New York Knicks president Phil Jackson on Wednesday further ignited trade rumors surrounding third-year big man Kristaps Porzingis.
Several reports recently indicated that the Knicks were listening to offers for Porzingis, but that their trade demands were high.
On Wednesday, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Knicks had actually reached out to teams about Porzingis, hoping to get a pick in the top four of Thursday’s draft in order to select Josh Jackson.
Later on Wednesday, Jackson did an interview on MSG Network and confirmed the Knicks are listening to offers for Porzingis, saying they have to be mindful of the future. However, he did note the Knicks haven’t been intrigued by any offers yet.
Dangling a potentially generational big man is ill-advised on its own, but it’s the latest incident in a long run of questionable moves by Jackson. Prior to the Porzingis drama, Jackson was waging a public war with Carmelo Anthony, going as far as to say Anthony “would be better off somewhere else.” This came after several reports indicated Jackson and the Knicks were shopping Anthony at the trade deadline, but couldn’t find a deal, in part, because Anthony can veto any trade.
Suffice to say that all of this has not reflected well on the Knicks as they enter the offseason.
To restate the obvious, players and agents increasingly look at the Knicks as a destination of absolute last resort.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 22, 2017
Additionally, Sporting News’ Sean Deveney reported that free agents and their agents are increasingly wary of the Knicks. Said one agent:
“I was talking to one of our players the other day, a free agent, and we were looking at our options. And it used to be, ‘Yeah, get me to New York.’ Even when they were struggling, there are guys who want to be in the city. But he was saying, ‘no, no, not that environment, not now.’ They’re not just alienating their own players, they’re alienating all players. They’re making things hard on themselves there.”
Meanwhile, players already on the Knicks don’t seem too happy with the Jackson regime. Wojnarowski reported in April that players were waging a war of the “discord and dysfunction” with the Knicks after a hapless 31-51 season that was marred by several off-court incidents.
According to Wojnarowski, players are “fuming” over the Knicks’ plans to hold summer sessions of the triangle offense, Jackson’s preferred system that has largely proven antiquated in today’s pace-and-space NBA.
Likewise, Wojnarowski reported, even prior to the trade speculation, that Porzingis has taken note of more functional NBA franchises and how he hasn’t been put in position to succeed in New York or be built around as the future star of the team.
The drama extends beyond the Knicks’ actual roster as well. In November, Jackson was criticized for referring to LeBron James’ business associates as a “posse,” causing James and his business partner Maverick Carter to publicly chide Jackson for the word.
In February, the Knicks also made headlines for ejecting and having former player Charles Oakley from a game for allegedly berating owner James Dolan. Oakley was temporarily banned from MSG for the incident.
Despite all of this, the Knicks are in decent position to rebuild. They have the eighth pick in Thursday’s draft, all of their future draft picks going forward, a young star in Porzingis, assuming he doesn’t get traded, and a potential trade chip in Anthony, should he accept a deal to another team.
Draft picks and trades, however, may have to be the Knicks’ method of rebuilding, because from the sounds of it, they won’t do too well in the free-agent market.