With NBA Draft, free agency, and trade season upon us, the rumors are all over the place. But, perhaps the most outlandish trade rumors involve the most influential and relevant New York Knick since Patrick Ewing, and that’s Kristaps Porzingis. The “Zinger” as many call him, has been the most consistent performer on the Knicks and the unicorn of the organization.
However, Phil Jackson, president and GM of the Knicks, came out and explained that he is indeed fielding offers for the young, promising 21-year old. It’s yet another twist to the already wild career of Kristaps Porzingis, from being booed the day he was drafted to becoming the shining light in a dysfunctional organization up through finding himself the talk of trade discussions.
April 28th, 2014 – Declares for the 2014 NBA Draft and eventually withdraws
Porzingis was highly touted and drew interest from many NBA teams despite his age and unfamiliarity due to playing overseas. However, he wasn’t a consensus lottery pick. He ended up withdrawing his name from the Draft to play one more season with his European team to “develop his skills until the 2015 NBA Draft.” Porzingis went back to playing for his club team in Europe, Casajol Sevilla. He then won the 2014-2015 Rising Star award of the season.
April 16th, 2015 – Declares for the 2015 NBA Draft
Through his agent, Porzingis declared once again for the Draft and was widely considered a top-five prospect after impressing overseas. He drew interest from the Lakers who held No. 2 pick and other teams in the lottery. Teams traveled to Spain throughout the season to see the lanky, versatile center play after peaking teams interest in the 2014 Draft. Some labeled him the next Darko Milicic, while others thought he could be the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki. But, given his size and ability to shoot, many saw the potential – it was just a matter of who would take a chance on him.
June 25th, 2015 – Picked fourth overall by the Knicks, booed
“I almost hate to bring up this little bit of history now but I’m compelled to do so,” ESPNs’s Rece Davis said after Porzingis was drafted. “Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol were the first European players ever drafted in the lottery, they became All-Stars. Since then, 16 europeans in the lottery and none of them have become All-Stars.”
It’s a moment draft fans will remember for a long time. Porzingis was selected by the Knicks and greeted by the fans with loud, obnoxious boo’s (and crying as seen in the video). Knicks fans across the country were furious at the decision to take a man they’d known almost nothing about. In fact, many saw him as a YouTube player since that was all the tape they could find on him.
July 8th, 2015 – Porzingis makes his Summer League debut, impresses
Porzingis showed plenty of potential in Summer League. He’d flashed range from the outside, averaged 1.8 blocks per game, and dropped post moves against other draft prospects. This was the start of Porzingis revealing the upside many thought he’d have two or three years down the road.
July 30th, 2015 – Signs Rookie Deal
Kristaps signed his rookie scale deal and prepared for his first season in the NBA.
October 28th, 2015 – Makes his debut
Porzingis played the Milwaukee Bucks and scored 16 points and five rebounds in a blowout 122-97 win. It was an impressive first game that put Porzingis squarely in the bright New York spotlight. The doubts that were once there were almost entirely gone – at least for now – and Knicks fans seemed to buy into Zinger Mania.
December 7th, 2015 – The Dirk Nowitzki game
After winning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in October and November, Porzingis was on a tear and proving doubters wrong. He faced his role model Dirk Nowitzki and played arguably his best game of his rookie season, scoring a game-high 28 points. After the game, Nowitzki answered questions on the comparison between him and the young-star saying, “the comparisons are more than fair. He’s way ahead of the curve. When I was 20 I was scared to death out there. He’s almost averaging a double-double out there. He’s better than I was in my 20s, so the comparison is probably unfair to him. He’s a complete package.”
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle added to the praise, saying “Dirk loves these types of situations, taking the challenge of a young guy like this, and Porzingis is a special player.”
January 11th, 2016 – The fan who cried at Draft Night meets Porzingis
The famous fan who cried on Draft night after seeing the Porzingis pick come in became his biggest fan. The fan took a selfie with him, showing how much Knicks fans had changed their opinion on the Latvian.
February 12th, 2016 – Rising Stars Challenge
After he and Karl Anthony-Towns won rookie of the month awards for respective conferences three months in a row, they squared off in the Rising Stars Challenge. Porzingis scored 30 points for the World Team and buzz around Porzingis continued to surpass any and all expectations in year one. He was becoming the face of the Knicks franchise over big names like Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson.
February 19th, 2016 – Porzingis has viral dancing video resurface
Kristaps became even more of a New York icon after the hilarious video of him dancing to “What Is Love” surfaced. The video from his European team surfaced through social media and redefined the meaning of “unicorn.”
May 16th, 2016 – Finishes second in Rookie of the Year voting
Porzingis averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.9 blocks in his first year as a Knick. Any other season, he’d probably be the Rookie of the Year however, Karl Anthony-Towns took home the award with Porzingis coming in second. It was a season to remember, as he finished the year with one of the most promising rookie seasons in recent memory. Knicks fans finally had a reason to believe they’d be in good hands for the future.
July 2nd, 2016 – Knicks land Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose
New York made a splash in free agency, and Porzingis seemed excited at the prospect of what Rose was calling a “superteam.” In the New York Times, Porzingis stated that he was eager to play alongside Derrick Rose and company. In that same article, he claimed that he’d worked on his shot so much that it became “annoying.”
September 18th, 2016 – Kristaps gets revenge on the Crying Knicks fan
The infamous crying Knicks fan got blocked and scored on while playing against Porzingis in a camp. Porzingis finally got his revenge and New York fans across the country were glad they weren’t the ones who were embarrassed in a game of one-on-one.
October 25th, 2016 – Cavs demolish Knicks as Porzingis continues where he left off
Porzingis scored 16 points and had seven rebounds, but the Cavs flat-out demolished the “superteam” Knicks, 117-88. This continued to be the story of the season as both Noah and Rose were essentially non-factors and rumors around the team eventually swirled.
December 16th, 2016 – Scores career-high in win over Detroit
Porzingis scored a career-high 35 points in a win against the Pistons. This gave New York its first back-to-back wins of the season.
March 30th, 2017 – Knicks eliminated from Playoff contention
The Knicks plan of bringing in high-priced free-agents like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee didn’t work the way they wanted it to. In a loss to the Heat, they were eliminated from playoff consideration and Kristaps was essentially the only bright spot on a team mired in turmoil.
April 4th, 2017 – Porzingis out for rest of the season with back soreness
Knicks PR announced that the Knicks were sitting Porzingis for the rest of the year due to lower back soreness. His season came to a close as he missed the final five games of the regular season. He finished the year averaging 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and two blocks, but experienced a few minor injuries and setbacks throughout the season.
April 14th, 2017 – Porzingis misses exit meeting
As the season ended poorly, Porzingis was rightfully frustrated and skipped the Knicks exit meetings. Apparently, he was frustrated at the notion of Carmelo Anthony being traded and later liked an instagram post of Anthony’s that pertained to Jackson’s press conference just days prior.
June 21st, 2017 – Phil Jackson announces he’s open to trading Porzingis
After missing his exit meeting, Phil Jackson came out and said, “As much as we love this guy, we have to do what’s best for the club.” Rumors about potential suitors and trades came in furiously in the hours leading up to the 2017 Draft.