Kristaps Porziņģis is reportedly upset with the direction that the Knicks are headed. Can you blame him? The 7-foot-3 behemoth is so frustrated that he left the country after the season ended, before even meeting with management, as was scheduled and expected. Kristaps just completed his second year in the NBA, and over that span, the Knicks have won a grand total of 63 games. For context, the Warriors have won 140 regular season games over that same time frame.
It appears as though Knicks President Phil Jackson is doing his best to run Carmelo Anthony out of town, but would he do the same with what many have considered to be the franchise’s cornerstone and building block of the future in Porziņģis? It is unclear but seems unlikely as Kristaps turns 22 in August, and is just beginning to scratch the surface of what he can become as a player. With that being said, I have the perfect trade involving Porziņģis that would make sense for both sides. Here it is:
New York Knicks receive: Blake Griffin, Austin Rivers, 2018 First Round Pick
Los Angeles Clippers receive: Kristaps Porziņģis, Joakim Noah
You might be thinking: “That’s absurd!” But there are methods to my madness. First of all, Blake Griffin is a free agent this summer, so the potential trade is contingent upon him resigning with the Clippers or via a sign-and-trade process.
First thing: this is not a two-for-two trade as it appears. While the Clippers would be receiving Porziņģis, they would also have to take on Noah’s putrid contract (4 years/ $72 million). In other words, the Clippers would be doing the Knicks a favor by taking Noah’s contract off of their books. In return for that favor, as well as sending an aging but still skilled Griffin and an explosive guard in Rivers to the Knicks, the Clippers, I believe, should be able to claim the Knicks’ most prized possession.
What motivation do the Knicks have to participate in such a trade? The Knicks would get a star to replace Porziņģis in Griffin, a solid point guard who I believe could escape the shadow of Chris Paul in L.A. The Knicks would then also have an additional $18 million a year in cap space that they would not otherwise have. (That Joakim Noah contract is one of the worst in all of the NBA.) It makes all of the sense in the world, especially if Kristaps really doesn’t want to be in the Big Apple.
Why would the Clippers be game to make that trade? For Doc Rivers and company, this is a no-brainer (except for the part of having to trade your son, but hey, that’s business). By adding Porziņģis, the Clippers would have a frontcourt of DeAndre Jordan and the Latvian Unicorn. That would likely be indefensible, especially as Porziņģis continues to develop. That pairing, along with Chris Paul, who I believe is likely to re-sign, and another wing scorer via free agency—Gordon Hayward is a possibility—and I truly believe that the Clippers could contend with the Warriors. Yes, they would likely rack up an insane luxury tax bill, especially if they resign J.J. Redick, but their owner is former CEO of Microsoft. If this opportunity presented itself, rest assured, Steve Ballmer would gladly pick up the tab.
Very rarely, because of the way young players are monetarily motivated to stay with the team that drafts them, do players of Porziņģis’ stature bolt before signing their first extension. But if Kristaps is so unhappy that he would contemplate leaving New York, the Knicks need to get something in return for his departure. I am not saying that this will necessarily happen, but it is a trade that would make logical sense from both the Knick and Clipper perspectives.