When news broke that Kristaps Porzingis wanted a trade from the New York Knicks — and that the Knicks were already working on meeting his demands — I started thinking about how he could fit into a Suns lineup with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton starving for shot making and rim protection.
Great shooter? Check. Not a consistent shooter or high percentage guy, but every time he makes a shot someone tweets about how wonderful it is. His 39 percent shooting on threes would look incredibly smooth next to Devin Booker, spreading the floor for Deandre Ayton.
Rim protector? Check. He’s no bully or low post menace on defense but 2.5 blocks per game is 2.5 blocks per game. Again, I think I’ve seen all of them on my Twitter feed.
Loved by national media? Before Luka Doncic, there was the Zinger. Or Porzingod. Or Unicorn. Whichever you prefer, Kristaps was Luka before Luka.
Oh, he’s not perfect.
He can’t rebound. Despite being 7’3” and playing the pivot most of the time for his Knicks, Porzingis never averaged more than 7.3 rebounds per game (one board per foot) and declined every year since his rookie season.
He can’t score inside. While the Unicorn made 36 percent of his threes, he only made 43 percent of his shots overall in three seasons with the Knicks.
And he’s not a playmaker, averaging more turnovers than assists for his career.
Porzingis has also been out all year with a devastating knee injury and a history of throwing his organization under the bus at every turn. The Knicks were tired of Porzingis’ attitude and wary of giving max money to someone with his injury status. Those are big red flags that coming to the Suns would not have solved.
But man, wouldn’t an exciting 7’3” string bean shooter — Dirk Nowitzki reincarnate — fit nicely into a Suns lineup with his 22 points, 7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game? Not to mention adding much-needed veteran influences in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee?
Just look at this lineup:
- Trey Burke, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo
- Booker, Hardaway Jr., Lee
- Mikal Bridges, T.J. Warren
- Porzingis, T.J. Warren
- Ayton, Richaun Holmes
The Big Three of Booker, Porzingis and Ayton, all 23 or younger, would have danced like sugar plums in Suns’ fans heads for a decade to come.
And all the Suns needed to beat the Mavericks’ offer would be to lean on their strong relationship with the Knicks brass, Josh Jackson, their own lightly protected 2019 pick, the 2020 Milwaukee pick and Trevor Ariza and Tyson Chandler’s expiring contracts. Heck, even send them Darrell Arthur’s expiring and take on yet another bad contract and give the Knicks even MORE cap space.
So easy! Finally, turning McDonough’s assets into that franchise star they’ve wanted for a decade since Nash, Amare and Marion passed into that good night.
After releasing Arthur in October, buying out Chandler in November, and trading Ariza to buy out Austin Rivers’ big contract, the Suns simply don’t even possess the juicy expiring contracts anymore the Knicks could have taken to clear cap space this summer.
And even if the Suns had kept all those guys around on the roster, there’s no indication the Suns even had a chance to talk to the Knicks before Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson had their deal sewn up. The Suns don’t even have a General Manager!
I didn’t think my civic pride for my NBA team could sink any lower, but here we are.