Kristaps Porzingis is the best thing to have happened to the New York Knicks in this millennium. He’s a young star perfectly molded for the modern NBA, and he’s handled the outsized expectations of playing in New York better than anyone could have expected. Even with a roster and three coaches who haven’t exactly maximized Porzingis’s talents, he’s managed to keep his promising career on track. Phil Jackson, the increasingly out-of-touch, clueless team president, is threatening to ruin all of this because of his bruised ego.
After reports swirled of Porzingis being used a potential trade chip, Jackson confirmed the rumors in a bizarre interview on Knicks Night Live on Wednesday. More so than any concrete basketball reason, Jackson’s motivation for trading Porzingis seems to stem from the young star skipping his exit interview with the team after the season.
“We’ve been getting calls...As much as we love this guy, we have to do what’s best for this club,” Jackson said. He went on to mention that bringing in multiple starters and a draft pick for Porzingis could be what’s best for the Knicks. When pressed on the importance of an exit interview, Jackson claimed no player had done that to him in his 30 years of coaching.
First of all, that’s not true. Shaquille O’Neal skipped his exit interview with the Lakers in 2003, and Jackson even commented about the no-show publicly. (Shaq also skipped in 2004, the summer he and Jackson both departed the Lakers.) Secondly, and more importantly, are we really supposed to care about a f------ exit interview?
This is Jackson at his most pathetic. Watching him ramble about future assets and how a Porzingis trade could somehow help the Knicks was utterly ridiculous. Not only would Porzingis be the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s loaded draft, why in the world would New York give up a surefire star-in-the-making for an uncertain prospect? This all feels like a desperate attempt by Jackson to regain the upper hand in his relationship with Porzingis, but it’s to the obvious detriment of his own franchise.
Jackson has been a decisive failure as Knicks president. He has botched his handling of Carmelo Anthony. He made thinly-veiled, asinine comments about J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert after trading them away. And he’s shadow-coached the team into playing the triangle offense, while largely eschewing the idea that three-pointers are an important part of the current NBA. How much longer will James Dolan, another man prone to egotistical outbursts, let this continue?
If the Porzingis rumors are ultimately some kind of power play for Jackson to show his player who’s boss after his exit interview was rebuffed, he’s dumping out the whole damn spice rack when a pinch of salt would have sufficed. Is Jackson trying to embarrass Porzingis? Is Jackson trying to prove he doesn’t need Porzingis to win? Does he know how to do anything without dragging one of his best players in public?
The truth is, Jackson has been inessential for quite some time. His coaching career ended with a whimper. His executive career is beginning to rival Isiah Thomas’s in terms of losing. And he has no tact when it comes to dealing with today’s stars. In no uncertain terms, the Knicks would 100% be better off with Porzingis on the team and Jackson packing his bags rather than the opposite. Jackson’s sterling coaching career means absolutely nothing at this point. He’s a dinosaur clinging to his old success, and the Knicks are clearly worse off for having him run their ballclub.
“I think we know what we’re doing,” Jackson also said Wednesday in a meek attempt to placate disgruntled Knicks fans. All the evidence, however, points to the opposite.