Kristaps Porzingis’ conspicuous absence from the Knicks exit interviews after the season caused many to speculate on his feelings towards the team and, more specifically, team president Phil Jackson. Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Porzingis, unhappy with the direction of the team, is planning on taking an extended trip home to Latvia this summer, and may not return to New York until just before training camp.
Not only did Porzingis skip his exit interview, but he also liked Carmelo Anthony’s Instagram post that responded to Phil Jackson’s comments that he should leave the Knicks this offseason by waiving his no-trade clause. However, despite the apparent red flags of Porzingis’ growing discontent with the Knicks, he is, at least on record maintaining his stance that he wants to remain in New York.
The New York Post spoke with Porzingis in his Manhattan apartment on Wednesday and asked him if he still wanted to be a Knick next season.
“Of course,” Porzingis said. “I love New York. I love New York.”
However, Porzingis still wouldn’t explain his absence from the Knicks exit interviews, claiming it’s “not the right moment to comment on anything.” Knicks fans can exhale some after Woj’s story created some panic among the New York faithful that Phil Jackson was managing to somehow drive both Anthony and Porzingis — the best draft pick by the Knicks in over a decade — out of town.
Porzingis still seems to want to play in New York, but by skipping exit interviews he managed to show his displeasure for the way the team has handled certain things. Making a power play isn’t a bad thing for the budding star, as he’s likely going to be the Knicks top star next year, whether Anthony is there or not — for whatever it’s worth, NBA 2K made them even in overall rating in the latest update. With two years remaining on his deal before having to make a decision on a qualifying offer, Porzingis can put a bit of a press on the Knicks brass to try and convince them that he would like to have a bigger voice and won’t stand for a mismanaged organization.
It would be extremely rare, and almost unprecedented, for a star of Porzingis’ magnitude to sign a qualifying offer after his rookie deal in order to reach unrestricted free agency, but it is a legitimate option for him. That provides at least some leverage against the Knicks, should Jackson continue to struggle at building a quality team around Porzingis over the next two seasons.