NBA AM: Porzingis Back In The Fold, A Win For Knicks

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To put it bluntly while remaining fair, the 2017-18 Knicks will not be title contenders. The team’s experiment last season of bringing in former All-Stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah didn’t result in the expected lift in the standings – despite the former labeling the squad a “super team” prior to the campaign.

Heading into this offseason, the franchise was immediately rocked by reports that emerging star Kristaps Porzingis was no longer happy with the organization because of a strained relationship with then team president Phil Jackson. Of course, there’s the perpetual drama surrounding All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony and whether or not he is part of the team’s immediate future.

Fast forward as we enter the dog days of the summer and there’s a little more clarity surrounding the Knicks, but the overall trajectory remains cloudy amid an uncertain picture both short term and long term.

Jackson is gone, presumably retired back home in Montana. Rose, once considered a marquee talent, is now on a veteran minimum deal in Cleveland while the Knicks will be burdened by Noah’s inflated contract over the next three seasons. The latest news on Anthony is that he won’t waive his no-trade clause for any team except the Houston Rockets, which puts New York in a tight situation as the team tries to secure meaningful assets for a top 30 player.

On the flip side, they have been numerous reports that suddenly disgruntled Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is interested in possibly joining the Knicks. Irving shocked the league by making a trade demand and reportedly listed the Knicks as a preferred landing spot. From a salary standpoint, an Anthony for Irving swap nearly works straight up. But with Anthony’s reported “Houston only” stance and the Cavaliers seemingly reluctant to aggressively pursue Anthony in the past, a deal between the two parties doesn’t seem like a viable option—not now, anyway. Also, from the Cavaliers point of view, a legitimate question can be raised if an Irving for Anthony swap would keep them in the realm of title contenders. In many ways, the Cavaliers would look like a version of the Knicks with Rose, Anthony, J.R. Smith, Channing Frye, Jose Calderon and Iman Shumpert on the roster—all former Knicks at one point—if this scenario ever played out.

However, the biggest news the Knicks may get all offseason is the possibility that Porzingis is back on board with the organization, mentally. The emerging forward is considered the cornerstone of the Knicks’ rebuilding efforts moving forward and his unhappiness and Jackson’s willingness to dangle him in trade talks were trouble spots for an organization looking to groom and nurture their next star.

According to the New York Post, Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas believes the rough spot between the organization and Porzingis is a thing of the past.

“I don’t think it was something personal against the club,’’ Kuzminskas said to the New York Post. “If there [were] some problems I think they solved everything. No doubt he wants to be a Knick and he’s said that.’’

Although there’s currently little reason to believe Anthony will be part of the Knicks future long-term, stranger things have happened. It could be even slimmer odds that the franchise is able to acquire Irving via a trade before the start of the season. But the news of Porzingis’ happiness or content with the organization may be enough to salvage the Knicks’ tumultuous offseason to date, all by itself.