Where do we even begin?
It was all there for the taking with the New York Knicks. They had the right plan this season — let Kristaps Porzingis rest his torn ACL, develop some of the young draft picks, get a top draft pick and woo a free agent (or two?) to New York.
It’s all gone now. In a flash. Reports surfaced Thursday that Porzingis was unhappy with the direction the franchise was taking and suddenly he became part of a trade with the Dallas Mavericks for a positively awful return:
Yes, the Knicks get salary cap room galore when the contracts of DeAndre Jordan and Wes Matthews come off the books. But that’s it? For “The Unicorn,” a player with rare talents who, it seemed, wanted to play in New York and turn around a franchise that couldn’t get out of its own way?
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You say the Knicks could still bring in free agents with that cap room they were already going to have. But think about the mentality of a free-agent-to-be when they look at the Knicks’ recent history. There was how management treated Carmelo Anthony before he was shipped out. There was the falling out between Porzingis and Phil Jackson that — in hindsight — never quite got repaired.
If you were Kevin Durant, would you want to come to a franchise that continues to mishandle its stars and find ways to mess up ideal situations like the one the Knicks had? Of course not. New York is no longer the glitzy destination it once was, mostly because this keeps happening over and over, and painfully so.
And on top of all that, because of the NBA’s new lottery rules that are meant to keep teams from tanking as much, the Knicks may end up with the league’s worst record by season’s end and not end up with the top pick.
Who knows what was said in that reported meeting between Porzingis and management. But you have to wonder: Could this have been prevented? Was there any way the front office could have said: “Wait, Kristaps. There are brighter days ahead.” We don’t know yet where this all came from.
The Knicks have failed their fans and franchise for the umpteenth time, and it’s way past the point of getting old.
Follow Charles Curtis on Twitter @bycharlescurtis.