Knicks president Steve Mills appeared on ESPN radio Wednesday and addressed the decision not to come to an agreement on a contract extension for Kristaps Porzingis. He insisted that the Knicks star is on board with the decision.
“So we’ve been very straightforward in our communication with KP’s brother [Janis], who is his agent,” Mills said. “KP has a long history with us. One thing about my relationship with KP is that when he is unhappy about something or disappointed about something, he’s been very forthright in coming to me and saying, ‘Steve, you know what? I’m not happy about this.’
“And throughout this whole process he’s been very excited about David Fizdale as the coach, he’s been very excited about the players, the young players that we have. And I watch him every day at shootaround, I watch him every day at practice and watch how he’s engaged with his teammates, so I think we’re in a good place.”
General manager Scott Perry said Tuesday that the decision was not dictated by keeping salary-cap space clear for next summer -- that that was a byproduct of the decision. But Mills said they have a plan and that Porzingis understands.
“We believe it was the smart move,” Mills said. “But primarily because over the summer, Scott and I sat down with KP’s brother and talked about the different options that we have in front of us as it related to his extension. We were clear that the best option to make the Knicks a better team long term and have a better group of guys that KP can grow with long term was to not do the extension at this point.
“We think it ended up in a situation that’s best for the long-term view of the Knicks, which ultimately will be the best in the long-term view for KP because he’ll have a better team that he’ll be part of.”
Notes & quotes: In addition to Porzingis, the Knicks were without Courtney Lee in Wednesday night's season opener. Despite being on the active roster, Fizdale said he didn’t think it was fair to throw Lee into the fire after he missed all five preseason games with a sprained neck and returned to practice only Sunday.