Kristaps Porzingis' skipped meeting led multiple teams to call Knicks

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Saturday, May 6, 2017

Several teams reached out to the New York Knicks to talk about possible trades for Kristaps Porzingis in the days after he skipped his exit meeting with team president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills, league sources told ESPN.

It is unclear whether the discussions led to substantial trade parameters. Teams were inquiring about trading for Porzingis, 21, after he showed his frustration with the direction of the franchise by skipping the meeting.

It likely would take a significant return for the Knicks to consider trading Porzingis, who is entering the third season of his four-year rookie contract.

A versatile, 7-foot-3 forward/center, Porzingis is viewed by many in the organization as a future franchise cornerstone.

But he had been frustrated by the drama and dysfunction surrounding the team this season, according to team sources. He has said several times that he wants to remain in New York, but with an important caveat: His top priority is to win.

The Knicks have lost a total of 101 games in Porzingis' first two seasons in the NBA.

After a February loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Porzingis discussed some of his frustration with the club.

He said there was confusion from "top to bottom" due to multiple changes in schemes by head coach Jeff Hornacek and the coaching staff over the course of the season. He added there was "a lot of stuff that's not clear" to players and that it was "hard to play like that."

New York was projected as a playoff team by some entering the 2016-17 season, but it struggled to develop any cohesion en route to a 31-win season.

Porzingis, who was selected fourth overall out of Latvia in the 2015 NBA draft, hasn't spoken with the Knicks since skipping the exit meeting. He left for his home country late last month and plans to play for the Latvian national team in the European Championships this offseason.

"I do not want to comment on what happened at the end of the season. I haven't made any contact with the Knicks," Porzingis said during a news conference in Latvia late last month, according to a translated version of his remarks.

The events of the past few weeks have left Porzingis' future with the team less than certain.

The Knicks can offer Porzingis a contract extension after next season. If no agreement is made next offseason, the Knicks can extend Porzingis a qualifying offer after the 2018-19 season, making him a restricted free agent. The qualifying offer would allow New York to match any offers Porzingis receives from other teams. If Porzingis doesn't sign another team's offer sheet in the summer of 2019 or chooses not to sign an extension with the Knicks, he probably would accept New York's qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020.

At his season-ending news conference last month, Jackson was asked whether any personnel move, including a trade of Porzingis, is "off the table" this offseason.

"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," Jackson said before complimenting Porzingis for his development this season.

Porzingis, who averaged 18.1 points and 7.3 rebounds this season, declined to comment on his future when asked about it at the news conference in Latvia last month.

"I don't want to comment on this question," Porzingis said when asked whether he sees himself with the Knicks after his rookie contract expires, according to a translated version of his remarks. "I focus on my job and what I can do now. I believe everything will be OK."

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