GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The agent for Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, his brother Janis, took a few verbal shots at the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony in a published report, saying that Porzingis’ decision to skip his exit interview with the team last spring was an orchestrated effort to get the franchise to make some changes.
Addressing the exit interview, Janis Porzingis reportedly told the Latvian magazine Sporta Avize in a translated interview on Eurohoops.net, “That wasn’t an emotional decision. It wasn’t a spontaneous action. We had been thinking about it for a long time and it was considered an honest, well-thought decision we came up with together. It was a logical next step for us, without which we would’ve been in one situation, but now after we did it — we are in another.
“It’s interesting how many people who are even somehow involved in all of this have criticized it afterward as something so unprofessional!” Janis Porzingis said. “Just look at Melo, how he is handling things . . . And I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute.’ In reality, if he for once decided to fight for something, we wouldn’t be in this situation and Kristaps wouldn’t be forced to take all the damage on himself. It wasn’t done for some personal interest or ambitions or dislike for someone, it was for the sake of overall peace. It should have been a task for the team’s leaders, but Melo and people around him never tried to change anything.”
Janis Porzingis did not say what changes he and his brother expected the Knicks to make. Janis also indicated that Kristaps is in no hurry to negotiate a new contract with the Knicks.
Porzingis was not at practice on Thursday because of an illness. He is listed as questionable for Friday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden.
Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry, who were at practice on Thursday, declined to comment on the report. Janis Porzingis did not return a text from Newsday asking him to comment further.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said after practice that he hadn’t seen the report but added that what happened at the end of last season is history.
“That’s the past. We aren’t worried about that,” he said. “We started this year and we’re moving forward. That’s all.”
Hornacek was asked about his relationship with Porzingis.
“I think it’s been great,” he said. “I think KP has been great so far for us this year. He’s being a leader on the court and off the court. So he’s really trying to step it up for everybody and I think the guys are looking at him as their leader and one of those guys that they can depend on. So I think he’s off to a great start.”
Porzingis is the centerpiece of the Knicks’ rebuild, and Hornacek said he hasn’t seen any sign that he is unhappy with the team.
Porzingis is in the third year of his rookie contract, which pays him $4.5 million per year. The Knicks have picked up a team option that will pay him just under $5.7 million next season.
After the 2018-19 season, he will have some leverage. He can sign a max extension similar to the five-year, $148-million extension that Joel Embiid just signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, or he can opt to play on a qualifying offer of $7.514 million and become an unrestricted free agent after his fifth season in 2019-20.
“First — it’s a long time before signing a new deal,” Janis Porzingis said. “Second — there are so many things that can happen in the season, so it’s a waste of time thinking about it now. He needs to be healthy and play his game. And even that is conditional since we know that Embiid was recently awarded a maximum contract for 30 games.”
Janis Porzingis added, “The most important question here is this: What do you really want to achieve in your career? Because money — if Kristaps performs at least on his normal level — is gonna come. We are more focused on some other values and not just to quickly sign a new contract so we can collect the money. That’s definitely not our goal, so we won’t be feverishly counting minutes or counting points.
“You can’t escape the reality and the Knicks must also see that. From their point of view, Kristaps is the focal point at the moment so you cannot upset him much or otherwise, at the end of the season, he will say, ‘It’s not so cool here.’ The second question is: Who is the New York audience coming to watch now? To a large extent, it’s Kristaps. So the organization has to take that into account.”