhile, sits on the bench at all the Knicks home games and appears extremely supportive of his teammates — unlike a certain Kawhi Leonard who distanced himself completely from the Spurs last season. He also often posts on social media about how badly he wants to ball, including this Instagram photo from four days ago in which a rookie KP, in his lovely blue Knicks uniform, is throwing down a thunderous slam.
All in all, this appears to be a case of someone trying to stir up some drama during the mid-season doldrums and the internet doing what it does: grabbing the story and running with it until every possible take has been squeezed out. For now, it doesn’t look like there’s any real reason to be too concerned about Porzingis, other than hoping he fully recovers from the torn ACL.