PHIL Jackson had stated no one is untouchable in the New York Knicks roster, and the team president followed through with his assertion on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) by confirming that he’s been entertaining trade talks for rising star Kristaps Porzingis.
In an interview with the MSG Network’s Knicks Night Live, Jackson revealed that the team has received and entertained offers for Porzingis, mentioning that the young forward’s decision to skip the Knicks’ exit meetings at the end of the season influenced this move.
So far, however, Jackson has not received an offer that he found worthy for the high price he’s asking in exchange for the 21-year-old Porzingis, who averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2 blocks in his second season with the Knicks.
“We're getting calls. As much as we value Kristaps and what he's done for us, when a guy doesn't show up for an exit meeting, everybody starts speculating on the duration or movability from a club," said Jackson.
"So we've been getting calls and we're listening, but we're not intrigued yet at this level. But as much as we love this guy, we have to do what's good for our club," he added.
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski bared that the Knicks have been seeking an opportunity to get a top-four pick in the NBA Draft to land Kansas forward Josh Jackson. Aside from the pick, Jackson has been in talks with teams owning the top four picks to include a potential starter in a deal for Porzingis, league sources told ESPN.
The 71-year-old Jackson said in his interview with MSG Network that such a high price is justified for a special player like Porzingis, who averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2 blocks in his second season.
"The future, you know, what it brings? Does it bring us two starters and a draft pick or something that's even beyond that? [That's] something we have to look at as far as going down the road. We know what he is. He's a unicorn and he's special,'' Jackson said of Porzingis.
The Knicks exec also opened up about his shock when Porzingis skipped the team’s exit meetings last April, reportedly out of frustration over the team’s dismal and dysfunctional season.
“I don't think I've ever had a player over 25 years of coaching, maybe 30, not coming to an exit meeting, so it's not happened to me," said Jackson.
ESPN pointed out that such an incident had happened to him when Shaquille O’Neal skipped the Lakers exit meetings in 2004.
"I know it happens to other people and other players. His brother and his agent have downplayed it, but still, it's a chance for a person to express themselves and I had a real good relationship with Kristaps over the last two years. So it was kind of surprising,'' he added.
Still, Jackson expressed hope of clearing all issues between him and Porzingis as he had attempted to reach out to the Knicks rising star.
“I've reached out. We've communicated. Not through voice or anything, although I've tried to call. Yeah, and they say no worries. He's working hard. There's plenty of pictures on the internet about him working hard and working at it. So, yeah, we'll get it back," Jackson said.
As for the other Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, Jackson maintained his position that he hopes to see the 33-year-old forward play and succeed elsewhere. Anthony, though, has expressed his desire to stay in New York.
“Here's a guy that's really special, a Hall of Fame player who's done a lot for our organization and we know we value him highly and we know that the NBA does and other teams do. This is something that is on the long-term kind of situational thing.
"We've expressed the fact that we've done a lot of things to try to put teams together that can win, and we haven't been successful, and it might be time for him to find an opportunity to go somewhere else,” he said.
"[Anthony has] come back and said he'd just as soon stay. We're trying to start growing from the youth aspect of it. There will be conversations after the draft and after free agency when teams start reorganizing their rosters," added Jackson.
Jackson also didn’t rule out the possibility of re-signing Derrick Rose.
And despite the Knicks poor record (80-166) in three full seasons he’s been team president, Jackson addressed the ‘uneasy’ fans in New York who are worried about the ballclub’s direction.
“Well, I think, we know what we're doing. That's what I can say to them. Although it's not been apparent in our record the last couple of years, we've grown from within. We've got young players who are on their move up,” he said.
“It takes time to rebuild with youth. And, I think, to have confidence in the fact that we're going to have good players and we're going to have a good team and we're going to be on the court competitive,” added Jackson.