Wow. Just wow. Talk about a complete NBA bombshell. The Mavericks and Knicks just orchestrated one of the most fascinating trades in a long time.
Around 2:25 PM-EST, Adrian Wojnarowski posted an article on ESPN, stating that Porzingis wasn’t sure what his future would be with the Knicks heading into restricted free agency. A little over an hour later, Woj tweets that the Mavericks and Knicks are in talks to send Kristaps Porzingis for Dennis Smith Jr. Within that same hour, Woj adds an additional report, that the Mavericks and Knicks scheduled a call with the league to finalize this deal.
So what is the overall trade? The overall trade was: Dallas acquires Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee; New York acquires DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith Jr, Wes Matthews and 2-future first round picks. It’s very rare that you see a story posted about a player not set on his future with his current team, and immediately gets dealt the same day. My assumption, the Mavericks and Knicks have been discussing this deal for awhile, and Porzingis was highly intrigued to play with Luka and follow in Dirk’s footsteps.
But first, let’s look at this from the Knicks perspective. Desperate for star talent to sign in New York, the Knicks shed enough salary in this deal (Courtney Lee & Tim Hardaway Jr), that they could be looking at $74.6M in cap space for this summer. That is a huge amount of money, and with free agents like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant ready to hit the open market, the Knicks are hopeful this move works out.
Also, I would anticipate that the Knicks buyout the expiring contracts of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews so that their chances of losing games increases. The importance of losing games is directly related to the NBA Draft, where New York would love to select first overall and get Zion Williamson. If you can add two big name free agents, and draft one of the most incredible athletes we’ve seen since LeBron James, you have to love what New York did here. The likelihood of this happening is still 50-50, but building around Porzingis wasn’t working and clearly the Porzingis-Knicks relationship was broken and didn’t seem mendable.
As for the Mavericks, this young core for the future could be one of the best in the league. Luka Doncic has taken the league by storm and he is clearly the number one option in Dallas. The Mavericks are losing a legend in Dirk, and newly acquired Kristaps Porzingis has been compared to him several times. Pairing two European sensations together, is incredibly smart by the Mavericks. However, Porzingis is recovering from an ACL injury, and has had health issues throughout his career.
Along with Porzingis, comes veterans Courtney Lee, Trey Burke and 26-year old guard, Tim Hardaway Jr. I think Lee can be a decent “3 and D” player off the Mavericks bench, and Hardaway Jr. would fill the Dennis Smith Jr. role in the starting lineup. Dallas wants to win now, and a core of Doncic, Hardaway Jr., Porzingis and Barnes could be very competitive in the playoffs.
The other kicker here for the Mavericks is the trade exception they received by making this deal. The Mavericks received a $12.9M trade exception, which can help them acquire more players without breaking the salary cap rules. I didn't understand how the Trade Exception rule worked thoroughly, but Larry Coon of ESPN describes it perfectly here: "Teams receive trade exceptions when they trade one player and take back less salary than they send away. Teams don't get a trade exception when they send players together, although it's often possible to reconfigure a multiplayer trade as separate, parallel single-player trades in order to gain trade exceptions. Trade exceptions can't be combined with anything -- even other trade exceptions. Think of it as a department store gift card, with a one-year expiration date. Teams can keep spending on it until they use it up, or they can let any remaining balance lapse after a year. It can be used only in a trade (they can't use it to sign a free agent), and they can't overspend with it:"
While we wait and see what the Knicks future will look like with all the cap space and draft picks, the Mavericks could still make moves this summer to bolster the depth of their roster, especially since their best player is on his rookie contract and Lee and Hardaway Jr. will be free agents in 2020.
My final thoughts on this deal, Dallas wins this trade right now, but if New York wins the Lottery and signs 2-Star Free Agents, we will be looking at this deal differently. Ultimately, both teams could come out winners in this deal, but if New York misses out in Free Agency, Dallas is the hands down winner of this deal.
Written By: Alex Golden