It’s officially trade season, ladies and gentlemen!
Shortly after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis expressed his concern over his future in New York, Marc Stein of the New York Times dropped the Twitter bomb that the Dallas Mavericks would be acquiring Porzingis in a 7-player deal.
Reporting with @ZachLowe and @RamonaShelburne: In meeting with management today, Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis expressed his concern with the losing, franchise direction and an uncertainty that a culture is developing that will enable sustainable organizational success.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Along with Porzingis, the Mavericks acquired Tim Hardaway Jr, Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke. In return, the Knicks received Dennis Smith Jr, the expiring contracts of DeAndre Jordan and Wes Matthews along with two future first round picks.
The Mavericks have agreed to take on the contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee to faciliate a Porzingis trade and are working to complete the transaction today, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 31, 2019
Let me just stop for a second.
This trade moved fast. Lightning speed-like. Let’s break this down for each side:
It’s clear what this move was about for New York. Two things: 1) a growing disgruntled Porzingis who they may not have seen as a potential max-guy in the long term and 2) an opportunity to take back expiring contracts to help clear up two max contract spots for the upcoming summer.
The Knicks have been linked to Kevin Durant, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, as well as guys like Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Boogue Cousins, etc. New York has also been mentioned as a possible destination for Anthony Davis.
The Knicks could be staring at $74.6M in projected cap space for next season. That would be good enough for 2 max slots.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) January 31, 2019
By making this move now, the Knicks are going all in, and I mean ALL IN on hitting the jackpot this coming July. Along with the cap space, the Knicks are in contention to snag the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, which all but guarantees selecting Duke’s Zion Williamson.
It really is funny looking back to the 2017 Draft. With the 8th pick, one spot higher than the Mavericks, I think everyone imagined the Knicks drafting Dennis Smith Jr. if he was available, which he was. And yet, they chose Frank Ntilikina instead, leaving the Mavericks to select DSJ one pick later.
For Dennis Smith Jr, this is a fresh start in a place that he likely wanted to be in the first place. There’s no pressure on him for the rest of the season as the Knicks are in a race for the top pick. He can play within himself without looking over his shoulder at trade rumors and a possible disgruntled coach.
For Jordan and Matthews, this could be a potential pit stop. I’d see it likely that Matthews would be a popular commodity as a possible buy-out candidate for contenders. DeAndre could be in the same boat but it’s noted that he and Kevin Durant are close friends, which the Knicks could use to their advantage as a possible pitch this summer.
In regard to the two future first rounders going to the Knicks, that was a bit of a surprise. With Dallas’ 2019 first rounder ending up with Atlanta due to the Luka trade, the picks sent to New York will land in 2021 and 2023, in which Donnie Nelson was clearly comfortable parting with in belief that the pick would fall later in the round.
ESPN Sources with @IanBegley: Dallas is sending New York a 2021 unprotected first-round pick and a 2023 protected first-round pick (1-10) in the deal.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
The Mavericks got Kristaps Porzingis.
I know, I know, I’m still in shock too.
What's better than one 🦄? How about two?
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 31, 2019
This is Donnie Nelson and company looking ahead for the next decade, believing that a duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis will help lead the Mavericks back to the mountain top. Well, it’s certainly a start.
It’s unclear if Kristaps will see the floor this season, as it looked like the Knicks were planning on sitting him the whole year to rehab and to ensure their tanking efforts. It’s also unclear how far along he is in his rehab so that’ll be something the Mavericks training staff will have to monitor.
Looking ahead, it’s a brilliant move for several reasons. Pairing Doncic with Porzingis has the potential of basketball heaven. Now, we aren’t trying to get carried away just yet, but this has the chances of looking like the early-2000’s Mavericks, just with a 6’8” version of Steve Nash and well, Dirk 2.0, just not Dirk, if that makes sense. Even Rick Carlisle seems to think so:
Rick Carlisle to @coopmavs on @1033fmESPN Mavs pregame show: “We obviously think Porzingis is a great young talent, similar in many ways to Dirk. This is kind of a Dirk-and-Nash type of situation, only these guys are taller.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 1, 2019
It’s well-documented that Dirk is KP’s idol and that he and Luka are fond of each other. This just makes sense. The pick-and-roll possibilities for Doncic and Porzingis are endless and will certainly be a problem for the rest of the league. This may in fact be Dirk’s final season, but don’t think that means he won’t be around the team. Dirk and I’d like to think Holger will surely be available for Kristaps to work with and learn from whenever he asks.
Unicorn conversation: Dirk & Porzingis discuss the mutual respect they have for each other.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 31, 2019
In regard to KP’s contract situation, Woj reported that Porzingis has yet to make a decision on his future in Dallas but will begin the process getting to know the organization soon, which I’m sure Dirk will lend a big helping hand in. Shams Charania of The Athletic also reported that KP was intent on signing the Qualifying Offer this summer and becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
Now, that may seem worrisome at the moment, but let’s remain in the now. Donnie Nelson and the Mavericks are surely confident that they can build a culture and future around Luka and Porzingis, with once again, help from Dirk being in KP’s corner.
Sources: All-Star Kristaps Porzingis is planning to inform the Dallas Mavericks his intent is to sign the qualifying offer in restricted free agency this summer.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 31, 2019
I wouldn’t categorize this as the Mavericks giving up on Dennis Smith Jr but I’d say they saw a bigger upside with Porzingis paired next to Doncic. Granted, Dennis has played well since returning from his short sabbatical after the trade rumors. It’s evident that Coach Carlisle began staggering his and Luka’s minutes, which has worked out well for Dennis.
Regardless, a handful of games isn’t enough for the Mavericks to have a change of heart at the potential outlook of a Luka-Dennis tandem. If you get the chance to acquire a guy like Porzingis, you pull the trigger.
Along with Porzingis, the Mavericks received Tim Hardaway Jr, Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke. Hardaway Jr. is averaging 19.1 points per game and will likely fill in as the starting shooting guard or as a potential sixth man. THJ brings a scoring mentality at all three levels, yet can be sometimes a streaky shooter, which will benefit from playing with Luka and being out of that Knicks tankfest.
The Ringer’s Bill Simmons has been preaching for the Mavericks to make a trade for Hardaway Jr. for over a month now. Well, it happened and no, you aren’t getting any credit, Bill.
Hardaway Jr. has two years remaining after this season with just over $37 million remaining, along with the 15% trade kicker that he’ll receive from this transaction.
Courtney Lee is a veteran, through and through. He was sought to be a buy-out or trade deadline target for playoff teams and should fit in nicely as a rotation piece. Trey Burke has been a bit of a journeymen after coming out of Michigan. He’s been a solid rotation piece for the Knicks over the past two seasons, averaging 12.3 points and 3.3 assists. Lee and Burke will likely help fill in for the lost minutes from Dennis and Wes Matthews.
Overall thoughts, today was a good day for the Mavericks. Adding a piece like Kristaps Porzingis to play alongside Luka for what is hopefully the next decade, is quite the exciting thought for Mavs fans. It’s tough to see a young player like Dennis go so early on in his career but when an opportunity like this presents itself, you shoot that shot 10 out of 10 times.
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