The Kristaps Porzingis Trade Postmortem

Almost one year ago to the day (and two blogs ago for me personally) I wrote a story the day after Kristaps Porzingis went down with a torn ACL.

My message was clear. Although there was no silver lining to the injury, the Knicks should use their misfortune as an opportunity to do something they otherwise would have been unable to: repair the relationship with their fallen star, one that the previous regime had sullied. I proposed that when July 1, 2018 came around, New York’s brass should have approached Porzingis at midnight – torn ACL and all – with a max contract extension that would have kept the Unicorn in blue and orange well into the prime of his career.

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Knicks tie franchise record with 12th straight loss at home

Well that was fun.

Dirk played his last game at Madison Square Garden, and that’s about all anyone will remember from this night.

As they should.

After coming out of the gate flat, the Knicks actually put together about one quarter and a half of solid basketball, taking the lead midway through the second before starting to let go of the rope later in the quarter. Nothing changed after halftime, and by the time David Fizdale gave into the fans’ chants for Enes Kanter, and he had played a few minutes, the Knicks found themselves down by 25. In a recent stretch of games defined by solid effort, on Wednesday night, they “gave into the losing,” as Fiz said postgame.

There weren’t many notable performances, but as in any game, if you look hard enough, you will find at least a few positives…

  • Mitchell Robinson had his usual handful of highlight plays. He finished with four blocks and seven rebounds on a night when the Knicks couldn’t find him as the roll man very often. Other than a stretch in the third where he looked out of sorts, he had a decent showing.
  • Kadeem Allen once again came in and played like you would expect a guy to who is fighting for his professional life. He brings grit and toughness to the team and has more of an offensive game than you might expect for a fringe NBA player. So basically, he’s the complete opposite of…
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. I’m done. I’m soooooo done. He looks like he’d rather be literally anywhere else but on the court, which is a shame because for as ineffective as the rest of his teammates are, at least they’re trying. I can’t say the same for Tim, and that’s been the case for some time now, at least on most nights.
  • Trey Burke had the type of stat line we’ve become accustomed to from him: 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting, three assists, -23 in 32 minutes. If Scott Perry can get a second round pick for him, he’s a wizard.
  • Kevin Knox led the team in scoring with 17, but it came with his usual inefficiency (6-for-16) and couple of bonehead plays, but he also had several moments early on driving to the hoops and showing us some of the gifts he has that you simply can’t teach.

Things don’t get any easier Friday night, when the Knicks are hosts to the Celtics.

Meanwhile, the trade deadline is 8 days away and counting…

On This Date: Knicks acquire Othella Harrington

January 30, 2001: Knicks acquire Othella Harrington from the Vancouver Grizzlies

The Knicks had large shoes to fill in replacing their franchise player Patrick Ewing, shoes that would remain empty for a long time. But on this date, they acquired another former Hoya in Othella Harrington from Vancouver in exchange for Erick Strickland, the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers 1st round pick acquired in the Patrick Ewing trade (Jamaal Tinsley), and a 2001 2nd round pick (Antonis Fotsis). Harrington (turning 27 years old the next day) was not the most talented Hoya, but was a serviceable big man who provided necessary front-court depth for the Knicks.

Since the Ewing trade, the Knicks lacked reliable depth in the front-court. Marcus Camby was the starting center, but was historically injury prone with the Knicks. Additionally, Larry Johnson faced chronic back injuries in his final season with the Knicks. Harrington provided the ability to backup both LJ & Camby at the 4 and 5, respectively.

The Knicks acquired Erick Strickland in a draft-day deal for John Wallace & Donnell Harvey, the Knicks 1st round pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. The team intended for him to be a backup guard, but was rendered useless after Glen Rice arrived in the Ewing trade. Likewise, Othella Harrington had little use with the Grizzlies after the team drafted Stromile Swift 2nd overall in the 2000 NBA Draft.

The Knicks may not have “won” the trade per se, but they did make the most of Harrington during his 3.5 year tenure with the team. He mostly provided depth off the bench.

Unfortunately, the Knicks continued their reputation of throwing away first round picks in low value trades. Had the Knicks valued their first round picks during the 1990s and 2000s, their reign of contention would have been prolonged.

KFS Teacher’s Lounge: What to do about Anthony Davis

The basketball world experienced an 8.2 on the Richter scale on Monday after Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Anthony Davis had informed the New Orleans Pelicans he would not be re-signing there and was requesting a trade. Word then got out, courtesy of ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, that the Knicks were indeed a team of interest to Davis. Since then, there seems to be some posturing from the Davis camp that it’s LA or bust. Still, the Knicks are apparently preparing a significant offer according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein.

One thing is for certain: there’s enough smoke for the KFS staff to chime in on the rumors and reveal what they would do if they had to make a decision on pursuing the Brow:

Michael DeStefano – Hold Steady

When the AD news broke and we decided to discuss it in the Lounge, I wrote that you had to go after him. Transcendent talent, only 25 – I was ready to say that you include both KP AND the ’19 pick in your offer.

I’ve changed my mind. The collusion involving the agency that LeBron owns runs works with is part of it, but it’s not the biggest part.

Bigs just don’t impact winning in this league like they used to.  You need an elite guard/wing, and then you need more depth on the perimeter. New Orleans won’t give AD for just KP and filler; Perry will have to fork over the ’19 first and at least one of the Knicks’ young core most fans are so excited about. The Pels’ willingness to take on Hardaway’s contract might tempt me, but I’d rather enter July with:

  • A healthy KP
  • All five of Frank / Knox / Mitch / Trier / Dotson
  • My ’19 stud, and
  • A max salary slot

This is opposed to the AD version, which would cost at least two of the five young’uns and the ’19 lotto pick. Decimating the depth, particularly on the perimeter, is not the way to win in this league. Even though KD might find Davis an appealing sidekick, how appealing is it if the rest of the team sucks?

Wait it out.  Let the draft come and go.  See what the team looks like.

And if you get back-channeled word that KD wants another star, that’s when you use your assets to go get someone like Dame.

David Early – Don’t blow your chance

The first thing you do is offer Kevin Knox and the pick, protected for first overall. Then when they chuckle, you swap in Kristaps Porzingis for Knox. Then at the last minutes you offer KP, Frank Ntilikina, and the pick protected for 1st overall.

As a bottom line, you suck it up and you offer KP and the unprotected pick for AD, plus the requisite salary filler. It’s horrifying, but it’s also an easy decision.

The truth is, the pick has an 86-91% chance of being Cam Reddish or someone not named Zion. Combining the very likely scenario you won’t win the Zion sweepstakes with the risks associated with KP’s rehab (remember his doctor said that if he doesn’t change his whole body’s mechanics he’d be at risk for tearing the other ACL makes this a prudent “hedge.”

It will become almost impossible to outbid other suitors this summer when Boston or a team who wins Zion (like Chicago) enters the fray. This is the best chance right now. It’s not for the faint of heart. But if you can obtain the player who we’d all bet will be the best player in the league over the next four years, this isn’t really a hedge at all. It’s simply bundling a few juicy assets with uncertain outcomes for quite possibly the best player in the sport who is only now entering his prime.

He’s already been rumored to be open to staying. He’ll exponentially increase your chances of luring Durant. Durant could win another 3 rings in Golden State. None of it will alter his legacy like winning one in the Big Apple. He knows it. And the Brow makes that a very real possibility.

Our lottery ticket and injured Unicorn for your healthy Unicorn King. I’ll fax the paper work.

Suada Demirovic – Why now?!?

Just as I was about to justify our losses as the Knicks finally figured out how to tank correctly without taking shortcuts, the basketball gods dangle 6-time All-Star Anthony Davis in front of us!

At first I didn’t even want to entertain the idea. Good things never come to the Knicks via trade. Take a look at the last few trades we’ve made, even the “blockbuster” trade that never panned out the way it should have. Yeah, let’s not go there. The Knicks have never really won a big trade.

That said, for the 1st time in a while, New York will have a few pieces to engage in trade talks. We have the best double-double machine in the league and he’s only 26! (laughter dies down) Clearly I’m kidding but I couldn’t help myself. “We want Kanter”? New Orleans, you can have him!

After seeing all the Twitter GM’s working their trade machines, I’m convinced that maybe this is exactly what the Knicks need. But at what cost?

The only pieces that I would not give up are ou . r 3 rookies. They really show they can be complimentary pieces that can turn into All-Stars in the future. So what are we going to give for AD? I’m willing to throw this year’s lottery pick and just about anyone else they ask for. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but yes, even KP. I’ve gone mad! Here I go looking for a short cut, but not really because this short cut has the potential to bring us more, as Anthony Davis will definitely be able to draw in a good free agent this summer.

But then I think about Zion…(sigh)…

It really sucks that the odds for the top pick are tied between the 3 worst teams. Of course this happens the year the Knicks tank correctly. So we might need to face the reality that we may not win the ultimate prize and instead end up with a consolation. The problem is that everyone else is just “meh.” But a high 1st round pick is still very valuable, especially to a franchise that needs to blow up their whole roster.

The writing is on the wall for NOLA. Let us help you light the dynamite. If anything, we would gladly trade what we have for Jrue Holiday at the very least. We would NOT be giving up KP for him, but there are other possibilities.

Here’s where I come down: Would I trade this year’s draft pick for Anthony Davis? Yes! Would I trade KP? I would, only because Davis is liked in the league and who knows who would want to join him as they write a new legacy in New York with a young core?

Here I go looking for a quick fix! But this is 20 years of us not getting it together, and New York is definitely not going to get it together with one draft pick. I’m for the front office exploring the possibilities without giving up our rookies or impacting our cap space. The Knicks should avoid giving up KP unless we have no choice and the deal is too hot to pass up! Here’s the first real test for Perry and Mills. I’m going to sit back and wait. Will they stick to what they said? You can’t get us to buy in if they themselves can’t.  #TrustTheProcess

Vivek Dadhania – It’s a no from me, dog…

It’s tempting, but there are a lot of variables in play that make me wary of pursuing a deal. First and foremost, the trade only makes sense if you know if you’re getting KD.  If you don’t get Durant, then what happens?  We’re basically a worse version of the Pelicans that still has to navigate against a behemoth of teams in the East.  It won’t be any easier to navigate to the playoffs with Anthony Davis.  If he found it bad in New Orleans, imagine what it’ll be like in New York.

Let’s also not forget that while Anthony Davis has been relatively durable the last few seasons, he’s suffered many nagging injuries this year and has had those injury concerns in years’ past.  There’s no safe bet – especially as a big man – that he’ll be a reliably healthy option, especially entering his 2nd extension period.

If I’m New York, I’d understand (if they haven’t already) that they are merely being fiddled around with to get the Lakers to hurry up and acquire their man.  Don’t cave in.

Stephanie Enriquez – The kids are alright!

Call me crazy, but I don’t want to give up KP or the kids.

I know Davis is a great talent, but I want us to continue the process and not deal our picks yet. Kevin is a stud in the making, Mitch is learning more and more everyday, Zo is great, Frank’s defense is much needed and he will continue to grow as well. As for everyone else on the team, trade them all.

Sadly, I don’t think it’ll be enough for AD. Nonetheless, if KD comes this summer, KP recovers, and our kids continue to grow I think we’ll be ok.

Topher DemitrisStick to the Plan

Let’s get a few objective things out of the way.

Yes, I too love Anthony Davis. He’s a phenom and tremendous player who has the potential to drop 30 with 15 on any given night. In a perfect world, the Knicks would be able to entertain a mutually beneficial trade with the Pelicans that could set the stage for (at least) a return to the playoffs. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that reality. The Pelicans would be wise to start a bidding war between the Lakers, Celtics and New York. We aren’t in a position of leverage in this scenario.

The asking price for Davis – a potential one year rental – would likely require the team to completely burn all the groundwork they’ve put into the rebuild. The Lakers starting price, for comparison, is four talented young players and future draft considerations. So pretty much their entire roster. That might work for LeBron (the guy could take a YMCA team to the first round of the playoffs), but it’s not an ideal situation for the New York Knicks.

It’s not that Anthony’s talent isn’t incredible. My objection to betting the farm comes down to three things. First, there is zero actual guarantee1 that if traded, he would stay in NY. His agent is LeBron’s agent. Davis teamed up with Rich Paul because his true destination is Los Angeles.

Secondly, acquiring him would likely mean our roster gets completely gutted. Goodbye Knox, Trier, Mitch, Ntilikina and the draft pick(s) we’ve all been suffering to acquire. It’s too early to know how good some of these young guys are and they are worth investing at least another year in. I won’t even get into the idea of trading KP (unless management knows something about his injury that we don’t). The best case scenario would be to pair AD with KP anyway. Given that New Orleans can ask for a King’s Ransom, the price is already too steep and bound to increase.

Third, and no shade, but Anthony Davis has a long injury history despite his young age. On top of that, the Pelicans have arguably had much better rosters than anything we’ve seen in NY for years and were still unable to make any real headway in the playoffs. If we gut our team to acquire him, it would be a similar asset exchange as the one that brought Carmelo here. We’d have a Superstar but no real way to build out a contending team. LeBron knows better than anyone: a well put together team is more powerful than any one player (see: the Mavs, Spurs & now Warriors).

After the trade there would be immense pressure on both the front office & Davis to deliver and we all know how brutal/impatient the media is. There is no guarantee Durant leaves Golden State and no guarantee Davis stays beyond a single year. The risk outweighs the reward for me. Abandoning years of scouting, development and team building for the 1-year rental of a superstar is so old school Knicks that my eye is twitching over my coffee.

Assuming the price remains sky high, a trade now looks to be another recipe for vaulted expectations & disappointment. Why hamstring the healthy rebuild track we’re currently on? This is literally the first time in decades the Knicks have opted to build correctly and I’ve got no interest in repeating the mistakes of past regimes. Stay the course, build slowly and winning will attract all the great players we need.

Jonathan Macri – “I’m all in” … “Waitress, can I get some water?”

The question is simple for the Knicks: do you want to put KP on the table or not?

It’s a more interesting discussion than people are making it out to be, simply because KP’s ceiling might be what AD is right now, and the odds the Unicorn ever gets there are only further complicated by the torn ACL. It’s why there’s a significant chance that if the Knicks did offer KP and the unprotected pick, the Pelicans still might prefer to wait till the summer so they can get the Celtics involved.

That’s where things get dicey for New York. Right now, they can sell New Orleans on the possibility of Zion Williamson. By mid-May, that possibility may have vanished. If it does, there’s a significant chance that nothing New York could put on the table – KP, the pick, Knox, Mitch…the whole boat – would beat the best offer Boston can make, assuming they’re willing to make Tatum available2.

So from that perspective, there is a sense that acting now is the wisest move. The reason it isn’t is simple: if you give up KP, the pick and Kevin Knox3 before February 7 and neither Kevin Durant nor Kyrie Irving comes this summer, you’re going to watch AD walk out the door in 2020. Can the organization take that risk? If they did, and the worst of fates transpired, then all the losing – well, the most recent losing at least – will have been for not.

But is it really a risk? Sure, it’s tempting to say that the only way it makes sense to put such a serious offer on the table now is if you know from back channels that AD will be bringing a Super Friend with him. That’s not happening. KD and Kyrie might be two of the more perplexing personalities in the entire league, and no one knows what the hell either will do.

But do you really see a scenario where both guys eschew the opportunity to play along the man poised to dominate the game4 for the next decade in a city where they’ll build monuments to whoever finally delivers a ring? You have to figure that if one guy says yes, that alone is worth whatever you had to give up for Davis, Porzingis included.

When you throw in the uncertainty over KP’s injury, his feelings about the organization (or lack thereof), and the possibility that he himself could maneuver out of here before long, it becomes a mighty sweaty conversation to have with your front office mates as the deadline approaches. Of course, the ultimate doomsday scenario features KP catching wind of your intent to trade him, a deal not happening, and Perry & Mills being left to clean up the pieces.

Assuming the front office doesn’t have the stomach for such a high stakes game of poker, they should at the very least make a token offer (this year’s unprotected first, a 2021 pick, Mitch, Frank and Tim Hardaway Jr., or Enes Kanter if the Pels prefer to clear the books) and see where it gets you.

The answer is almost certainly “not very far.” And maybe that’s not the worst thing. If the Knicks do land the first pick, then all of the sudden they hold all the cards. Zion plus non-KP-stuff arguably beats any other offer, including one with Tatum. At that point, they may not need to work very hard to strike KD’s fancy. He may instead beat them to the punch.

So ultimately, it comes down to this: Do they feel lucky?

Well, do ya, punk?

On This Date: Knicks make statement in victory against the Seattle Supersonics

January 29, 1994: The New York Knicks make a statement to the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics in a road victory

The New York Knicks, in the middle of a three-game West Coast trip, sent a strong message to the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics with a 106-92 victory. Seven players scored in double figures, including the entire starting lineup, led by Patrick Ewing’s 21 points and 18 rebounds. Anthony Mason scored 17 points off the bench and Charles Oakley had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Despite trailing 58-51 at the end of the 1st half, the Knicks went on a 21-5 run in the 3rd quarter and outscored the Sonics 32-13 to take a 12 point lead heading into the 4th quarter.

Both the Knicks (29-11) & Sonics (31-9) cruised atop the standings in their respective conferences. Due to Micheal Jordan’s sudden retirement, many in the NBA circles believed that this game was a foreshadowing of an NBA Finals matchup. The youthful duo of Gary Payton & Shawn Kemp led the Sonics to victories and many highlight-reel plays. Detlef Schrempf & Kendall Gill provided ample scoring from the wing positions.

The Knicks eventually had the best record in Atlantic Division (#2 overall in the East) and the Sonics had the best record in the Western Conference. However, Dikembe Mutombo and the Denver Nuggets had different plans. The Nuggets surprisingly upset the Sonics in the 1st round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Knicks did make it to the NBA Finals, but instead faced Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.