Knicks Trade Kristaps Porzingis to Mavericks; What it Means for Every Team Directly and Indirectly Involved
Less than an hour after news broke that Kristaps Porzingis "left the Knicks with the impression that he prefers to be traded" in their meeting earlier today per Adrian Wojnarowski, Porzingis was traded to the Dallas Mavericks along with Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan and two future first round picks, leaving the NBA world is shock and teaming Porzingis up with fellow euro sensation Luka Doncic and mentor Dirk Nowitzki.
News came out immediately after the deal via Shams Charania of the Athletic that Porzingis plans to tell the Mavericks he will be accepting his one-year restricted free agent tender this offseason rather than signing an extension, which would mean Porzingis hitting unrestricted free agency in 2020. Porzingis supposedly delivered the same message to the Knicks in today's meeting between the two which motivated the Knicks to search for a trade. However, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has since stated that Porzingis "has yet to make a decision on his future with Dallas". Along with announcing his offseason plans, reports state that Porzingis expressed disappointment with the losing and direction of the franchise in his meeting today with New York.
Speculation around the league is another driving factor in the deal for New York was the opportunity to clear the salaries of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee off of their books while taking back expiring deals in DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews to increase their cap room for the 2019 offseason. New York's intention this summer is to use their newfound cap space to chase star free agents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and dangle young assets like Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and their top pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft to teams around the league to acquire another star such as the Pelicans Anthony Davis. It's hard to imagine the Knicks trading the crown jewel of their franchise without anything short of 100% certainty that they will be acquiring two big stars this offseason, which should be a scary though for Celtics and Warriors fans.
For Dallas, the trade presents tremendous upside. Initial reports stated that all Dallas had to do was give up to acquire a former All-Star in Kristaps Prozingis was a disgruntled young point guard who was already involved in numerous other trade rumors, let go of two players on expiring contracts that Dallas had no intention of re-signing in the first place and take on the roughly $50 million in remaining salary on the contracts of Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr., but Shams Charania later reported that Dallas would include two future first round picks in the deal.
The Mavericks SHOULD be a dream situation for Porzingis. They offer him the opportunity to get daily hands on tutelage from his idol and the best foreign player in NBA history, Dirk Nowitzki, and the chance to play with likely Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic. This could be the Mavericks' lineup once Kristaps Porzingis returns from his ACL injury...
Dallas Mavericks projected lineup:
Tim Hardaway Jr.
However, Kristaps Porzingis appears motivated to hit unrestricted free agency sooner rather than later. The NBA has always had this loophole for young players to hit unrestricted status earlier in their careers, but many young stars are reluctant to take the path that Porzingis reportedly plans to for fear of facing a career-altering injury and never cashing in with a big money contract. Porzingis, who is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in early February of last season, clearly has no such concerns.
Photo: (Frank Franklin II - AP Photo)