Okay, Phil Jackson might be crazy. I’m not just saying that because of his long, public feud with Carmelo Anthony or the fact that he seems to believe his time as president of the New York Knicks has been successful so far. Now, in addition to trading Melo, Jackson is shopping the team’s young star Kristaps Porzingis, and his reasoning is either maliciously misleading or his mind is starting to slip.
Porzingis skipped his exit meeting with Phil Jackson and the Knicks as a way of protesting the direction the team is heading. A powerful message. Players don’t generally skip their exit meetings.
Jackson took it personally.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a player over 25 years of coaching, maybe 30, not come to an exit meeting,” said Jackson. “So, it’s not happened to me, I know it happens to other people and other players.”
Well, either Jackson is trying to deceive Knicks fans to justify trading away their future, or he’s starting to forget momentous events in his life. Either way, it isn’t good.
You see, Porzingis isn’t the first player to “slight” Jackson by skipping the exit interview. In fact, he’s not even the best player to do so. After the 2003 NBA season, while Jackson was still head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal (yes, that Shaquille O’Neal) skipped his exit interview. Jackson wasn’t happy.
“It’s disrespectful to us as a staff,” said Jackson at the time. “We wanted this and we felt it was important as a team. It’s important for closure…And it’s adult responsibility to do that.”
Shaq ended up rescheduling his meeting to two weeks later; however, the following season O’Neal skipped the meeting again and never held it with Jackson, who stepped down as coach the next day.
I have a hard time believing that one of the best players you’ve ever coached (the best, in my opinion—sorry Michael fans) is so easily forgettable. Shaq, in general, is a pretty memorable guy.
Nonetheless, Porzingis seems to be on the way out with Knicks fans left being told to trust the process. The Latvian star’s camp was surprised that the Knicks were even entertaining the idea of moving him. Janis Porzingis, Kristaps’ older brother who works with the agency which represents Kristaps, put out a statement to ESPN regarding the situation in which he was clearly disappointed and irritated with the whole ordeal.
“Despite how the Knicks are treating their players, Kris wants to stay in New York,” said Janis. “He loves the city and he loves the fans and he wants to win with this team. If he’s going to be traded, he’s going to play out his contract and decide his future on his own.”
While KP has no championship dreams in the near future in New York, he most likely won’t be as lucky as Paul George or Jimmy Butler in drawing interest from teams like the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and San Antonio Spurs. Porzingis is a young star with his whole career ahead of him—he has an expensive pricey tag.
Fortunately, there is one glimmer of hope—the Boston Celtics.
Phil Jackson would like an established starter and a draft pick early enough to land Josh Jackson from Kansas. After trading their No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics land at No. 3, a slot in which Josh Jackson will almost certainly still be available. In fact, the C’s may want Jackson, but Porzingis would be much better.
If the Celtics can work out a deal to land KP using their many valuable picks this and next year, they would certainly also attract guys like Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward in free agency. Combine that with the top overall record in the Eastern Conference this past season, and you have a super team ready to compete not only with LeBron James in the East but also the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
I’m sure, Porzingis wouldn’t be too upset to land on a team like that.
“All I will tell you is that Kris has said that he knows that all the work he is putting in will pay off somewhere,” continued Janis. “He is working out five hours a day. He looks good. But this other stuff is unnecessary.”
At this point, it’s only fair to trade Porzingis. The Knicks aren’t going anywhere, and Phil Jackson has said in the past that he doesn’t believe KP would be ready to run this team when Carmelo leaves. The Knicks can get a good amount for Porzingis, and, potentially in the process, Porzingis might have the chance to end up somewhere where his talents won’t be wasted.