The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t the only team looking to trade developing NBA Draft lottery talents. The New York Knicks have discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with the Lakers and all teams with top-five selections in the 2017 NBA Draft, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Shelburne’s report follows up a stunning interview Knicks president Phil Jackson held on MSG Network Wednesday evening. Jackson outright confirmed that New York has been receiving calls regarding Porzingis’ availability, and that the franchise is “listening” to offers.
"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,” Jackson said during the interview.
The Knicks are highly interested in acquiring a draft pick to secure the rights to select Josh Jackson out of Kansas, as ESPN’s Ian Begley noted in his report on the situation in New York. The Knicks have discussed a trade with the Phoenix Suns centered around the No. 4 pick, and New York has had “substantive talks” with “at least” two teams drafting in the top-five on Thurday.
The Lakers can certainly whip together an attractive offer if the Knicks have Jackson at the top of their wish list. Los Angeles is already in roster-shuffling mode, shipping D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets to clear salary issues in the future.
That’s also what makes a trade from the Lakers more complicated. With Russell on the roster, the Lakers would still have a young high-potential point guard to develop if they traded the No. 2 pick to New York. Without him, the team would be shipping away the rights to Lonzo Ball, who appears primed to step into the shoes left behind by D’Angelo.
New York should be more than capable of fetching a fantastic return on Porzingis. He’s 21 years old, is considered a unicorn in the present NBA landscape of stretch bigs who can defend, and should only continue improving. Doubts about his future with the organization began swelling during the Knicks’ exit interview process.
Porzingis elected to skip his exit interview, reportedly upset at the dysfunction he sensed within the Knicks. Jackson spoke with media prior to Kristaps’ sit down, essentially unloading about the need for Carmelo Anthony to waive his no-trade clause and move on. That may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back after another down year in New York, and Porzingis passed on meeting with management.
“As much as we value Kristaps and what he's done for us, when a guy doesn't show up at an exit meeting, everybody starts speculating on the duration or his movability from a club," Jackson said Thursday.
Whatever the haul is, the Lakers would certainly have to be willing to go deep into their cabinet to match the future flexibility in draft picks a team like the Boston Celtics can offer, or the combination of picks and players others could be ready to put on the table. Los Angeles still has a handful of pieces in the No. 2 pick, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram and their deeper selections (27, 28), which is more than enough to have a legitimate discussion with the Knicks.
The next 24 hours are going to be a whirlwind of breaking reports and speculation, with Porzingis rumors joining a cycle already dominated by Paul George and Jimmy Butler. All of this, and NBA free agency is still over a week away.