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Phil Jackson confirms he’s ‘listening’ to Kristaps Porzingis trade proposals

Kristaps Porzingis, left, and Carmelo Anthony may both soon be ex-Knicks. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phil Jackson rarely interacts with the media these days, but he made an exception for his employer, appearing on MSG Network on Wednesday, just ahead of the NBA draft. Unfortunately for Knicks fans, the team president confirmed their fears, saying that he was “listening” to trade offers for Kristaps Porzingis.

That had been reported recently, but it’s one thing to check in on the rumor mill and another to hear it from the horse’s mouth. In addition, Jackson made it clear that he was still bothered by Porzingis’s decision to skip his end-of-season meeting with the team president in April, a move said to be born of the Latvian star’s frustration with the direction of the Knicks and Jackson’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony.

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“As much as we value Kristaps and what he’s done for us, when a guy doesn’t show up for an exit meeting, everybody starts speculating on the duration or movability from a club, so we’ve been getting calls,” Jackson told MSG Network’s Al Trautwig. “And we’re listening, but we’re not intrigued yet, at this level.

“As much as we love this guy, we have to do what’s good for our club.”

Asked why he might make such a move, Jackson replied, “The future. … Does it bring us two starters and a draft pick, or something that’s even beyond that? We know what he is — he’s a unicorn and he’s special.”

Earlier in the week, multiple reports indicated that Jackson was considering trading away Porzingis, despite many Knicks fans viewing the 7-3 forward as more or less the only ray of hope for the beleaguered franchise, not to mention one of the few things the former Bulls and Lakers coach has gotten right in New York.

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Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported Wednesday that the Knicks were seeking a top-four draft pick and another high-level asset in return, after writing Tuesday that Jackson saw Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen, a 7-footer from Finland with outside-shooting ability, as a potential Porzingis replacement with the eighth pick in the draft. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne claimed New York wanted a top-five pick and a “young star.”

Asked about the draft Wednesday, Jackson said he thought the Knicks could get a player at No. 8 who could “eventually” become a starter. “This is a good draft,” with starting-caliber players available to the 14th spot, he said.

As for noting Porzingis’s absence from his exit meeting, Jackson told Trautwig that he didn’t think he’d ever had a player do that in more than 25 years of coaching. Jackson said he’s “reached out” to Porzingis this offseason, although they had yet to speak to each other. “We’ll get it back,” he said.

On where he stands with Anthony, who likely is still a Knick solely by virtue of the no-trade clause in his contract, Jackson praised the veteran forward as “a guy who’s really special, a Hall of Fame player, who’s done a lot for our organization.” Jackson said the Knicks “value him highly,” but added that the organization has tried “to put teams together who could win” with Anthony, and “we haven’t been successful.”

“It might be time for him to find an opportunity to go somewhere else,” Jackson said of Anthony. However, he noted that Anthony has “come back and said he’d just as soon stay.”

Jackson’s comments echoed those he made at the end of the season, when he said that Anthony “would be better off somewhere else.” At the time, Anthony appeared to reply to those remarks, posting a photo to Instagram showing Leonardo DiCaprio, in a scene from “The Great Gatsby,” listening attentively. Anthony added the caption, “REALLY,” with crying-with-laughter emojis. Porzingis liked that post, and this week, amid reports of being on the trading block, he pulled a similar move, posting a photo of himself with a smirk and the letters “fr,” as in, “For real?”

Toward the end of Wednesday’s interview, Trautwig asked Jackson what he had say to to “uneasy” Knicks fans. “Well, I think we know what we’re doing,” was the reply.

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