If the New York Knicks are going to draw free agents to The Mecca, Kristaps Porzingis must appeal to them. General manager Scott Perry believes he will.
The New York Knicks are rebuilding in more ways than the average down-on-their-luck organization. In addition to compiling up-and-coming talent for the gradual return to prominence, the front office is attempting to change its reputation around the NBA.
One of the driving forces behind that focus is the Knicks’ inability to convince high-profile free agents to play in New York, let alone take a meeting.
New York has hired a number of respected individuals who should help connect with future free agents, including head coach David Fizdale and general manager Scott Perry. As always, however, it’s the franchise player who will be tasked with helping close the deal.
"“I think Kristaps is going to be an excellent player in this league. I think he’s gaining the respect of many of his peers around this league so we’re excited about that,” Perry said on Tuesday, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “Anytime you get the respect of fellow players around in this league, and we’ve heard that from around (the league), I think that’s a good thing. And we feel real confident about him being an important part of our building process.”"
The Knicks have assets in free agency, but the franchise player may be the most important piece of all in that regard.
The hurdle at this current juncture is that Porzingis is currently rehabilitating a torn ACL in his left knee. That puts his immediate future in doubt, which could cause a measure of skepticism amongst those who are eligible for free agency in 2019.
When Porzingis is healthy, however, it stands to reason that every player in the NBA would have interest in playing with him.
In addition to possessing a truly unique offensive skill set, Porzingis can help simplify the game with his mere presence on the defensive end of the floor.
At the time of his injury in 2017-18, Porzingis ranked No. 1 in the NBA in blocks per game and opponent field goal percentage at the rim. He was also averaging 22.7 points and 1.9 three-point field goals made per game, and ranked in the top five in the Association in points via post ups.
Considering Porzingis did all of that at a stage of his career during which his thin frame was still holding him back, rival players inevitably took notice of his potential.
Already an All-Star, the next task for Kristaps Porzingis will be proving that his value to the New York Knicks extends to off the court.