Out of nowhere, Kristaps Porzingis was traded to Dallas in return for cap space and Dennis Smith Jr.
Midday yesterday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced that the New York Knicks traded away their franchise cornerstone Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks also parted ways with good story Trey Burke, as well as the bloated contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee. In return, the Mavericks sent the Knicks 2017 1st-round pick Dennis Smith Jr., 2 future first rounders, and the expiring contracts of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews.
New York has agreed with Dallas on trade that includes Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr., for Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr. and DeAndre Jordan, league sources tell ESPN. Players and agents are being notified of particulars. Deal may include more draft assets.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Dallas takes on the risk of a talented yet oft-injured player, returning to his former glory after a gruesome knee injury (which, again, I saw with my own two eyes. I’m never letting that go!). If it goes poorly and Porzingis is not his old self, then the Mavs have to stomach eating two restrictive contracts in Hardaway Jr. and Lee, but still get the benefit of parting ways with disgruntled starter Dennis Smith Jr. However, if Porzingis comes back from his rehab to be Porzingod, then the Mavs will have an electric post-Dirk duo featuring him and Luka Doncic.
For New York, this is clearly about building for the future. The Knicks are expected to either waive the expiring contracts of Jordan and Matthews or to sit them and continue tanking for the top pick in the 2019 draft. Additionally, by unloading the dead-weight contracts of veterans Hardaway Jr. and Lee, the Knicks opened up the cap space necessary to sign 2 max contracts this offseason.
The trade carries extreme risk for New York, but it was a move they absolutely had to make at the end of the day. Despite what he said earlier this season, Porzingis was clearly not on board with the direction of the Knicks franchise or their team culture. Players like this are detrimental to a team locker room, no matter their talent level. The Knicks needed to unfortunately move on from their 2015 1st rounder. In doing so, New York kept the tank alive and freed up room to make a big splash in free agency. Some of the league’s best will be on the market this summer, including UCONN star Kemba Walker, star center DeMarcus Cousins, NJ-native Kyrie Iriving, and superstar forward Kevin Durant.
The nerve-racking element for Knicks fans is that we can’t really assess this trade until the offseason ends. Best case scenario is New York winds up with the #1 pick in this year’s draft and puts together a team that includes Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Duke monster Zion Williamson. Worst case, their tank isn’t good enough to wind up with Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett, top free agents see the chaos that is the Knicks franchise and blacklist the team, and New York fans still sell out the Garden for another sub-.500 team.
The possibilities and risks make this trade scary for both teams, but it may end up being extremely positive for both Dallas and New York. Until we find out how this move pans out for both ball clubs, I’ll be watching this young stud play in front of the Mecca.
Purveyor of truth. Breaker of chains. Foolish fan of the Mets, Jets, and Knicks.