BOSTON — The lines of competition are so blurred now the NBA is just mixing conferences together for the All-Star game and furthering the idea that the weekend is just an extravagant social gathering.
Stars become friends with opposing stars they're supposed to hate. They recruit each other and plot dream team-ups in free agency. The NBA has become a popularity contest.
This is the world Kristaps Porzingis is entering as a first-time All-Star in a couple weeks, when he also replaces Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks’ top pitchman.
He hopes it happens organically.
"That's a good idea," Porzingis told the Daily News about recruiting his fellow All-Stars over the weekend in L.A. "I'll get to know them a little better, all the guys. All guys want to play with other All-Stars on their team. But it's not something I focus on. If it happens, it happens."
The Knicks are in line to make a push for a top free in the summer of 2019 and are plotting accordingly. That's when the real push should begin — when the cap space is easier to open up and Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler and Kevin Love hit free agency — or Anthony Davis hits the trade market heading into the final year of his deal.
Irving, who faced the Knicks on Wednesday in Boston and will be All-Star teammates with Porzingis on Team LeBron (how bizarre does that sound?), is certainly worth the wait. He also may not require much convincing.
Near the height of Knicks dysfunction last year — around the time Phil Jackson was fired, Porzingis was on the trade block and Carmelo Anthony was plotting an escape — Irving put New York on his short list of trade destinations. Presumably that's because it's his hometown team. That attraction doesn't fade.
Plus, it doesn't hurt that Porzingis is a huge fan.
"I love his game. He's one of my favorite players," Porzingis told the News. "From Day One, to watch, I think he's one of the most entertaining guys. And he's clutch. He's clutch and a winner. I love that about him."