Lakers News: Phil Jackson Told L.A. To Select Kristaps Porzingis

Lakers News: Phil Jackson Told L.A. To Select Kristaps Porzingis

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In the days prior to the 2015 NBA Draft, there was a lot of discussion about exactly what the Lakers would do with the second overall pick. While it was a near certainty that Karl-Anthony Towns would be selected first by the Minnesota Timberwolves, no one was sure whether Los Angeles would select Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell, or international mystery man Kristaps Porzingis.

Okafor appeared to be the favorite in the weeks leading up to the draft, but the Lakers made a surprise move and selected Russell. Okafor went third to the Philadelphia 76ers, and Porzingis became a New York Knick. Most assumed that Porzingis would need some time to adjust to the NBA and develop, but he hit the ground running and ended up finishing second to Towns in the Rookie of the Year voting.

The Knicks recently made the hiring of coach Jeff Hornacek official, and at the press conference Knicks President Phil Jackson revealed that he advised the Lakers to take Porzingis with the second pick (via The New York Post):

“We knew that [Porzingis] had a lot of talent. We saw that even in the workout with him shooting, and I had some fun with one of the Buss guys and I told him after [our] workout, ‘You guys are going to be sorry if you don’t pick up Porzingis with the second pick.’ They didn’t, we did.”

Of course, at the time the consensus opinion on Porzingis was that he wasn’t NBA-ready. If Jackson did indeed tell the Lakers that they should pick him, as Knicks President it likely wasn’t done with L.A.’s best interests in mind. Jackson may be engaged to Lakers President Jeanie Buss, but he wasn’t going to do the franchise any favors. The ulterior motive is clear: if the Lakers selected Porzingis, the 76ers were rumored to covet Russell, which would have allowed Okafor to fall to the Knicks.

Obviously, things have changed, but prior to the draft, such a scenario would have been seen as a major coup for New York. Okafor was largely thought to be the second-best prospect in the draft and spent much of his college season at Duke as the front-runner to go first overall.

Jackson is known to needle people through the media, and bringing up the Porzingis selection almost a year later is certainly just another example of that.