Fallout from Kristaps Porzingis injury still hangs over Knicks

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The crowded crowd at Madison Square Garden is the first thing you notice, of course, because happy, pre-pandemic scenes always light up people with memories of life before. The next thing you see on this tape from Kristaps Porzingis is his extreme skill and athleticism as he moves away from the most athletic player in the game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo holds Porzingis’ jersey like a middle-aged weekend warrior would at the local Y.Trey Burke filters the Bucks franchise player to the left elbow, and his 7-foot-3 teammate breaks free from the defender over the line foul, preparing to take a pass from Kyle O’Quinn.

But when the Bucks’ Jason Terry jumps into the passing lane, the Unicorn does a very unicorn thing: he stops at a dime like a wide catcher coming out of a break, separates Terry and Antetokounmpo on a hard dive. towards the basket, and takes Quinn’s bounce pass through the air for a high-flying dunk over the Greek Freak as the camera lights flash around them.

The basket put the home team 31-30 with 8:51 left in the second quarter. The Knicks were 23-31 in that game on Feb.6, 2018 and are set to miss the playoffs for a fifth straight year. But that night, fans still had 22-year-old Porzingis in the air, applying for the Freak on the way to his first All-Star Game as a proud member of Team LeBron. If you can’t sell your customers earnings, you can certainly sell that kind of hope.

Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis blocked Elfrid Payton’s shot.
AP

Yet just like Knick’s most recent booms of prosperity – Linsanity in 2012, Melo’s 54-winning season the following year – this one ended far too quickly. In fact, it lasted about two seconds after that dunk on Antetokounmpo before a fallen Porzingis hit his left knee. Fans couldn’t even get out of their seats until their fun turned into devastation.

No ticket holder that night would have ever thought that he or she was watching the final act on the court of the passion play Porzingis in New York City. Off the pitch, almost a year later, the injured Knick walked into Steve Mills’ office and told team president and general manager Scott Perry he wanted out and that if they didn’t. did not exchange, he would leave for Europe. The Knicks struck a deal with the Mavericks, who fired Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews and two first-round picks. Oh, and DeAndre Jordan, who was supposed to help persuade his Olympic teammates and friends Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to fill the Knicks’ enlarged ceiling space.

Instead, Jordan joined Durant and Irving in Brooklyn, putting a rotten cherry on top of a summer that made the Knicks’ decision to treat Porzingis slightly better than Charlotte’s decision to treat Kobe Bryant in 1996. Au Over time, after the Knicks signed Julius Randle with some of the money they were saving for KD and Irving, the trade looked less dire. Entering Friday night’s game in Dallas, Randle, who is just eight months older than Porzingis, outscored him (23.2-20.7) and edged him (10.6-9.3), although that the Mavs star beat his counterpart in player efficiency rating (22.26). -19.73). And Marcus Morris, another 2019 signer, was traded for a late first-round pick that ultimately helped the Knicks land Immanuel Quickley.

Smith has been a disaster, and although Porzingis has been a healthy top-tier Maverick, and while teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. has started 95 games, the three players the Knicks received in the deal are all employed. by other teams.

But if Randle emerges as a healthier, more productive forward than Porzingis in the years to come, and the Knicks hit at least one of those two Dallas draft picks, hey, Porzingis’ trade isn’t going to turn out to be. such an apocalyptic event after all. Ultimately, maybe the Knicks should have called the KP’s European bluff (the way the Nets should have called Kobe’s European bluff before letting it go to the Lakers via Charlotte), and bet that his track record of injuries would have required him to sign up for a long-term race in New York City. Time will tell us.

Meanwhile, if you’re a fan who wants to remind you of how the Knicks started developing a draft all-star draft pick for the first time since receiving Patrick Ewing, go back and watch the video from the latest one. piece from Porzingis Garden. Stop it right after tracking the dunk on the Freak, before the crash landing and the grip and fist pounding the ground.

Freeze it right there in midair and remember a fleeting moment of Knicks ecstasy before longer winters of agony for the Knicks.

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