In a surprise report, Kristaps Porzingis talked to New York Knicks' upper management and expressed his concerns about the team's current and future state, and the majority of league sources believe that this was his Porzingis' way of asking for a trade request. New York agreed to open up conversations, and would hopefully trade him away by the trade deadline.
Apparently these trade talks didn't last long.
Just a mere hours after his meeting, the Knicks decided to trade Kristaps Porzingis (along with Courtney Lee, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.) to the Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and 2021 & 2023 protected 1st-round picks. It's a trade no one saw coming, and it changes the course of two (or maybe even more franchises). The Knicks are now officially in a fire sale and have a very big point guard logjam on their hands, while Dallas is making a move that sets them up big for the future. Let's take a look at the Winners and Losers of this deal.
There's not really much to say other than this is a great trade for Dallas. They get a young star to pair up with Luka Doncic without giving up this year's first round pick and too many other assets. Jordan and Matthews were expiring contracts and weren't going to stay with the team after this season, while DSJ was not the point guard of the future and now gets a fresh start in New York. Porzingis is planning on accepting the qualifying offer and then testing unrestricted free agency in 2020, so the Mavericks will have a season with him and see how he meshes with the team before handing him a max contract in 2020. While Hardaway Jr.'s contract isn't pretty, he is still a serviceable role player that will see important minutes for the Mavericks and should be a good fit next to Doncic and Porzingis. More than anything, the Mavericks become a much better team without giving up their prized possession in Doncic, and the future in Dallas is much brighter today. If Porzingis was healthy, this would be a potential rotation:
Guards/Wings: Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, Devin Harris, J.J. Barea, Luka Doncic, Harrison Barnes, Dorian Finney-Smith, Trey Burke
Big Men: Kristaps Porzingis, Dirk Nowitzki, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell
There may be holes at the point guard and center positions (KP is usually a Power Forward) but the Mavs can always use free agency and potentially the draft (their 1st-rd is top-5 protected, outside of top 5 it goes to Atlanta) to boost their weaknesses. Dallas is a clear winner.
Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis
In Dirk Nowitzki's swan song, there will be no playoff appearance, but the franchise has set themselves up for many more in the future. Luka Doncic has proved that he is the premier piece for the Mavs' future, and he now has another star to pair up with next season. And for Porzingis, who is better to learn from than Dirk Nowitzki, one of the all-time greats at his position and someone who KP has constantly been linked to in comparisons. Dirk will probably still be around the Mavericks next season if he isn't playing for them, and that will be a perfect time for him to show Doncic and Porzingis about the game on and off the court, and eventually turn them into great players and leaders for the Mavs.
New York Knicks
On paper, this looks like an absolutely awful deal for the Knicks, as they traded away their young star that was incredible before injuries for a couple of expiring contracts, potential 1st-round picks, and a point guard who hasn't shown much so far in his young career. Getting rid of THJ and Lee's contracts are good, but this trade seemed so rushed. It feels like they accepted the first offer that was presented to them, and I could have seen them getting much more intriguing offers for Porzingis if they maybe waited a couple of days. The primary reason of doing this deal, however, is to prepare for the off-season. Doing this deal gives them two max contract slots for free agency to pursue names like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler, so if they can sign one of those names in free agency, then this trade was worth it. If they can't reel in a big fish, this trade was a disaster.
Even though this trade doesn't look pretty, the Knicks still have plenty of young pieces to build around, but arguably no one that is of Porzingis' caliber. Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier have shown promise on multiple occasions, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. are both still very young and have time to develop, and Mitchell Robinson has already made more of an impact than people though he would. They also have their own 1st-round pick, which is very likely going to be in the top three this year. I personally believe they will land Zion Williamson, and drafting Zion will change the course of their future. But, this deal is a big gamble for the Knicks, and the true outcome of this trade will be determined after the offseason.
New York Knicks' Point Guard Core
The Knicks point guard situation was a mess before this deal, and it only gets worse from here. While the Knicks trade away Trey Burke, they acquire Dennis Smith Jr., who has a lot more potential but; similarly to Frank Ntilikina; hasn't shown much at the NBA level yet. This now gives the Knicks a point guard trio of Emmanuel Mudiay, Ntilikina, and Smith Jr., and no clear answer who the point guard of the future is. Smith Jr. has improved a little bit this year, but not enough to solidify his role as a future star that was once before him. Ntilikina has shown lots of promise on the defensive end, but not nearly as much. And Emmanuel Mudiay has actually played very well for the Knicks this year, as he could be removing the "bust" status that was given to him after his time in Denver did not pan out. It's not necessarily a bad situation, but it's one that is strange and has no clear winner yet.