If Phil Jackson was never fired: A major trade
Knicks trade Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics
Phil Jackson was still the Knicks’ President at the 2017 NBA Draft, but his plans were handicapped. He did not care about the Knicks’ young star and the media hype around him. He felt disrespected by Porzingis skipping his exit meeting, and he immediately hit the trading lines, entertaining offers for the young star.
In an interview with MSG Networks prior to the draft, Jackson admitted that he had thought about trading the young star.
"“So 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.”"
Although trade talks did not advance very far, owner James Dolan was adamant about the Knicks not trading the face of the franchise.
Trading Porzingis was at the foremost of reasons the Knicks ended up firing Jackson. However, if Dolan had trusted Jackson blindly, it was likely that the Knicks would have moved on from Porzingis before the 2017 draft, viewing the relationship unsalvageable.
Phil Jackson liked point guard Lonzo Ball and small forward Josh Jackson, who were projected to land in the top four. The only way the Knicks could pick that high was through a trade sending Porzingis to Boston or Phoenix, who held the 3rd and 4th picks, respectively.
Kristaps Porzingis’ trade value was at an all-time high. He was a 21-year-old burgeoning star, who had flashed the ability to be an elite scorer and rim protector. Executives around the league were salivating over the 7’3 Latvian.
One team that had high-interest in trading for Porzingis was the Knicks’ rivals in Boston. GM Danny Ainge was a big fan of the future All-Star and offered the Knicks a deal centered around the 3rd pick in the draft, which they had traded down to get fromPhiladelphia.
According to Ian Begley, the Celtics offered the 3rd pick, an unnamed player, and a future lottery pick. Among the players discussed in the deal were Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown.
Executives around the league came away with the impression that Phil Jackson’s asking price was extremely high. For this article’s purposes, we assume that Jackson could have traded Porzingis to Boston for the 3rd pick, Jaylen Brown, and the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 first-round pick.
Alternate universe: Knicks fans are enraged, but Phil Jackson is excited about acquiring the 3rd pick and Jaylen Brown, who was the third pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. Brown averaged 6.6 points and 17.2 minutes in his rookie season, but he flashed the potential to be an intriguing two-way player. Boston gets a franchise star who will help them in the short and long-term, while the Knicks get an opportunity to build around Brown and their two lottery picks.
After 2017 free agency, Phil Jackson will hibernate in his Montana ranch and write a memoir about Kristaps Porzingis. How dare a 21-year-old Latvian brat disrespect the Zen Master!