Kristaps Porzingis reportedly wasn’t enthusiastic about playing with Kevin Durant, the Knicks’ clear top target in free agency. Maybe that had something to do with New York trading Porzingis to the Mavericks.
The private response from Porzingis’ camp is that the Knicks’ spin is utter nonsense, especially the story about Durant, the superstar who nicknamed Porzingis the Unicorn. In fact, the Mavericks are expected to pursue Durant this summer in free agency and yes, Porzingis would welcome Durant with open arms.
Maybe the Knicks leaked that Porzingis didn’t want to play with Durant in order to smear Porzingis. They did plenty to question Porzingis’ commitment to New York while sending him out the door.
But Zach Lowe’s report about this noted he was unsure whether the Knicks even knew of Porzingis’ apprehension about playing with Durant. That’d be an odd detail if Lowe got the info from a Knicks source.
Another guess: Porzingis wants to be the face of a franchise. Porzingis also wants to win, which probably means playing with at least one teammate better than him. How does he reconcile those potentially competing ideas? Maybe different people around him had different interpretations and conveyed them so.
This is probably moot, anyway, now that Porzingis is in Dallas.
The Mavericks project to have only $30 million in cap space. Durant’s max projects to be $38 million. Considering Dallas has traded so many future first-round picks, clearing that extra room could be tricky.
Obviously, the Mavericks would love to get Durant, and it probably doesn’t hurt to try. But the fact Kemba Walker is reportedly their top target in free agency speaks to their lack of confidence in luring a bigger star.