In case you missed it, a trade happened in the National Basketball Association. The New York Knicks sent Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke to the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas sent back Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan and two first round picks. My initial reaction was to call this a fleece on the part of the Knicks. Giving up a potential top 15 type player for three bad players doesn’t seem like a good deal at first. But my opinion has changed after some time to gather my thoughts.
Starting with New York, I am mixed about this move for them. Giving up Kristaps Porzingis is tough. It is easy to forget about a player who hasn’t played in a year but KP is a legitimate star. He has the potential to be the second best player on a championship team. His medicals are obviously a major concern and at 7’3″ future injuries are likely. But giving up a player of Porzingis’ caliber is always risky regardless of the return.
James Dolan clearly believes in his ability to coax high-profile free agents to New York this Summer. The Knicks are set to have over $70M in cap space this offseason, good for two max slots. Given the impressive crop of free agents this summer, including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and more, a big time catch for New York is certainly plausible. Of course nothing is guaranteed but New York is likely to attract at least one star in the Summer. In fact, I would bet on Kevin Durant landing in the big apple this Summer.
Attaining two first-round picks from Dallas is nice as well. The picks will likely be from 2021 and 2023 and heavily protected but those are assets that can potentially help trade for another star. Their return in terms of players is whatever to me. DeAndre Jordan sucks, Wesley Matthews sucks and Dennis Smith Jr. has some potential to not suck. All in all, the return for New York is solid. If Kristaps Porzingis comes back 100% and remains healthy then I say the Knicks missed out but that is a huge miss.
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Mark Cuban is no stranger to big swings and this is one certainly. Like I mentioned before, acquiring Porzingis is a monumental risk. If he can’t stay healthy and flops, you wasted valuable assets. If he returns to his prior form and even continues his development, then you have a 1-2 duo in Doncic and Porzingis that is capable of winning multiple championships.
At the moment, the Mavericks can’t do much in terms of improving their roster. Although the players they got back in the deal–Hardaway, Lee and Burke–are marginal upgrades to the ones they sent out. They don’t have their pick in 2019 and likely 2021 or 2023 and have money locked up until the Summer of 2021. But that free agent class of 2021 is absolutely loaded. The Mavericks (or any team) likely will not be able to convince Damian Lillard to leave Portland. Convincing Giannis to leave Milwaukee won’t be easy either but pitching a trio of Luka-KP-Giannis that will win multiple titles will be enticing.
This trade is a bit much of a risk for me. Mark Cuban clearly has less patience than a squirrel on acid. Dallas has Luka under control for at least nine years. Assuming you’re not the Suns, that should be enough to build a contender the right way. If KP busts, the rebuild is set back quite significantly. It’s hard for me to see Porzingis staying healthy long term. Getting Kristaps to sign long term is vital. This trade compromises Dallas’ future but the upside of a Luka-Porzingis duo is boundless.