New York Knicks president Phil Jackson wants to shake things up — and he’s doing just that. The Verticle first reported Wednesday that Jackson considered trading Kristaps Porzingis and would only do so in exchange for a guard — though he reportedly met with Lauri Markkane, a possible replacement for Porzingis, for dinner Monday.
The Vertical reported that the Knicks would pick up the jump-shooting Markkane if Jackson could make a trade that included Porzingis. Jackson reportedly met with the possible Porzingis substitute Markkanen Monday night in New York. Jackson believes the 7-foot-tall player with the sweet jump shot is a probable stand-in for Porzingis and could select him Thursday with the No. 8 pick in the NBA draft.
The Daily News asked the Finland native about his meeting with Jackson which he played off as just a casual talk. "It went great," Markkanen said referring to the meeting. "We talked mostly off-the-floor stuff, getting to know me. We didn’t talk about basketball. It was an honor to meet him. I’d love to be around him."
When asked if Jackson mentioned anything about Porzingis, Markkanen simply replied, "We didn’t talk him."
One could conclude that more than casual talk took place between the athlete and Jackson. Sources said that the reason for the undisclosed Jackson dinner with Markkanen was for collateral, in case the team had to trade a disgruntled Porzingis somewhere down the line.
"I think they’re getting a sense for all the players and preparing for any kind of scenario — now or the future," the source told the Daily News.
The man that Jackson had a secret meeting with is anything but a secret. The player is ranked at No. 7 overall in the mock draft and was effective in college. The 220-pound 7- footer averaged 15 points and 7.5 rebounds during his tenure at Arizona. Markkanen helped the Wildcats' make it to the Sweet 16 and earned the All-Pac 12 First-Team honor for shooting 42 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
Markkanen usually played the power forward spot in college. But in the NBA, where small lineups are frequently used, he could drop down to the center position. He apparently lacks agility and physical strength, which could prove to be a liability on the defensive end. The 20- year-old forward will probably spend a good amount of time in the weight room attempting to gain mass.
However, what Markkanen lacks on defense, he can make up for on the offensive end. He is an impressive jump-shooter. He did most of his scoring from pick and rolls and spot-up shooting opportunities. He is an effective offensive rebounder who usually scores on put backs and attempts close to midrange. Overall, he could be effective on any NBA roster.
Markkanen is causing quite a stir even if he may not mean to and could be the new Porzingis after all.