A day after news broke that Kristaps Porzingis was being investigated by the New York Police Department over a rape allegation, the Mavericks are now disputing what they were and were not told as they negotiated a blockbuster trade for the star.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski initially reported Saturday that the New York Knicks informed the Mavericks of the rape allegation, and that the NBA league office was also aware of the situation.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the Mavericks disputed this, saying they were only told of an extortion attempt against the forward during a conference call with league officials to finalize the trade:
"The word that was used was 'extortion,'" one of the sources told The Dallas Morning News on Sunday.
"The word 'rape' was never used, only 'extortion,'" the second source told The News.
The Knicks also reportedly said that they were “convinced” Porzingis was telling the truth:
One of the sources said that the Knicks told the Mavericks during the call that they had known of the alleged extortion attempt, but were convinced that Porzingis was telling the truth. The Mavericks also were told that the FBI was investigating, and the nature of the investigation.
Porzingis is accused of visiting a neighbor’s apartment around 2 a.m. and inviting her to his apartment on Feb. 7 2018, the same night he tore his ACL and ended his season. Once there, he allegedly “held her down and raped her.”
The woman reportedly made the allegation on Thursday and is considered both credible and “believable.” However, she also reportedly admitted to police that she discussed a $68,000 payment in “hush money” with Porzingis, that she planned to use to pay her brother’s college tuition. Per the report, Porzingis reneged on the agreement.
Porzingis’ lawyer released a statement Saturday saying the Porzingis and his camp “unequivocally deny the allegations.” He also said that they formally referred the matter to federal law enforcement on Dec. 20, 2018 based on what he called “the accuser’s extortionate demands.”
That semantic dispute over whether the Mavericks were told of the rape allegations or just the extortion attempt likely matters quite a bit as the situation plays out, though the Mavericks clearly knew something was hanging over the head of the player they were acquiring and going through with the deal without investigating it would at least partially be on them.
Per ESPN’s Royce Young, Porzingis is not with the Mavericks during this team’s current road trip, thought that absence was already scheduled according to head coach Rick Carlisle.
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