New York Knicks president Steve Mills said speaking at an event on Wednesday that former star Kristaps Porzingis demanded a trade in late January and threatened to return to Europe if his request was not met.
"[Porzingis] point-blank said to us, 'I don't want to be here,'" Mills said.
"[He said]: 'I'm not going to re-sign with the Knicks and I'm going to give you seven days to trade me, or I'm going back to Europe.' Fortunately for us, through that process we [started] in September, we had a number of deals lined up, and we started the trade calls as soon as he walked out of the office."
Porzingis was quickly dealt to the Dallas Mavericks, along with guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee, in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Johnson, DeAndre Jordan and two draft picks. The move gave the Knicks enough salary cap space to potentially sign two max free agents this summer and have been connected to names like Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving, among others.
Mills' comments on Wednesday lines up with what he said in February when he told MSG Network's Rebecca Harlow that Porzingis "made it clear" he wouldn't re-sign in New York once his deal expired at the end of this season. At that point, he will become a restricted free agent. The Athletic's Shams Charania has previously reported Porzingis will accept his $4.5 million qualifying offer and become a free agent at the end of next season.
The 23-year-old missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL.