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Did the Kristaps Porzingis rape claim help push Knicks to trade?

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The Knicks knew about Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks knew about Kristaps Porzingis.

On March 21, the Mavericks announced Hardaway would be shut down with a stress reaction in his left tibia. Four days ago, Dallas revealed he is expected to undergo surgery to insert a rod in his leg to repair the stress reaction.

When the Knicks traded Hardaway and the final two years of his contract in late January, team brass was aware his left leg, which sustained a stress fracture last season, was compromised, according to a source.

Hardaway missed six weeks last season with the tricky injury. He played a productive 16 games with the Mavericks before his season ended, and he is expected to be ready for training camp with his surgically repaired leg.

When a club makes a trade, it can’t reveal publicly all the driving forces. The Hardaway issue is an example.

The Post’s exclusive report Saturday that Porzingis is the subject of an NYPD investigation regarding a rape claim stemming from an incident 13 months ago raises the issue of whether it was at least a small factor in the Knicks being eager to deal the 7-foot-3 Latvian for extra cap space and young point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

Though the accuser didn’t report the incident to police until Thursday, Porzingis’ lawyer contacted federal authorities in late December regarding the alleged victim’s “extortionate demands.”

The Post has learned the NBA Players Association was debriefed in December on Porzingis’ decision to alert federal authorities.

Regardless of the truth, the saga stands as a black cloud with which the Knicks no longer have to deal.

The Knicks have dealt with enough unseemly offcourt issues across these sorry seasons, including Derrick Rose’s sexual assault trial in 2016. Though Rose was cleared, the point guard missed most of his first training camp with the Knicks because of the trial as first-year coach Jeff Hornacek attempted to implement schemes. It was a distraction for everybody.

The Knicks would never admit publicly that this new/old Porzingis cloud was a motivating factor in their decision to trade him. Before the story was published Saturday, the franchise released a statement to The Post that stated, “This is Kristaps’ personal matter and not related to the Knicks.”

The Knicks reportedly mentioned Porzingis’ potential legal troubles to Dallas on the NBA conference call that’s normally a formality at the time of any trades. The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday the Knicks used the phrasing “extortion” — not “rape” — in their debriefing.

After all the franchise has been through, dating to the Isiah Thomas sexual harassment trial and settlement, the Knicks are ultra-sensitive to these sordid soap operas being played out in the media.

In fact, one reason the Knicks did not shop around the Dallas offer with one week left to the trade deadline is they didn’t want an Anthony Davis ordeal. The Knicks avoided the damaging daily saga that occurred with New Orleans and the Lakers regarding Davis and decided cap space for two max players was the priority in this trade.

The Post’s report also illuminates the possibility the legal battle was a small part of Porzingis’ reasoning in wanting a fresh start elsewhere. Porzingis’ accuser, who his lawyers say tried to squeeze money out of him, is a neighbor in his luxury-apartment complex.

Long a critic of the team’s losing culture, Porzingis has been mum on the Knicks’ claim he wanted out of New York. Porzingis posted an Instagram message after the trade stating, “The Truth Will Come Out.”

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