It’s official: Kristaps Porzingis joins Dallas Mavericks in blockbuster trade

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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:

Dallas receives Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee.

The Knicks receive Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first round draft picks.

“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.

The Greek Freak has arrived, Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA MVP

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Mike Budenholzer came in with a plan — an offense built around the fact no one man on the planet can guard Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It worked. The Bucks won 60 games and had the best record in the NBA. Budenholzer picked up Coach of the Year hardware for his efforts.

Now Antetokounmpo has won the NBA MVP award, edging out James Harden (who chose not to attend the NBA’s awards show in Los Angeles Monday). He was emotional in thanking teammates and family for helping him reach this point.

Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds a game, but it was his ability to destroy any defender one-on-one that made the Bucks offense work. Either the Greek Freak got to the basket and finished, he drew a foul, or he drew so much attention the shooters that surrounded him on the floor had clean looks of their own. He also was the Bucks best defender, a guy tasked with tough assignments nightly.

Antetokounmpo was the best player on the best team.

James Harden — who averaged 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game — finished second in the voting, Paul George of Oklahoma City was third. Harden has finished first or second in the voting for four of the past five seasons. Harden believed he deserved to win.

The last player from Europe to win the MVP award was Dirk Nowitzki in 2007.

 

Rudy Gobert wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year for second straight season

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Rudy Gobert owns the paint for the Utah Jazz.

And he owns the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Gobert won his second straight DPOY award Monday night, beating out the other 2019 finalists Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George.

The Jazz had the second best defense in the regular season and it is completely built around Gobert and his abilities in the paint, which is what separated him for this award. Utah’s defense was 20.1 points per 100 possessions better when Gobert was on the court and gave up less than a point per possession with him as the anchor.

This was a deep field with players such as Myles Turner of the Pacers, Joel Embiid of the 76ers and others getting votes as well.

Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer named NBA Coach of the Year

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Mike Budenholzer unleashed Giannis Antetokounmpo and from the start that made him the Coach of the Year favorite (and maybe Antetokounmpo MVP).

It was a wire-to-wire win for Budenholzer, who was the frontrunner for this award from early on and was named the NBA Coach of the Year Monday night, the second time he has won this award (Atlanta in 2015).

Budenholzer was the favorite with good reason. The Bucks won 16 more games than the season before and had the best record in the NBA, they improved their net rating by +10.1, and became a top-five team on both ends of the floor. To be fair, part of Budenholzer’s success was a contrast to how poorly the previous coach handled this roster, but give Budenholzer credit for utilizing players well.

He beat out Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Mike Malone of the Nuggets in what was a very deep field for this award.

Clippers’ Lou Williams won second-straight, third overall Sixth Man of Year Award

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The Clippers bench play this season was the reason they made the playoffs (and pushed the Warriors to six games in the first round). Montrezl Harrell blossomed into his own as part of that.

However, it was Lou Williams who made it all work, which is why he won his second straight (and third overall) Sixth Man of the Year Award on Monday night. He garnered 96 of the 100 first-place votes.

Williams spoke from the heart about second chances and his faith in himself.

“Four years ago, I thought I was done, like I was coming to the end of my career,” Williams said.

Williams averaged 20 points a game and he is still one of the better bucket getters in the NBA, an isolation master. What he did better this year, however, was playmaking, dishing out 5.4 assists per game. His teammate Montrezl Harrell — the NBA’s best energy big off the bench last season who finished third in the Sixth Man voting — was the biggest beneficiary of those passes.

Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis came in second in the voting, with Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets third and Terrence Ross of Orlando fifth. Here is the voting breakdown.