Yesterday afternoon, the Knicks agreed to send Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Trey Burke to the Dallas Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks. It's already being rumored that Jordan and Matthews are potential buy-out candidates, so look for them to go to contenders for a playoff push (Lakers, Rockets, Warriors all potential destinations; Milwaukee would be great for DeAndre). This deal caught me completely off-guard; maybe 30 minutes before I saw the Woj bomb I read the report that the Knicks felt Kristaps wasn't bought-in to the future of the franchise, but I wasn't expecting a trade so soon. I saw a text from Ralph that said "Kristaps to Dallas" and I thought it was a hypothetical, not reality.
By displaying such blatant incompetency over the last few years (or decades), the Knicks actually make me feel happy to be a Bulls fan, and that's saying something. Kristaps Porzingis is a 23-year-old, 7'3", Latvian All-Star who very well could've turned the Knicks losing culture around after returning from the torn ACL he suffered last season, but instead he was traded for Dennis Smith Jr., an average guard (with potential) the Knicks should've taken in the 2017 Draft over Frank Ntilikina. Even though Anthony Davis-Lakers trade rumors have been at the forefront of trade news, this could be the most talked about deal of the season (down the road). The implications for both teams' futures are still up in the air, but come summer, we'll have more of an idea of who the exact winner of this deal is.
As of February 1, 2019, the Mavs easily won the deal. They essentially flipped a guy they were already shopping (DSJ) for an NBA Unicorn and guards that will help them with perimeter shooting; Porzingis will most likely not play this year, but this wasn't a short-term deal for them. There are already conflicting statements about what Porzingis will do contract-wise this summer since he's set to be a restricted free agent, but all the signs point to him waiting to get to know the organization before signing an extension. I have a feeling that Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki, and Luka Doncic will be able to sway him to stay; how could you pass up on forming a potentially all-time great duo with Doncic? On paper it's a great fit, and nobody's quite certain how Porzingis will return from his injury, but there's something that leads me to believe he'll slide in perfectly to the Mavs' lineup alongside Doncic. The potential of 19-and-23-year-old European budding stars under the guidance of the European superstar has seemingly unlimited potential, and the West is going to have to be on notice for years to come, should Kristaps choose to stay.
The Mavs and Knicks both made this trade to achieve certain goals. Dallas got a fairly established star next to their up-and-coming young international superstar; with a few more foundational pieces and solid rotation players, they're set. The Knicks on the other hand? Not so much. New York made this deal not only because of Kristaps' hesitation to commit to the future, but to free up mass amounts of cap space for free agency. After the deal, they're set to enter this summer with around $70 million, enough for two max signings. Just because they have the space doesn't mean players will be willing to sign there; would you? I think if I was an NBA superstar approaching free agency in my prime, it would take 1.5 times the max for me to even considering going to the Knicks. They've been an absolute dumpster fire besides making three straight playoff appearances with Melo (2011-13), one resulting in a first-round victory. You're telling me Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are going to leave two of the best-run organizations in basketball to play for James Dolan, one of the worst owners in sports? Please. New York should mean so much more for the NBA, but until somebody competent comes in to run the team, disappointment is only going to continue to build.
This summer's free agency class is loaded at the top: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker. Not one of these players is signing with the Knicks this summer. If anyone is going to New York, it's so they can play for the Brooklyn Nets with an exciting young roster and a beyond-capable head coach and front office. Even if the league rigs the draft so the Knicks can draft Zion, is it worth taking that risk to hope that the team can figure things out? Probably not.
Unless the Knicks can put some kind of spell on players that make them want to play for possibly the worst org in the NBA, they have mortgaged their future for a chance at big-name free agents. It's going to be beyond painful for Knicks fans to watch Porzingis evolve alongside Luka in Dallas while Mario Hezonja and Frank Ntilikina lead the team to a 20-62 record season after season. I'm sure if they draft Zion they'll find a way to fuck that up, too.
Good luck, Knicks fans.