Kristaps Porzingis skipped exit meetings with New York Knicks management due to frustration over what he perceives as the dysfunction and drama surrounding the organization, team sources told ESPN.com.
Under team president Phil Jackson, the Knicks have struggled in Porzingis’ two seasons in New York, losing a combined 101 games.
Porzingis, according to team sources, is frustrated with the Knicks’ lack of direction. The team missed out on the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
A disappointing and at times tumultuous Knicks season has ended, and New York’s offseason drama could include a Carmelo Anthony trade. Where do Phil Jackson & Co. go from here?
The club was pegged as a potential playoff contender this season but struggled to develop any cohesion and stumbled through a 30-51 season.
The Knicks were involved in several stories that drew attention for things that happened off of the basketball court this season. Jackson looked into trading Carmelo Anthony before the trade deadline and said on Friday that Anthony would be “better off somewhere else” to pursue a championship. Ex-Knick Charles Oakley was removed from Madison Square Garden during a February game against the LA Clippers, charged with misdemeanor assault and temporarily banned from the arena. Point guard Derrick Rose left the team without notice to tend to a family issue in January and was subsequently fined upon his return.
Porzingis in February discussed one issue plaguing the team when he said there was confusion from “top to bottom” due to multiple changes in schemes by head coach Jeff Hornacek and the coaching staff over the course of the season. He said there was “a lot of stuff that’s not clear” to players and that it was “hard to play like that.”
The team started the season running an offense that de-emphasized triangle sets but the club began to run triangle sets more frequently after the All-Star break. The Knicks also changed defensive schemes multiple times under associate head coach Kurt Rambis.
Jackson alluded to frayed relations between players and Hornacek and his staff in his media conference on Friday.
“I think there’s disconnect sometimes with this team and I think there was some rebelliousness with this team that created some of the discord during the year,” Jackson said. “And I think [that] has to stop and that will stop.”
Porzingis was drafted fourth overall out of Latvia by the Knicks in the 2015 NBA draft. He averaged 18.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season.
Jackson was asked Friday whether any personnel move, including those involving a trade of Porzingis, is “off the table” this offseason.
“Everything has got to be possible, and we have to make sure that if people have something to say, we listen to it, we examine it,” Jackson said before complimenting Porzingis for his development this season.
If the Knicks trade Anthony, the assumption is that Porzingis would be the face of the franchise and the focal point of the offense. Jackson was asked whether he thought Porzingis was ready for that kind of responsibility.
“No, I don’t [think he’s ready]. He’s 21 years old. That’s a big load for anybody to take on,” Jackson said. “But he’s shown that he’s competitive. He’s shown that he’s competitive, he’s shown that he’s got a sense of desire to win, etc. So we’re really pleased with how he’s developed. I think he had some concern this year about physicality, not being able to stand up to all the games physically with his Achilles tendon, back, etc.”