ESPN 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. 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.”
As a huge New York Knicks fan, I think one of the major problems that the franchise has had over the last few seasons is their desire to “win now”, when the team is really not ready. The Knicks got lucky when they drafted a basketball unicorn with the fourth overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, they got lucky again when they found Willy Hernangomez in the second round of the same draft, and they need to build a contender around their young talent. They have an aging superstar in Carmelo Anthony, a very talented offensive player, who is a ball hog. They then signed washed up former MVP in Derrick Rose, who is also a ball hog, making their young superstar Kristaps Porzingis the third option on offense. What the Knicks should have done is built the roster full of young players that complement Porzingis, allowed him to develop as the focal point of the offense, and sucked (because they sucked anyway). There is still time to build around Porzingis their young talent, but it has to start now, and the Knicks need to start by letting Rose walk as a free agent and trading Carmelo Anthony for a combination of cheap young players and draft picks. The Knicks then need to draft a point guard like De’Aaron Fox or Dennis Smith with their lottery pick, a guard that understands that Porzingis is the primary option on offense, and getting him the ball is priority number one. Then the Knicks will have an exciting young team, built around Porzingis, Hernangomez, and a rookie point guard, and while they might stink they will have a young core to build around for years to come. Kristaps Porzingis will be a lot lest frustrated when he’s averaging 28 points per game.