Porzingis' brother says money doesn't guarantee Knicks extension

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Friday, November 3, 2017

Kristaps Porzingis'brother suggested in an interview published by a Latvian news organization that the New York Knicks forward would not decide to sign an extension solely because the Knicks can offer him the most money.

"The most important question here is this: What do you really want to achieve in your career?" Janis Porzingis said in an interview in Latvian with Sportacentrs, according to a translation by Eurohoops.net. "Because money -- if Kristaps performs at least on his normal level -- is gonna come. We are more focused on some other values and not just to quickly sign a new contract so we can collect the money. That's definitely not our goal, so we won't be feverishly counting minutes or counting points. You can't escape the reality, and the Knicks must also see that.

"From their point of view, Kristaps is the focal point at the moment, so you cannot upset him much, or otherwise, at the end of the season, he will say, 'It's not so cool here.' The second question is: Who is the New York audience coming to watch now? To a large extent, it's Kristaps. So the organization has to take that into account."

Kristaps Porzingis, 22, is in his third NBA season. The 7-foot-3 star is averaging 27.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in seven games.

He is eligible to sign a five-year rookie extension starting this summer that is worth between 25 and 30 percent of the salary cap (a projected $157 million to $188 million in total). If he wanted to become an unrestricted free agent, Porzingis would have to play his fifth season with the Knicks on a qualifying offer, which would be for $7.5 million -- significantly less annual money than he could earn via an extension.

Janis Porzingis, who works as a representative for his brother under Andy Miller, Porzingis' primary agent, declined comment when reached Thursday.

In the interview with Sportacentrs published Wednesday, Janis Porzingis also suggested that his brother isn't thinking about an extension at this point.

"First, it's a long time before signing a new deal. Second, there are so many things that can happen in the season, so it's a waste of time thinking about it now," Janis Porzingis said, according to a translation on Eurohoops.net. "He needs to be healthy and play his game. And even that is conditional since we know that (Joel) Embiid was recently awarded a maximum contract for 30 games."

Janis Porzingis also shed light on his brother's decision to skip his exit meeting with former team president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills at the end of last season. Porzingis skipped the meeting over frustration and drama surrounding the organization.

"[Skipping the exit interview] wasn't an emotional decision," Janis Porzingis said, according to the translation from Eurohoops.net. "It wasn't a spontaneous action. We had been thinking about it for a long time, and it was considered an honest, well-thought decision we came up with together. It was a logical next step for us, without which we would've been in one situation, but now after we did it, we are in another."

Janis Porzingis also suggested that Carmelo Anthony, who has since been traded to Oklahoma City, could have done more as a leader to prevent some of the issues that were bothering Porzingis. Anthony took the high road amid direct and indirect criticism from Jackson and amid consistent trade rumors.

"It's interesting how many people who are even somehow involved in all of this have criticized it afterward as something so unprofessional. Just look at Melo, how he is handling things," Janis Porzingis said, according to the Eurohoops.net translation. "And I'm thinking, wait a minute. In reality, if he, for once, decided to fight for something, we wouldn't be in this situation and Kristaps wouldn't be forced to take all the damage on himself. It wasn't done for some personal interest or ambitions or dislike for someone, it was for the sake of overall peace.

"It should have been a task for the team's leaders, but Melo and people around him never tried to change anything."

The relationship between Porzingis and the organization fractured in the offseason after Porzingis' skipped exit meeting and the Knicks talked with other teams about potential Porzingis trades.

When asked about any lingering issues between him and the organization earlier this season, Porzingis has said that he's focused on this season and doesn't want to comment on the past.

Mills, who is now the team president, and general manager Scott Perry both attended practice on Thursday but declined comment on the matter. Head coach Jeff Hornacek said he sees no lingering issue between Porzingis and the organization, and that there is no sign that Porzingis is unhappy.

"That's the past. We aren't worried about that," the coach said. "We started new this year, and we're moving forward. That's all.

"I think KP has been great so far for us this year," he said. "He's being a leader on the court and off the court."

ESPN's Bobby Marks contributed to this report.

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