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Who Is Leading in the Porzingis Sweepstakes?

Phil Jackson is reportedly looking to Boston and Phoenix to try to make a deal for Kristaps Porzingis

(AP Images/Ringer illustration)
(AP Images/Ringer illustration)

Less than 24 hours after Phil Jackson lit a hypothetical fire underneath every Knicks fan in America by putting Kristaps Porzingis on the market, the move that made no sense looks like it is starting to take shape.

The two teams that have decided to dive into the Porzingis sweepstakes so far appear to be the Phoenix Suns and the Boston Celtics. Let’s start our review in the desert.

The Suns have reportedly said no thanks to a trade proposal involving the fourth pick in Thursday night’s draft and Devin Booker, who is good, but feels overvalued on account of the flashiness of his 70-point game in March. I gotta say, Booker feels built for Madison Square Garden, but if the Suns think he’s untouchable, then there’s no deal Phoenix could offer that would seemingly meet New York’s high demands.

So, let’s move on to Boston.

The Celtics have a fascinating role in this discussion because they have the luxury of gunning for Kristaps, giving Phil some solid assets, and still have the ability to sign Gordon Hayward or another big free agent. Danny Ainge, God bless him, can have his cake and eat it too. He just has to give up his majority stake in his bakery.

Ian Begley’s reported deal seems reasonable for both sides, and our own Kevin O’Connor says Detroit’s 12th pick for Avery Bradley is a plausible deal that could net the Celtics that "additional lottery pick."

But according to the New York Daily News, the bounty that Phil is requesting involves this year’s third pick, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, and the 2018 first-round pick the Celtics have from the Nets. That is a lot. It’s so much that Knicks fans, who, for the most part, are vehemently opposed to trading Porzingis, may have begun to think that this could be defensible. Then again, Ainge is not that thirsty for Porzingis and is reportedly trying to adjust the deal more to his liking. ESPN reports, however, that a Knicks source said if Phil "doesn’t get exactly what he wants, there will be no (Porzingis) trade."

What does Phil want? Apparently, Lauri Markkanen. As my colleague Jonathan Tjarks put it, trading away KP to draft Markkanen would be "like if your dad sold your iPod and got you a Zune."

Hours from the draft, Porzingate has turned into a power struggle between Ainge and Phil. It’s dumbfounding we’ve even come this far. Phil Jackson picked and believed in Kristaps Porzingis; his best move since taking over in New York. That it could be squandered at Ainge’s hands feels especially cruel.