Remember when Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks were seriously entertaining the thought of trading Kristaps Porzingis? Obviously, that never came to fruition and Jackson is no longer running the franchise’s office but, for a few weeks over the summer, whispers (and full-fledged screams) about the 22-year-old big man being firmly on the market were real and it was something of a wild scene. To that end, a move to shed Porzingis could have produced a number of very interesting consequences and a flirtation between the Knicks and Bulls rookie big man Lauri Markkanen was one of them.
With that as the backdrop, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News presented a scene this week that could offer a window in Jackson’s bizarre dealings with the sweet-shooting first-year big man. In short, the report indicates that Jackson and Markkanen sat down for a meal before the draft and the legendary head coach and shaky executive offered Markkanen the chance to consume some food that he didn’t necessarily want to taste.
In fact, Jackson seemingly forced Markkanen, who said that Jackson “made (him) taste raw fish, or raw steak” and that, in short, the rookie “didn’t like it.”
Obviously, this is a bit of a bizarre one-off, but it does present a number of questions. Why would Jackson make a player he was potentially courting do something that he didn’t want to do? Was it to evaluate his reaction? What did Markkanen actually do in the moment? Was this set to be the deal-breaker between the Knicks taking him (they were not able to after Markannen went at No. 7 overall) and passing on him?
Let’s just say there are some uncertainties here.
In the end, Phil Jackson doing a weird thing isn’t inherently shocking but the buzz about Markkanen being the “next Porzingis” remains, even if he isn’t playing in New York after all.