Basketball

Kristaps Porzingis has one regret after messy divorce from Knicks

The divorce from the Knicks "wasn't ideal," according to Kristaps Porzingis, who took the high road Thursday while expressing regret for his defiant Instagram post.

Porzingis has shown little interest in a mud-slinging contest and continued that philosophy a day before facing his former team in Dallas.

"That definitely wasn't the way I wanted it to happen. But there wasn't really another way how to do it," said Porzingis, who posted Instagram messages right after the trade suggesting that Knicks fans "STAY WOKE!!," because they deserve better from the franchise, and "the truth will come out."

Porzingis never elaborated on that warning. Maybe he never will.

"With all the emotions going on in that moment when I got traded, I put out some stupid Instagram stories, just laying in my bed late at night, 'Oh man I got traded.' We all make mistakes," he said "And it wasn't perfect. There was no smooth way out of that, I think. It got a little bit ugly but it's in the past right now. And I have nothing negative to say really about that process, it's all a learning process and I'm happy to be here now."

In basically one fateful day on Jan. 30, Porzingis went from franchise hero to public enemy No. 1. The front office pushed the message that its hands were tied – that Porzingis was an irrecoverable malcontent – but the Latvian acknowledged Thursday there were circumstances that would've kept him in New York.

Again, he declined to elaborate but said, "Losing is always tough."

"As I said, I have nothing negative to say, it's in the past," he said. "I'm grateful for those years that I spent in New York. It's a great experience."

David Fizdale never got a chance to coach Porzingis and was not part of the acrimony between star player and franchise. That was much more about the front office and the team's direction. It was clear Scott Perry and Steve Mills weren't eager to repair the relationship when they pulled a trigger on the trade within hours of Porzingis' request.

The framework of the deal was in place long before Porzingis and his brother, Janis, requested the trade in a five-minute meeting with Perry and Mills. The Knicks had also declined to offer Porzingis a max extension before last season.

"We did have a nice text exchange afterward. But he and I, our relationship was good," Fizdale said. "I think I really felt good about our relationship. We communicated. I only have fond things to say about him."

Fizdale was surprised Porzingis wanted out.

"I was. This is the NBA. Everyone's going to hunt for happiness and comfort," the coach said. "That was a decision he had to make. So here we are today."

'Today' is not a good place for the Knicks. They are in the basement of the NBA at 1-6 and facing Porzingis following embarrassing losses to the Kings and Pistons. The Mavericks, meanwhile, are 5-2 and at the top of the Southwest Division.

Porzingis is averaging 19 points and 8.1 boards but has such a high bar he's disappointed with his performances – even after a 20-month layoff while recovering from ACL surgery. He wants to avoid any added eagerness for Friday's game.

"I don't know if I need extra juice. Maybe I need to slow down actually," he said. "That's what I need. Make it more simple for myself. That's what I need. I'm just looking forward to getting back in my groove. Of course I'm excited to play against my old team, coach Fizdale and some of the guys that I played with. It's going to be fun. But I'm more looking forward to just getting back into my rhythm."

The trade has largely been a disaster for the Knicks. They whiffed in free agency with the cap space cleared and Dennis Smith Jr. has struggled. The Knicks still have two first-round picks coming but Dallas' success means the value is worse. Still, Fizdale wasn't ready to concede defeat.

"Well, we don't know what Dennis Smith is going to be. He's 21 years old. At the end of the day we've still got two first-round picks out of that. Who knows who that's going to be?" Fizdale said. "We won't know exactly what comes out of that for a year or two."

Regardless of what happens in the future, the Knicks lost a Unicorn who they now have to face on Friday. Fizdale wished he had a chance to actually coach him.

"You always have your dreams. But it didn't happen," he said. "I'm happy with the guys we got in the gym right now."

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