“The Lakers are still the Lakers no matter what,” one executive said, “but the Knicks have been saying that forever, too.” Said one agent: “Championship organizations start from the very top. I think the Lakers are hopeless, to be honest. I think they’re the West Coast Knicks.” Even former Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal, who won three titles with the team, is skeptical. “They need to do the same thing Sacramento did — get new players,” said O’Neal, now a minority Kings owner.
“It was a mixture of individual opportunity, and maybe some unforeseen potential,” said Afflalo, who’s yet to play in the preseason while rehabbing a pulled hamstring. “I get to play with ‘Melo again (they were teammates in Denver from 2009 through early 2011, when the Knicks acquired Anthony), and I knew the coaching staff. I knew the management. I knew what they were trying to build. And as you know in the NBA, that type of stuff can happen overnight. New York’s obviously an attractive place, and if it doesn’t happen now, it happens later on. You just never know.”
“His versatility makes it interesting,” Fisher said. “Not just Horace Grant or Pau Gasol, but you could go to Robert Horry when he was next to Shaquille O’Neal, and next to guys in the post, and his ability to stretch the floor from the corners, and the above the break threes. And then, in some ways, maybe (Porzingis) is not as versatile a ballhandler as Lamar Odom, but still the ability to stretch the floor, make some plays above the free throw line extended. I think that’s what intrigued us about him a lot, at both ends of the floor, really — his ability to change shots, block shots, and just be another big body we can have out there defensively.”
For a 20-year-old who has already received comparisons to future hall of famers Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol — playing alongside a superstar in Carmelo Anthony for a team with one of the most considerable markets in the league — his road to success is a challenging one, one that will be filled with nerves and high expectations. However, it’s a road that he seems well prepared for. “He’s a very confident person,” Anthony said. “It’s one thing he doesn’t lack, and I don’t think he’s going to be lacking it any time soon.”