Mavericks become one step closer to "Big Three" as Knicks aim for summer free-for-all
Photo via PJMixer on flickr.
The Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks have completed a trade sending Dennis Smith, Jr., Deandre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, a 2021 first-round pick (unprotected), and a 2023 first-round pick (protected 1-10) to the Knicks in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke.
This trade comes on the heals of Dennis Smith, Jr. requesting a trade two weeks ago from Dallas and rumors swirling around Kristpas Porzingis since the days of Phil Jackson in the Big Apple. Kristpas Porzingis is coming off of ACL surgery from last February and is was originally scheduled to return in February of 2019, however that timeline may change after becoming a member of the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavericks have one of the most well respected training staffs in the league, but rushing a player back from an ACL injury is always risky business. The Mavericks may considering sitting out Porzingis for most of the remaining season in order to have better odds of keeping their first-round pick (which belongs to the Atlanta Hawks and is protected 1-5). However, regardless of this future of this 2019 pick, the future is looking bright deep in the heart of Texas.
The Mavericks have been able to jumpstart their rebuilding process by adding European superstars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis within the last 7 months and have gone from a team with an aging (or should I say aged?) 40-year-old superstar in Dirk Nowitzki to having two of arguably the top 25 players in the league. In 186 career games, Porzingis averages 17.8 PPG and 7.1 RPG on 36.1% shooting from deep. While he has all the making of a perennial all-star and has earned the nickname, "The Unicorn" due to his incredibly unique 7'3 frame and skillset, his health continues to be in question. He's missed almost half of his eligible NBA games due to injury and has yet to be seen playing after tearing his ACL last year. If Porzingis is able to get back to full health and put together multiple years of health, the Mavericks have landed themselves a big piece to becoming contenders again.
For the Knicks on the other hand, land themselves a former lottery pick (that they arguable should have taken themselves) in Dennis Smith, Jr. who still has raw, undefined potential as an athletic playmaker as well as two future first round picks from Dallas. The biggest win for the Knicks however was their ability to clear up their books and now sit at around $74 million worth of cap space in the summer of 2019. This could be used in a free agency class that includes players such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard amongst many others. It's been no secret the Knicks hope to grab one of these players, with a lot of rumors speculating that they will be front runners for both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving if they decided to leave their respected teams.
Another win for the Knicks is that they now will be even worse this year that they have been previously. Jordan and Matthews are expected to be bought out and they loose some of their top offensive weapons this season in Hardaway, Jr., Burke, and Lee. This move puts them in a great position to better compete in the sweepstakes for draft prospect Zion Williamson of Duke. Zion in the Garden would be a phenomenon by itself. Pairing him with Durant and Irving? Forget about it. The Knicks would be the talk of the league.
This is a big risk for both teams. The Mavericks have a chance to have another franchise cornerstone in Porzingis, but it's possible his health never holds up and he could choose to leave in the summer of 2020 if he only chooses to accept a qualifying offer from the Mavericks this off-season. The Knicks on the other hand, are now rest their fate in lottery balls and hoping they can sell what's been a disfunction organization to the NBA's biggest stars this summer when several teams around the league will have space to sign them (Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Bulls, etc.). While this deal may seem easy to judge right off the bat, we really won't know for certain just who "wins" this trade for potentially years to come, but certainly not until this summer plays out.