So much for the idea this would be a quiet trade deadline.
In a move that will have ramifications reaching into free agency in July, the New York Knicks have traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in a seven-player trade. It had been reported earlier and now, after a trade call with the league office, is official.
Here’s the breakdown:
“As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various options on potential trades,” Knicks GM Scott Perry said in a statement. “Considering the uncertainty regarding Kristaps’ free agent status and his request today to be traded, we made a trade that we are confident improves the franchise. We thank Kristaps, Tim, Courtney and Trey for their contributions and wish them all the best.”
There is some pushback from other sources that Porzingis did not ask for a trade. There is a difference between being unhappy with a direction and requesting a trade. Only the people in that room know what was actually said.
While Dallas and the Knicks had been talking before, a Thursday morning meeting between Porzingis and his team with the Knicks front office pushed the deal to get done. Porzingis reportedly told the Knicks he did not like the direction the team was heading and the culture, and he wanted to be elsewhere.
This wasn’t just about Porzingis wishes — the Knicks clear out enough salary cap space with this move to sign two max free agents this summer. There is zero chance they did this without getting a back-channel nod from one of the elite free agents — almost certainly Kevin Durant — that he plans to sign with them. The second salary cap spot opens up a slot for another elite player, with rumors that Kyrie Irving is considering leaving Boston suddenly seeming to gain real traction. (Which should scare Celtics fans, as that franchise has based its plan on trading for and keeping Anthony Davis on the idea of pairing him with Irving.)
The Knicks, who have struggled at the point guard spot all season, now also have Dennis Smith Jr. to help at that spot.
For Dallas, they now have Luka Doncic and Porzingis as cornerstones to build a contender around. While there are questions about what Porzingis will look like coming back off an ACL — he has not played this season — and exactly where the ceiling is for Doncic, this gives Dallas two potential franchise players to put this team back on the map.
Jordan and Matthews likely are bought out after the trade deadline, making what was expected to be a strong buyout market even better.