Kristaps Porzingis isn’t ready for Carmelo Anthony to leave the New York Knicks.
As he told NBA.com’s Shaun Powell while in South Africa on official NBA business:
“He’s an All-Star, an incredible player and I’ve learned so much from him,” Porzingis said. “There’s still so much for me to learn form him. I would love to have him around and keep playing alongside him. But it is what it is. It’s a business. If it ends, well … I don’t know, it’s out of my hands. I’m really thankful for these couple of years I’ve been with him, just seeing how he works during the summer. It proves he wants to win and he wants to be great. I’m sure he’ll make the right decision for himself.”
This feels like a mostly typical answer.
Maybe some part of Porzingis, now 22, wants to have his own team, as the face of the franchise, free from the drama attached to employing Anthony. But he’s also said in the past that playing beside Anthony helps him. The 33-year-old is still one of the NBA’s most talented scorers and having him on the court helps draw attention away from the 7’3″ skyscraper.
Still, it’s time for a change. Porzingis spent all of last season ceding touches to both Anthony and Derrick Rose. Something similar stands to happen with Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the docket. Porzingis needs the freedom to expand his game that, at this point, only comes without his All-Star running mate.
Plus, the Knicks and Anthony have never been on more divergent timelines. The latter is clearly done with the franchise after how the past couple years have gone, and New York doesn’t need to tack on unnecessary wins to its bottom line by relying on a veteran who only takes touches and minutes away from potential building blocks.
The caveat to all this: The Knicks must have the right trade in place. They aren’t going to get real value for Anthony, but they can’t accept any unsavory long-term deals in return, either.
So, hey, maybe Porzingis gets his wish after all—provided neither the Knicks nor Melo move off their current hardline stances.