Atlantic Notes: Afflalo, ‘Melo, Okafor, Porzingis

The Knicks knew Kristaps Porzingis would perform well, but they had no idea he would burst out of the gates so spectacularly, GM Steve Mills told Zach Lowe of The pick is a potential game-changer for New York, as Lowe examines. Mills said to Lowe that agents have remarked of how players “feel really good” about the Knicks but want to see the team start to win, a sentiment that Arron Afflalo understands. The shooting guard with an $8MM player option for next season contends “the city isn’t enough for people,” but is convinced for himself that the Knicks are for real, as he explained to Lowe.

“I want to finish my career here,” Afflalo said. “Having a good young player and a winning team should help us get other guys.”

Afflalo has been sold on the Knicks for a while, as he and Mills said to Lowe that the Knicks and Nuggets had trade talks last season that would have fulfilled Afflalo’s desire to go to New York even amid last season’s 17-win debacle. See more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics went after the Hornets’ pick at No. 9 with the idea of flipping it to the Knicks, along with another first-rounder, for the No. 4 overall pick, which Boston would have used to take Justise Winslow, sources told Lowe for the same piece. Boston offered Charlotte four first-rounders for the ninth pick, as Lowe reported earlier, but the Hornets refused, putting the kibosh on the scenario in which Boston would have vaulted to No. 4. The Knicks listened to the idea, Mills admits, but a deal was never close, he told Lowe.
  • The Knicks have “never” thought about trading Carmelo Anthony, Mills insists to Lowe, who nonetheless hears skepticism from other teams that the subject hasn’t at least been the topic of internal discussion.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson would have drafted Jahlil Okafor over Porzingis if he had the chance, a source said to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
  • Okafor’s off-court troubles are likely a shock to the Sixers, given the meticulous background checking they did before the draft on the center from Duke, a league executive told Berman for the same piece.
  • Porzingis decided against working out for the Sixers but wouldn’t have been opposed to playing for them, seeing it as an opportunity to perform in a low-pressure environment and viewing Nerlens Noel as a strong frontcourt complement to his game, a source close to Porzingis said to Berman.
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