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Kristaps Porzingis Trade: What this means for the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks

Aman Yadav
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
27 Feb 2019, 12:26 IST

Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis

This season’s trade window was an exciting one. Amidst all rumors surrounding the NBA, a trade happened that surprised everyone. This was a deal between Dallas Mavericks (DAL) and New York Knicks (NYK) involving seven players and a couple of future first round draft picks.

Mavericks received Kristaps Porzingis (F), Tim Hardaway Jr. (G), Courtney Lee (G), and Trey Burke (G) while the Knicks received DeAndre Jordan (F) Dennis Smith Jr. (G), Wesley Matthews (G/F) and two future first-round pick.

This trade was a smooth one unlike the one demanded by Anthony Davis (NOP). As of now, this looks like a win for the Mavs. Rumors suggest that there was a tension between Porzingis and the organization from the time when he blew off the exit meeting with Phil Jackson and Steve Mills and that made things much easier.

Mavs are currently placed 13th in the Western Conference with a win-loss record of (26-34) with Luka Doncic giving astonishing performances every day. Dallas are looking for long term plans to build a title contending team around the two future stars.

They made this trade looking for the future perspective with Doncic in his rookie year (the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year) and Porzingis looking for an opportunity to make it to the playoffs after the frustrating start to his career with the Knicks.

The Unicorn was drafted as the 4th pick by NYK in 2015, playing 186 out of possible 219 games and never suffered a major injury before tearing his left ACL in early 2018 and has remained sidelined for over a year now. This 7’3 center is one of the best in the league when he’s in form and there’s no doubt how much potential this duo will have once they start meshing together.

Comparisons are being drawn with the likes of Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash; the only difference is that these guys are taller than both the legends. There are chances that card worked in favor of NYK because Porzingis is yet to play a full season in NBA and with his physicality; it’s very tough to say how good he’ll be after coming out of injury.

Statistical Battle

Porzingis is a complete player who is equally dominant at both ends of the court. He averaged 22.7 points per game (ppg), 6.6 rebound per game (rpg) and most importantly 2.4 blocks per game (bpg) in the 2017-18 season. This makes him a big threat in defense. Also, his ball handling skills and ability to score in the paint makes him equally dominant on offense.

Hardaway Jr. was a promising scorer for the Knicks averaging 19.1 ppg. Trey Burke has averaged 11.8 ppg for the Knicks. An 11-year veteran, DeAndre Jordon averaged 11 ppg, 13.4 rpg while shooting at 65% with Dallas this season. This former Olympian and two-time All-NBA Defensive First Team selection brings much-needed experience and defensive power for the Knicks.

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Dennis Smith Jr. has improved a lot since joining Knicks, his scoring ability and penetration in the paint has improved which is statistically very obvious, as his scoring has improved from 14.5 ppg with Mavs to 17.0 ppg with the Knicks. He is a team player who fits perfectly with the Knicks organization.

Mavs have secured a very promising young talent in the form of Porzingis who is still in the learning stages and under Dirk’s mentorship, he can learn a lot. If this duo of Doncic and Porzingis finds some rhythm next season they would be a treat to watch. Doncic is his very first year has shown his tremendous skill set. His ability to score and create chances has been acknowledged by all.

The Mavericks are now in a perfect position to start afresh. They have Doncic, Porzingis, and can start building around these two guys in the near future.

Trading for Dennis Smith Jr. had put Knicks in a complicated situation, he can be their point guard in near future but they could’ve just drafted him back in 2017 when they picked Frank Ntilikina one pick ahead of him. Giving up on The Unicorn, the best asset your franchise has had for a guy you could’ve just drafted in the first place doesn’t make much sense.

However, New York cleared valuable cap space by getting rid of Hardaway Jr. bad contract. DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews are also on expiring contracts which would leave the Knicks with nearly $74 million in cap space. It's enough for two max contracts.

Players such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson will be looking for max contract options next season.

This trade also comes out at a time when Knicks might be looking to tank the season to become the favorites to land the Duke star Zion Williamson, but with the addition of Dennis Smith Jr. and DeAndre Jordan, things don’t seem to be going their way. The ball (quite literally) is now in the court of either of these teams and it is up to them on how they strategize their future and utilize their options in times to come.

Porzingis: Reasons to leave Knicks and join Mavs

Porzingis now has a capable mentor in Nowit
Porzingis now has a capable mentor in Nowitzki

Porzingis had his own reasons to part ways with the Knicks and one of those being unhealthy playing atmosphere that eventually led to this trade. Also, the estranged and broken relationship between the Knicks management and The Unicorn played a major role in this. Nobody wants to be a part of sinking ship and neither did Porzingis.

The divide between the management and Porzingis was quite evident. On the one side, the never-ending losing streak of Knicks coupled with lack of support from teammates left him frustrated. On the other side, the Knicks were clearly unhesitant in trading him.

Knicks had continuously failed to provide Porzingis with any support and often messed up during the draft that has proved fatal to the growth of the Knicks as a franchise. At Dallas, Porzingis has found a capable teammate in Doncic, a mentor in Dirk, and altogether a healthy environment to grow as a player and become a future star.

This trade also shows the belief and mindset of teams. On one side, the Mavs didn’t want to wait till free agency and signed the best available option whereas, on the contrary, the Knicks took the gamble and will enter the free agency market with the cap space to hand out two max contracts hoping to sign some bigger names.

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