Team president Steve Mills was at a Knicks fan forum on Wednesday and was asked about the Kristaps Porzingis trade and dropped this bomb: Porzingis gave the Knicks the ultimatum of “trade me or I’m going back to Europe.”
Interesting new information on the Porzingis trade from today’s JPM speaker event with Scott Perry and Steve Mills
KP threatened to go back to Europe if not traded within 7 days
Scott and Steve had trade offers lined up dating back to last September pic.twitter.com/JGp1EQQrUV
— #Knockstape (@KnicksGuy1) May 22, 2019
“When he walked into our office, my office, and Scott [Perry, Knicks GM] was sitting there with me, and point blank said to us, ‘I don’t want to be here, I’m not going to re-sign with the Knicks, and I’ll give you seven days to try and trade me or I’m going back to Europe.’”
To be clear, Porzingis had to mean going back to Europe to work out and hang out, he could not have played professionally this season. European clubs honor commitments to NBA contracts — they will not sign and play a guy under an NBA contract — the same way the NBA does with European clubs (as well as China and all FIBA leagues).
Saying he wasn’t going to re-sign makes things clear, it’s one of the reasons the NBA touted the “super-max” contract extensions because teams would find out earlier about player intentions. The Europe part, he could have signed there this summer, but the most a European team would pay him would still be eight figures below his NBA contract (the top Europeans players make less than $3 million annually). Porzingis would not leave that money on the table.
For the Knicks brass, speaking in front of Knicks fans, this was the chance to make themselves look good — “see, we already had a good trade in place” — and thrash the guy they had been selling as the franchise savior a year before. It’s all about perception.
The Knicks have a lot of cap space this summer and their perception as a front office will hinge on what they do — or do not do — with it.
Porzingis landed in a good spot with Luka Doncic in Dallas, and the Mavericks will give Porzingis a max contract. Then it’s on him to earn it.