Rapid Reaction: Knicks Send Porzingis to Dallas
Rapid Reaction: Knicks Send Porzingis to Dallas

On Thursday afternoon, the Mavericks agreed to trade Dennis Smith, Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan and two future first-round picks to the Knicks in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke.


The deal materialized quickly in the wake of reports that Porzinigs was questioning his future with the Knicks organization.

For New York, dumping the Hardaway and Lee contracts officially frees up cap space for two max slots this summer, which the Knicks will presumably use to pursue Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, among other free-agents-to-be. Both Jordan and Matthews are on expiring deals, and each could be traded again before the Feb. 7 deadline. If that doesn't happen, the expectation is that one or both could be bought out.

As a second-year player on a rookie deal, Smith figures to stick around, and he'll join the Knicks' cache of young guards, which currently includes Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier, Kadeem Allen and Emmanuel Mudiay.

Meanwhile, Dallas gets a talented young player – albeit one coming off of a torn ACL – to pair with Luka Doncic. Porzingis is set to hit restricted free agency this summer, and at this point it's unclear if he'll exercise his qualifying option or look to sign a longer-term deal in Dallas. Regardless, the Mavs secured the top asset in the deal, albeit at the cost of their 2017 first-round pick, as well as a pair of relatively unattractive contracts.

As the dust settles on the trade, here's what the RotoWire NBA staff had to say:

What was your initial response when you saw the trade reports?

Alex Barutha: Doncic and Porzingis on the floor together will be awesome, and the Knicks ACTUALLY salary-dumped Porzingis. It's more convoluted than that, but still. It's crazy.

Nick Whalen: I was shocked how quickly things moved from "Porzingis might want out" to "Porzingis is now a Maverick." I'm sure the Knicks have information that we don't, but it felt like they didn't realize the trade deadline isn't for another week.

James Anderson: I thought it was an awesome for Dallas, and it kind of sucks (for now) if you're a Knicks fan.

Mike Barner: I can't believe this happened so quickly. What was reportedly a bad meeting with Knicks management quickly turned into one of the prominent young players in the league being traded in what seemed like a matter of hours.

Shannon McKeown: My first reaction was surprise, followed by a firm belief the Knicks were robbed. But after taking a closer look, I like this move for both sides.

Alex Rikleen: The Knicks are bad. Add Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber. The quality of NBA ownership is the biggest competitive advantage or disadvantage in major professional sports. The Mavericks could make the playoffs. If the NBA actually cared about tampering, there would probably be a tampering violation here somewhere.

Ken Crites: Why the heck do the Knicks make this trade 10 DAYS BEFORE THE TRADE DEADLINE!?!?! Love or hate this move, it's makes absolutely no sense for Knicks to not use the next ten days to try and find a better offer. Dallas is going to make this trade every day of the year.

Why does this make sense for the Mavericks?

Barutha: The Mavericks really didn't want Dennis Smith Jr. anyway. Dallas only brought him back after realizing there were no good offers for him. Not to mention DeAndre Jordan was visibly lazy on many possessions and he probably wasn't coming back next year. So, even though Porzingis has informed Dallas he may be signing the qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020, the Mavericks getting him on the court with Luka for all of next year is a great argument for him to stay. If Porzingis ends up leaving in the end, Dallas will have clean financials to attract other free agents.

Whalen: With Doncic in the fold and a future pick owed to Atlanta, the Mavs weren't in position to add another elite talent in the draft. They haven't had a ton of success in free agency in the past, so they jumped at the chance to secure a player of Porzingis' talent – even with the inherent injury concerns. It was pretty clear they had soured on Smith as an organization, and they were likely going to buy out or trade at least one of Matthews and Jordan. You can argue that taking on both Lee and Hardaway could limit their short-term flexibility, but the Mavs should be more focused on the summers of 2020 and 2021, when they hopefully have Porzingis locked up and can add talent once Harrison Barnes, Lee and Hardaway are all off the books.

Anderson: Luka Doncic now has a clear running mate for the foreseeable future.

Barner: This is a home run for the Mavericks. They are on the fringe of staying in the playoff hunt, so it makes no sense to worry about holding onto DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews since they will both be free agents at the end of the year. They basically gave up Dennis Smith Jr. and a first round pick for Porzingis. How can you pass that up?

McKeown: The Mavs landed a potential top-20 player to slot in alongside Doncic and did so at a great price. Dallas will need to ink Porzingis to a long-term deal for this to be a home run, but it was worth the risk, even if he leaves after the 2019-20 season. Departing with Smith, a couple of expiring contracts and a likely mid-to-late first-round pick is a pretty cheap price for someone with Porzingis' upside.

Dallas should also have the cap flexibility in the summer of 2020 to add another big piece to play alongside Doncic and Porzingis.

Rikleen: Lots of reasons. Pairing the two most exciting European players in the league generates tons of excitement – and the NBA is an entertainment product, let's not forget. Porzingis is the best player involved, and they received him. DeAndre Jordan seemed to be a net-negative on the team culture, and shedding him opens up more minutes for Powell and Kleber, who are promising young prospects. Finally, Hardaway Jr.'s contract is not good, but he's a solid rotation player, and the Mavericks have not had much free agency luck over the past - (checks calendar) - ever, so adding him isn't really all that bad.

Crites: Getting a superstar is the hardest thing to do in the NBA. Getting that second superstar is the second hardest thing to do. Dallas now has 18 months to convince Porzingis to be the next Dirk..

What's the argument that this makes sense for New York?

Barutha: New York now has two max slots to combine with a (probable) top-3 pick this summer. Plus, Porzingis had a meeting with the organization and essentially called them incompetent and demanded a traded. Getting any value for him was a priority.

Whalen: Well, they cleared cap space. And they got the guy they probably should've drafted in the lottery last June. Realistically, getting to two max slots was clearly New York's top priority, and while they had to use Porzingis to do it, they achieved that goal. The Knicks haven't done anything to earn the benefit of the doubt, but you'd like to think they wouldn't make a trade like this unless they have a good feeling Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving are coming this summer. Either way, New York's crown jewel recruiting pitch is now a 2019 first-round pick, rather than Porzingis. That aside, getting those two future picks is a nice haul and makes me feel better about the deal, overall. Dallas, of course, expects to be a playoff team in 2021, but that's never a guarantee. And while that 2023 pick is top-10 protected, it's never a bad thing to have a stash of future assets at your disposal.

Anderson: They now have space for two max FAs and it sounds like the relationship with Porzingis had gone south to the point that he may not have been in their long-term plans anyway

Barner: Well, Porzingis is coming off of a significant injury, so maybe he won't be the player that he once was. The Knicks didn't get much back in the way of talent, but they did shed some big contracts and can now sign two max free agents during the summer. The only problem is, can you really convince anyone that Smith, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson are a quality supporting cast?

McKeown: The Knicks are in a decent position for a quick rebuild. They have a high pick in the 2019 draft, which could land them a stud like Zion Williamson, a few nice young pieces with upside (Smith, Knox, Ntilikina and Trier), tons of cap space to add all-star level talent this summer and a future first from the Mavs. Not a bad scenario since it sounded like Porzingis was planning to walk after the 2019-20 season.

Rikleen: I cannot make an argument for the Knicks here that is both: 1) internally rational and 2) does not accuse them of tampering. The Knicks' defense here would be that they shed a ton of salary cap space ahead of a really loaded free agency class and acquired both two future first-round picks, and a recent lottery pick in Smith. But recent evidence shows that good free agents don't join 20-win teams, especially ones that just traded away their best player. Also, at this point I'm projecting Dennis Smith Jr. as maxing out at a roughly the level of Dennis Schroder. Neither of the picks, set to convey in 2021 and 2023, are likely to be inside the top-10.

Crites: The Knicks are clearing up cap space for free agents that will not come to New York. They have the worst owner in the NBA, and no quality teammates to advertise. "Play with the Unicorn" has appeal. "Play with Knox" does not.

What are the primary fantasy implications going forward?

Barutha: Dennis Smith Jr. and Dwight Powell will probably get the biggest bumps in role. I'm worried about Luke Kornet playing fewer than 20 minutes per night because of DeAndre Jordan's presence

Whalen: Smith has his flaws, but he should immediately leapfrog the Knicks' other guards and will likely be the starter for the rest of the season. The Knicks would be content to lose out the rest of the way, and Smith isn't enough of an upgrade to change anything in that regard. Dwight Powell should also get a major bump in Dallas, as could Jalen Brunson, depending on how much they like Trey Burke. I'm fully expecting Matthews and Jordan to be dealt or bought out, so they're more of a wait-and-see. But assuming that happens, guys like Kevin Knox and Mario Hezonja, who were losing minutes to Tim Hardaway, should see a boost.

Anderson: Big bump for both Dennis Smith, Jr. and Kevin Knox.

Barner: Dwight Powell is a must add. He could very well be the starting center, at least until Porzingis returns (if he does at all this season). Doncic should play more point guard and Tim Hardaway Jr. probably won't be able to sustain his 25.8 percent usage rate with the Mavericks. From the Knicks side of things, it's a mess. Maybe they buy out Jordan and/or Matthews and they'd still likely love to trade Enes Kanter. Emmanuel Mudiay takes a hit with Smith in the fold. Since it looks like the Knicks value Smith highly, he should be in line for plenty of playing time.

McKeown: I fully expect Dennis Smith to take over in New York for the final 30 games of the season. Smith has been extremely productive since returning from his sabbatical and he should reach new heights with the Knicks. I also expect Trier to see a large role down the stretch. Conversely, Mudiay owners can cut bait. Mathews and Jordan are both buyout candidates or could be flipped elsewhere since the Knicks will be in full tank mode.

Maxi Kleber is an interesting add in Dallas, as he could be locked into the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. Same goes for Dwight Powell.

Rikleen: The biggest Fantasy takeaway is how this affects the Mavericks frontcourt, which is now without DeAndre Jordan. I like both Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber a lot, and both should be added in 10 team leagues. One of Allonzo Trier or Dennis Smith Jr is also likely to become a really important pickup, though it's not clear which. My personal preference is Trier.

Crites:: Doncic will continue to blow up with Smith gone. Harrison Barnes will finally grab some cheap boards without DeAndre Jordan around (but still not get steals or blocks). Powell should be rostered immediately. I assume Tim Hardaway will get plenty of minutes, but fewer shot attempts. The Knicks will be unwatchable. Noah Vonleh will lose most of his value with Jordan cleaning up the glass in New York. I assume Matthews will not stay in New York - they want to develop youngsters. Hopefully Enes Kanter will finally be quiet.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and award winning host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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