The Knicks were never the right team for Kristaps Porzingis. He’s not quite their type. The youngster deviated from the blue-and-orange standard in far too many deal-breaking respects.
He was a homegrown prodigy—not some mid-career lug washing ashore via catastrophic trade. Sniping threes, throwing down dunks, safeguarding the rim, performing feats recognizable as forward-thinking basketball—none of that really aligns with the “Dolanball” ethos. Well-liked with a corny charm—not surly and alienating. Deeply invested in the actual outcomes of the games and disillusioned by the dysfunction—not halfway to 1OAK by the third quarter. Sincere and ambitious and trying desperately to make his suspect frame stronger—not soft and broken-down and dissolute on arrival. Tearing his ACL as a Knick—not joining this circus after the ACL tear.
And, of course, ready to enter his second contract—that’s an automatic no-go. That’s not the Knicks way, hasn’t been for years. At that juncture, the Knicks just had to use this generational talent as a sweetener for all the bad money they’d taken on. Bad money, of course, is more Knicks than Kristaps Porzingis ever was. Now both of them are gone, leaving just a salary cap chasm in their place. Bad money will return, though, and eventually get its jersey hung from the rafters in the Garden. Kristaps won’t.
So yes, the Knicks can bring back the unhappy, undersized point guard with a crazy vert, no jumper, and no defense—the one they already passed on in the draft, just to make it a little Knicksier. Let him inherit the mantle of Steve Francis. Let him accelerate through the cycle of a New York point guard at an unprecedented rate, all five stages of grief in the blink of an eye. They’ll use that bushel of future picks to select new promise and then find innovative ways to alienate them. And yes, of course, they’ll go on the hunt this offseason, and either bring back some permutation of temperamental superstar weirdos eager to begin their MSG declines, or settle for the B-list quasi-stars they were always going to end up with. Just know that they had the real thing right in front of them, only he wasn’t a good fit. He’s much too large to fit inside a trash can.