A superstar has been traded in the NBA and no it’s not Anthony Davis. The Dallas Mavericks have acquired star forward Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks.
The full terms of the trade are as follows: the Mavericks receive: Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke and in return they’ll be sending Dennis Smith Jr., Wes Matthews, DeAndre Jordan and draft compensation to the Knicks.
There are a lot of moving parts in this deal, but the main part of it is Kristaps Porzingis. Before getting injured last season he was one of the top young players in the league and he was someone who was an absolute nightmare to try and defend and he was solid on the defensive end of the floor, especially for someone so young.
Porzingis was seeing a steady increase in his points per game from year-to-year and he was seeing a nice increase in his blocks and his total value brought to the Knicks was on pace to be much more than the previous year before he got injured.
Pairing Porzingis with Luka Doncic is a big-deal for Dallas. That is because Luka Doncic is looking like the next superstar in the NBA and now they’ve given him a great frontcourt player, if Porzingis recovers well from his knee injury, to pair with Doncic.
It’s been reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic that Porzingis will sign the qualifying offer this off season, so he won’t be immediately making a long-term commitment to Dallas, which is something I’m sure they’d like him to do, but it does mean they will get the rest of this season and next season for him to play alongside Luka Doncic and be convinced to stay in Dallas. The Mavericks ultimately didn’t give up too much in this deal, so the risk of trying to convince Porzingis to stay in Dallas is well worth it in my opinion.
Again, it’s unclear how well he will come off of his knee injury and that will be a big factor in how well this trade actually ends up working out, but pairing the skill set of Porzingis with the skill-level of Luka Doncic and then surrounded by some quality scorers like Harrison Barnes and Tim Hardaway Jr., makes for exciting prospects for the Mavericks of what it could be.
The other players the Mavericks are getting back aren’t too much of a big deal. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a nice player who can score the ball. He’s not the most efficient scorer in the league, but he is capable of scoring baskets and putting him on this team to go with Porzingis and Doncic is a smart move because he can take a lot of pressure off of them. Hardaway Jr. is overpaid in my opinion, but I think he is a nice add-in to this trade.
Courtney Lee also makes more money than his overall production, but he can shoot the three pretty well so he can help off the bench in that regard.
Taking a look at the contracts, the contract of Courtney Lee, which is for just over $12 million, and for Harrison Barnes, over $23.5 million, will be expiring after next season, which will be when the Mavericks will be looking at having a chance to extend Kristaps Porzingis with the monster contract that he is going to be slated to get. They will have to manage that situation carefully, but I think it’s a chance they’re willing to take.
For Tim Hardaway Jr., he makes nearly $18 million per year, but his contract doesn’t expire until 2021.
The big part of this deal for the Knicks was clearing cap space. They now won’t have to pay Porzingis, Enes Kanter and his $18.62 million will be off their books after this season, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee are now off their books, Wes Matthews and his $18.62 million is up after this season, DeAndre Jordan is nearly making $23 million this season, but that was a one-year contract and maybe most importantly and thankfully for Knicks fans is that Joakim Noah and his $18 million of dead cap space will drop to about $6 million after this season as they still owe him through the 2021 season.
Dennis Smith Jr. has a chance to be an actual impact player for the Knicks out of this trade. Smith Jr. is a freak athlete, but with them getting Luka Doncic and him clearly being the player the Mavericks were going to try and build around, Smith Jr. was lacking a clear spot on the team.
He has rated at pretty much the same-level on defense this season as he did in his rookie season, which wasn’t terrible but it also isn’t great, but he has been improved in year two on offense so if he can continue to improve his offensive game he does have a chance to be a really good player in the NBA.
Now the big hope for the Knicks is that they can use all of this cap space to lure at least two big free agents to the Big Apple. The names that have been linked most to them are Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. If they can get Kyrie Irving it’ll leave Dennis Smith Jr. pretty out of place again, but it’s one thing to be linked to guys in January before they become free agents and it’s another to actually sing them come July.
I love this trade for Dallas because they didn’t really get rid of too much and now they have a chance to build around two of the best young players in the league in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
At this time, it seems like a bad deal for the Knicks, but we won’t know that for sure until we know where some of the top free agents this off season end up signing and if the Knicks are able to get any of them.
Overall grade for Dallas: A
Overall grade for New York: C- (Can easily be improved based on the off season)