On Friday’s edition of “The Lowe Post” with Zach Lowe, ESPN’s Ian Begley dished on a variety Knicks-related topics, including the Kristaps Porzingis trade, the possibility that Kevin Durant could take his talents to New York this summer, and the rumors that James Dolan may actually be open to selling the team.
If you’re a huge Knicks fan who loves well-informed conjecture, this is the podcast for you. Begley has been ESPN’s Knicks beat reporter for almost nine years, and Lowe has been with the mothership since 2010, when ESPN plucked him from Sports Illustrated. The two writers are clearly plugged in, but unlike some others in the industry, choose not to pretend that they know everything definitively just because they are well-connected and have heard some rumblings.
Now, let’s dig into the topics they addressed and see what we can glean from their conversation.
The Porzingis Trade
Some of you might be too young to remember, but the Knicks used to employ a 7’3” Latvian nicknamed The Unicorn. He brought hope back to Madison Square Garden before tearing his ACL, and although many fans had been viewing this year’s tankfest through the prism of his eventual return, the Knicks dealt Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks a week before the trade deadline.
Lowe and Begley discussed the KP trade at length, delving into all the various avenues that one can go down while talking about such an earth-shattering move. According to Begley, the Knicks were concerned about a “lack of commitment” from Porzingis, and believed he did not want to be in New York long term. However, he admitted there’s far more to the story, and noted that saying ‘KP requested a trade’ is too simple a description of the situation.
If you want to really get an accurate picture of how everything went so south between the Knicks and Porzingis, you’d have to look at “30 or 40 different little things that didn’t go exactly right” over the course of the last few years, Begley said.
Lowe, serving as a stand in for Knicks fans everywhere, wondered why Porzingis wasn’t satisfied with the fact that the team had gotten rid of some of the people who supposedly were problematic, such as Phil Jackson and Jeff Hornacek.
“The enemies of Porzingis are gone,” Lowe said.
That isn’t entirely true, Begley responded, specifically saying that “it’s not like there was a complete cleansing from one regime to the next.”
Additionally, the pair implied that perhaps the restructured Knicks front office could have done more to try and repair the damage that had been done to the relationship with Porzingis through the first few years of his career.
We could spend all day going over each little thing that may have played a part, and Lowe and Begley dug a little deeper, but the bottom line seems to be that both sides ultimately determined the relationship was broken, so it was time to move on.
The Specter of Kevin Durant
During their digging into the Porzingis saga, the duo came upon the topic of one Kevin Durant, the current Golden State Warriors superstar who is set to become a free agent this summer.
According to Lowe, it’s reasonable to speculate that Porzingis wasn’t totally thrilled with the fact that the Knicks basic plan seems to be picking up additional superstars like Durant rather than looking to build entirely around KP.
“There is the possibility that [the Knicks] got the sense that he wasn’t psyched about how aggressively they were going to court bigger names than him,” Lowe said. “That’s possible.”
Begley never got the impression that Porzingis was specifically unhappy with the idea that the Knicks might chase KD, although he acknowledged that such a sentiment is “not outside the realm of possibility.”
Lowe doubled down, insisting that trustworthy people have told him Porzingis may have taken issue with a rebuilding plan that didn’t put him as the face of the franchise.
One thing the podcast did not do is give us any indication of whether the Knicks might actually have a good chance to land Durant. Barring the existence of some real, under-the-table conversations between Durant and the Knicks, no one will know until this summer.
Rumors That The Knicks Are Up For Grabs
Lowe eventually brought up the “elephant in the room,” which is Bill Simmons’ recent decision to report that Dolan is ready to sell the Knicks.
Although Madison Square Garden Co. put out a declarative statement saying that the report is totally false, Lowe said he’s confident that potential bidding groups have at least started to get organized.
Here’s Madison Square Garden’s statement on the idea that Jim Dolan is courting offers to sell the Knicks: “The story is 100% false. There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions - nothing.” https://t.co/wSdifUtIy6— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 18, 2019
It’s not exactly clear what that really means, and it’s possible that Dolan has no interest in selling the team, but according to Lowe, certain nondescript people and/or groups have at least gotten the impression that they should get organized in the event the team becomes available.
Basically, it seems like there are indeed people out there who would be interested in buying the Knicks, but since buying a sports team is extremely expensive and Dolan may not be actively looking to sell, a bidder would probably have to present a ridiculous offer to even be considered. Considering Forbes just recently put the Knicks value at $4 billion, any interested suitor would need to be able to fork over an absolutely enormous pile of cash just to get Dolan’s attention.
Lowe and Begley wondered what might happen if the Knicks strike out in free agency this summer. Do they wait to spend their considerable cap space? Do they make major signings that don’t include the likes of Durant or Kyrie Irving? How will the fans react? Etc.
Begley noted that however you look at it, we are definitely coming up on one of the most important summers in franchise history.
Lastly, Lowe detailed that he is planning to include Mitchell Robinson in one of his upcoming “10 things i like and don’t like” columns, and it sounded like Robinson is a thing he likes.
“That dude does special stuff on defense,” Lowe said.
Yes he does, Zach. Yes he does.