But whether the player Jackson drafts pays immediate dividends and whether Anthony — who has a no-trade clause — finally agrees to go elsewhere are both unknowns.
What Jackson does know is that Porzingis, 21, is a multitalented giant who in his two seasons with the Knicks has shown the ability to score from anywhere, block shots and play with flair, while Hernangomez, 22, has emerged in his one season in New York as a tough and surprisingly nimble player near the basket with the ability to grab a lot of rebounds.
The hope is that Porzingis will become the go-to player on offense on the Knicks for years to come, and that Hernangomez can become a playmaker out of the post and an asset in the pick-and-roll. For inspiration, he has been fed video of Marc Gasol, a fellow Spaniard and big man and a star with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Still, there are real questions about how Porzingis and Hernangomez will fare together on the court despite their abilities. Although the most valuable player in the N.B.A. finals was Kevin Durant, an extremely athletic and versatile 7-footer with, among other things, a deadly perimeter game, the N.B.A. is no longer a league dominated by big men, especially two of them in the same starting lineup.
Quickness can be an issue when big men are together. So can defense in a league that now emphasizes three-point shooting. In the 558 minutes that Porzingis and Hernangomez shared the floor this past season, the Knicks allowed 107.8 points per 100 possessions, which is not good. Porzingis sometimes struggled when guarding smaller, faster forwards. Hernangomez had his defensive issues, too.
There are other issues to consider as well: the continued presence of another big man, Joakim Noah, whose initial season in New York was derailed by injuries and a doping suspension but who still has a long-term contract with the Knicks; Jackson’s loyalty to the triangle offense; and the possibility that Porzingis could end up at center, not forward, with Hernangomez perhaps coming off the bench.
Porzingis has said he intends to stay in Latvia for much of the summer and play for the national team in the European championships. He hopes to beef up, too. The Knicks have sought to make him stronger, in part to give him more opportunities to score closer to the basket.
And eventually, Porzingis and Hernangomez will be together again in training camp for the 2017-18 season. They befriended each other in their first week as teammates in Spain, and their families have also grown close. Porzingis helped Hernangomez settle in in Spain, having arrived there first and inviting him over to his apartment, where Porzingis’s mother cooked dinner for everyone.
And Janis Porzingis, Kristaps’s brother, is an agent at ASM Sports, the group that represents both Porzingis and Hernangomez.
“I think we are a big family,” Hernangomez said. “The Porzingises and the Hernangomezes.”
Even when Porzingis and Hernangomez were far apart in the 2015-16 season — Porzingis a rookie in New York, Hernangomez playing in Madrid — the two kept in constant touch.
Reunited last season, they hung out at each other’s apartments, sometimes slept over on each other’s couches and purchased those similar cars.
They even learned to adjust dinner plans, with Hernangomez preferring to eat out but Porzingis’s instant fame occasionally making that too difficult a task.
On the court, they sometimes speak to each other in Spanish when they want to share instructions without the other team understanding. And sometimes they don’t need to talk.
“We look at each other and we know we’re thinking the same thing and stuff like that,” Porzingis said. “It’s really special for us to be here again together.”
Now the Knicks have to decide whether a Porzingis-Hernangomez combination can be a key part of the future and who will play with them, decisions that will begin to be made with Thursday’s draft.
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