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Why Is Phil Jackson Toying With the Emotional Well-Being of Knicks Fans?

Threatening to get rid of Porzingis is a bridge too far

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

Why is Phil Jackson doing this? He doesn’t need the money, he doesn’t need the reputation boost, and I don’t think I’ve ever personally done anything to him that would make him want to slowly, efficiently crumble my spirit into ashes. It would be much easier for him to stay in the Great Plains and do all the hallucinogenic drugs he wants.

Instead he’s choosing to publicly trash the player who represents the best hope for the New York Knicks.

Let’s backtrack a bit: On Tuesday, some rumors spread that the Knicks were looking into trading Kristaps Porzingis, the best young player the Knicks have had since … Mark Jackson? It’s really Mark Jackson, isn’t it? I wasn’t even alive when Mark Jackson was a young Knicks player, so he’s the best young player the Knicks have had in my lifetime.

But luckily, my fears were assuaged by a tweet from Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports, which assured me the Knicks weren’t totally serious about trading Porzingis. Yes, they were listening to offers, but probably wouldn’t move unless they got an over-the-top one. That’s basically how every team should feel about every player.

And then Wednesday, The Vertical tweeted the Knicks were interested in dealing Porzingis to get Josh Jackson in this year’s draft.

Another rumor, but as distressing as it was, I don’t like to get worked up about trade rumors. There are millions of them, most of them don’t come to fruition, and sometimes they’re not even real — they’re either completely bogus or something a front-office executive leaked to a reporter to gain leverage on something they wanted to make happen.

This is not a trade rumor!

That’s the president of the Knicks going on television and explaining exactly why he thinks it’s a good idea to trade a player!

Apparently, this stems from a months-old problem:

First of all: not true. Second of all, Jackson seems open to re-signing Derrick Rose, who actually skipped a game, which is arguably more important than an exit interview. And the Knicks have exacerbated the problem by not contacting Porzingis since he skipped his exit interview — or, as the Knicks PR department clarified, contacting him only minimally.

The future? Porzingis is the future! What the hell is up with 71-year-olds destroying stuff and saying it’s good for the future?

Is it possible a player like Josh Jackson could be better than Porzingis for the Knicks in the long term? Sure: Porzingis has played only two years and could wane after his bright beginning. But not that many players in this year’s draft have a better best-case scenario than what Porzingis has turned out to be. Why would the Knicks trade reality for possibilities?

If it is a trade tactic, it’s not a good one. Phil is losing leverage by letting everybody know this is something he’s really considering; previously, teams might have assumed the Knicks would be extremely hard-pressed to give up a franchise player.

I hope this is not a trade tactic and that the Knicks are not actually stupid enough to part with the best thing to happen to them in years. I choose to believe Jackson just trying to send a message to his team’s young, talented star. But even then this is so mind-bogglingly stupid that I can’t understand why he would think this was a good idea. You do not deal with a budding young talent by giving him the silent treatment and trashing him to the press. Did you know the Knicks haven’t agreed to a long-term extension with one of their draft picks since Charlie Ward, who was drafted in 1994? It’s true, somehow.

Apparently, this is just Phil Jackson’s management style. Let’s ignore everything else about what Jackson has done as the Knicks president — the fact that he’s managed a slew of awful moves in just three years as the team’s manager, that his best acquisition is Courtney Lee, that he has become increasingly devoted to the increasingly irrelevant triangle offense that none of his players are interested in playing — and think about why Jackson’s best play is to tell everybody how much he dislikes his team’s best players. He has already done everything he can to publicly dis Carmelo Anthony. Is this what the Zen books are about? I kinda thought it was about focusing on your inner peace, but apparently it’s about publicly negging the people your livelihood depends on in hopes they bend to your will.

The Anthony thing was uncouth, but it kinda made sense. The Knicks are bad, have been for a while, and could benefit from trading their most expensive player, but Anthony has a no-trade clause. Porzingis, though? He’s all we have! He’s young and cheap and beautiful and everything the Knicks could hope to get in a player. The Knicks have had about two decades of almost nonstop doom and gloom, and he’s a rare beam of light.

I have seen two articles from Knicks fans threatening to rescind their Knicks fandom if Porzingis gets traded. It’s telling. Knicks fans have seen some garbage. But we never walked away. We just put garbage bags on our heads and paid $125 for the right to yell FIRE ISIAH at a game Isiah Thomas wasn’t attending.

But this is the line! We’re really reaching it! We were fine having no hope. But to give us something as good as Porzingis and take it away would be too far.