New York Knicks: Passing on Kyrie Irving Shows Rare Foresight
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13: Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

In years past, the New York Knicks would’ve jumped at the chance to acquire Kyrie Irving. No matter the cost.

The New York Knicks have a long history of compromising their future for the latest big star on the market. There was no reason to think that a potential trade for All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving would be any different. Fans braced for more of the same when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cavs were “fixated” on Kristaps Porzingis in a deal for Irving.

Irving, who grew up in New Jersey, was reportedly interested in a return home. He listed New York as one of his four preferred destinations in a trade along with the Spurs, Timberwolves, and Heat. ESPN’s Pablo Torre even reported that he spoke to someone who told him that Irving “very badly” wanted to be a Knick.

It seemed meant to be. The Knicks would abandon their future on a big name. They’d trade their best prospect since Patrick Ewing and an unprotected first-round pick for a guy who could leave in two years.

Then a funny thing happened. The Cavs traded Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick. It’s a nice haul for the Cavs, but a package centered around Porzingis might’ve beaten it. Fortunately, the Knicks didn’t fold.

This time they stuck to the plan. President Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry still own all the team’s first-round picks. They still own their most valuable asset – Porzingis. Marc Berman of The New York Post reports the Knicks talks with Cleveland didn’t progress because the Cavs weren’t interested in a deal without Porzingis. It’s good to hear that the new front office has their priorities in the right place.

As skilled as Irving is, his flaws will make it difficult to build a team around him. Boston is lucky enough to have Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and tremendous young talent to pair with Irving. New York isn’t even close to being there yet. While Irving is young, 25, and just entering his prime, he makes sense as the point guard of a title contender. Not the point guard of a rebuilding squad.

Four out of the five projected starters on the 2017-18 team are 25-years-old or under. Frank Ntilikina is just a teenager, the $71 million man Tim Hardaway Jr. is 25 on the nose, Porzingis just turned 22, and Willy Hernangomez is 23.

This team isn’t ready for a championship caliber point guard because they aren’t ready for a championship. Especially if they were to deal away Porzingis. Even if New York were able to talk Carmelo Anthony into staying, that’s still a borderline playoff team at best.

And if Irving didn’t want to play with LeBron James, why on earth would he want to play with Carmelo Anthony? If you think James Harden and Chris Paul is going to be brutal fighting over the ball in Houston, imagine what might’ve been with Kyrie and Melo.

Anthony can leave next summer and Irving the summer after that. Meanwhile, Porzingis doesn’t hit restricted free agency until the summer of 2019-20. Something tells me New York will match whatever offer comes in.

New York’s been looking for the answer at point guard for decades. They’ve been hunting big names on and off the court to win the press conference for just as long. With Kyrie Irving off to Boston, the Knicks lose out on a potential star/point guard of the future.

They lost the point guard, but they still won. Steve Mills and Scott Perry made the smartest decision of their short tenure running the franchise by passing on this deal. Could this be a step in the right direction? It’s always dangerous to say that with the Knicks. Last time we did, they gave Tim Hardaway $71 million.

Sorry; try not to think about the Hardaway contract right now Knicks fans. Just think about the fact that your team still has Porzingis. It’s all about Porzingis. They didn’t trade Porzingis. This team is showing a little foresight. Now that’s progress.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.