CHICAGO — Jeff Hornacek doesn’t see a scenario where Kristaps Porzingis is in anything but a Knicks’ uniform next season.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be on the roster,” Hornacek said Thursday afternoon at the NBA Draft Combine.
But that doesn’t mean all is well between the Knicks and Porzingis, who skipped his end-of-season exit meeting out of frustration over the direction of the franchise.
Hornacek said he recently sent Porzingis a text. When he was asked whether Porzingis texted him back, Hornacek just smiled and did not respond.
After Porzingis blew off the meeting with team president Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and Hornacek, ESPN reported that teams reached out to the Knicks to inquire about his availability. But Hornacek said the Knicks aren’t discussing dealing Porzingis.
“We expect him back,” he said. “I think everything’s going to be just fine when we get back.”
This was the first time a member of the organization spoke publicly since Porzingis made the unexpected move following the Knicks’ 31-51 season. His two years in the NBA have been littered with losing and controversy surrounding the team.
Porzingis’ brother Janis, an agent with Andy Miller’s ASM group, told ESPN that Kristaps wants the Knicks “to create an environment where he can develop and grow as a player and win.”
Hornacek wouldn’t say he was disappointed that Porzingis didn’t show up, but he said they will talk eventually.
“He decided not to come to the meeting,” Hornacek said. “It would’ve been a great opportunity to talk about what he sees, but we figure it’s a long summer. We’ll end up talking to him, and all that stuff coming into next year will be fine.
“I don’t know if it’s disappointed. Guys make decisions and live with those decisions. It just would’ve been a good opportunity to talk about what the concerns are moving forward. You can’t do anything about the past. That’s the big thing. Whatever happened and went on, you can’t dwell on it. You got to learn from it and make the proper adjustments to move forward.”
Hornacek said he may fly overseas this summer for the European championships because Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas are playing for their respective countries.
The Knicks, at the present time, are preparing for the draft. They’re seeded seventh in Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery. They have a 5.3-percent chance of getting the first overall pick and 18.3-percent odds of selecting in the top three. They can’t drop any further than 10.
Only two of the projected top 10 picks were in Chicago, and neither Washington’s Markelle Fultz nor Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox worked out. The Knicks met with both of them.
Jackson, who conducted the interviews, didn’t attend the workouts and games Thursday. The Knicks’ contingent in attendance included Mills, Hornacek, assistant general manager Allan Houston and Clarence Gaines, the vice president of player personnel and a trusted Jackson adviser.
The draft is a big part of the Knicks’ summer rebuild, but Carmelo Anthony’s future continues to be the major question concerning the Knicks.
Jackson said last month that the Knicks haven’t won with Anthony and he “would be better off somewhere else.” Anthony has a no-trade clause, but he might be willing to waive it to play for a contender. The Knicks have missed the playoffs the last four seasons.
“I don’t know,” Hornacek said when asked if it was time for a change. “Carmelo is a great player. He did a lot of good things for us. He won us games. He hit some big shots for us. He was a guy who we could go to. If he’s back, he’s a guy who we can go to again. If he’s not, then that’s when other guys will have to become the guy that we can go to or get us big buckets.”
That would seem to open up a spot for Porzingis to be the go-to guy, although Jackson said he wasn’t ready to be the focal point of the offense.
“There are steps,” Hornacek said. “You don’t just come into the league your first year and now you’re the focus, especially when you have 15-year veterans on the team who have done it.
“Could there have been more times? Maybe. He had a few opportunities. But when you get to the end of the game, you’re looking at Carmelo to get you a bucket. That’s what it is. If we move forward and those guys aren’t there, he’s going to be a big part of it.”