For better or worse, Kristaps Porzingis will forever be one of those "What If?" guys in Philadelphia no matter where his career takes him.
Sixers fans had a chance to watch Porzingis and Jahlil Okafor go up against each other last week and the taller man certainly impressed.
It has been previously reported that Sam Hinkie may have felt pressure from the Sixers' ownership to select Okafor over Porzingis with the third overall pick in last year's draft. Adrian Wojnarowski now writes that a similar pressure may have been coming from Porzingis' camp as well.
Woj has a lengthy piece today for his newly launched site, The Vertical, that details Porzingis' unlikely journey to the New York Knicks. Obviously the stuff that applies to Philadelphia is what we're most interested in; a run-in between Kristaps' agent, Andy Miller, and Sam Hinkie shortly before the draft. It's not exactly pretty.
Whatever happened, Miller didn't make it easy for Philadelphia to draft Porzingis at No. 3. The Sixers wouldn't be afforded Porzingis' physical, nor get a private workout, nor even a face-to-face meeting. After most of the pro day executives cleared out of the gym in Vegas in mid-June, 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie lingered to meet with Miller. Hinkie stopped him in the lobby area and asked Miller about a chance to sit down and visit with Porzingis.
"You said that I would get a meeting with him here," Hinkie told Miller.
"I said, 'I'd try,' and it's not going to work out, Sam," Miller responded.
An awkward silence lingered, the GM and agent, standing and staring. The Porzingis camp wanted no part of the Sixers' situation at No 3. Miller couldn't stop Philadelphia from drafting Porzingis, but he could limit the information they had to make a decision. And did. No physical. No meeting. No workout. The Sixers passed on Porzingis on draft night, clearing the way for the Knicks to select him.
I get that the Knicks are in New York and all that comes along with being an international (potential) superstar in the Big Apple, but it still stings for all Trusters of the Process that an agent would want to steer his guy away from the Sixers and towards the wayward Knicks.
Many of those Hinkie-ites scoffed at the idea that star players wouldn't want to come here but I don't think it even crossed their minds that undrafted players would want to avoid Philly as well.
If nothing else, this story is just another tale in the legacy of the Sam Hinkie era in Philadelphia.