ESPN’s Ian Begley reported that the New York Knicks are open to the possibility of trading emerging star Kristaps Porzingis. The news is a kick in the pants to Knicks fans, who have been waiting for nearly a decade for a real return to relevance. Porzingis has the trappings of a superstar, and he could serve as the centerpiece to a franchise turnaround.
Porzingis averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks, with .450/.357/.786 shooting splits, in just his age twenty-two season (per Basketball Reference). He is already a very good player, and he has plenty of room for growth. Knicks fans are right to be excited about him and right again to be irate about the fact that team president Phil Jackson is considering moving him.
Porzingis skipped his exit interview with the team, apparently unhappy with the performance of the front office and ownership throughout the year. No one from the Knicks has made any contact with him since that point. That’s a surprising fact, and it may be a sign that New York is more willing to part with their budding star than may have been anticipated.
The Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reported that the Boston Celtics are among the teams that have expressed an interest in Porzingis. They have more than enough assets to get involved, and the fit between his skill set and the Celtics’ weaknesses as a team is both obvious and intriguing.
Boston needs a player that can rebound, protect the rim, and shoot enough to keep their offensive system firing on all cylinders. Porzingis checks all of those boxes, and, at least when it comes to shooting and rim protection, he has shown the potential to do so at an elite level. If that weren’t enough, he’s on a cheap rookie deal for the next two years, which would afford the Celtics some flexibility in building out the rest of their roster.
To state it simply, Porzingis fits any timeline Boston wants to pursue. The Celtics are looking for players that will make them competitive in the present, without sacrificing the bright future they’ve created through the accumulation of draft picks. Porzingis would allow them to walk that line all by himself. He is good enough to plug most of the team’s holes right now, and he holds the potential to become a cornerstone player in the down the line. The Celtics should seriously consider the possibility of trying to acquire him, even if it means cashing in a lot of their chips.
One name of strong interest for Knicks and Bulls is Josh Jackson https://t.co/YUQ7kgjfeC— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 20, 2017
It’s unclear just how much it would cost to pry Porzingis away from New York, but ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweeted that the Knicks are high on incoming swing man Josh Jackson. It is extremely unlikely that Jackson will fall to the Knicks at eight, and Boston could leverage their interest by dangling the third overall selection.
The pick on its own would seem like a very small price to pay for a player of Porzingis’ caliber, but New York has had no shortage of head-scratching decisions over the years. The Celtics will need to attach some salary to the deal in order to maintain a chance at max cap space, but if they could sell the Knicks on a younger player, plus the pick, and maybe some filler, for Porzingis, that would be a steal.
According to Shelburne the Chicago Bulls are similarly high on Jackson, which may serve to drive up the price of the pick Boston holds. In a world where Porzingis and Jimmy Butler may be in play, it is hard to think of the Celtics as holding the most coveted asset, but it only takes two teams pitted against one another to shift its value, and Boston may be able to find that here. It’s more than worth some due diligence.