Kyle O'Quinn vouched for his Knicks teammate Kristaps Porzingis during Sports Illustrated's live NBA draft show on Thursday, calling him a professional and downplaying the controversy over the forward's decision to skip his exit interview.
The fracas over the missed meeting has led to a flurry of rumors that Porzingis could be on his way out of New York. Phil Jackson says he's open to trading his star big man, insisting that no player under his management had ever skipped his exit meeting. (False.)
But if Jackson has questions about Porzingis' commitment to the team, O'Quinn doesn't seem to share his concern.
"He was a professional before he got here. You can't question a man's professionalism—if he makes a decision, he makes that decision," O'Quinn said. "He's not doing it for the media attention or just a knucklehead kid just making a knucklehead mistake. He was a professional and a lot of us on the team respect his professionalism on a very high level.
"Me being 27 years old, I respect his professionalism and I've been in the league for five years. I'm sure it was a strategic method, whatever it was, he sent the message that he wanted to send as a professional in his career, and I think you have to do nothing but respect it."
The Celtics and Knicks reportedly discussed a trade for the big man, but Porzingis remains a Knick—for now.