As Kristaps Porzingis begins the long road back from last week’s ACL tear, a star player from a division rival has begun an early recruitment.
Kyrie Irving revealed during All-Star weekend that he sent encouraging words to Porzingis on his recovery. And during the Knicks-Celtics October 24 meeting, he made it clear he’d love to play with the 7’3 Latvian.
“I told him I would love to play with a big like you, man, when we played them in the beginning of the season when he came to Boston,’’ Irving. “He’s so versatile. So I wish him nothing but the best and hope he comes back even stronger.”
KP and Irving were going to be teammates this All-Star weekend on LeBron’s squad. The injury will keep Porzingis out into halfway through the 2018-2019 season.
“One thing that absolutely sucks in sports and life is going through injuries,’’ Irving continued. “I sent him well wishes. That dude is so freaking talented. It’s tough man. I just hope mentally he’s able to jump over those hurdles. It’s tough coming back knowing the process and having that window you’re trying to hit of how long you’ll have to wait in order to do certain things. He’s always in the gym. He’s a hard worker. I wish him nothing but the best.’’
So why should this be somewhat alarming? If you recall, Porzingis did a sit-down interview earlier this year with Rachel Nichols. He revealed that when the Phil Jackson drama went down about him possibly being traded, he received texts from many players wanting to play with him. The scary thing for Knicks fans is none of these urges to play with KP involved players coming to New York.
Some observers have argued that Irving, who becomes a free agent in 2019, might be willing to return to the Tri-State area (he’s a Jersey native) to bring a championship back to the Garden. But here’s the thing — Danny Ainge has shown to be on the most shrewd GMs in the league. The odds are that in two years Boston will still be a top team. At the very least, still ahead of NY when it comes to title hopes.
So why would Irving come here when it’d be easier to incorporate KP’s versatility as a final piece into a title contender?
I’m far from a fear-monger, but there’s a lot riding for the Knicks on this summer’s draft pick and trade moves.