Kristaps Porzingis thinks he can help recruit free agents to the Knicks, he told reporters.
"I think (I'll recruit players), yeah," he said. "Of course, you want to build a team around you so you can win, so you can go all the way and win the championship one day. Of course, that's on everybody's mind, I think, that's in a position to do that."
Porzingis, 21, is averaging 20.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 25 games this season.
A few league sources told Ian Begley of ESPN that Porzingis would indeed be able to help lure free agents to the Knicks
"He certainly will," a Western Conference executive told Begley. "With what he's doing now, it's easy to see that happening." Another said "Definitely. No question," when asked if Porzingis could help attract free agents to the Knicks.
Just shortly into his sophomore season, Porzingis is being regarded as someone who can potentially recruit some of the bigger and better names forthcoming free agent classes have to offer. That's pretty special.
That, of course, was the goal upon drafting him. In an ideal world, every NBA team wants to build and develop organically with homegrown talent through the draft. Given New York's history with being too loose with future draft picks in trades, they haven't gotten a substantial opportunity to do that like teams such as the Warriors and Thunder have in recent seasons.
The rapid rise of Porzingis signals a welcome change. Instead of simply buying players to build around Carmelo Anthony and build a certain "Super Team" or "Big Three," New York was able to put down a major building block in Porzingis.
His talent can help attract players, and the fact that he's still on a rookie scale contract gives the Knicks the financial flexibility to secure such players. It pays to draft well and often, and the Knicks can hope to sustain a competitive run while still keeping an eye on the future.
The young gun is quickly developing into a star player and his immense amount of versatility intrigues the NBA's top tier talents. After all, it was Durant himself who dubbed Porzingis the "unicorn" and had high praise for him dating back to the Knicks' initial draft selection.
The Knicks already know Durant isn't the sole high profile player who has showered Porzingis with such praise.
"He's so good knocking down shots," Derrick Rose said of his teammate upon getting traded to New York last summer. "That's somebody I would die to play with and now I got two of those guys."
The Knicks spent big on Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Lance Thomas this past summer. If things continue to work out with Rose, perhaps re-signing him will be a priority next summer.
With all of that in mind, it remains to be seen how legitimately the Knicks can go after additional big names. Still, having Porzingis is a huge feather in the team's recruiting cap.