You can knock the 10-45 Knicks on a lot of stuff as they tied the longest losing streak in franchise history Saturday at 16 with a 104-99 Garden loss to Kawhi Leonard’s Raptors.
But don’t knock them on their uncanny ability to pack the Garden, nor their due diligence regarding Kristaps Porzingis’ trade value. Knicks president Steve Mills had his henchmen in high gear once the calendar turned to 2019 and their 7-foot-3 Latvian turned disengaged.
The Knicks were surprised Porzingis’ stock had dropped so much since the days leading into the 2017 draft.
Twenty months ago, the Celtics offered a boatload of young assets, and the Suns were prepared to ship Devin Booker and swap a draft pick that would have placed the Knicks in position to draft Lauri Markkanen. Former team president Phil Jackson thought the Finnish big man was built sturdier than Porzingis and would become more durable.
“Teams weren’t knocking their doors down,’’ one individual with knowledge of the matter told The Post regarding Porzingis’ trade value. “They got some interest, but not like that [Phoenix, Boston offer].”
Their meeting 10 days ago was confirmation of what the Knicks brass had already feared — Porzingis wasn’t planning to commit long-term. Roughly 8-10 offers were on the table, but none met their three requirements better than Dallas’. The Knicks contacted only the teams that had these assets:
1. A rising prospect on his rookie contract (Dennis Smith Jr.).
2. Expiring contracts that would give them two max slots (Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan).
3. One or two future first-rounders (likely 2021 and a protected 2023).
“The Knicks felt getting the two first rounders — not just one — was gravy,’’ the individual said.
Maybe it’s not Booker/Markkanen, but the deal will look substantially better than that exacta if their master plan works.