Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: A fan holds up a sign referencing now former New York Knicks player Kristaps Porzingis before the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft.
- January 31, 2019 will go down as one of the most shocking days in Knicks history as fans were blindsided by Kristaps Porzingis' trade to the Dallas Mavericks.
- Rob Perez takes us through the highs and lows he experienced during one of the wildest trades in Knicks history.
Stage 1: SHOCK
I remember it like it was yesterday.
NBA Draft night 2017. News drops out of the clouds like the riders of the apocalypse that the New York Knicks … my New York Knicks … were on the verge of trading 7’3” phenom, savior of the Mecca, and leader of the rebellion against years of apathy and irrelevance, to the Phoenix Suns for bag of Cheetos, Josh Jackson and some Funyuns considerations.
All because Porzingis and Phil Jackson’s Cold War had supposedly reached a point of no return after he skipped his season exit interview, or so we were told. Who knows, honestly, but this is all par for the course when you’re talking about this team.
I have been a die-hard Knicks fans since the early 90’s — the glory days of John Starks walking across the floor at Market Square Arena to dap up Spike Lee before going back home for Game 7 — I wasn’t going to let the best thing happen to this franchise in a long time just go away for nothing.
So my former employer and I had an idea.
So original, I know. Well guess what? They didn’t trade Porzingis, so I’m going to tell everyone for the remainder of time that this actually worked.
Stage 2: DENIAL
Speaking of ‘time’, Draft Night 2017 was a different era for the New York Knicks. Carmelo Anthony was on the verge of being traded. They were drowning in mediocrity with no buoy in sight.
They, ironically, drafted Frank Ntilikina instead of Dennis Smith Jr. No matter what the Knicks did, said, or traded for, as long as Porzingis was on the team, all roads led somewhere.
We didn’t even know where, and it didn’t matter because that’s what we believed: somewhere was better than nowhere. He was that good — that a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel was still blinding.
I alluded to this in my apology to the city of Philadelphia, but it rings true now more than ever. In 2017, we could all agree if you have one of five players on your team (LeBron, Durant, Curry, Harden, Davis) you had a legitimate chance to win the NBA Championship. The players in waiting to join this exclusive club, were Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Joel Embiid.
For two years, Knicks fans and 76ers fans fought trench warfare to get our respective weapons to the superstar plateau first. Knicks fans couldn’t help but feel like we were in the lead. Embiid had played fewer games than Greg Oden three years into his career. Your precious process was laughable to us as long as we had a healthy Porzingis.
They took Jahlil Okafor instead of him, we were in a position to unleash hell for the rest of eternity. It made me cocky as hell despite the Knicks not winning shit. The 76ers catching Ls every night, Embiid always being hurt, and this #TrustTheProcess movement was all we needed. Porzingis was what Embiid was supposed to be.
But then everything changed.
Stage 3: ANGER
All of the memories, all the hope, all the mixtapes, all the memes fueling our engines through the losses — poof. Gone.
As Kristaps’ lengthy recovery began, there was nothing to do but watch every Luka Doncic stepback/Zion Williamson dunk and hope the lottery balls fell our way to pair these generational superstars with Porzingis when he returned.
That same dream continued to this very day, until Woj went full Varys from Game of Thrones and transcribed his little birds’ message to the world:
At first glance, this smelled funky. Let’s start by addressing who was probably in the room of this meeting (complete guess, no actual information here)
- Kristaps Porzingis
- Janis Porzingis (his brother/agent)
- Steve Mills (Knicks President)
- Scott Perry (Knicks GM)
- David Fizdale
Who would inform Woj of the details of this closed door meeting?
Stage 4: BARGAINING
When you read that Porzingis “left the Knicks with the impression that he prefers to be traded” without any additional information provided at the time, you comprehend this as something similar to the trade demand Rich Paul just executed with Anthony Davis, but a little more cryptically so that they don’t have to pay the $50,000 fine.