ORLANDO, Fla. — Kyle O’Quinn didn’t seem surprised that Phil Jackson is no longer the Knicks president. O’Quinn was more shocked that his good friend and teammate Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit interview, and didn’t necessarily agree with that move.
But O’Quinn said he knew the Knicks were going to make some type of move to shake things up after a disappointing drama-filled season that carried over into the offseason.
The Knicks parted ways with Jackson last week after he flirted with the idea of trading Porzingis and reportedly pushed for Carmelo Anthony to be bought out.
“I knew a change was going to be made,” O’Quinn said. “We didn’t know what. But we knew something had to be done. That’s what they chose to do. Wish Phil the best like I know he does us. In any organization you hate to see someone go.”
The veteran center, who was taking pictures of the Knicks’ summer league game, said he “could just sense” that something big was going to happen.
“We had a great team last year,” O’Quinn said. “The media blew some things up a little bit. The only way to get that negative stuff out is something had to be done. Not saying Phil was negative but something had to be done to make the situation be a little more at ease.”
O’Quinn, who averaged 6.3 points, 5.6 rebounds last season, said all the players got a “courtesy call” from Knicks’ officials to let them know what happened and how things would be moving forward. But O’Quinn used an interesting phrase, saying he was given “predictions — the best they know.”
The Knicks are in transition, as evidenced by what they’ve done in free agency. The only free agent that they have signed to this point is Ron Baker, who they’re bringing back on a two-year deal.
People who have spoken to the Knicks say they’re looking to sign young, athletic players on short deals. They’d like to acquire assets if they deal Anthony and he waives his no-trade clause, rather than buy him out.
It appears they now will build around Porzingis, which wasn’t a given a week ago. Jackson was bothered that Porzingis blew off his exit interview and said he was entertaining offers for him. O’Quinn said he would never have missed his meeting.
“Kristaps is a professional,” O’Quinn said. “Surprised? Of course anybody missing an exit meeting is pretty surprising. Like wow. But as a professional he has his own choices to make, and he made that choice. He went through with it.
“I don’t think personally I would do that. That’s not how I would do it. But I’m sure he had a reason why.”
O’Quinn speaks to Porzingis regularly, but he says it’s mostly personal stuff and not basketball. He said he expects Porzingis to be focused to play for the Knicks when he returns in September.
There have been questions about O’Quinn’s future as a Knick since he has a favorable contract. He’s owed $8.3 million over the next two seasons. But O’Quinn isn’t worried about his future.
“I haven’t got a sense that I won’t be here,” O’Quinn said. “I feel I fit in. I’m not on the outside. If a deal has to be done and I’m in it, obviously I have to deal with that. I don’t feel I’m one of the pieces they’re determining has to be moved to do this or that. I think I can fit in, I think I’m OK.”
With Jackson gone, the Knicks will run the triangle offense far less. O’Quinn said he expects them to run more ball screens and have more movement on offense. He believes it’s the right way for them to play, but he was one of the few Knicks who liked the triangle.
“As a big that could shoot the midrange and make passes and hit guys on hard cuts, I was a fan of the triangle,” O’Quinn said. “I can honestly say that. But maybe the group we had wasn’t as a whole for the triangle. But I was a fan of the triangle.”