Porzingis May Prefer Trade; Knicks Expected To Explore Market

After meeting with Knicks management to express his concern about the team’s direction, Kristaps Porzingis left the franchise with the impression that he prefers to be traded, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Knicks are expected to begin discussions about possible Porzingis trades ahead of next week’s deadline, the ESPN duo reports.

As we relayed in our earlier Porzingis story, the injured big man – along with his brother (and agent) Janis – reportedly spoke to the Knicks today about his frustration with the team’s losing, the franchise’s history of dysfunction, and his concern about whether sustainable organizational success is possible.

While ESPN’s report suggested that Porzingis would like to win in New York, it seems that he’s not confident that can happen anytime soon. He’ll be a restricted free agent during the summer of 2019, so the Knicks are in position to hang onto him for at least another season, if they so choose, but it sounds like the club is willing to test the market to see what kind of offers are out there. The Knicks previously considered trading Porzingis when Phil Jackson was in charge of basketball decisions.

An All-Star a year ago, Porzingis averaged 22.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 2.4 BPG with a .439/.395/.793 shooting line in 48 games in 2017/18, displaying franchise-player potential. However, a torn ACL ended his season early and has sidelined him for the entire 2018/19 campaign so far.

Considering Porzingis still hasn’t returned to action following that ACL tear, it’s not clear what the trade market for him would look like at this point. If he’s able to get back on the court during the final couple months of the season and prove he’s healthy, it would increase his value, but it’s not clear when he’ll return — plus, it may be tricky for the Knicks to pull off a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason.

The Celtics, Clippers, Thunder, and Spurs figure to be among the teams with interest in trading for Porzingis, tweets Frank Isola of The Athletic. Wojnarowski names the Clippers and Spurs as well, adding the Nets, Heat, and Raptors to the list of potential suitors (Twitter link). Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) throws the Mavericks into the mix as well.

As we noted earlier today, Porzingis will have a limited ability to jump ship anytime soon if he’s not traded during the season or in a sign-and-trade. He could accept his qualifying offer this summer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2020, but settling for a one-year, $4.5MM deal would be a big risk for a 7’3″ player coming off an ACL tear.

His other option would be to sign a shorter-term offer sheet with a rival suitor — the Knicks would almost certainly match it, but Porzingis would have the opportunity to get back on the open market sooner than if he signs a four- or five-year contract with New York.

If the Knicks don’t move Porzingis before the deadline, it will be interesting to see if he reconsiders his stance at all in the coming months. New York has a good deal of cap flexibility and is in position to land a top-five draft pick, so it’s not as if the club is poised to stay stuck in lottery territory forever. Some good luck in the draft lottery or on the free agent market could substantially accelerate the Knicks’ rebuilding process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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