A Timeline of the New York Knicks Nonsense Leading Up to Kristaps Porzingis Frustration and Trade Rumors
The New York Knicks entered the 2016-2017 NBA season with high expectations. The team was sitting pretty with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis playing well and the offseason additions of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
But that was then, and the reality was things went downhill fast. Rose left without notice on family issues, team president Phil Jackson and Carmelo went back and forth publicly over who was ruining the franchise, and Knicks legend Charles Oakley was forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden during a game.
As if things couldn’t get any worse after finishing 31-51, the Knicks have managed to go completely dysfunctional not even a week after the end of the regular season. All it took was one Phil Jackson interview to send things in the Big Apple into a death spiral.
It started with Jackson’s call to Anthony to waive his no-trade clause and politely get the hell out of New York.
“We have not been able to win with him on the court at this time,” said Jackson. “I think the direction with our team is he’s a player who will be better off somewhere else and using his talents somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.”
The NBA Players Association didn’t appreciate that. It’s sort of an unspoken policy not to be an ass, especially to your own players. The NBAPA union director Michele Roberts fired back and says that she has already spoken to Adam Silver about the comments made.
“We voiced with the Commissioner today our view on the inappropriate comments by Knicks President Phil Jackson,” said Roberts. “If players under contract cannot, under threat of league discipline, speak openly about their desire to be employed elsewhere, we expect management to adhere to the same standards. The door swings both ways when it comes to demonstrating loyalty and respect.”
As if Jackson’s public feud with Melo wasn’t enough, his insistence on the triangle offense continues to tear the team apart. Young star Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit meeting over dissatisfaction with the system, revealing deep-seeded issues within the organization and Jackson. Nonetheless, Phil threw the blame on head coach Jeff Hornacek, saying he’s the one causing the disconnect.
“I think there’s disconnect sometimes with this team, and I think there was some rebelliousness with this team that created some of the discord during the year,” said Jackson. “And I think it has to stop and that will stop.”
Jackson can’t ignore the main issue here, though: the team’s young star is so distraught that he flew back to his home in Latvia instead of scheduling a traditional exit meeting with Jackson. With Carmelo likely to be traded this offseason, Porzingis is the star of the show now, and Jackson will need him leading the team out of this seemingly perpetual rebuilding stage they’ve been stuck in. But is a 21-year-old from the Eastern Bloc ready to be the face of basketball in New York City? Jackson doesn’t seem to like the idea of that either.
“No, I don’t. He’s 21 years old. That’s a big load for anybody to take on,” said Jackson. “But he’s shown that he’s competitive. He’s shown that he’s competitive. He’s shown that he’s got a sense of desire to win, etc. So we’re really pleased with how he’s developed. I think he had some concern this year about physicality, not being able to stand up to all the games physically with his Achilles tendon, back, etc.”
Yes, Porzingis has had some injury issues over the past year, and yes, New York is one of the toughest (if not the toughest) city in the world to play professional sports, but you need to exude a level of confidence in your young players. Some guys, like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns became the faces of their franchises on draft night. Porzingis, at least, has had the chance to watch and learn from Carmelo Anthony over the past few seasons.
But, with Melo on the way out and no trust from the top, Porzingis should ask for a trade. If the front office believes he isn’t ready to lead the Knicks, they should have no problem complying. And, hey, they could get quite a bit in exchange for KP.
When asked if both Melo and Kristaps may be on the trade block this offseason, Jackson didn’t want to take anything off the table.
“Everything has got to be possible, and we have to make sure that if people have something to say, we listen to it, we examine it,” said Jackson.
The Knicks are an absolute mess right now. Anyone drafted there should pull a reverse Eli Manning and force his way out.