Kristaps Porzingis was drafted No. 4 overall by the New York Knicks in the 2015 NBA draft. The crowd filled Madison Square Garden with boos as his selection was announced, thinking they had drafted the next Jan Vesely.

I know that most Knicks fans were just hoping for Jahlil Okafor, who was coming off an NCAA championship, to drop to them but Phil Jackson selected the forward / center out of Latvia.

In his three seasons playing in New York, Porzingis averaged 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game, which is a pretty respectable stat-line for the first three years of an NBA career. As a rookie, he went on a rampage by dunking on everyone he could possibly think of.

He was called “the Unicorn”, the “Next Dirk Nowitzki”, and was adored by the New York media. Then he tore his ACL in February of 2018 and things got a little tense between Porzingis and the Knicks’ front office.

Porzingis did confirm that he requested a trade from New York, but it was very strange that Steve Mills honored his request. Porzingis was heading into free agency as a restricted free agent, which means the Knicks could’ve matched any offer, or dared him to take the qualifying offer. There was no way Porzingis would’ve actually gone overseas.

How many times have we seen a star player demand a trade only to force the front office into making moves to better the roster? What New York’s front office received for Porzingis were pennies on the dollar in a failed attempt to lure Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with the cap savings.

I don’t blame the Knicks’ fanbase for hating on Porzingis but ultimately, he wanted to get out of a poorly run franchise. But I do have a problem letting the front office off the hook for getting so little for someone who was considered a future star in the league at the time.

But things have to be different now under Leon Rose. New York’s front office must look at players with objectivity and see their value. Porzingis is still a very good rim protector who can provide scoring and outside shooting.

Is there a Kristaps Porzingis deal that could be worked out for the Knicks-Wizards?

Here are three players that the Knicks may not want on their roster next year:

  1. Julius Randle. He did not have the season he had during 2020-21. Randle pretty much regressed in every category and often showed signs of immaturity. He does not seem to fit a role that will require him to be the best player on a team. New York must also open up playing time for Obi Toppin so that he can flourish. When minutes were given to the sophomore player, he was a great asset to the team and performed very well with starting minutes. Because Randle is on a great long-term deal, it seems like if the deal is right, the Knicks should look to trade him.
  2. The Alec Burks point guard experiment has to end. Tom Thibodeau must give up his dreams of forcing Burks to be a point guard when he has other serviceable guards ready to take those minutes. Burks is still a good enough scorer on a decent contract to hold trade value.
  3. Nerlens Noel has been a good defensive player for New York, but offensively he has not improved much since coming into the league. Even if Mitchell Robinson doesn’t re-sign with the Knicks, I doubt the front office will be pleased heading into next season with Noel as the starting center.

So, with that being said, here’s the proposed trade:

Knicks Get

Kristaps Porzingis

Kyle Kuzma

Wizards Get

Julius Randle

Alec Burks

Nerlens Noel

New York would get back Porzingis and people could bring out their jerseys again (unless they have been burned). The Knicks would completely replace the production of Robinson and Noel, aside from the high-percentage shooting in the paint.

This would free up starting minutes for Toppin, and I do believe that New York will work best when Toppin’s allowed to attack both from the outside and inside, instead of utilizing him as a corner 3-point shooter. Because Porzingis can attack from both inside and out, he would be a great offensive partner for Toppin and they would be interchangeable on offense.

The Knicks would also get Kyle Kuzma, who may just be the answer at the forward position that the team has yet to get any consistency on. But regardless of whether Kuzma would come off the bench or start at the 3, he would provide spacing and scoring. Kuzma has shown that he can perform in a big city, like he did with the Lakers, and he has been great for the Wizards since the trade.

Washington could replace Porzingis with Randle, who would most likely stay healthy for the season. The Wizards would also receive other pieces to compliment Bradley Beal in 2022-23. Porzingis didn’t seem to work too well not being given enough offensive touches and Beal is similar to Luka Doncic in that regard.

New York missed the playoffs last season with little change to their roster from 2021-22. There’s also a high chance that the 11th pick in the draft won’t be the answer to all of their problems. Perhaps it’s time to see if it’s worth bringing Porzingis back to the team that drafted him.

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