Knicks Had Been Engaged In Porzingis Trade Talks For Weeks

February 01, 2019 - 8:54 am
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By WFAN.com

For most of the New York area, Thursday's Kristaps Porzingis trade came out of nowhere. But it turns out the Knicks had been shopping the All-Star power forward for weeks.

General manager Scott Perry said during a conference call after the trade became official Thursday evening that the Knicks had spoken to eight or nine teams about Porzingis. A source told the New York Post that Perry and Mavericks president and GM Donnie Nelson discussed trade scenarios behind closed doors when their teams squared off Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. 

Knicks president Steve Mills told reporters that the organization began to have doubts about Porzingis after seeing signs that he might not be fully on board with their rebuilding plan. After Porzingis and his brother/agent Janis Porzingis confirmed in a Thursday morning meeting with team officials that they were frustrated with the franchise's direction, the Knicks' brass leaped into action, dealing Porzingis and guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke to Dallas in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., two future first-round picks and the expiring contracts of center DeAndre Jordan and swingman Wesley Matthews. 

The deal will create enough salary cap space for the Knicks to sign two max contract free agents this summer. 

MORE: Mike Francesa Reacts To The Stunning Kristaps Porzingis Trade

"We started to get a feel and can see he wasn’t buying into what we're trying to do," Mills said. "It's a feeling you get watching how frequently he comes to practices, how long he's around the gym. We started to get a feel this was starting to move in a different direction. We wanted a confirmation from him. We wanted to know if he was completely in or out.

"When he came in today, it was clear to us that it was time to pull the trigger on something," Mills added Thursday.

Mills said he believes dealing the team's biggest star was the right thing to do.

"When you're trying to think about how you want to build your team for the long term, you don't want to commit a max (contract) to a player who clearly says to you he doesn't want to be here," he said.

It'll be interesting to see what Porzingis says about how the trade unfolded when the mics are placed in his face. On Twitter on Thursday night, he posted a photo with the message: "New York will always have a special place in my heart. Grateful for everybody who made this journey so special for my family and I."

But he later posted an Instagram story with a cryptic message: "The truth will come out." 

Porzingis, 23, has not played since tearing his ACL in February 2018. He was enjoying an All-Star season when he got hurt last year, averaging a career-high 22.7 points per game.